Why The Turbocharged Civic Is a Step Forward
Turbocharging is the way of the future, and we simply have to accept it and move on. Are we going to miss naturally-aspirated engines? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy new, innovative technology. Take the brand-new 2017 Honda Civic Type R. It has a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit with over 310 horsepower, a figure up by 110 horsepower over the most powerful N/A Type Rs of old. Just think about that for a second. The new car makes 50 percent more power and it’s all thanks to the turbocharger. So, what are the benefits of turbocharging? We’re glad you asked.
Forcing the air into the cylinder means you get a lot more low-end torque. Naturally-aspirated engines are notorious for their lack of torque, especially low down in the rev range. With a turbocharged unit, it’s the complete opposite. Most turbochargers kick in as low as 2-3k rpm, remaining on boost all the way to redline. This means that you don’t have to rev out your engine in everyday driving situations just to get decent performance out of it. You ride a wave of torque and leave it in a single gear rather than having to constantly row with the gearbox.
This one’s a no brainer really. Turbochargers add quite a lot of power to engines, with next to no drawbacks. The fact of the matter is that turbochargers extract more juice than an equally-sized naturally-aspirated engine, albeit with lower compression to accommodate the forced air in the cylinders.
Lightness and Size
Then there’s the small matter of weight and compactness. Manufacturers try to make engines as light and small as possible, and turbochargers really do provide the excellent solution for both of those issues. The newest Type R makes over 310 horsepower from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharger. For a naturally-aspirated unit to make the same or comparable power, it would have to be 40-50% larger in displacement. This naturally makes the block a lot bigger and the engine heavier, ruining the handling and the weight distribution.
Anyone who says modern turbocharged cars are laggy clearly hasn’t driven the new Civic. We’re not talking about the flagship Type R either. Take the small but peppy 1.5-liter four-pot. It’s all the engine you’re ever going to need. Decently powerful, willing to rev and extremely refined. Thanks to clever algorithms and smart computers the turbo lag associated with turbocharged cars of old is virtually nonexistent.
By reducing the engine compression, turbos actually make engines more efficient and a lot less fuel-hungry. On average, you can expect a 10% decrease in fuel economy from a turbocharged car vs. the equivalent naturally-aspirated one. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust us, it’s noticeable in the long run.