Should sports cars have engines that are turbocharged, supercharged or naturally aspirated?
Put this question to your car-loving friends and you’ll ignite a perpetual argument. Turbo fans will point out how turbochargers are exhaust-driven and are thus more efficient than superchargers, which rob power from the very motor they’re boosting.
Supercharger fans will proclaim how remarkably lag-free superchargers are, given that they start working the moment the engine is started. They will go on to say how the mechanical whine of a supercharger is much more appealing than the whooshing of a turbocharger and the hissing of its blow-off valve, which is so passe.
The only point that both these fans will agree on is that forced induction beats natural aspiration.
Now, forced induction may be superior in many ways, especially with regard to how they can boost a small engine’s horsepower output. But there’s no getting around the fact that when it comes to sports cars, a naturally aspirated motor is the way to go.
A sports car has to do more than just go fast. It must also handle well. But more importantly, it must always respond in a crisp and linear manner. Being caught out by a sudden boost of power, or waiting for the right rpm for the boost to arrive does not equate to driving pleasure. It does not matter how well-engineered turbocharged or supercharged engines are. They still do not possess the linearity I crave.
There is a reason why a Porsche 911 Carrera S continues to have a naturally aspirated flat-6. And it has nothing to do with the wonderful mechanical clatter it creates when you rev it hard. It is the same reason why many petrolheads remain in awe of Honda’s K20A motor and its VTEC technology, despite it not being turbocharged.
There is a purity to naturally aspirated engines. They produce their ponies without any help. It is like going to a gym and being able to lift 100kg with your own muscles. Turbocharging or supercharging would mean injecting yourself with lots of steroids so you could lift 200kg. You’d be strong, but it wouldn’t be because of your own strength.
Let me stop here. This argument has been fun, but I wouldn’t want to lose any friends over it.