As a rule of thumb, the average multi-cylinder vehicle engine delivers from 5-130 HP per cylinder, while a single can put out a maximum of 75 HP. These ballpark figures can be applied to small engines and most vehicle, airplane, and boat engines featuring 1-12 cylinders.
Larger slow and medium-speed industrial and marine engines are in a different league since they often feature 14-36 cylinders with larger displacements, which translates to much higher HP ratings.
If you want to find out more about the HP/cylinder ratings of various piston engines, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know under one roof!
Does the Number of Cylinders Affect Horsepower?
As a rule of thumb, the more cylinders an engine has for a given displacement, the more HP it can generate.
The answer is the size and weight of the pistons.
Fewer cylinders mean larger and heavier pistons that have more inertia. Larger pistons also require more durable engine internals so they can tolerate the higher load caused by the high torque.
These heavy components limit engine RPM, which translates to lower HP figures.
Other key factors are the layout and design of the cylinders (small-bore vs. big-bore), and the aspiration of the engine.
As an example, a Harley-Davidson with an 833cc, V-twin engine only generates 45-55 HP while sportbikes with 900-1000cc, big-bore engines put out 180-220 HP.
In short, fewer cylinders for a given displacement offer more torque and burn less fuel.
In contrast, more cylinders can rev higher, which translates to more engine power and higher fuel consumption.
If you want to find out more about the average HP/cylinder figures in each engine class, keep reading!
How Much HP Does an Engine have Per Cylinder?
How Much HP Does a Single-Cylinder Engine Have?
A single-cylinder engine can generate anywhere from 1-75 HP depending on its displacement and purpose of use.
You can find the smallest single-cylinder engines in tools and garden equipment. These tiny power sources displace from 25-100cc and generate 1-10 HP.
Smaller lawn movers also come with 100-400cc single engines rated at 10-25 HP.
You can find the most powerful single engines in go-karts, ATVs, snowmobiles, and motorcycles. The engine power of these powersport vehicles ranges from 3 HP up to 75 HP.
Average HP ratings of single-cylinder engines:
- Motorcycles and mopeds: 3-75 HP
- Kid-size and youth snowmobiles: 4-65 HP
- ATVs: 15-50 HP
- Go-karts: 2-45 HP
- Portable outboard motors: 2.5-6 HP
- Tools: 1-10 HP
- Garden machinery: 5-25 HP
Which single-cylinder engine is the most powerful?
As an example, the most powerful single-cylinder motorcycle engine is nestled in the KTM 690 Enduro R and SMC R.
This power source is a 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 693cc, single engine rated at 75 HP and 53 lb-ft of torque.
How Much HP Does a 2-Cylinder Engine Have?
You can expect the power of a 2-cylinder engine to be in the ballpark of 10-215 HP.
V2 engines in this breed typically generate significantly less power than their inline-2, and flat-2 brothers.
Average HP ratings of 2-cylinder engines:
- Motorcycles: 20-215 HP
- Trikes: 30-110 HP
- ATVs and UTVs: 40-110 HP
- Snowmobiles: 100-170 HP
- Go-karts: 10-20 HP
- Aircraft: 50-200 HP
- Portable outboard motors: 8-25 HP
- Tools and garden machinery: 10-40 HP
Which 2-cylinder engine is the most powerful?
The most powerful 2-cylinder motorcycle engine was used in the Ducati 1299 Superleggera. This limited-edition Ducati housed a 1285cc, L-twin engine that delivered an impressive 215 HP.
How Much HP Does a 3-Cylinder Engine Have?
The engine power of 3-cylinder or “triple” engines averages between 30 and 600 HP, but most of them are rated at 80-200 HP.
The displacement in this class ranges from 300cc up to 2500cc.
Average HP ratings of 3-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 50-600 HP
- Motorcycles: 50-180 HP
- UTVs: 80-180 HP
- Snowmobiles: 65-200 HP
- Outboard motors: 30 – 60 HP
- Aircraft: 50-300 HP
- Jet skis: 60-300 HP
- Tools and garden machinery: 20-50 HP
Which 3-cylinder engine is the most powerful?
The most powerful 3-cylinder engine is Koenigsegg’s “Tiny Friendly Giant.” Utilizing the innovative “freevalve” technology, this 2.0L, 3-cylinder engine features two turbochargers and generates 600 HP and 442 lb-ft of torque.
How Much HP Does a 4-Cylinder Engine Have?
4-cylinder engines can generate anywhere from 50-1400 HP, but most of them put out 80-300 HP.
The displacements of most production 4-cylinder engines fall into the ballpark of 1000-3500cc.
Average HP ratings of 4-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 70-450 HP
- F1 cars: 600-1400 HP
- Motorcycles: 55-300 HP
- Outboard motors: 50-200 HP
- Inboard boat motors: 30-300 HP
- Jet skis: 100-310 HP
- Aircraft: 50-500 HP
Which 4-cylinder engine is the most powerful?
The most powerful 4-cylinder power sources were the turbo inline-4 engines of F1 cars, which were rated at no less than 600-1350 HP.
How Much HP Does a 5-Cylinder Engine Have?
Unlike their smaller siblings, 5-cylinder engines are used much less frequently, and with good reason.
Although they provide more power than 4-cylinder engines along with a crisp throttle response and great fuel efficiency, they feature a complex architecture and tend to cause more vibration.
