India, the turbo petrol era is well and truly here. First making an appearance in mass market cars priced under 20 lakh rupees, in 2005, with the Skoda Octavia vRS, turbo petrol engines have taken nearly a decade to come into the mainstream in India.
Two new cars, the Tata Bolt hatchback and the Zest compact sedan, will be sold with the newly developed 1.2 liter REVOTRON turbo petrol engine. This engine outputs 88.2 Bhp-140 Nm and represents the first instance of turbo petrol engines making it into the engine bay of cars that are targeted at mass market buyers. Known for its value for money cars, Tata Motors is expected to continue its “value” pricing philosophy with the Bolt and the Zest as well.
Although the Skoda Octavia vRS marked the entry of turbo petrol engines into the sub-15 lakh rupee car segment 9 years ago, the next offering came along 5 years later, in the form of the Fiat Linea T-Jet. Last year saw not one or two, but three turbo petrol cars being launches in the sub-10 lakh rupee car segment, in the form of the Ford EcoSport, the Volkswagen Polo TSI and the Volkswagen Vento TSI.
Now, American autoparts maker, Honeywell, has begun building turbochargers for small capacity petrol engines in India. Honeywell expects strong demand for its turbochargers that are designed to work with petrol engines with capacities ranging between 1 and 1.2 liters. This is a watershed moment in India’s petrol car history, one that paves the way for more turbo petrol engined cars.
The numbers will grow further with the likes of the Tata Bolt and the Zest. Tata Motors is even said to be considering a sporty, turbocharged version of the Nano hatchback for India in the next year or so. Once that happens, turbo petrol power would have reached the lowest common denominator, the entry-level hatchback segment.
So, what makes turbo petrol engines tick, in a country whose emphasis on fuel efficiency has led to turbo diesels capturing a large market share across many car segments?
Firstly, turbo petrol engines use the exhaust gases to generate more power and torque, thereby utilizing the un-burnt fuel in the exhaust gases better and also cutting down on emissions. This also helps in improving fuel efficiency. These factors make turbo petrol engines a much smarter choice for car makers who face increasingly demanding buyers, and governments which demand lower polluting cars.
Turbo petrol engines produce their peak torque from lower down the rev band, making them easier to drive in city traffic conditions by means of fewer gear shifts, vis-a-vis naturally aspirated petrol engines. This is another factor leading to increased fuel efficiency and lower driving stress.
Turbo petrol engines also give the car makers the flexibility of using a small capacity engine for high power applications. For instance, the 1 liter-3 cylinder Ford EcoBoost turbo petrol engine fits an A4 size paper, but makes up to 138 Bhp and 180 Nm. Using smaller turbo petrol engines on larger cars will allow manufacturers to save weight. Also, a smaller engine will sip lesser fuel sitting in traffic.