MERCEDES-BENZ is looking to lead the fuel efficiency pack, and, like rivals BMW and Audi, plans to drop cylinders and look to forced-induction to keep power up.
In a recent interview with Autoweek.nl, Mercedes R&D boss Thomas Weber has revealed that the German luxury marque plans to include a hybrid option in the line-up of each of its models by 2012, and that some models will be available with a three-cylinder petrol engine.
The three-cylinder engine is expected to be much lighter than the current four-cylinder engines, with weight and fuel economy gains reportedly better than one might expect by simply deleting a cylinder.
Weber said that Mercedes-Benz is exploring options for partnering with another company on the development of its three-cylinder engine, and that the projected model range to feature the new engine includes the A and B-Class, the next-generation C-Class, and the diminutive Smart ForTwo.
Mercedes' experimentation with fuel-efficient engines isn't a new thing, of course, with the company's DieSotto engine - a petrol engine which uses diesel technology - revealed back in 2007.
In the company's large S-Class saloon, a prototype of the DieSotto engine achieved a fuel consumption figure of 7.25 l/100km - a figure more in line with a medium-sized passenger car.