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Honda's new 1.6 liter diesel engine is lightest in its class


November 20, 2012

The 1.6-liter i-DTEC engine

The 1.6-liter i-DTEC engine

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Honda apparently wants to show that good things come in small packages, so it's announced that it will be installing its 1.6-liter i-DTEC diesel engine in the 2013 Civic manufactured at the company’s facility in Swindon, U.K. Specifically designed for the European market, the 1.6-liter i-DTEC is the lightest in its class, yet puts out 120 PS (118 bhp) and 300 Nm (221 ft-lb) of torque.

The 1.6-liter i-DTEC is the product of Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology program and was developed using a ground-up approach based on improving a broad front of small details. The engine is intended to not only put a respectable amount of power from a small package, but also to be environmentally friendly with a fuel economy of 78.5 mpg (3 l/100 km) and carbon dioxide emissions of 94 g/km.

Each individual component was redesigned and manufactured with an eye on reducing weight and size until the 1.6-liter i-DTEC was 47 kg (103.6 lb) lighter than Honda’s 2.2-liter i-DTEC. It has an aluminum cylinder head joined to an open deck aluminum block, with the distance between the cylinders having been reduced. The cylinders are only 8 mm thick and the engine uses lighter pistons and connecting rods than the 2.2 liter version.

Another factor was reducing friction by various redesigns, such as a shorter and thinner piston skirt. This means that at 1500 rpm, the 1.6-liter i-DTEC produces about 40 per cent less friction than the 2.2-liter i-DTEC.

“This not only reduces emissions and improves fuel efficiency; it also improves the engine’s response, both on and off the throttle, making the car more fun to drive,” said Tetsuya Miyake, Project Leader for the 1.6-liter i-DTEC engine. “We have reduced the mechanical friction of the engine to the level equivalent of an existing petrol engine, which is an outstanding achievement.”

The 1.6-liter i-DTEC also boasts a fourth generation Garrett turbocharger with variable-nozzle design and electronics to make it respond faster to throttle changes. According to Honda, this provides an “optimal combination of low- to mid-range pull and high-speed performance.”

Another feature of the engine is a Bosch solenoid injection system with 1800 bar of pressure so that the fuel is injected faster with finer atomization for cleaner, more efficient combustion. This is augmented by a high intake flow and a high swirl head port to reduce hot spots. There is also an exhaust gas recirculation system that operates at high and low pressure to reduce mono-nitrogen oxide emissions.

Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) at Swindon has been retooled for the 1.6-liter i-DTEC and is capable of producing up to 500 engines a day – that’s one every 138 seconds. The new line will produce both the new 1.6-liter i-DTEC and the existing 2.2-liter i-DTEC engines. The 1.6 liter version will also be used in the CR-V later next year and eventually the technology will be adopted by all of Honda’s power trains. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how well the Civic performs with its new diesel powerplant.

Honda's 1.6-liter i-DTEC engine is explained in the video below.

Source: Honda

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

If they put it on a large motorcycle.I hope its quieter then these ear splitting " who a mobiles"have had a lot of friends get killed or injured on large motorcycles,is the market actually growing for these devices?,the name eludes me but there is already a good european diesel engine that works good on motorcycles. I believe too,that NOX emission worry has gone a bit to far,for pitys sake make the motorcycles NOX exempt(there isnt that many of them-the old gassers are plenty smelly)


As usual, not meant for the United States. WAKE UP PEOPLE. This engine is clean and gets nearly 80 mpg?


great, Now put it in a motorcycle chassis! the long way round, down, across or up would be great on a diesel. And with this sector of the motorcycle market growing the time is right. DO IT!

Sean Moore

The U.S. always has its priorities in line. Thank you EPA and other regulatory bodies from keeping fine motors out of our market.

