Hey guys. Over the last 100 years of engine developments, we’ve definitely had some crazy designs. Inline-four and six-cylinder engines won over the mass market but V8s, V10s, and V12 engines for luxury sports cars are still common. In the last couple of years, more and more manufacturers have started introducing three-cylinder engines as an attempt to lower emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Cars like the Volkswagen Up, Mini Cooper and even new BMW 1 series have them. That said, we don’t hear much about two-cylinders. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few two-pot engines out there, some of them currently on the market. Let `s take a look at the five of them.
1. Fiat 500 TwinAir/Alfa Romeo MiTo
Two of the most interesting two-cylinder cars currently on the market are the Italian duo – the Fiat 500 TwinAir and Alfa Romeo MiTo. Both are equipped with the same straight-two cylinder petrol engine with a tiny 875cc displacement with 60, 85, or even 105 HP in the turbocharged version. Although small, this little motor is a real gem since it features advanced stuff like variable valve timing and a pretty high compression ratio.
Of course, you cannot expect blistering performance from such a tiny unit but the TwinAir is capable of delivering decent driving dynamics, especially for the city. Fuel consumption is minimal too; Fiat claims that you will get 69 miles per gallon! The downside is the fact that this engine option is somewhat expensive and that the little unit works very hard to deliver its power, which makes longevity questionable.
2. Citroen 2CV
There is no point discussing two-cylinder cars without mentioning the best selling one of them all – the Citroen 2CV. Introduced in 1948, the 2CV was an economy model with minimalist styling, utilitarian spirit, and no luxuries. I’m sure you’ve all seen it! Everything on this car was designed to be as simple as possible and durable. That’s why theres a air-cooled boxer two-cylinder engine under the bonnet which powers the front wheels.
The first versions developed only 9 HP, but later models had 29 HP, which was a significant improvement. Although desperately underpowered, Citroen 2CV was an extremely durable and sturdy machine that was sold all over the world in an incredible 8 million examples. There really isn’t much to go wrong on an air-cooled 2 cylinder!
3. Tata Nano
Featured in my last video of the slowest modern cars to reach 60 miles per hour, the Tata Nano was poised to be Indias Ford Model T. It didn’t work though. Since Tata wanted to make a car as affordable as possible, they had to save on everything – materials, technology, equipment, safety, and engine size. That let them to equip the Tata Nano with a 624cc engine providing just 37 HP, of course with tragic performance numbers. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t choose a 1 cylinder engine though, maybe that would have worked better!
4. Morgan 3-Wheeler
If you’re looking for a back to basics driving experience, perhaps modern day, tech loaded supercars aren’t the answer. The Morgan 3 wheeler is a new version of the classic Morgan model made from 1932 till 1952, and due to demand, the company decided to re-introduce this fun little vehicle for the 2012 model year. The demand was overwhelming, and even though this is the cheapest Morgan you can buy, the waiting list was over a year long. The 3-Wheeler is something between a motorcycle and a roadster with two seats, three wheels (obviously!) and a big V2 motorcycle engine mounted up front.
With 2.0-liters of displacement, its got pretty massive 1000cc cylinders. Most ordinary cars have cylinders half the size! This produces a healthy 82 HP sent to the rear wheel, just one!, meaning that the Morgan is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds but crucially, large cylinders tend to produce more torque, which really helps keep the roadster light on its feet. Not all 2-cylinder cars are slow!
5. Suzuki Celerio
Often mocked as the Suzuki Celery by most of us, the Suzuki Celerio made its debut to the market in 2014. Although we don’t get it in the west, it was the first ever Suzuki developed with a turbo diesel engine in India. Its got a tiny two-cylinder engine displacing just 793cc; its not low tech though, featuring stuff like dual overhead cams and 8 valves. The entire block is aluminum too, allowing the car to remain light, something not always thought about with often heavy diesel engines. Suzuki have had problems with their 3-cylinder engines having vibration issues, but the 2 cylinder avoids this as the pistons are better balanced. Still, its base price is only $7,472 but it remains an Indian market exclusive for now.
6. Bonus – Mazda RX8
Truthfully speaking, the Mazda RX8 does have two pistons, which make it a two-cylinder car, kind of. To be fair, you could argue that it’s a 0 cylinder car, since the pistons are actually rotors. These are mounted inline, powering the rear wheels, and the whole assembly is surprisingly small and light for such a powerful engine. I wouldn’t pay much attention to the people telling you it’s a 1.3l engine though as displacement works differently for rotary engines. If you really want to compare it to its rivals, compare the dreadful fuel economy!
So there you are. Which 2 cylinders engines did I miss? Let me know in the comments.. Cheers!