Best type of car engine

Different Car Engine Types – A Guide

What’s The Right Engine

An engine to a car is what a heart is to the human body. It is the stream from which all other streams flow. Any disturbance in it will immediately reverberate throughout your car. That’s why, the smooth functioning of your car is only possible with an efficient and effective engine. The question to ask now is, “Well, what is the right one?”

Before we can answer that question, we need to have a clear understanding of how they work. Let’s take a look

How Do Engines Work

Every day you wake up, get ready, get in your car, turn the keys, and accelerate to your day. However, understanding debates like “What’s the ideal air fuel ratio of petrol engine?” requires knowledge to be understood. Here’s a summary of its complex work.

A marvel of engineering, an engine generates power by pumping a mix of fuel and air into an engine’s cylinder. Ignited by a spark, this mix causes a small explosion that happens across its numerous cylinders. In each cylinder, a piston moves down as a result of the explosion and that force is what propels the vehicle. The combustion cycle, as the process’s called, has four steps – or strokes. Let’s take a look at each stroke.

> Intake

Moving up and down with the help of a crankshaft, the pistons reach the valves mounted on the camshaft. The valves open as the timing belt rotates the camshaft as the piston moves down which releases the fuel-air mixture.

> Compression

Self-explanatory: the piston moves up and compresses the mixtures in a tight space.

> Combustion

Just as the piston is about to move down again, the spark plug creates a spark that ignites their fuel-air mixture causing a small explosion. This results in the rapid movement of the piston which produces the energy the engine needs.

> Exhaust

The exhaust valve opens as the piston moves down. This results in the flushing out of gasses produced by the explosions when the piston moves up again via the exhaust valve. This process repeats itself thousands of times


Different layouts serve different purposes for a vehicle. As a result, car manufacturers employ an array of layouts to pack the right engine under the bonnet.

> Straight

In this engine, the cylinder’s placed from front to back, parallel to the car. This creates room for more cylinders which is why premium cars like Bentley employ it.

> Inline

It’s similar to straight engine layouts, however, its arrangement’s perpendicular to the car. Constructed in a line that’s facing upward, it allows for a small, compact engine. They’re often found in small family cars like the Toyota Corolla.

> V

The ‘vee’ refers to the way of the cylinder’s arrangement when viewed from the front. Connected by a common crankshaft at the base of the vee, each bank of the cylinder face outwards. This creates a lot of room for more space for other cylinders which is ideal for supercars or premium cars.

> Flat

Mounted horizontally, this engine layout lays down the cylinders on their side with two rows facing outwards. The enhances the handling of a vehicle by keeping the center of gravity low. Only Porsche and Subaru use this layout today.

> VR

Developed by Volkswagen, this layout is similar to the ‘V’ design mentioned earlier. However,  the distance between the two rows is so narrow that they’re mashed together into one block.

Engine Configuration

The myth of ‘the more cylinders, the better’ is today just a myth. The advancements in fuel injection systems and turbochargers have leveled the playing field between fewer and higher cylinders. Here are the different arrangements that exist.

> Twin Cylinder

Though they’ve become rare, due to their low power output, the use of turbochargers has offsetted the disparity. Today, small, eco-friendly, twin-cylinder engines are usually used by Fiat.

> Three Cylinder

This configuration’s often used in smaller cars, but the advent of turbochargers has seen them appearing on family cars too. However, the tattering vibration and sound may unsettle some passengers.

> Four Cylinder

It’s the most common configuration that’s often fitted in an inline layout. Found in small to mid-range cars, they offer a good amount of engine output.

> Five Cylinder

They have become increasingly rare over the years because of the same problems that plagued the three-cylinder system. Volvo often uses it since its enhanced features of comfort offset the vibration’s disturbance.

> Six Cylinder

Commonly set up with a V layout, the six-cylinder configuration is frequently used in high-power sports and premium cars. High-performance cars like the Ford GT use this configuration.

> Eight+ Cylinder

Cars with eight+ cylinders fall into the realm of supercars or luxury cars. They’re referred to as V8, V10, or V12 which are set up in a V formation. Previously, the W12’s fame as the largest engine available was indisputable. However, the release of the Bugatti Veyron which boasts sixteen cylinders changed the landscape.


Debates like “Is today’s diesel engine efficiency commendable?” or “Flat six engine vs inline six” populate the online world of automobiles. In order for you to participate in the world of cars, you need to have a sound understanding of the basics. Amongst them, the priority lies with the comprehension of engines.

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