German automaker Mercedes-Benz said that it plans to fit its hybrid versions of the compact front-wheel-drive cars with three-cylinder engines.

“In packaging a hybridized engine in the front end, the four-cylinder engine has its limitations,” said Bernhard Heil, head of powertrain development for Mercedes’ parent company Daimler.

Although, the German automaker’s engineers do not believe that three-bangers would bring much of a change, the small engines are needed for the transverse-mounted hybrid powertrains. Daimler will have its rear-wheel-drive vehicles and the hybrid derivatives fitted with four-cylinder engines and up as these cars have more space for longitudinally mounted engines.

According to Heil, Daimler also plans to introduce a small gasoline engine manufactured in partnership with Renault. Mercedes-Benz already offers an engine developed jointly with Renault, the slightly tweaked 1.5-liter turbo diesel fitted in compact vehicles sold in the European market.

Both engines developed with Renault, the four-cylinder engine and the three-cylinder engine, are designed for the GLA, CLA, the compact A class and B class. The engines are expected to make their debut in the following two years, but it is not known if they will be offered for the US market too, as vehicles for this region comes with Mercedes’ most powerful engines.


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