In the early months of 2017, as part of the growing seventh-generation derived Fiesta ST, the automaker announced their newly-developed aluminum inline three-cylinder Ford 1.5 Ecoboost Dragon engine integrated with cylinder deactivation technology. The prior downsized 1.0 L EcoBoost engine garnered wide recognition due to its high-rated power out and torque with lower fuel consumption and emissions.
What are Ford 1.5L Ecoboost Dragon engines?
Ford 1.5 EcoBoost engine landed as the second leg and expanded the 1.0 L Fox EcoBoost engine. It has a higher capacity per cylinder up to 500cc. Ford considers the optimum capacity to deliver optimum thermal efficiency. The engine will come with a cylinder deactivation technology.
The 1.5 L Dragon is a product of Ford’s continuous effort to make a downsized engine that consumes lesser fuel, has lower emissions, and is definitely at a lower cost. The idea came due to the rising fuel prices, causing some manufacturers to lose a significant number of sales.
However, Ford needs to adapt to the given situation to solve such a problem, hence the birth of such compact machines. Even though they come from larger engine profiles, Ford was able to fit in smaller platforms and compete with those engines.
The engine features an all-aluminum lineup with some fundamental changes from the first EcoBoost engine. It is lighter and reduces friction better than the early 1.0L EcoBoost engine. It is smaller by 10% in size, occupying lesser space ideal for compact vehicles. Other significant improvements include decreasing Brake Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) by approximately 7%, lowering emissions.
Ford’s India factory at Sanand will be the one responsible for manufacturing the Dragon series engines. The engines will be for both domestic and international markets. Apart from India, these engines will also be built in Brazil, China, United Kingdom, Russia, and Mexico.
Engine Specifications and Design:
- Production Run: 2018 – Present
- Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
- Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
- Configuration: Inline-3
- Bore: 79.0 mm
- Stroke: 76.4 mm
- Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 1.5 L (1497 cc)
- Compression Ratio: 11.0
- Weight: 200 lbs.
- Maximum HP: 200 HP at 6,500 RPM
- Maximum Torque: 210 lb-ft at 1,600 – 4,000 RPM
The Ford 1.6 L Dragon EcoBoost engine framework is based on the 1.0 L Fox EcoBoost engine. Still, it is lighter, more efficient, has better fuel economy, occupies lesser space, and delivers faster throttle response due to its engine block composition as well as the aluminum material instead of cast-iron blocks.
The off-set crankshaft is made from cast iron with balancer shafts supported by hydrodynamic bearings that work as counterweights to eliminate first-order vibrations typical in three-cylinder engines. Off-set crankshafts improve both fuel efficiency as well as overall engine performance.
An unspecified and unique flywheel design and an unbalanced pulley ensure satisfactorily smooth running without exerting much energy due to sapping balance shafts.
The 1.5 Liter Dragon Ecoboost engine uses an oil-bathed timing belt to reduce friction and an acoustic isolation system to prevent annoying engine sounds or noises from entering the cabin.
Inside the cylinder block are forged connecting rods and low-friction coated cast aluminum pistons. Ford retained the lubrication system of the 1.0L Fox to the Ford 1.5L that increased engine efficiency and performance. This engine is equipped with an electronically controlled variable displacement oil pump that can operate at a lower pressure, lower speed-reducing friction, and provide a high fuel economy.
Mounted on top of the block is an aluminum 12-valve cylinder head. There are four valves per cylinder: two valves on the intake and two on the exhaust side. Ford integrated the exhaust manifold into the cylinder head to lower the temperature of exhaust gases and warms up the engine faster, even at cold starts.
The 1.5 Liter EcoBoost uses DAMB (Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket) valvetrain that has polished solid buckets or also called tappets. A low friction timing belt-in-oil drives the intake and exhaust camshafts.
It also has a dynamic tensioner providing less noise and more efficient running reliability. The engine is also equipped with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT). This allows each intake and exhaust cams to function on their respective roles independently as the operating conditions change throughout the cycle.
