Celebrating 50 years since its first appearance in a major production vehicle, the turbocharger is finally being realized for its true performance capacity. Associated at one time with sports cars and exotic performance vehicle machines for years, turbocharger technology had faced several challenges before achieving the automotive mainstream. The first turbo application in the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire involved to use of distilled water and methyl alcohol to accompany the operations of the Turbo Rocket engine. Turbochargers in the 21st century have evolved thanks to several innovations such as computer management systems. Today, unlike the powerplants of previous vehicles, many turbocharged engines can even run on regular gasoline.
With new cars under increasing scrutiny from government agencies as well as customers to deliver improved fuel economy, auto manufacturers know any gas-savings could not come with the serious loss of performance. The turbocharger is now the answer many auto manufacturers are utilizing to beef up the power while achieving excellent driving distance. Turbocharging has gone hand-to-hand with the exploration of new engine technology collected into some profound powerplants in 2012.
Ford EcoBoost 3.5 liter V-6
In a recovery process from near financial ruins, Ford Motor Company invested money and engineers into a pivotal advanced powerplant philosophy never previously planned for their brand’s vehicles. Combining an exotic twin turbocharged setup with gasoline direct injection, a flagship V-6 engine would change the perceptions of top-level performance found in Ford’s sedans, crossovers and even pickup trucks.
Leading Ford Motor Company into there new generation of car building, the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 engine was first incorporated into the 2010 Lincoln MKS and Ford Taurus sedan. The lively 355-horsepower powerplant presented the premium Lincoln model with V-8 gallop with the superior fuel economy associated with six-cylinder engines. Presented in an output range up to 365 horsepower, the EcoBoost V-6 engine has expanded into other Lincoln and Ford brand products including the Explorer Sport and F-150 pickup truck. The V-6 version of Ford’s EcoBoost power will also be available on the American Transit van and is the top engine on the police duty Interceptor sedan.
After almost three years in the marketplace, the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 has been a runaway success in both sales and defining a new legacy for Ford Motor Company. In regards to EcoBoost-equipped Ford F-150, the vehicle’s debut in late 2010 saw 35 percent of customers immediately favoured the twin-turbocharged V-6 engine by April of 2011. The success of the six-cylinder powerplant Ford seeks to replicate launching a host of vehicles with the 1.6 and 2.0 liter EcoBoost engines in North America. In some markets, the EcoBoost technology is even being integrated into three-cylinder, 1-liter engines.
General Motors 2.0 liter Ecotec Turbo
The first major automaker to embrace turbocharging technology in 1962 with the Oldsmobile brand, General Motors had been nowhere near the forefront of the proliferations of exhaust-driven forced air induction engines. Devoting a massive amount of energy to their smaller car technology, the promise of the turbocharger has played a useful role in garnering some sizable performance numbers from a restricted space.
Under the General Motors banner, the Ecotec family of engines has existed as normally aspirated, supercharged and turbocharged models in past compact vehicles. In what is one of the Ecotec engine’s recent iterations, the LHU configuration is a 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant growing in popularity within the Buick line-up in North America. An all-aluminum engine, the direct injection Ecotec turbo engine was introduced in last year’s model of the Buick Regal and the Saab 9-3. Rated between 220 and 270 horsepower, fuel economy with the 2.0 liter engine in the Buick Regal GS can impressively travel 27 miles per gallon highway.
The turbocharged 2.0 liter Ecotec engine has most recently been guaranteed for a high-performance model of Buick’s recently released compact sedan, the Verano. Press reports indicate the 250-horsepower, 2013 Buick Verano Turbo will achieve acceleration from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a feisty 6.2 second. There is also a 2.0 liter turbocharged Ecotec powerplant matched with the rear-wheel driven 2013 Cadillac ATS different from the LHU engine found primarily on the Buick products.
