Whatís so hard about making a modern turbocharged engine a little more exciting?

Edís notes

Dylan Campbell

IíVE ONLY a laymanís grip on the challenges facing engineers who design modern performance car engines. I suspect the emissions serpent is strangling modern enginesí voiceboxes as much as airboxes.

But artificial exhaust theatrics are becoming so pervasive, Iím encouraged to think, why canít new car engineers do more to make turbocharged engines more exciting? This is not an original thought, and itís one most car people, when exposed to new-gen turbo fast cars, will likely arrive at independently. Particularly if theyíve got any olderschool boosted cars with which to draw comparisons.

The new turbo-fied base Porsche 911 has an exhaust note familiarly flat-six, but with a more technical flavour. And itís quieter. But during a drive this month, we put the windows down and, when encouraged in the lower revs, a delicious and enthusiastic hiss was to be heard.

Windows up, youíd have little acoustic clue a pair of angry BorgWarner snails are in the boot.

In the 1980s, F1 cars gulped jungle juice and slithered around on steam-roller rubber, as huge turbos hissed with rage. Group B is fondly recalled for its flame-spitting, screaming animals, turbos fluttering with frequently-reset throttles. Iíve owned at least one turbo road car with a similarly large personality and you can see the terror in my eyes whenever I recall what it was like to drive. Iím not saying car companies should make their new turbo models laggy; in fact Iím all for trying to make turbo engines respond as keenly as nat-atmo ones, but itís becoming increasingly apparent you canít engineer a nat-atmo personality. I canít help but wonder why engineers donít just give up and instead of trying to massage out the hiss, the flutter and the fury, engineer a little bit in. Much like active exhausts, it could even come with a button. Iíd press it.