Through a joint venture formed in 1997, Chrysler and BMW (originally Rover) created 1.4-and 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines which would be built in Brazil. According to one of the engineers, the Mini engine was “100% Chrysler designed,” and was similar to the export PT and Neon engines — a Neon 2.0 single-cam with reduced bore size and centers.
The 1.6 liter pushed out about 115 hp (86 kW) at 5,600 rpm and 113 lb-ft (153 Nm) at 4,400 rpm, and was used in the BMW Mini. A South African ad noted that it “The peak torque, 154 Nm at 4,800 r/min, is the highest of any naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine available in Europe or the US today. The new engine is highly fuel-efficient and produces very low emissions in accordance with European and other strict standards.”
The cast-iron engines, like the base neon 2.0, had a single overhead cam, aluminum heads, four valves per cylinder, and sequential injection; they were designed for 2001 model-year Chrysler and Rover mini-cars, a plan derailed when BMW took over Rover and Daimler took over Chrysler. The goals were a simple, durable, and robust engine which met Euro III emissions standards, had superior fuel economy without sacrificing power, and was appropriate for Europe and South America.
Like all contemporary Chrysler technologies, the 1.4 and 1.6 was designed in a paperless CATIA environment with advanced computer-based modeling techniques and in partnership with other organizations. It had Chrysler’s first use of electronic throttle control, and used lightweight pistons, rods, and crank to be more responsive and reduce noise and vibration.
The 1.6 was used in both the BMW Mini and the Chrysler Neon (depending on the country, the Neon was available with the 1.6, the 1.8 — a downsized 2.0 — or the 2.0 as the base engine).
The joint venture, Tritec Motors, was purchased by Fiat in March 2008, including the factory and the engine design. Fiat used the engines to replace GM-based four-cylinders; a modernized version, now dubbed e.torQ, was launched in 2011. As of 2016, it was still made there, in two versions, a 1.6 and 1.8 liter. The 1.6 was rated at 110 horsepower in the Mexican Dodge Neon in 2017, but at 115-117 horsepower in Brazil.
Both continue to have 16 valves, and have been adapted for flex fuels, running on ethanol or gasoline; the 1.6 generates 115-117 horsepower depending on fuel, while the 1.8 pumps out 130-132 horsepower. It now has a timing chain, rather than a belt.
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