Mercedes-Benz is considering the use of three-cylinder engines for hybrid applications in future compact vehicles. In an interview at the Geneva auto show last week, powertrain chief Bernhard Heil told us that space and packaging considerations with transversely mounted engine applications could make such a move feasible.
He does not appear to be a big fan of the three-cylinder engine by itself, citing the need for countermeasures to improve noise, vibration, and harshness levels at least to those of a four-cylinder engine. These changes, such as balancing shafts, would drive up cost and diminish the efficiency advantages of a three-cylinder unit.
Heil wouldn’t be specific on when three-cylinder engines would come to market in vehicles such as the A-class, the B-class, the CLA, and the GLA. But one thing is sure: They won’t appear in all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive Mercedes in the foreseeable future.