Travis Tarr

Sean Brendan Phelim Moore. A diesel on a motorbike? There a good reasons why people don't put diesels in motorbikes. They are heavy - which affects manuverability. No one is going to ride a motorbike that wants to resist change in direction because of an overly heavy engine. That is dangerous. Emissions controls are more complex and involved on diesel engines. Are you going to use a catalytic converted to reduce particulate emmisions? Urea injection for NOx emissions? Any solution will add more weight, cost and complexity to your motorbike. The increase in weight means you need to upgrade the brakes and suspension systems. This adds further weight and cost. They are low revving compared to petrol car engines and incredibly low revving when compared to your average motorcycle engine. You would need an extremely complex gearbox to make use of the torque. Torque that is overkill for a bike weighing anything near or under 300Kg. This is only adding further weight, complexity and cost. The turbo lag would be so appreciable on a motorcycle compared to a petrol engine that it would be potentially dangerous and frustrating to ride. The manufacturing costs relative to a comparable petrol motorbike would be unjustifiable. What would the selling point be? The only advantage would be fuel consumption. If fuel efficiency was your main concern then there are already motorcycles built to be fuel efficient on petrol - not surprisingly, honda sells them. If I've missed some advantage you are thinking of - please let me know.

I will be very disappointed if Honda only provides this engine to Europe. Australia could certainly benefit from it and it would do the Honda brand here a great deal of good. There is a proven precedent. Hyundai sells their I30 with a 1.6 Turbo diesel and it has gained a lot of popularity and wide acclaim. Not surprisingly it is a fuel miser. If honda sold the Civic with this engine and a dual clutch gearbox or a finely tuned CVT, they would be on a winner.


Interesting article, but I have a suggestion for the author. In an article about the lightest engine in it's class, it might be a good idea to give it's actual weight, not just a comparison to another engine's weight.

Siegfried Gust

The headline speaks of lightest ever, so too, the first sentence but not till the second paragraph does weight actually get mentioned. And I still don't know how heavy this engine is!

Guy Macher

This looks like an excellent advance. I bet it won't be long before this is used in aircraft too.

One should note MPG is in metric so more like 65mpg with US gals as ours are smaller.

I'd bet it weighs about what a MC engine of similar power does. They are not light. I built an E MC using 240lbs of lead batteries from a Kaw 750 and it weighs less than stock!!


re; Australian

Heavy bikes have advantages to they are more stable in windy conditions and if you have the right ratio of weight to tire/road contact area they are plenty nimble.

Also having different gear ratios does not make the transmission more complex.

I will take the heaviest bike I can lift back onto it wheels by myself.


We ALL need to petition Obama and the government agencies to abandon their stance against diesels which obviously bring many more miles per gallon than what we have to offer. I believe they are measuring them by the minute instead of overall per mileage and so get it wrong and apply foolish sanctions against these engines. We need them NOW congress-EPA whoever the genius's are who are holding them back-why? There must be some lobby that stops them in favor of buying more fuel is all I can think!


I guess there's no market in the USA for a car that gets 78.5 mpg. :-)

William Volk

SBPM & Austrailan-

Ducati has made a production diesel motorcycle.



jerryd . . . as an aside, I was considering an electric MC build as well, but I haven't found anyone yet who has seriously commuted on one for more than a year! EVERYBODY that I have talked to personally quits riding them after a few months because of problems or boredom. What was your Experience?

PicklePop Flyer


Ducati does make a diesel- but only on a naked bike- thus throwing away one of the major advantages- long range economy, for the sake of producing what to me looks like something of a gimmick.

A small and refined diesel (yes they do exist) in a full-on touring bike would give the advantage of effortless milage coverage, plenty of torque for a bike laden with luggage and possibly two up, and very good economy.


I'm with Sigfreid. How can Honda claim it is lightest in its class, and not say how much it weighs ?

Martin Hone

Ducati does NOT have a diesel engined motorcycle. They have partnered with the brand "Diesel" that make clothes.


the USMC have a diesel bike based on a KLR650 - they just want to have one type of fuel. Acceleration is an issue - top speed and fuel economy isn't.

What I would love to see with this motor is it chopped in two - a twin cylinder 800cc turbo with 60ps and 150nm AND 1.5 l/100km. Woohoo - put this into a thoughtful hybrid (bit like my old sirion - great little car) that has good aero and regenerative brakes, and it should be able to get 1l/100km for a versatile little car. Or put it into something like a jimny or sierra for 4wd fun.

Then run them on green biodiesel. Or better yet, use the regenerative power to create fuel from atmospheric C02 via a zubrin process... Put 100l into the car, and never have to put fuel into it until the next service...

No more money grubbing oil companies and expensive fuel imports, for cars anyway! And no more fuel crisis....


Why can't we have this in OZ? Because our engineers and engineering schools suck thats why. We can only turn OZ into an efficient gravel pit for the big guys, not actually create anything of use from out cast natural resources.


