First up, we have to visit Germany. VW, SEAT and Skoda all used the same MQB platform to make lighter compact cars. However, Audi got the best combination because it could make the most expensive ones. All of their fast models are powered by V6 or V8 engines, but the all-new TT and TTS do more with less.
The €50,000 TTS delivers 310 PS from a 2-liter TFSI turbo engine, which gets it from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in only 4.6 seconds when launch control is used. That makes it as fast as the more powerful A45 AMG from Mercedes. Not only is it fast, but also very efficient, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8 l/100km (34.5 mpg). Basically, this is done using variable valve timing, a split thermal management system for the head and a stratified fuel system with direct and indirect injection.
Speaking of which, Mercedes-AMG is credited with making the highest specific output 2-liter engine for any production car in the world. It too uses high tech gear, including an oil cooling system similar to the SLS AMG. We've talked about it at length in the past and have nothing bad to add. In fact, the company has promised an even more powerful version will be launched in the Autumn of 2015 to take on Audi's RS3, so look for about 370 PS or even more. For me, personally, the best one of four different cars you can get with this mill is the A45 AMG, which is the lightest.
Some say Mitsubishi's Evo X deserves the crown. In its final renditions, the rally car for the road is pushing over 400 hp, but the service intervals are absurdly short so I don't look at it as a production car. Want a good 2-liter turbo made in Japan? Subaru has the best one.
BMW also makes some pretty amazing 2-liter turbo engines. In fact, there are more versions than we can count right now. The really important ones are the 245 PS version in things like the 328i and X1 xDrive28i and the less powerful 192 PS version that just went into the MINI Cooper S. The specific output is less important than the fact that it belongs to a modular family and will find its way into all sorts of FWD cars, including the Countryman, X1 SUV and a FWD sedan that's on its way.
If it's performance you're after, how about the new MINI Cooper JCW? Never has there been a supermini hot hatch with 231 PS coming from a huge 2-liter lump. It sounds like putting afterburners on a camel and training it to be an astronaut, but Audi have done it as well with their quattro S1 models that also have 231 hp.
And what if you're a really weird gentleman and want a diesel 2-liter turbo engine? Well, there's one that stands head and shoulders above the competition right now, and that's the 2.0 BiTDI in Volkswagen's new Passat. By using two turbochargers, it manages to produce the same 240 PS as most V6 units make. There's also more torque than the front wheels can handle, half a thousand Newton-meters, so the traction is sent to all four via a standard 7-speed DSG. The result is 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 6.1 seconds, faster than a Golf GTI.
Worthy mentions? Just three really good ones.We have to give credit where it's due and say that Alfa Romeo took a brave step and made the only mid-engined turbo 4-cylinder sportscar currently on the market. Even though it may have some flaws, the 4C is a pocket Italian supercar that delivers 240 hp from its 1,750cc block, with plans to add even more further down the line. And since the thing only weighs one ton and is made from carbon fiber, performance is like nothing else.
The second worthy mention is the Toyobaru. The naturally aspirated 2-liter boxer mill doesn't qualify for our examination since it's not force-induced. However, Japanese engineers have managed to kickstart a long forgotten car segment. Dyno tests have proven that the 200 hp output is actually making more like 170 to 180 hp at the crank, but that's not really surprising. Other similar N/A 2-liter units have the same problem, including the ones in the Clio 3 RS and the Honda S2000.
I think I first realized the importance of the Subaru BRZ when the UK company branch announced they had dropped prices to just £22,495. That means this rear-drive coupe is cheaper than most hot hatches.
The list wouldn't be complete without the Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R, which is currently the fastest front-wheel drive production car ever to have gone around the Nurburgring. It's the ultimate of the ultimate, but the performance has more to do with the external reservoir dampers and the semi-slick track tires than actual hp.
So there you have it guys – our take on a touchy subject. Feel free to add more cars currently in production that do a great job with 2 liters of displacement.