BMW Twin-Turbocharged 4.4 liter V-8
Like many European automakers, BMW is actively pursuing more fuel-efficient technology through a multi-prong attack. Creating several hybrids, bracing themselves for the launch of the BMW i sub brand of products, BMW has also aggressively incorporated turbocharger technology into their modern engines. Pumping up horsepower without jeopardizing fuel economy, the driver-oriented experience that BMW prides itself with providing motorists is preserved (perhaps even enhanced) through turbocharging.
Along with supplying some punch to inline-six engines on vehicles such as the 3-Series, turbochargers in BMW has also been instrumental in the high-end models. Present eight cylinder BMW 4.4 liter engines use a twin-turbocharged setup for between 400-500 horsepower potential in conventional products. A BMW M line’s tweaked-up version of the engine is lent to the brand new BMW M5 and M6. Replacing the old, larger V-10 engine, BMW was mindful of the fact governments and customers expected more fuel efficient operations. The twin-turbocharged 4.4 liter V-8 engine in the M5 sedan and M6 is a 560-horsepower rush made possible by M TwinPower Turbo technology. The BMW M5 twin-turbocharged 4.4 liter V-8 is supported by direct injection and VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control making the engine a technological masterpiece.
Propelling the BMW M5 to 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, the German automaker use of turbocharging allowed the car to achieve 30 percent better fuel economy than its previous M5 model.
Audi 3.0 TDI Engine
With diesel-powered cars so popular in Europe, automakers operating in the region have realized turbochargers as a measure to give these vehicles more desirable fuel economy. Since non-turbocharged diesel engines have a noticeable horsepower lagging compared to the equivalent-displacement of a gasoline engine, a turbocharger makes diesel power refreshingly more potent.
While the TDI engine debuted in 1989 on the Audi 100, the premium German auto brand had actually been selling turbocharged diesel engined vehicles for several years prior. Originally existing in a five-cylinder configuration, Audi migrated the TDI technology to a six-cylinder layout in 1997. While Audi vehicles powered with TDI engine was respected for being good driving cars, the latest announcement of the SQ5 crossover vehicle in Europe changes the existence of turbocharged diesel on the roadway.
The first time Audi is using the S model badge with a TDI for production, the Audi SQ5 moves unlike any other diesel-powered crossover. Similar performance-geared TDI engine technology incorporated on the SQ5 has been the centerpiece of the Audi Sport prototype sports car program for over half of dozen years. Featuring a twin-turbocharged layout, the 3.0 TDI engine pumps out 313-horsepower and delivers up to 479 pounds-feet of torque through the Audi SQ5’s quattro drive. As well as being powerful, the 3.0 TDI is coupled with start-stop technology and a high efficiency 8-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox. Set to be capable of top speed up to 155 miles per hour, the anticipated performance twin-turbocharged diesel Audi SQ5 (set for release in early 2013) is not present planned for sale in North America.
Nissan 3.8 liter Twin-Turbo V-6
Japanese auto manufacturers made turbochargers look cool during the 1980s and 1990s using the forced-air induction technology to feed smaller four-cylinder as well as rotary engines. In the late 1980s, a twin-turbocharged Nissan Skyline called the GT-R came to life when the auto company wanted to challenge the Porsche 959. Factory set at 276-horsepower, racing competitors and sport compact car enthusiasts during the 1990s found ways to extract considerably more horsepower from the twin-turbocharged engine. When Nissan wanted world-besting supercar, the twin-turbocharged configuration found its way under the hood of the present Nissan GT-R.
Entering the United States marketplace with 478-horsepower channelled through an ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system, the Nissan GT-R has been gradually tweaking up the performance. For the 2013 model year, the Nissan GT-R’s 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V-6 powerplant will come alive with 545 horsepower in addition to 463 pounds-feet of torque. The high-performance GT-R incorporates an advanced oil cooling system meant to guard the turbochargers against overheating. The hand-assembled 3.8 liter engine represents the pinnacle of Nissan performance.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, BMW AG, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nissan North America