When small car engines were wrongly used in larger cars
It is NOT very common to find two or more totally different types of cars from vastly different price brackets to share the same engine.
When engines of smaller cars were inappropriately used in bigger cars
It’s quite normal for a manufacturer to use the same engine in multiple models. Let’s take the example of Maruti Suzuki. Its K12 petrol engine is used in several hatchbacks and a compact sedan. However, neither of these cars is priced too far from each other.
On the other hand, it is NOT very common to find two or more totally different types of cars from vastly different price brackets to share the same engine. Even so, such models do exist. Here is a list of some that come to mind.
Renault Duster and Mercedes A-Class Limousine
Last year, Renault launched the Duster BS6 with a 1.3-litre turbo-charged petrol engine under the hood. With 154 horses on tap, this engine transformed the Duster’s character & made the old girl a hoot to drive! The Duster Turbo flies on the open road.
But then, Mercedes launched the A-Class Limousine with the same engine. It’s a competent motor for the sub-20L segment, but not for ‘Mercedes’ money. The laggy bottom-end from the noisy & boomy motor are big letdowns. Where the same engine feels terrific in the <15-lakh Duster, it feels boring & annoying in the 40-lakh Benz. Like someone giving you roadside-style milky & sugary tea in your 5-star hotel room.
Toyota Fortuner (1st-Gen) and the Land Cruiser Prado
The 1st-Gen Fortuner was powered by a 3-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine which made 169 BHP and 343 Nm. At launch, the Fortuner was priced at just over Rs. 18 lakhs.
In 2010, the Japanese manufacturer launched the Land Cruiser Prado at a price of Rs. 52 lakhs. What was shocking is that the Prado used the same engine as the much cheaper Fortuner. With time, the Prado went on to become a 1-crore SUV, but was powered by the same motor which felt quite noisy, utilitarian & unrefined for an 8-figure car.
Nissan Micra and Renault Fluence
Cars from the Renault – Nissan alliance would obviously share engines to keep costs down. However, while you’d expect a Nissan Sunny and Renault Duster to share engines, you’d never think that the diesel motor used in the Micra hatchback would also be deployed in the much larger, far more expensive & premium Fluence sedan. Making matters worse, it never got an AT and came in a poverty-spec variant (believe it or not, RCA inputs instead of USB)!
Of course, the engine was tuned to deliver more power and torque in the Fluence. But it was still too under-powered by segment standards (Octavia 2.0 diesel murdered it), outdated (8-valve SOHC) and crude (try high revving it – the Fluence Diesel sounds like a Sumeet Mixer-Grinder).
Toyota Etios and Toyota Corolla
Just like the Fortuner and Land Cruiser Prado, Toyota used the same engines in some of its sedans too. The Corolla Altis diesel was powered by a puny 1.4-litre engine that developed just 87 BHP and 205 Nm, which made it the least powerful diesel sedan in the D1 segment by a long way. It was horribly laggy in the city and required careful planning to overtake on the highway (if you could overtake at all was another question). Owners ended up frustrated after a long drive with 5 + luggage onboard. Unsurprisingly, the addition of the lame diesel showed no significant improvement in the Corolla’s sales numbers (this, at a time when diesels were hot). Even in the Etios & Liva – where the same engine made 68 BHP – the performance was poorer than its competitors.
Skoda Octavia and Audi A4
Many BHPians refer to the Audi A4 as a fancier Octavia, and the Octavia as an A4 without the four-ringed badge. The 3rd-gen Skoda Octavia was launched with 1.4L & 1.8L turbo-charged petrol engines. The 1.4L was “strictly adequate”, while the 1.8L turbo-petrol offered explosive performance. Guess what? There was a time when the cheaper Octavia had the superior 1.8L petrol but the twice-as-expensive A4 was stuck with the puny 1.4L. The small turbo-petrol might have felt “adequate” in the Octavia, but in a 40-lakh Audi A4, it was downright under-powered & boring. Brain-dead mistakes similar to this one explain Audi India’s poor market performance.
Tata Tiago and Tata Altroz
We didn’t like the weedy 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine in the Tiago, and we sure hate it in the Altroz. Yes, it had been tweaked and churns out 85 BHP in the Altroz, but the 1.2L NA petrol is the weakest link in an otherwise premium hatchback. It’s too slow and too unrefined for the segment. We’ve always said that if you like the Altroz, go for the turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel powerplants.
Maruti Swift and Maruti S-Cross
India loved the Swift 1.3L diesel – it was a runaway success. With 74 BHP and 190 Nm on tap, the hatchback was peppy and quite a favourite among enthusiasts on a budget. Sadly, Maruti used the same engine in the S-Cross with a bump up in power & torque. In the heavier S-Cross, the 1.3L’s performance is extremely mediocre and the engine ends up exasperated with a full load of passengers + cargo onboard. This is especially disappointing to us enthusiasts as the S-Cross feels more European than Japanese (in dynamics & build), and Maruti discontinued the delicious 1.6L DDiS version prematurely. The 1.6 made the S-Cross very exciting, whereas the S-Cross 1.3 is characterless & boring.
Maruti Gypsy and Maruti 1000
The Maruti Gypsy was launched in the 80s with a 970cc, 4-cylinder petrol engine. It produced 45 BHP and for the time, was adequate to move the tall Gypsy at <100 km/h speeds. In 1990, Maruti introduced the 1000 – a sleek sedan that looked fast while standing still! However, once it got rolling, the Maruti 1000 fell flat on its face thanks to the dead motor (same as the Gypsy). The engine had to be wrung hard to get any semblance of performance out of it & putting the air-con on (which was weak anyway) would seriously jeopardise the driving experience. Curiously, when it was launched, auto journalists raved about its performance. Turns out, the production version was nothing like the cars that the media had driven. The media vehicles were fitted with the 1.3-litre engine that only made its debut years later in the Esteem. Thanks to vivekgk for telling us about this fraud (in the trivia thread).
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