In the context of CO₂ emission regulations and increase of energy prices, the downsizing of engine displacement is a widely discussed solution that allows a reduction of fuel consumption. However, high power density is required in order to maintain the power output and a good driveability.This study demonstrates the potential to strongly increase the specific power of High Speed Diesel Injection (HSDI) diesel engines. It includes the technological requirements to achieve high specific power and the optimal combination of engine settings to maximize specific power. The results are based on experimental work performed with a prototype single-cylinder engine (compression ratio of 14). Tests were conducted at full load, 4000 rpm. Part load requirements are also taken into account in the engine definition to be compatible with the targets of new emission standards. The influence of boost pressure, peak in-cylinder pressure, injection pressure and nozzle flow rate on full load limitations (exhaust temperature and smoke level) is studied to define the technological requirements for a power density of 80, 85 or 90 kW/l.