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A Replacement for Displacement? Luxury Makers Betting On It

Luxury makers Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley explore smaller and alternative engines.

by on Jan.18, 2011

Porsche's 918 RSR race car will use a hybrid powertrain to give it a track edge.

“There’s no replacement for displacement,” goes the old automotive adage, and nowhere has that approach carried more weight than in the luxury market, where big V8s and V12s are the norm, rather than the exception.

At least until now.  But with U.S. regulators looking at a 62 mpg CAFE standard and even tougher restrictions likely to go into effect in Europe, luxury makers like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Bentley are looking to downsize their powertrain line-up.

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The trend is already apparent in the mainstream of luxury models, where four-cylinder gas and small turbocharged diesels have become as much the norm as the exception.  But the shift is beginning to take hold in even the most performance-oriented models, such as those produced by Ferrari, Bentley and Mercedes’ AMG division. (more…)