Only a few racing motorcycles and cars were designed with 5-cylinder engines, including:
- Land Rover Ninety (2.5 L, five-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 HP)
- 2nd gen. Ford Focus RS (2.5 L, five-cylinder turbo, 301 HP)
- Audi Sport Quattro (2.1 L, five-cylinder turbo, 306 HP)
- Audi TT RS (2.5 L turbocharged inline-5, 360 HP)
- 2022 2020 Donkervoort D8 GTO-JD70 (2.5L five-cylinder turbo, 415 HP)
- 2020 KTM X-Bow GTX (2.5L, five-cylinder turbo from Audi, 592 HP)
Which 5-cylinder engine is the most powerful?
One of the most powerful 5-cylinder car engines is the 2.5L, 5-cylinder turbo engine in the impressive KTM X-Bow GTX.
The engine of this unique vehicle is built by Audi and generates 592 HP.
Therefore, you can expect the power of a 5-cylinder engine to be in the ballpark of 100-600 HP.
How Much HP Does a 6-Cylinder Engine Have?
When it comes to recreational vessels and street vehicles, 6-cylinder engines can generate an impressive 70-800 HP.
These power sources are commonly used in trucks and cars, but they also appear in airplanes and even motorcycles.
The most common 6-cylinder engine arrangement is arguably the V6, but you can also find vehicles with inline-6 or even flat-6 engines with a capacity of 2000-7000cc.
Average HP ratings of 6-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 120-800 HP
- F1 cars: 600-1050 HP
- Pickup trucks: 300-500 HP
- Motorcycles: 70-160 HP
- Outboard motors: 175-300 HP
- Aircraft: 200-400 HP
How Much HP Does a 7-Cylinder Engine Have?
7-cylinder engines are typically radial aero power mills rated at 100-300 HP depending on the make and model.
These units typically feature air-cooling and a displacement of 3000-10000cc.
Aside from airplanes, inline-7 diesel engines are also used in marine applications.
Since they would cause too much noise and vibration, 7-cylinder engines are not used in cars and trucks.
How Much HP Does an 8-Cylinder Engine Have?
You can expect the performance of an 8-cylinder engine to be 200-1000+ HP. These power sources can feature both inline-8, flat-8, or V8 configurations.
The displacements of most of these units average between 4000-10000cc.
Average HP ratings of 8-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 250-1000 HP
- Pickup trucks: 300-1000 HP
- Outboard motors: 225-450 HP
How Much HP Does a 10-Cylinder Engine Have?
The majority of 10-cylinder engines produce 300-700 HP while some high-performance units can exceed an incredible 1000 HP.
These powerhouses typically displace between 4000 and 16000cc and enjoy inline-10, flat-10, or V10 layouts. The latter is commonly used in street vehicles and boats since the V architecture offers a more compact size.
Surprisingly, some high-end cars feature flat-10 engines, but the V10 configuration is far more prevalent in this class.
Average HP ratings of 10-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 300-1000 HP
- Pickup trucks: 300-1000 HP
- Outboard motors: 350-400 HP
How Much HP Does a 12-Cylinder Engine Have?
12-cylinder engines are used for powering luxury and hypercars, heavy vehicles, boats, and airplanes. They most often feature a V12 arrangement and displace anywhere from 4000-24000cc.
V12 engine configurations also appear in the most powerful outboard motors, which are typically rated at 500-600 HP.
Interestingly, some V12 engines are built by gearing together two V6 engines.
Average HP ratings of 10-cylinder engines:
- Cars: 600-1000 HP
- Outboard motors: 500-600 HP
- Aircraft: 1000-1600 HP
How Much HP Does a 14-Cylinder Engine Have?
14-cylinder engines are rarely used in street vehicles and aircraft. Instead, these massive diesel engines are designed for marine propulsion and power generation.
As an example, MAN B&W manufactures V14 engines rated at 9,400-24,400 HP.
In contrast, the Finnland-based Wärtsilä markets V14 diesel engines that can exceed an incredible limit of 100,000 HP.
How Much HP Does a 16-Cylinder Engine Have?
16-cylinder engines are typically a combination of two 8-cylinder engines. The base engines can feature inline-8, flat-8, W8, or more commonly V8 engines.
The first V16 engine was an aircraft engine designed in 1910, while the first V16 cars hit roads in the ‘30s.
As a rule of thumb, these vintage V16 car engines generated 150-600 HP, while the power of V16 aircraft engines averaged between 400 and 1500 HP.
Due to their size and complexity, engines with 18 or more cylinders are rarely used in street vehicles and airplanes.
The largest, 18-36 cylinder power sources are typically designed for industrial use or marine applications, but they were also used by the aircraft industry.
Engine HP per Cylinder Chart
For better comparison, we’ve collected the average HP/cylinder ratings of the most common street vehicles, recreational boats, and aircraft engines into one chart.
|Number of Cylinders||Average HP||HP / Cylinder|
Disclaimer: This chart is for informational purposes only!
Conclusion – Does More Cylinders Mean More HP?
Based on our research, the average multi-cylinder vehicle engine can produce about 5-130 HP per cylinder, while singles can deliver a maximum of 75 HP.
Note that this ballpark estimation doesn’t include large marine and industrial engines.
These units are typically slow and medium-speed diesel engines that have significantly higher displacement and engine power than vehicle engines.
They typically feature 16-36 cylinders and can reach or exceed the eye-dropping limit of 100,000 HP.