When Honda's VTEC system came out in the late 80's, it was quite the revolution in engine technology. Variable valve timing meant the engine is efficient at certain speeds, but would kick in when power is needed the most. These days, just about every car has them, and even diesels are packing them too.

But it's been 30 years since we saw variable valve timing hit the mainstream. Now, it looks like there's a new revolution in engine tech, and it comes from Hyundai. They call it Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD), and it's no concept either. Hyundai has fitted it to their new 1.6-liter turbo direct injection engine dubbed the Smartstream.

How does it work? Typically, an engine's variable valve timing system activates at a certain RPM. With CVVD, Hyundai says the valves constantly adjusts to the engine load, so it can also stay partially open and can fully be engaged quicker when needed. So instead of the valves waiting for the engine to hit a certain RPM, CVVD is reading the situation and deciding whether to engage or not

Hyundai has just brought variable valve timing to a new level image

What does this mean for the average consumer? That means better response, improved fuel economy, and enhanced performance. The system works in conjunction with direct injection and the turbocharger.

Hyundai also released the specs of the 1.6-liter Smartsteam engine. It makes 180 PS and 265 Nm of torque. This engine will first see service in the all-new Sonata, which was shown earlier this year. With ratings like that, this could possible be the new base engine for the mid-size sedan, getting rid of the old 2.4-liter mill of the previous generation.

Of course, that doesn't mean it will be exclusive to the Sonata. Hyundai says that the Smartstream will also be introduced in various models, as well as make their way to Kias as well.