Ford's 3 cylinder ultra-lite engine burns gasoline but does get good mileage and is available in U.S. GM has offered little in advanced technology for the common folk. Pain in my heart is that this fine diesel effort did not come from Detroit Michigan or anywhere else in the U.S. ? We have lost so much ground now.

Bruce Miller

The problem with a car in the USA that gets 75+ mpg is that all of the political entities that tax fuel would go broke. The net cost of fuel is about the same in the United States and Europe. The difference in what the motorist pays is due to taxes. In the US, taxes are fairly low. So the public is willing to tolerate reduced mileage due to engine calibration and gas dilution due to ethanol. But in Europe where the gas taxes are a majority of the purchase price, the public would not stand for paying onerous taxes on a fuel that was deliberately blended to give reduced mileage. So Europe gets better gas and better engines than we get here. Wait until the hybrids start getting into a significant percentage of vehicles and states realize that they are contributing their fair share of road use taxes (paid via fuel taxes) and start charging additional registration fees. And a big economy of the plug-in electrics that one charges up in their home garage is that they pay no road use taxes. That will change.

Dave Merriam

"How can Honda claim it is lightest in its class, and not say how much it weighs ? "

Simple. You write the class specifications so that your engine is the only one that qualifies. Then you are the winner!! You get full bragging rights. Just hide the fine print.

Dave Merriam

Voice of Reason we can't have diesel cars in the US because of NOx emission standards in states like California and CT. Volkswagen had to move away from diesel cars. No one needs to wake up, we just need to change emission standards to EU Rule.

Michael Mantion

I agree with others in that there is absolutely no logical reason why private US consumers- of small passenger vehicles- should be restricted from purchasing this sort of improved diesel technology. Yes, reasonable NOx, C particulates, and other standards must be considered but except for VW, BMW, and Mercedes auto manufacturers have all but abandoned the US market. CA is responsible for this situation for the last 15years. See and sign my petition on petitions.whitehouse.gov ! http://wh.gov/IaPh


An old article from Gizmag:


A quick Bing and there is not much in the way of diesel motorbikes. Not many manufacturers and not much interest outside of military applications. They only wanted diesel motorbikes for logistic simplicity. They then use the same fuel as everything else in the field. If you ride a motorbike and drive diesel vehicles, you quicky understand why diesel engines and 2 wheels have limited application together.


Dear President Obama,

Reduce of reliance on foreign oil by improving conservation efforts. Force a change in legislation allowing high mileage engines into the US.


Mark A


"They are heavy - which affects manuverability. No one is going to ride a motorbike that wants to resist change in direction because of an overly heavy engine. That is dangerous."

How do you explain big cruisers that weigh 600, 700, 800 pounds or more?


re; Australian

I drove a diesel truck for a years and rode a motorcycle for a decade and I would love a diesel motorcycle.


It's not the EPA as European emissions are just as strict. There is simple little demand for diesels in the U.S.-period. Quit blaming the Feds for everything.


re; chidrbmt

California and two other states are absolute death on diesel engines and the EPA is part of the problem with their bureaucratic maze and not licensing things that their regulations would actually allow.


I hope all you American diesel and motorcycle enthusiasts noted that this engine is both small, suitable mainly for typical european small cars rather than your big pickup, and turbocharged, which wouldn't suit a motorcycle at all, unless you like burning your leg on the exhaust.

Paul Gracey

re; Paul Gracey

Turn the engine so that the exhaust manifold is to the front and route the exhaust underneath the engine.


re: jerryd,

MPG means miles per gallon which are english measurements, not metric. The article states a fuel economy of 3l/100km which is equal to approx 78.4 mpg depending on how you round, once you convert liters to gal and km to miles.


a C.V.Transmission would work very well and deliver the torque easily, weight is not that much of an issue large cruisers go up to and beyond 400Kg. Not everyone want a crotch rocket, imagine a diesel bike with sidecar touring.

Sean Moore

EPA EEMEEAA. EPA is geared to US petroleum market and gas hogs. Lock step with oil companies. In EPA system, it is it's OK to burn 2 gallons per mile as long as they are cleanly burned. European model is to raise total miles per gallon with lower emissions to get a lower overall number. That is why EPA limits diesel access to the US market. EPA encourages low mileage vehicles. In Europe, 60% of new cars are diesel and you cannot smell them or see any exhaust, very clean.

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