The influence of different port designs on the generation of a swirl flow is described on the basis of stationary and non-stationary flow analyses. Subsequently, engine test bench analyses with a 3-valve one-cylinder engine were performed to assess the aforementioned port configurations with respect to their influence on the lean-burn behaviour. The most favourable port design was then used to analyse various combustion chamber shapes in order to further improve the engine behaviour during lean-burn operation and to select the most promising combustion chamber variant. Finally, the port and combustion chamber configurations thus identified were applied in vehicle simulation tests with lean-burn and EGR-burn operation to check the emission behaviour for compliance with the future European level 3 emission limits. These findings allowed a requirements specification to be drawn up for the conversion rate of a DENOX catalyst to be used for this purpose and also enabled us to assess the risks associated with the use of a lean-burn or an EGR burn technique.