The Americans have a saying, “There’s no substitute for cubic inches”, but of course engine size and power merely compensate for weight – nevertheless Ford’s 1.0-litre 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine still seems like a stonkingly impressive power plant.

This one-of a-kind, ‘road-legal’ Formula Ford single-seat race car just completed a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes 22 seconds – making it the 11th fastest time ever set by a road car – putting it ahead of such exotics as the 690bhp Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP4-12C and Porsche Carrera GT.

Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, which was recently named 2012 “International Engine of the Year”, was specially tuned to achieve 202bhp, replacing the Formula Ford’s usual 177bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost power unit. The ‘road legal’ race car boasts an unofficial top speed of 159mph, and can accelerate from zero to 62mph in less than 4.0 seconds.

Perhaps even more impressive is the little car’s fuel economy – how about 118 mpg at 35 mph and 57 mpg at a constant 75 mph..?

Seasoned Porsche Supercup racer Nick Tandy was behind the wheel during the lap and commented, “This little engine has people rubbing their eyes in disbelief. It’s simply astonishing that a 3-cylinder, one-litre engine can deliver that kind of performance.”

It looks like a race car. It goes like a race car. We think it’s still a race car – despite the number plate and headlights.

Whilst we were initially sceptical about the car’s qualification as a ‘road car’, it is fitted with wheel covers, front and rear lights and indicators, aerodynamically designed wing mirrors and a horn. The car is also fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox and was driven on road-legal tyres.

“We wanted to prove that size doesn’t matter by showing everyone what an amazingly capable engine we have developed in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president of Marketing and Sales, Ford of Europe.

“What better way than by beating some of the best supercars in the world on the Nordschleife, while using a fraction of the fuel.”

The customer version is called a Ford F-O-C-U-S, available with 99bhp and 123bhp variants of the same powerplant, which although less exciting, is considerably more practical to use (on the road).

When asked about a customer version of Ford’s open-air race car, the company declined to comment, however you’ll be pleased to know that a 99bhp version of its 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine is already available in the Ford Focus, with the B-MAX, C-MAX and new Fiesta following soon.

There’s no word on the Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost’s Nürburgring lap time, but it would be safe to assume it doesn’t ‘quite’ match the Aventador.