Stricter CO2 and emissions regulations are pushing spark ignition engines more and more towards downsizing, enabled through direct injection and turbocharging. The advantages which come with direct injection, such as increased charge density and an elevated knock resistance, are even more pronounced when using low carbon number alcohols instead of gasoline. This is mainly due to the higher heat of vaporization and the lower air-to-fuel ratio of light alcohols such as methanol, ethanol and butanol. These alcohols are also attractive alternatives to gasoline because they can be produced from renewable resources. Because they are liquid, they can be easily stored in a vehicle.In this respect, the performance and engine-out emissions (NOx, CO, HC and PM) of methanol, ethanol and butanol were examined on a 4 cylinder 2.4 DI production engine and are compared with those on neat gasoline. Additionally, measurements were done for E85 and a methanol-gasoline blend with the same air-to-fuel ratio as E85 because this ‘iso-stoichiometric’ methanol-gasoline blend shows very few differences in physical properties to E85 and has the potential to be used as ‘drop-in’ fuel for flex-fuel vehicles. It is shown that the brake thermal efficiency when running on alcohol fuels is significantly better than with gasoline while emitting fewer emissions. In a knock limited case for gasoline, the brake thermal efficiency on methanol was more than 5 percentage points better than on gasoline. The engine test results also confirm that, from an engine control point of view, the ‘iso-stoichiometric’ methanol-gasoline blend can indeed be used as a ‘drop-in’ fuel for E85.