In the automotive industry, engine downsizing has been widely accepted as an enabler to improving the fuel economy and reducing the CO₂ emissions. The Atkinson cycle is one of the key technologies. In this paper, the Atkinson cycle with different expansion ratios are compared and analyzed. The investigation is compared with the benchmark whose expansion and compression ratio are identical. The aim is to understand the inherent characteristics of the over-expansion and its effect on the engine performance and emissions. The simulation results show that, the Atkinson cycle produces higher efficiency due to over-expansion. The Atkinson cycle has higher internal EGR compared with the benchmark at equivalent conditions, which contributes to lower the NOx and CO emissions.