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Five most powerful three-cylinder cars

By David Bonnici, 10 Nov 2016 Car Advice

Mini Cooper S

Tiny turbos provide good power and fuel economy, here are three of the most powerful on the Australian market.

Once the domain of high-revving mini 4WD’s and lawnmowers, three-cylinder engines are gaining traction here even though you’re usually paying more for one less piston. Here are the five most powerful three-pot screamers on the Australian market.

BMW i8

A sleek two-seat carbon fibre body that keeps the weight down and electric motors that bolster from the 266kW 1.5-litre turbo makes the revolutionary i8 the world’s fastest three-cylinder car by a long shot. It can reach 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds and has an electronically governed top speed of 250km/h.

BMW i8


The Mini Cooper shares the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder donk as the i8 without the electrical assistance. Still, the 100kW it punches out is backed by a delicious 223Nm of torque that thrums to life early in the rev range but drinks sub 5.0-litre/100km fuel economy. It comes with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Mini Cooper S

BMW 318i

BMW’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine gets around, and while it has the 100kW output as the Mini Copper it provides a little less oomph because of the 318i’s extra bulk. It uses a bit more fuel than its 320d sister’s turbo diesel – 5.4 litres/100km – and does not go quite as hard, but a standard eight-speed automatic transmission helps it haul you around.

BMW 318i


Peugeot’s most convincing model houses its most convincing engine, a 96Kw 1.2-litre turbo triple with 230Nm of torque for lovely mid-range and engaging driveability. It’s as easy on fuel too, consuming just 4.5 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined). The same engine can be found in the Citroen C4.

Peugeot 308


This is more about fun and character than getting along briskly, although the 92kW 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo is far from shabby thanks to the car’s diminutive frame. Offered in the Fiesta Sport variant, it drinks just 4.9 litres per 100km for the manual (5.3L with the automatic).

Ford Fiesta