This is a homage to a good old friend. One who has served many of us tirelessly and flawlessly. She was loud but instantly recognizable. She was old but still really efficient. She was used many times, often in multiple roles but she was still holding on. She often carried the load of way too many people on her shoulders than she was supposed to but her punchy and grunty character pushed her through. She had a raw character but I liked her that way. She is none other than our good friend, the 1.3 multi-jet diesel engine. Wait, what did you think?
You might be wondering, why all this fuzz about a cheap and economical diesel engine? Well, this engine might have changed the course of the Indian car market for good. If you feel that's a bold statement, Well guess what's powering the Vitara Brezza in your driveway? and every second car that you spot in your street? That's right. The Multi Jet Diesel.
Here's a fun fact: Did you know the same 1.3 Multijet Diesel powered 24 cars from 5 manufacturers in its lifetime? And it's, even more astonishing, the fact that, at one point in time, it powered 16 cars at the same time! Now, that's a dictionary definition of the word DOMINATION.
She went by many names in her lifetime. 1.3 DDIS, 1.3 Multijet, Quadrajet, Smartech and Crdi4. Even though she was introduced into new shapes and aliases, her role remained the same. Albeit, the state of tunes varied across the range, it powered everything from a humble Ritz to the Gigantic Chevy MPV- Enjoy (a truly contrasting name for the car it is, must say). And somehow, it managed to take everything in its stride and propelled them with ease!
Why was the 1.3 MJD so popular among so many manufacturers?
For starters, it was tiny. 50cm long and 65cm high- That's really compact for the figures it puts out. And even though the block itself was made of cast iron for better heat dissipation and strength, it only weighed 130kg with all its dressing. And what's even more surprising is the fact that this engine was pretty much bullet-proof in terms of reliability. And would you believe that? A reliable and long-lasting ITALIAN engine! Bellisimo!
One certain giveaway about its reliability certainly has to be- Maruti, of all brands choosing it as the sole engine to power 16 of their cars.
It was pretty high-tech for the time too! The MJD houses a very high-pressure injection system that splashes multiple injections of fuel for every power stroke. In its most advanced state, Fiat’s Multijet II sucks in eight injections per stroke and had rail pressure as crazy as 2,000bar, completely unheard at the time. In short, it was an Iron man suit compared to all the suits he made in a cave.
This engine is very special to me because I share really blissful memories with it. All the days and nights I spent with her, flooring her, stalling her, ripping her and oozing her with my right foot, brings back so many memories. OKAY, this is getting a tad bit creepy now.
For starters, I truly mastered driving in a Gen 2 Swift Diesel, the one with the glorious 1.3 DDIS. Even though I had driven a few other cars, I could really feel the grunt and power in this engine. I realized, much later that it was the torque all along and not the power that gave me the feeling. But hey, still a rookie who's feeling new things. Mind you, 190nm and 79 hp ain't no slouch. You gotta drive it to believe it.
You know what? Let me take you on a 1.3 DDIS Swift driving experience.
Open the door and you'll sit inside a plastic paradise. When you shut the door it makes a distinctive "THATCH" sounds indicating the thinness and lightness of the door material. Slot the key and turn on the gates of torque. Slot the rubbery gearstick to first gear, release the clutch and floor it.
1000 rpm, 2000 rpm, nothing yet,
2500 rpm - Woah, hold on. Something's happening.
3000 rpm- Holy mother of Jesus! This thing is a missile!
4000 rpm - How is it still pulling so hard!
5000 rpm- You should probably shift by now don't you think?
and this is pretty much the story in any given gear.
This engine is so much fun. There is an enormous turbo lag but when it hits, you might dislocate your pelvis. There is nothing in the low end and nothing special above 5000 rpm. All that juicy torque lies in the heart of the powerband. Exploit it wisely and you'll leave behind everyone, biting your dust. It's also a very noisy engine and it is proud of it. The entire cabin vibrates to the resonance of the 1.3's tunes. End of the day, after all the hooning around, you'll still have a lot of diesel for the office commute next day. This engine is insanely economical. It licks fuel instead of gulping them. Why do you think so many taxi drivers run diesel Dzire's?
I'm not just talking about the MJD in the Swift, the MJD in the Punto is a whole different story. My point here is the importance of 1.3 MJD's existence. This engine propelled our diesel game to new heights and proved a diesel can still be efficient and relatively fun to drive. While Kumar drove his 1.3 DDIS Dzire to feed his family, he is overtaken by Ash in his stage 2 tuned Punto. It was this one engine that saved our country from millions of rupees worth of fuel being wasted. Agreed, some of us here aren't a fan of this "Dirty Fuel" and hate the way a diesel feels, but this engine might convince you the contrast. And amidst all of its rawness and cheapness, this engine won the freaking International Engine of the Year Award in 2005! Yes, the same award that Ferrari's been winning for its 3.9 Bi-Turbo V8. I bet you didn't see that comparison coming.
And now for the sad part. After 12 long years, Maruti Suzuki has introduced a brand new 1.5 diesel, designed inhouse, to replace the tired old workhorse, the 1.3 Mjd. The remaining brands ended terms with the Mjd much before. The 1.3 was technically Bs6 ready but high purchase costs due to the shutdown of Fiat in India as well as other brands ditching the 1.3 meant it wasn't economically feasible. (imagine Maruti continuing the 1.3 Mjd in its Bs6 guise for few more years! MAD). But all said this marks the end for a truly remarkable engine which doesn't get enough praise. This engine was special to me and I believe to a lot of other people as well. I guess we can call it our "National Diesel Engine" after all.
So long my Friend.
-Aditya Srinath for The Drivers Hub