Turbocharging Is Here For Good

By

Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.


, Automotive Editor - March 24, 2015

Longstanding models which rely on normal aspiration are getting pressure to improve emissions.

Everyone has had their own experience when it comes to turbocharged cars. Whether you owned a 1989 Saab 900 through your fun-filled college years or force-valet'd your buddy's twin-turbo Nissan GT-R, you remember it. And today, we're seeing somewhat of a Malcolm Gladwell-effect on the auto industry when it comes to fuel efficiency. There's a burning need and hunger for fuel economy. And manufacturers who desperately need to improve their lineup's efficiency will seek every avenue to do so. That includes turbocharging.

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Brief History of Turbocharging

Historically, turbocharged cars are not quite as reliable and trouble-free as their normally-aspirated counterparts. There are more moving parts. There's the turbocharger itself. Then there's the exhaust manifold, which experiences ridiculous amounts of both temperature and pressure. The rubber vacuum hoses also go through thousands of the same heating and cooling cycles. We surmise that they quietly pray that they were constructed of silicone. And there's the heat generated under hood and through the exhaust pipe...

2016 Honda Civic

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So Why Turbo?

Simply put, it's more affordable then using a heavy and complicated hybrid powertrain. Now, turbocharging is not quite as fuel-efficient, but definitely produces more power, torque and grin-inducing acceleration than any hybrid this side of a 887-hp 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder. And even then, the 918 uses a pair of turbochargers to help boost power. Moreover, turbocharged vehicles are more fuel-efficient then their conventional normally-aspirated counterparts.

Model Year CAFE Requirement EPA Window Sticker
1989 26.5 MPG N/A
2010 27.5 MPG N/A
2011 30.2 MPG N/A
2012 36 MPG 27 MPG
2013 37 MPG 28 MPG
2014 38 MPG 28 MPG
2015 39 MPG 29 MPG
2016 41 MPG 31 MPG
2017 44 MPG 33 MPG
2018 45 MPG 34 MPG
2019 47 MPG 35 MPG
2020 49 MPG 36 MPG
2025 60 MPG 43 MPG

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The CAFE Requirement

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) are a set of regulations in the U.S. that were put in place by Congress way back in 1975. They were put in place to get auto manufacturers to improve the average fuel economy of the vehicles they sold in the U.S. Take a gander at the handy-dandy chart above. Those are are some lofty MPG numbers. Blame it on Obama.

BMW M3

The Glaring Example

The dreaded CAFE requirement even has automakers who exist to build & breed performance-oriented cars. Even if it means shedding the storied history of normally aspirated engines, as BMW did with the current-generation 2015 M3 Sedan and all-new 2015 BMW M4 Coupe--both of which utilize twin turbochargers and smaller displacement inline-sixes versus large displacement V8's.

Engine Horsepower Fuel Economy Weight
1995 BMW M3 3.0L I6 240 hp 19/27 MPG 3,175 lbs
1998 BMW M3 3.2L I6 240 hp 20/28 MPG 3,175 lbs
1999 BMW M3 3.2L I6 240 hp 19/26 MPG 3,175 lbs
2001 BMW M3 3.2L I6 333 hp 16/23 MPG 3,415 lbs
2006 BMW M3 3.2L I6 333 hp 16/24 MPG 3,415 lbs
2013 BMW M3 4.0L V8 414 hp 14/20 MPG 3,704 lbs
2015 BMW M3 3.0L I6 Turbo 425 hp 14/20 MPG 3,540 lbs

For the first time in its history, BMW had to utilize a turbocharged engine in an M model. Borderline blasphemy to purists everywhere. But the performance helped to quell some of those concerns. Note how the weight of the M3 has gone up, as has horsepower. Though MPG is off all-time highs, it's only a matter of time before fuel economy improves--all without hampering performance.

More Turbocharged Models

We've gotten wind that the next-generation 2016 Honda Civic will come with turbocharged power for the first time in its 42-year history. That's saying something, especially since the 2015 model gets an excellent 28/36 mpg rating while producing 143 horsepower in a lightweight 2,700-pound package. So how many mpg's will it get? We're willing to wager that 30/40 mpg will be a reality. All because of turbocharging.

And you'll be back having fun like you were back in college driving that sweet 900S.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.


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