Are Supercars Less Super When They're Turbocharged?


The verdict is still out.

Turbocharging is an ugly, nasty word for many but it does allow automakers who need to cut back on emissions to breath a big sigh of relief. It’s happening and nobody can stop it, for better or worse. But back in the 1980s the word "Turbo" really meant something. Think of the Ferrari F40, Lotus Esprit Turbo, and the original Porsche 911 Turbo, the 930. To Porsche’s credit and sheer engineering brilliance, the 911 Turbo has managed to evolve into both a super(ish) car that’s also relatively efficient. It might be the one exception to this very debate:

Are supercars still supercars when they’re turbocharged? Aren’t they supposed to be naturally aspirated? Just look at what Ferrari has been doing: California T and 488 GTB. Both turbocharged. The writing is on the wall as to where Ferrari is heading. McLaren? Its potent twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 is a hell of a thing no doubt, but imagine if McLaren used, say, a 4.5-liter NA V8 instead. Oh, wait. That was the Ferrari 458. I’m not trying to bash any carmakers here but my concern, I think, is valid. That raw emotion you get with naturally aspired engines just isn’t there with turbo engines. Supercars must have that raw emotion. For now, a few brands are sticking with na engines, like Lamborghini, but I doubt that’ll last forever.

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But what do you all think? Does turbocharging take away from the supercar experience? On the other hand, have automakers already found an alternative method to extract power from smaller engines via electric boost? Debates like this are awesome.