Engine simulation can be performed using model approaches of different depths in capturing physical effects. The present paper presents a comprehensive comparison study on seven different engine models. The models range from transient 1D cycle resolved approaches to steady-state non-dimensional maps. The models are discussed in the light of key features, amount and kind of required input data, model calibration effort and predictability and application areas. The computational performance of the different models and their capabilities to capture different transient effects is investigated together with a vehicle model under real-life driving conditions. In the trade-off field of model predictability and computational performance an innovative approach on crank-angle resolved cylinder modeling turned out to be most beneficial. It covers a high level of physical based approaches needed in early development phases and it runs in real-time as needed to support calibration in late development phases.