Recently awarded 2012 International Engine of the Year honors, Ford's diminutive 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will be making its way to America next year. Recently, we got the chance to briefly put the most potent version of this diminutive 3-cylinder turbocharged wonder through its paces. While all wheel time was confined to a handling track at Ford's Dearborn Development Center and done in European-spec Focus 5-door models with 6-speed manual transmissions, the experience did provide a pretty good insight as to what we can expect when this latest EcoBoost iteration does arrive here.

While European buyers can choose from 98- and 123-horsepower versions of the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost, expect only the latter - possibly with a few more ponies on board and developing 125 lb-ft or more of peak torque - to appear in U.S. cars. We quickly found that enthusiastic launches in the premium-grade EcoBoost 1.0 can easily elicit tire chirp off the line and the same holds true for quick 1-2 shifts. However, even with the do-it-yourself cog changer, the ensuing initial acceleration feels somewhat leisurely until boost builds at which point things get a good deal more interesting.

To further bolster the engine's impressive mid-range punch, it features an overboost capability that allows the turbo to produce about 30 percent more pressure for about 30 seconds. As a final touch, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three also is some 60 pounds lighter than the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder used in the U.S. Focus, a serendipitous advantage of scale that further improves the car's balance when negotiating corners.

For some reason, Ford still remains coy about exactly which of its vehicles will be the first to get the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine in this market. We do know that it will be either the Focus or the Fiesta, and at some point, possibly both. In either case, expect the automaker to offer its 6-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission as an option. Although Ford did not state any preliminary EPA numbers for the engine, the European Focus 1.0-liter EcoBoost delivers the equivalent of 56.5 mpg on the Euro test cycle.


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