The great divide: forced induction and naturally aspirated.
By James Wong
The car manufacturers are showing their true colours now, in a big way.
BMW M, which once claimed that it will never build turbocharged cars, now nearly completes its lineup of fully turbocharged machines. AMG and Audi RS has largely followed suit, leaving only their base models (the C63 and RS4) still packing naturally aspirated engines.
For the enthusiast this is a mixed blessing. We all know the advantages and disadvantages, so we won’t go there. What’s interesting, however, is how there has been a divergence in philosophies among manufacturers.
Audi RS surprised everybody when they stuck to a N/A B8 RS4. AMG has also been slow to get its C63 on the F/I bandwagon, although there now have been confirmed news that it will too get the 5.5 turbocharged lump. BMW however, went straight to the tri-turbo next generation M3 which we’ll be seeing very soon.
Maserati has also ditched its glorious N/A V8s for twin turbo V6s and V8s. This is a sad loss for me, as the wonderful sound and throttle response of the old engine which the brand has been so famous for is almost completely lost. Yes, the new engines still sound great, but they just aren’t the same anymore.
Wonderfully, Lamborghini still kept its Aventador N/A, as did Porsche with its 991 cars in the C2 and C4 models. The 458 also screams loud its N/A origins.
It seems like N/A engines will probably be found, in the future, only in the cars which will be produced in low numbers and with high margins. Only the rich will enjoy the fine engineering and effort it takes to create a high-output N/A engine. This is a sad prospect. Don’t even mention the GT86, its N/A engine just doesn’t cut it with the big boys with its soulless boxer.
But happily, these N/A engines seem to linger on in base models. I hope that cars like the C63 and RS4 with their more focused objectives, will sacrifice fuel consumption and torque in favour of more exciting N/A offerings, while its big brother E63 and RS6 lads can go bonkers with maxi power.
Which is going to prevail? The onward march of F/I is inevitable, so let’s embrace it – and celebrate the best ones that still retain at least most of the characteristics of their N/A predecessors.
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