Optimising an engine specification to improve cold start performance has been investigated. Taguchi methods were used to define a test programme to assess the effect of seven build factors. Experiments were conducted to measure mixture ratio at the spark plug location after a short period of engine cranking at test conditions covering ± 15°C and three fuel-mass-supplied values. The analysis of the results identified build modifications which improved start quality and reduced HC and CO emissions substantially compared to a reference, base-line build. Injector design and location, and inlet valve timing were found to have most influence on robustness to uncontrolled variations in mixture preparation during starts.