Downsized Boosting

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Powertrain

Back in the 1980s, there was a bit of a trend where car companies were putting turbo chargers on small engines (like Ford’s 2.3L 4 cylinder Mustang turbo) and sometimes big engines (like Pontiac’s 4.9L V8 Trans Am).  It was all about power.  Fuel economy on turbo engines was not that great, but man could they fly.

Now, 30 years later we can see an even bigger and faster growing trend, called “Down Sized Boosting”.  This is where auto companies replace a larger engine with a smaller, but turbo-charged, engine.  So why is this different from turbo options 30 years ago?  It’s because both engine and turbo charger technologies have advanced to the point where you can have your cake and eat it, too.  The addition of technologies such as Variable Valve Timing and Gasoline Direct Injection make it possible to replace a 4.6L V8 engine making 315 horsepower with a 3.5L Twin Turbo V6 making 355 horsepower and get 20% better fuel economy.  This is what Ford is doing with their EcoBoost engine in the Ford Taurus SHO, the Ford Flex, and the Ford Edge.  Soon they will also make available 1.6L EcoBoost engines in the new Ford Fiesta and 2.0L EcoBoost engines in the soon to be introduced 2011 Ford Focus.  These 4 cylinders will have the power of V6 engines and the fuel economy of 4 cylinder engines.

But Ford is not alone.  BMW, Volkswagen, and Audi are also heavily invested in the use of small boosted engines to improve both power and fuel economy.  And Buick has just introduced a redesigned Buick Regal with a 255 horsepower 2.0L Direct Injected Turbo 4 cylinder.  Just as a point of reference, I once owned a 1987 Chevrolet Corvette with a 5.7L, 245 hp V8 engine.  That’s almost three times the engine and 10 less horsepower than the 4 cylinder Regal. 

Ain’t technology grand?

  1. phbrown says:

    its amazing how far engines have come

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