Elio Motors is getting closer to turning their "definitive" 2016 model into reality, and here's our first look at what's going to power it: a 0.9 three-cylinder based on the Geo Metro's engine.

Pretty much all major carmakers work on three-cylinder turbos nowadays, but since Elio's three-wheeler is about simplicity, economy and value for money instead of chasing high output figures and speed, they went for an upgraded version of a tried and proven naturally-aspirated engine.

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CEO Paul Elio explained to us earlier why re-engineering the Geo Metro engine was the best solution they could come up with:

It's a pretty nice motor, but as we gunned down that path, we realized the technology has improved dramatically in 20 years. If we were to put the Geo Metro motor in the Elio, we'd get 66 miles per gallon highway, but by updating it, we'd get 84, and we're not taking any technical risk.

This new motor was developed by Germany's IAV and uses a different cylinder block, cylinder heads, CAM cover, front cover, oil pan, crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, pistons, connecting rods, bearings and water pump than the Metro's engine.

With the goal of "up to 84 mpg" on the highway, a projected top speed of over 100 mph and plans to sell the vehicle for $6,800 after it launches in the first half of 2016, this tiny engine has a lot of test miles to cover before manufacturing can start in Shreveport, where GM previously built the Hummer H3 and Chevy Colorado.

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