This one is going to get heated
The wholesale shift towards turbocharging over the past decade has left us with precious few naturally aspirated engines. Purists will bemoan this fact, but the truth is that the latest turbocharged cars have advanced to the point where the traditional issues of lag and a lack of top end power is a thing of the past. In fact, some of the most engaging and characterful supercars of the past featured turbocharging. Do take a look at the images below before you disagree.
It is true the claims of improved fuel economy are generally only achievable under very specific driving situations, but the added power and torque is very real. In light of this, we have picked a selection of cars that could really benefit from a bit of forced induction. Let the arguments begin.
Let's start with a bit of an obvious one. Ever since its introduction in 2012, the one overriding criticism of the otherwise capable Toyota 86 has been a lack of power. 200-hp is all its 2.0-liter engine can muster and that combined with a distinct lack of torque will have you staring at the taillights of just about every similarly priced competitor away from the lights. The boxer engine has never been particularly smooth anyway, so it is not as if we would be defiling a national treasure.
The most popular sedan in the US is still only available with either a lackluster 2.5-liter inline-four or a thirsty 3.5-liter V6 powerplant. Surely the benefits of turbocharging would help the Camry extend its lead over its competitors. In fact, Toyota remains resolutely adverse to turbocharging across its offerings, perhaps the recent sales successes of the turbocharged Honda Civic and Accord models will persuade them to change their ways.
The Honda Civic has embraced turbocharging and the 180 hp 1.5-liter turbo motor they can be had with is a class leader in its segment. The Civic Type-R has also proven that turbocharging does not detract from the driving experience. So then why is the latest Odyssey Minivan still saddled with a thirsty old 3.5-liter V6 engine?
In fact, most minivans come with similar powerplants, surely a smaller capacity turbocharged motor could hustle a heavy minivan along with more conviction. The way most people drive these things fuel economy should also be markedly better. Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to some more interesting cars.
Nissan is unafraid to leave its models in production for ages. The 370Z has been around since 2009 and the GT-R was introduced way back in 2007. However, whereas the GT-R remains a force to be reckoned with, the 370Z is more of a quirky throwback, unable to keep pace with the modern competition. The solution? You guessed it, a nice big turbocharger. Judging from the many aftermarket kits available, the 332 hp 3.7-liter V6 could easily be boosted to over 450 hp with minimal effort. Now that would make for one great old-school coupe, aside from some strengthened internals we would leave the rest of the car as is. A performance bargain in the vein of the GT-R.
When it comes to looks and technology, the Lexus LC is at the head of its class. Yet despite those space-age lines, the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 struggles to match its competitors in a straight line. That portly curb weight could more easily be overcome with some forced induction. Even a low boost turbo should make a significant difference to what is already a great GT.
Audi has been fitting turbos into its cars for decades, yet the R8 has curiously been left out in the cold. There is no doubt that the Lamborghini-sourced V10 in the current car is a work of art so there would be a lot of backlash if it were discontinued. So how about adding an R8 T variant which boosts the V10 Plus models 610 hp to a supercar scaring 700-hp, or even more? Now some of you may point out that this would eclipse Lamborghini’s own models but we have plans for those cars too.
First off let’s add a turbo to the Performante to create a Super Performante, this would take power levels up from its now paltry 631 hp to around 750 hp, neatly eclipsing our newly introduced Audi R8 T. The Ferrari 488 has proven that turbocharging need not detract from the driving experience and the all-wheel-drive Super Performante should see off just about everything else out there thanks to its additional traction off the line. It may even reclaim its Nurburgring production car lap record from the turbocharged 700-hp Porsche 911 GT2.
Now we move into slightly stickier territory. The Aventador is undoubtedly a magnificent beast. Its 6.5-liter V12 is not exactly lacking in power and its feral scream and blue-flame shooting exhaust are integral parts of its character. Yet our turbocharged Super Performante would give even the 740-hp SV model a hard time not to mention the Ferrari 812 Superfast which already eclipses it with its newer-tech 789-hp naturally aspirated V12.
So twin-turbos it is. The Aventador SVT as we have decided to call it will have a set of turbos that will boost its power to oh, let’s say 900-hp. That should be enough to keep pace with just about any hypercar and will keep the Lamborghini hierarchy intact. Of course, the engineers will have to ensure that the blue flames still emanate out of the exhaust. Otherwise no deal.
The 488 GTB is now getting Ferrari fans accustomed to turbocharging (the 288 GTO and F40 have already been here but memories tend to be short) and the GTC4 Lusso T already has a turbocharged V8 engine. The top-spec Lusso retains a 681-hp 6.5-liter V12 yet despite the traction advantages of its AWD system it will have a hard time keeping ahead of the turbocharged car.
That is because it actually makes slightly less torque, 514 lb-ft vs. 561 lb-ft for the V8. An obvious solution would be a bit of forced induction, executed in the same manner as in the rest of the Ferrari range. That is, a graduated power delivery that makes you feel as if you are driving a torquey big capacity car rather than a boosted one. We shall name it the GTC4 UltraLusso V12T.
The success of our earlier hypothetical turbocharging efforts brings us to a car that will undoubtedly have traditionalists up in arms once they hear our suggestions. The LaFerrari was the first hybrid hypercar from Ferrari and its 6.3-liter V12 worked together with an electric motor to provide a whopping 950-hp. It proved a match for both the contemporary McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder.
So why mess with a successful recipe, well the world has moved on and even mere supercars such as the McLaren 720S are now posting similar performance figures. With the aid of the next generation of electric motors and a sneaky turbo or two the LaFerrari Evo could reclaim its position at the pointy end of the hypercar hierarchy. Imagine what it could do with over 1100-hp at its disposal and the combined torque hit of the electric motors and turbos. Perhaps it should be four-wheel-drive too. We told you this would be controversial.