Until a few years ago, the three-cylinder engine was considered a unit that was only suitable for downsizing purposes, but today it proves that it can also be used for pure performance, even in super sports cars worth millions. So let's find out which are/were the most powerful cars with three cylinders today.

Mini Cooper C - 156 PS

Let's start at the bottom. Namely with the 156 PS of the new Mini Cooper C. The British-Bavarian three-door model, which in its fourth generation is also equipped with an electric motor in addition to the ubiquitous 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder engine.

MINI Cooper C

In combination with a 7-speed DSG and a weight of 1,335 kg, the Mini Cooper C can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 7.7 seconds and reach 140 mph (225 km/h). Not bad for our first three-cylinder "sports car", is it?

  MINI Cooper C
Engine 3-cylinder 1,499 cc with turbocharging
Power output 156 PS
Engine torque 230 Nm
Top speed 140 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 7.7 seconds
Weight 1,355 kg
Weight/power ratio 8.55 kg/PS

Ford Puma ST - 200 PS (or 170 PS)

The Ford Puma ST is (or was) one power level higher, equipped with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with turbocharger and 200 PS, which is (or was) transmitted to the front wheels via a classic 6-speed manual gearbox. Why are we writing in the past? Because this drive will no longer be available after the recently presented facelift. Then you'll have to make do with a maximum of 170 PS.

Ford Puma ST

The most extreme Puma available until then weighed 1,358 kg empty, reached 137 mph (220 km/h) and sprinted from 0 to 62 mph in 6.7 seconds.

  Ford Puma ST
Engine 3-cylinder turbo engine with 1,497 cm³
power output 200 PS
Engine torque 320 Nm
Top speed 137 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 6.7 seconds
Weight 1,358 kg
Weight/power ratio 6.79 kg/PS

Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge - 262 PS (no longer available)

The Volvo XC40 also utilises the advantages of the three-cylinder engine, namely in the plug-in hybrid version T5 Recharge, which together with an electric motor achieves 262 PS. In practice, the 1.5-litre engine develops 180 PS and the electric motor 82 PS.

Volvo XC40

The XC40 plug-in hybrid can now no longer be ordered, meaning that customers can only fall back on existing stock. The Swedish compact SUV, which does not have a particularly sporty look or equipment, reaches 112 mph (180 km/h) and sprints from zero to one hundred in 7.3 seconds. The transmission is a 7-speed automatic.

  Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge
Engine 3-cylinder turbo engine with 1,477 cm³ + electric
Power output 180+82 PS
Torque 265+160 Nm
Top speed 112 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 7.3 seconds
Weight 1,812 kg
Weight/power ratio 6.91 kg/PS

Toyota GR Yaris - 280 PS

Few small cars are as synonymous with sportiness and driving pleasure as the Toyota GR Yaris. The Japanese three-door car that puts a 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with an incredible 280 PS on the road, combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox (alternatively with an 8-speed automatic) and all-wheel drive with three selectable modes.

Toyota GR Yaris

The driving performance of the revised little road bomb is not yet officially known, but it is easy to imagine that the GR Yaris will perform better than its predecessor, which accelerated from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.5 seconds and reached 143 mph (230 km/h).

  Toyota GR Yaris
Engine 3-cylinder turbo engine with 1,618 cm³
Power output 280 PS
Engine torque 390 Nm
Top speed N.A.
Acceleration 0-62 mph N.A.
Weight 1,280 kg
Weight/power ratio 4.57 kg/PS

Range Rover Evoque P300e - 309 PS

Decidedly powerful with 309 PS, but more elegant than sporty, is the Range Rover Evoque P300e. The plug-in hybrid that combines a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with an electric motor, 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Range Rover Evoque restyling (2023)

Range Rover Evoque

The luxurious British off-roader may be the heaviest vehicle on the list, but it still reaches 132 mph (213 km/h) and sprints from 0 to 62 mph in 6.4 seconds.

  Range Rover Evoque P300e
Engine 3-cylinder turbo engine with 1,498 cm³, electric +
power output 309 PS
Engine torque 540 Nm
Top speed 132 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 6.4 seconds
Weight 2,157 kg
Weight/power ratio 6.98 kg/PS

BMW X1 xDrive30e - 326 PS

The BMW X1 xDrive30e is not particularly sporty, but it is remarkably powerful for an SUV in its class, with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine and an electric motor producing a whopping 326 PS.

BMW X1 xDrive30e

Drive is via all-wheel drive and the transmission is a 7-speed DSG. With this equipment, the most powerful BMW X1 plug-in hybrid reaches a top speed of 127 mph (205 km/h) and sprints from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.6 seconds.

  BMW X1 xDrive30e
Engine 3-cylinder turbo engine with a displacement of 1,499 cc + electric
Power output 150+177 PS
Torque 230+247 Nm
Top speed 127 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 5.6 seconds
Weight 1,935 kg
Weight/power ratio 5.93 kg/PS

Koenigsegg Gemera TFG - 1,400 PS

Let's move on to the front-runner among the three-cylinder engines, the Koenigsegg Gemera TFG with its incredible 2.0-litre turbocharger called Tiny Friendly Giant with 600 PS and the Dark Matter electric motor with 800 PS. This gives the two-door four-seater a total of 1,400 PS.

Koenigsegg Gemera

The technology of the small three-cylinder engine is truly spectacular, as it does without a camshaft, which is replaced by electropneumatic freevalve actuators. It can operate according to the Otto, Miller and Atkinson cycles in order to reduce consumption and emissions, and has two differently sized turbochargers. The transmission is an innovative 9-speed multi-clutch automatic known as the Light Speed Tourbillion Transmission. The result is a plug-in hybrid hypercar that can travel 31 miles (50 kilometres) on electricity, reach 249 mph (400 km/h) and accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just 1.9 seconds.

  Koenigsegg Gemera TFG
Engine 3-cylinder twin turbo with 1,988 cm³ + electric
Power output 600+800 PS
Torque 600+1,250 Nm
Top speed 249 mph
Acceleration 0-62 mph 1.9 seconds
Weight 1,818 kg
Weight/power ratio 1.29 kg/PS