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.

Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Smart Home

Need a hot cup of coffee right now? These are the best Keurig machines

Keurig machines simplify the process of making that important morning cup of coffee, but picking the right model for you can be difficult. Here's a detailed breakdown of the best machines in Keurig's current lineup.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.