A revolutionary new engine from Saab which rewrites the rulebook for power and economy has won Autocar magazine’s 2000 Technology Award. The 1.6-litre, five cylinder Saab Variable Compression (SVC) engine delivers the fuel economy of a conventional unit, together with the power and torque of a 3.0-litre engine whenever required. Maximum power, at 225 bhp, represents 140 bhp per litre, a level of output never seen before in a production engine.

The secret of SVC’s performance is an innovative hinge mechanism along the
length of the engine. A hydraulic actuator, controlled by the engine management
system, tilts the combined cylinder block and head in relation to the crankcase,
constantly varying the size of the combustion chamber and, hence, the compression
ratio.

The compact, all-aluminium engine utilises a supercharger when operating at
a low compression ratio (down to 8:1) to deliver 3.0-litre engine performance.
However, it can also run at a much higher compression ratio (up to 14:1) for
excellent fuel economy at moderate throttle openings when the supercharger disengages.

Autocar’s award citation says: "We were very impressed when we drove it,
the SVC delivering smooth and gutsy performance. It’s certainly radical, but
then most truly great inventions are. We think this is one of them."

The SVC engine, designed and developed in Sweden by Saab, has already completed
more than 150,000 miles of endurance testing and is due to be launched in Saab’s
next generation of new models.