Most of our regular readers, and specifically Honda fans, know it by now that new 2016 Honda Civic coming next year is going to be turbocharged. The engine itself will be a smaller 1.5L unit compared to the current 1.8L motor. The 1.5L turbocharged engine is already being sold in the new Civic in North America. And that is not the only engine Honda has developed. Honda has also developed a 3-cylinder 1.0L turbocharged engine (1.5L is 4-cylinder). And for their sportier Si or TypeR Civic, there is a 2.0L turbocharged engine as well. That engine is of course all about performance and will be only available in the most expensive off the shelf Civic. We did argue that there is a chance that naturally aspirated R18 engine will be available in the upcoming Pakistani 10th generation Civic but that was just a hypothesis. It is very much probable that Pakistani 10th gen Civic will also be turbocharged.
Just a few months ago, Toyota also launched a new range of turbocharged smaller GD series diesel engine range for their Hilux Revo and Land Cruiser vehicles. The new engines are a 2.8L 1GD-FTV motor and a 2.4L 2GD-FTV motor. Both are smaller than their previous counterparts, make more power and are turbocharged.
Smaller turbocharged engines are not new. The trend of downsizing the engine capacity and slapping a turbo on it started a few years ago (for petrol engines). BMW has made some great naturally aspirated engines over the years. They perform phenomenally and sound absolutely brutal. Their V10 in E60 M5 was legendary. And even they stopped making those awesome sounding naturally aspirated engines and have moved on to smaller turbo engines. Same is the case with other German car makers. Audi has also started to focus on downsized turbo engines, and there are only a few NA engines available in their product line. They are giving a minuscule 1.2L turbo engine in their new A4. And same is the case with Mercedes-Benz. One can argue these carmakers usually make ordinary passengers car but when Ferrari also decides to launch a car (488 GTB) with a twin-turbo engine, it’s time to think about it seriously.
Well if you think it has everything to do with new powerful engines and nothing to do with cost cutting than you are wrong. Modern carmakers lack the passion of their founders. Economy and efficiency have taken control over the decision-making process of all these companies. It is more about making something efficient, and with as much fewer resources as possible and making it work harder than before. Also, the emissions law in Europe and rest of other developed world are getting stricter and stricter. Pakistan is far back when it comes to environment protection, but decisions are also not being taken in Pakistan either. Those companies don’t belong to us, and we have no input as such. So whether we want to play or not, we will have to abide by their rules. Europe came up with their Euro Emissions, and USA has their EPA. Both bodies set a standard for carmakers that forces them to produce cars that only make a certain amount of emissions. And this applies to both diesel and petrol.
Also Read: What Are Euro Emissions
EU made their car manufacturers to cut the NOx from their diesel engines, and that essentially made everyone there to put a turbo on their diesel engines. That not only increased the efficiency of the engines but also reduced the overall costs. Automakers like Volkswagen and Renault that produce diesel-powered cars had already moved to turbocharged engines to meet the emissions standards. VW had caught the smaller-turbo-engine bug more than a decade ago. That standard had essentially killed the naturally aspirated diesel engine in Europe. However, the current emissions standards are so strict that Volkswagen tried to cheat them with their ‘clever’ software because they couldn’t keep up with them. And look how that turned out for them.
Emissions standards got tougher and tougher, and finally they caught petrol engines as well. There was no other way for the automakers but to come up with a solution. They cannot just cut the engine size to reduce the emissions. It will make their cars underpowered. They had to find a solution. Either come up with an alternate energy solutions (electric vehicles or hydrogen powered vehicles etc.) or just downsize the engine and put a turbocharger on it.
Downsized engines that don’t rev high (downspeeding), it seems, are the future. All big European automakers agree that days of naturally aspirated engines are gone.
But one company that hasn’t completely given up on naturally aspirated engines is Toyota. Yes, they are already making turbo powered diesel engines, and they have one smaller 1.2L engine in the pipeline as well but they are not panicking for now at least. Toyota has their own ideas. They believe hybrid technology is the way to go. It’s all about providing sufficient torque at lower RPM to discourage the excessive high revving of the engine. The electric motor provided in Toyota hybrid cars work directly on the transmission of the car, providing sufficient torque during driving. Toyota believes, their HSD (Hybrid Synergy Driver) System is the way to go. And if anyone knows about efficient hybrid systems, it’s Toyota. Even that smaller 1.2L engine I mentioned before will be hybrid.
The question is, does it concern us Pakistani? The short answer is not really. We and rest of the developed world are not even in the same league. We have a whole bunch of other problems to solve before we start focusing on the CO of our half a century old Bedford buses. But, it doesn’t mean it is not going to affect us in the longer run. Also, rest of the developing world, including Pakistan, will achieve a secondhand benefit just by being in the proximity of the developed countries. Carmakers are going towards developing their own universal vehicle platforms to standardise the productions worldwide. New 2016 Honda Civic is being made on Honda’s new global architecture. Same platform will be used in the Civics made in Pakistan as well. So that means same smaller and fuel efficient engines for Pakistan as well. So even if we are not taking part in this new auto trend willingly, not that it actually matters, international laws are forcing carmakers to come up with solutions that will affect car industry in Pakistan as well.