These are the 12 best car engines from 1999 to 2018* | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
eBay's Guide to Thrifty Motoring
Read it all here
Thursday 30th March

These are the 12 best car engines from 1999 to 2018*

*According to the International Engine of the Year Awards

  • The International Engine of the Year Awards celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018, and to celebrate, the people behind the awards created One Award To Rule Them All (or at least, before the next anniversary rolls around). It was called ‘Best of the Best’. Which means it’s an award that recognises all the overall winners over the awards’ then 20-year history.

    Naturally, only one can win, and you might even disagree with a few – or indeed all – of them. For example, while there are a few BMW engines in this list, there isn’t the quietly magnificent 2.8-litre straight-six from, say, um, an E36 328i Sport. Good, solid engine, at least in this humble writers’ opinion.

    Want to find out what the International Engine of the Year Awards recognises as the best engines spanning its inception (1999) to 2018? Then do the honourable thing and click forth.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • 10: Fiat 875cc TwinAir/BMW 4.4-litre Valvetronic/Honda 1.0-litre IMA

    Three engines take up joint 10th place. Pictured is the first-generation Honda Insight, which packed that 1.0-litre triple.

  • 9: Toyota 1.0-litre

    Not a 1.0-litre three-cylinder from an Aygo, but alas, from way back in 1999, when Toyota put a 1.0-litre triple into a Yaris.

    Please wake up.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • 8: Mazda Renesis Rotary

    Ah, the glory of rotary. It was only a 1.3-litre, but it was called a Wankel rotary engine and produced over 200bhp in 2003's RX-8. Sounded really quite good, too.

  • 7: BMW 3.0-litre twin-turbo

    BMW's return to turbocharging came with an overall win at the 2007 International Engine of the Year Awards with this straight-six. It won again in 2008, as well. Here it is, snug inside a 335i Coupe.

  • 6: BMW 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid

    We liked the BMW i8 so much, we gave it a TG Car of the Year Award. In 2015, its three-cylinder engine would be crowned the overall International Engine of the Year.

  • 5: Toyota 1.5-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive

    Yep, the 1.5-litre from a Prius. Known to transport inebriated patrons home through towns and cities across this great land at literal warp speed. Thus, at a certain time of night, this is the fastest car in the world.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • 4: Volkswagen 1.4-litre TSI twin-charger

    This supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, familiar from the old VW Polo GTI, among others, is a worthy entrant. In some corners of the Internet, this engine has been known to be able to outrun anything theoretically faster than it, using nothing more than a remap and some judicious CAPS LOCK.

  • 3: BMW M 3.2-litre straight-six

    You ever heard one of these things under full throttle? You really should. BMW made its name in straight-sixes and the one slotted into the E46 BMW M3 is everything good about the breed.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • 2: Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost

    When we tried this diddy turbo three-cylinder back in 2013, we found it 'endearingly off-beat', and real fun to hustle around in the Fiesta. It was also available in the Focus, too, and nowadays even powers big old Mondeos.

  • 1: Ferrari 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8

    Ladies and gentlemen, the finest engine of the last 20 years is Ferrari's current turbocharged masterpiece. In various forms, this 3.9-litre twin-turbo unit equips all of Ferrari's V8-engined cars. We pay tribute to it by showing you the latest, maddest iteration of it: the 488 Pista.

    Note: this engine won the overall International Engine of the Year award - again - in 2019

More from Top Gear

See more on List

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5