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Is three the magic number of cylinders for Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and its efforts to build smaller powertrains for its compact hybrids? Potentially, yes, the German automaker could see the need for three-cylinder mills, Automotive News reports. The company doesn't have any plans for them as of yet, though.

Daimler executive Bernhard Heil talked with Automotive News about the challenges of using four-cylinder engines in a front-wheel-drive setup and said that three-cylinder engines could work in transverse-mounted powertrains for hybrid cars. For now, though, the company doesn't actually have any plans to go in that direction, Mercedes-Benz spokesman Christoph Horn said in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. Horn wrote that Heil "actually said that if ever MB would use a three-cylinder engine than [it would be] in a configuration where space is restricted, such as when using a hybrid power train in a compact car."

Of course, the only compact "hybrid" that Mercedes-Benz has is the 2015 C-Class, but that refers to the "hybrid" body is made of 48-percent aluminum, up from the current nine percent, as well as steel. It has nothing to do with the powertrain. Beyond that, there's always the Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-in Hybrid that the company unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last fall, but that model, which will debut in Europe later this year and arrive stateside next year, has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 and an 80-kilowatt electric motor that propels the plug-in from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. Not exactly three-cylinder territory, that.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      JB
      • 5 Months Ago
      You mean like what Honda did for the Honda Insight in the end of the '90s?
        Joeviocoe
        • 5 Months Ago
        @JB
        The Insight was fail on so many other levels. Too bad Toyota had the Atkinson cycle engine and the balls to use the power split device tech... while Honda's IMA was a joke.
          JB
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I'm glad that you are such a Prius fan.
          JB
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Sure sales were slow, but 61 MPG EPA on the highway is not bad for Y2K. Some people even did 200HP motor swaps and still got 50 MPG, because mass and areo are major keys for fuel economy even without a hybrid system. Go ahead and make fun of a car that is was designed almost 20 years ago.
          Joeviocoe
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          That is just highway... not hard to do when your car looks like a lawn dart. Not bad really.. but not great for just a cramped two seater with no power. There was a mentality back then that one could ONLY achieve mpg with a punishment car like the Insight. While the Prius became king because it had a reasonable size and utility
      Adam
      • 5 Months Ago
      Smart has a beautiful 3 cyl. diesel but Canada has it, not the USA.
      sebringc5
      • 5 Months Ago
      This article fails to convey the fact that smart is now back under Mercedes ownership AND currently use a 3cyl Mitsubishi sourced engine. This could just be another engine for that brand. All the best, Aaron Lephart smartcar451.com
      Adam
      • 5 Months Ago
      Saab, way back when, Had a 3 cyl. 2 stroke engine.
        Joeviocoe
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Adam
        But a two stroke? That would not fly with today's emissions standards... and the people who want to breathe.
      DarylMc
      • 5 Months Ago
      I recently bought a Volkswagen UP with 3 cylinder engine. Suspected it was mainly so VW could save a bit of money in manufacturing. But doing some reading today I found a few sites suggesting that 3 cylinder engines have less internal drag than a 4 cylinder engine of the same capacity. If that holds true I think we are bound to see a few more vehicles with 3 cylinder engines in the pursuit of efficiency. Refinement is apparently their drawback but I am sure that could be addressed by Mercedes Benz. I don't have a problem with noise or vibration from the 3 cylinder engine but that's probably because I have only owned diesel powered vehicles for the last 20 years. http://www.cartoq.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-a-3-cylinder-engine-over-a-4-cylinder/
      http://speedzzter.bl
      • 5 Months Ago
      Forget the awful-sounding threes . . . Let's get some 1.0-liter turbo V8s!