Historically, engine compression ratios have been fixed, and represent a compromise between the various needs of a modern car, from stop-start urban driving to motorway cruising. SVC ensures the compression ratio is adjusted to the optimum for prevailing conditions, with the 1.6-litre five-cylinder SVC engine on display at Geneva capable of compression ratios of between 8:1 and 14:1. Saab said the small, lightweight unit can produce the same power as a 3.0-litre engine, but consumes fuel at a similar rate to a 1.6-litre engine.
As a result, it offers large car power with small car carbon dioxide emissions - a potentially winning formula for company car drivers under the new CO2-based company car tax system. Saab declined to say when it would introduce SVC engines into its model range, or which models would receive it first, but the ability to use the SVC concept in three-cylinder cars could open the way for the Swedish manufacturer to make a smaller model.