Even it is a downsized engine; the 1.5 Liter managed to overcome and be ahead of its competitors due to its turbocharger. This engine has a water-cooled, low-inertia, high-speed Continental mixed-flow turbocharger. The charged air goes in the intake manifold via an air-to-air intercooler with an additional fan. Ford also combined both the direct fuel and port fuel injection.
The engine is cooled through a split cooling system with two circuits and thermostats, one for the top-end turbocharger and another for the engine block. The system includes an electric water pump used for turbocharger cooling even when the hot engine is offline.
Ford improved the high-pressure direct fuel injection system, which injects the petrol directly to the combustion chamber through a high-pressure fuel pump. Each cylinder has a six-hole solenoid injector as a fuel entry point with maximum fuel pressure at 1276 psi.
Bosch also took the engine managing duties headed by the Bosch MED17 control unit with CAN-Bus and individual cylinder knock control. A heated universal oxygen sensor and catalyst monitor sensor, through a close-coupled three-way catalyst system, safeguards the emission reduction to a minimum in compliance with the Euro-5 and Euro-6 European emission levels.
Applications of Ford 1.5 EcoBoost:
- 2018 – Present Ford Focus
- 2018 – Present Ford Focus
- 2020 – Present Ford Escape
- 2021 – Ford Bronco Sport
- 2018 – Present Ford Fiesta ST
- 2021 – Present Ford Puma ST
Engine Tuning, Upgrades, and Modifications
One way to raise the Ford 1.6 Ecoboost number is by an ECU remapping.
On its standard and factory-rated 150 HP engine, it managed to get 181 HP and 174 lb-ft on the dyno, contrary to the factory numbers of 150 HP and 145 lb-ft of torque. After a lengthy and exhausting development program, you can reach the 225 HP mark and 220 lb-ft of torque; just by remapping.
The power output would still increase if you opt for another turbocharger or adding another one, making your engine a passively aggressive build. It is quite a spectacle, if you may, but this kind of setup will cost you more, but that is just the way it is; you need to pay for it.
Problems Surrounding Ford 1.5 EcoBoost engine:
As far as issues are concerned, the 1.5 Liter Dragon EcoBoost is not an exception to the rule. It also belongs to the vast demographics of engines that have a fair amount of problems and troubles. But throughout the years of developments, the issues were eventually addressed. But for you to have prior caution, here are some.
The good thing with the 1.5L Dragon is that you don’t have to deal with carbon build-up anymore since Ford already integrated a port and direct injection system into the engine.
I said this because the previous 1.0 Liter Fox Ecoboost engine has a direct injection system with no ports. If you have intake ports, the aim of the fuel goes into the intake ports, put in the cylinder, and work as a natural cleaner.
Without these small brooms, soot and carbon layers will eventually succumb to the intake valves, resulting in a tight closing leading to engine power loss and severe valve and valve seat damage. Observed normally on high mileage engines.
High Pressure Fuel Pump Issues
In connection to the abovementioned issue, engines with high mileage tend to suffer from struggling fuel pressure. Ford Ecoboost 1.5 L is built with a high-pressure fuel pump, so deterioration of these pumps will cause the overall performance and top-notch potential go to waste; achieving those numbers will leave you gasping in a dark room.
Replacing the old cam bucket with a new one does solve this problem and can increase the fuel pressure and performance.
Another issue reported way back was that some engines have problems in their coolant system, especially the bottom hose that would split and leak some of the coolants while the temperature sensor does not reflect the actual temperature.
A lot of engines were involved in this issue before Ford redesigned the hoses. On another note, there is a pipe that runs from the expansion tank to the machine that can cause cracking and leak; some coolant—friendly reminder to keep the coolant level in check.
The serialized installment of the EcoBoost engines, significantly below the 2.0L mark, cemented the legacy of the downsized engine. They revolutionized engine production as well as the designing of such intricate parts. There’s nothing more fulfilling than creating a machine that’s powerful and equivocal as its larger counterpart. It’s like having a grand piano sound to a kiddie piano – not exaggerating, though.
But with that, we are excited to know how the automotive world will respond to this kind of passive innovation.