This is the future of motoring: Nissan unveils 400 hp 3-cylinder engine for Le Mans racer

Nissan hasn’t called this engine the future of motoring; that’s my designation.

And why have I made such a claim? It’s simple. 400 horsepower from a lightweight, 1.5-liter three-cylinder isn’t just wildly impressive for a motorsport event; it’s also hugely significant for the civilian population.

Before I dig into its wider applications, let’s look at the little thing a bit more closely, shall we?

The 88-pound three-banger, called the DIG-T R, makes 400 hp and 280 lb-ft. of torque and will power the Nissan ZEOD RC racecar at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France this June.

Although the racer will be electric-only for a while, once the batteries have gone flat, the plucky DIG-T R will kick in, powering the car from there. Nissan is quick to point out it is the “first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport.” Which, pardon the pun, is no small feat.

Nissan also points out that, at 88 pounds, the DIG-T R is too heavy to be a carried onto a plane, “it would easily fit inside the luggage guides seen at major airports around the world.”

So why is this so important? As I often harp on about, fuel economy standards are quickly ratcheting up around the globe and cars need to use less fuel. This doesn’t mean, though, that people will want – or accept – slower, less powerful cars.

An engine like the DIG-T R would be perfect for powering SUVs or even performance-oriented cars of the future. It’s powerful enough to move a big car like the Nissan Pathfinder with ease and also small enough to fit happily under the hood of cars like the Datsun lookaline IDx performance coupe.

Granted, in road-going guise, the DIG-T R will likely be down-tuned for reliability. Still, however, it’s nonetheless significant.

I’m a fan of big, fuel-thirsty V8s. But if forced, I’d be more than happy with a 350-hp three-banger in my retro-styled sports coupe.


This 717-horsepower Dodge Charger is the ultimate family sedan

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat gets a 10-horsepower boost, but only for a limited-edition model. The special Charger commemorates the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona -- one of the wildest American muscle cars.

2020 Honda Civic hatchback keeps the manual-transmission faith

The 2020 Honda Civic hatchback was treated to a subtle exterior facelift. Honda also expanded the availability of both the manual transmission and 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn top IIHS safety rating

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the first electric car to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. But the IIHS hasn't tested the Audi's two main rivals -- the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.

Vintage Electric readies the Roadster Speed Merchant, a souped-up ebike

Vintage Electric introduced the latest in its line of retro-styled premium performance ebikes for fall 2019. The Vintage Roadster gets styling cues from board track racing motorcycles and its power from a 1,123-watt battery.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are some of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

Infiniti’s Formula One-inspired Project Black S may enter production

The Infiniti Project Black S is a Q60 luxury coupe enhanced with a Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrain. The 563-horsepower car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in under four seconds, according to Infiniti.

Toyota raises the curtain on 2020 Corolla Nightshade Editions

The 2020 Toyota Corolla SE sedan and hatchback with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) will be available in Nightshade Editions, joining the Toyota 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna with the blacked-out trim style option.

Here’s why your Uber or Lyft car always seems to be a Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars sold in the United States, and not just with retail buyers. Uber and Lyft drivers love the Camry for its reliability, according to a new report.

The electric Volkswagen ID Buggy makes even Ferrari drivers stop and stare

Volkswagen traveled to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to introduce an electric dune buggy named ID Buggy, and Digital Trends drove it in California. It's a modern-day tribute to the 1960s Meyers Manx.

Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

Launching in 2020, the Infiniti QX55 will be a crossover coupe similar to models that have proven successful for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti said the QX55 will have styling influenced by its early 2000s FX.

Limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS returns for 2020, WRX and STI get minor tweaks

Subaru performance cars remain mostly unchanged for the 2020 model year. The big news is the return of the limited-edition Subaru BRZ tS sports car, with production capped at 300 units.

The Bugatti Centodieci is only possible because of the latest design tech

Bugatti is celebrating its 110th birthday by releasing a limited-edition hypercar named Centodieci. It's based on the Chiron, but its engine makes 1,600 horsepower, and it's a tribute to the EB110 released during the 1990s.

Discover the engineering Easter eggs in the new 2020 Ford Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer received a ground-up overhaul, with major changes that include a new hybrid powertrain option. But even the engineering details of the new Explorer are worth checking out.