The new cars with the most power per liter in Australia

A two-liter 4-cylinder can now match a naturally aspirated V8 muscle car in power, thanks to advances in engine technology in recent years.

Two decades ago, the thought of a four-cylinder engine producing 300kW, a six-cylinder engine developing 400kW and a V8 offering 500kW – all in a road car – was completely unheard of.

Today, as the internal combustion engine enters its final decade under the hood of our new cars, all manner of advancements in engine technology have allowed automakers to squeeze more power than ever before from engines that small and lighter.

However, some engines stand above others, packing more power and torque into shorter, narrower and fewer cylinders. Here are the 10 most “power dense” engines on sale – in other words, the engines with the most power per liter.

10. Alfa Romeo Giulia / Stelvio Quadrifoglio (129.7 kW / L)

One of only two groups of four-door cars on this list, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio share one 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6derived from an earlier version of the 3.9-liter and 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8s in the Ferrari higher up this list.

Out of 375 kW AND 600 NmAlfa Romeos are the most powerful four-doors in their segment – ​​leaving aside BMW’s M Competition mid-size cars (M3, M4, X3 M and X4 M), which also quote 375kW, but from 102 bigger cc (2993cc vs 2891cc).

9. McLaren 720S (132.7 kW/L)

The McLaren with the lowest place in this top-10 list, the 720S uses 4.0 liter ‘M840T’ company version Twin-turbo V8 – a successor to an engine originally planned for a 1980s Nissan Group C racing car – in development 530 kW AND 770 Nm.

It’s not cheap either, at over $500,000 before on-road costs and options – two-thirds more than the next car on this list and the equivalent of more than three Giulias.

The ‘regular’ BMW M4 and M4 Competition might not have enough power to overtake the aforementioned Alfa Romeos and find a place on this list, but the tuned and stripped-down M4 CSL does.

Reviving a name last used 20 years ago – and first applied in the 1970s – the new M4 CSL uses BMW’s most powerful version 3.0-liter twin-turbo ‘S58’ inline-six offered to date, under development 405 kW AND 650 Nm.

It’s also the most expensive engine application (for now), priced at $303,900 plus on-road costs – nearly double the price of a base M4 manual coupe.

What are likely to be Ferrari’s last series production V8 supercars without any sort of hybrid technology, the F8 Tributo coupe and F8 Spider convertible, take the seventh spot on this list.

Powered by 3.9 liters versions of the Ferrari ‘F154’ twin-turbocharged V8, two-door F8 share the productions of 530 kW AND 770 Nm, fed to the rear wheels for 2.9 seconds from 0-100 km/h. Prices start from around $540,000 plus on-road costs.

6. McLaren 765LT (141.0 kW/L)

McLaren’s renowned V8 is offered with even more power under the hood of the 765LT – the heroic track-focused version of the 720S range.

Available in Spider form, priced from $685,000 plus on-road costs, the 765LT extracts 563 kW (or 765 metric horsepower) and 800 Nm for a speed of 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds.

5. McLaren Artura (145.7 kW/L)

The smallest engine ever fitted to a modern McLaren also delivers more power per liter than any other engine from the company: new 3.0-liter (2993cc) twin-turbo V6 in Artura $449,550, under development 430kW/585Nm.

The car’s hybrid system boosts the combined outputs to 500kW and 720Nm – but we’ve excluded this electrified boost from the power-per-litre calculations, as it’s not generated by the petrol engine itself.

The most powerful production version of the Ferrari F154 turbo V8 is equipped with the $846,888 SF90 Stradale and the $957,700 SF90 Spider duo, displacing four liters (3990cc) and under development 574kW/800Nm.

That figure excludes the duo’s SF90 hybrid system, which can add another 162kW for a total of 735kW – although like the Artura, we haven’t factored that into the calculations.

The only two-door V6 supercar on this list without hybrid assist, the $467,000-plus on-the-road Maserati MC20. 3.0-litre twin-turbo ‘Nettuno’ V6 designed in-house – no relation to the 2.9-litre Ferrari mill in the Alfa Romeo range.

With Formula 1-derived pre-chamber combustion technology on board, it cites 463 kW (630 metric horsepower, not 470 kW as also reported) and 730 Nm from only 3000cc capacity.

2. Mercedes-AMG A45/CLA45/GLA45 S (155.7 kW/L)

Mercedes-AMG 2.0 liter (1991cc) ‘M139’ turbocharged four-cylinder is the most powerful four-cylinder ever fitted to a production car 310 kW AND 500 Nm in the flagship A45 S, CLA45 S and GLA45 S performance cars.

Built by hand, the engine has a 7,200 rpm redline, a high-speed twin-scroll turbocharger and up to 30.5 psi (2.1 bar) of boost pressure. It can be yours for as little as $99,895 plus on-road costs in the A45 S – the only car under $100,000 here.

The M139 engine will soon be installed in the next-generation Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan, with an output of up to 331 kW – before the high-output plug-in hybrid system is included.

1. Ferrari 296 GTB (163.0 kW/L)

As with its British rival, it is small Twin turbo V6 which claims power density boasts for Ferrari, with the ‘F163’ 120-degree engine in the new 296 GTB (and 296 GTS convertible) hybrid supercar.

displacement 3.0 liters – although Ferrari calls it a 2.9 liter engine, despite a capacity of 2992 cc – the 296 GTB’s engine is developed 487 kW on its own, before adding another 123 kW from the plug-in hybrid engine.

Ferrari claims combined outputs of 610kW and 740Nm, good for a 0-100km/h sprint in 2.9 seconds and an 8500rpm redline on par with a screaming naturally aspirated Ferrari V12.

Are there any cars we missed? Which power-dense engine stands out to you the most? Tell us in the comments.

Alex Misoyanis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his website, Redline. He contributed to Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from reviewing magazines of cars at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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