It’s a question for the ages, and fodder for endless debate on any automotive forum. If you want to start a flame war among gear heads, sports car aficionados, or Manchester Porsche fans in particular, you can start by asking whether they prefer an engine that’s naturally aspirated or a Porsche turbo. Both camps have their diehards, but this is one question that doesn’t lend itself to an easy answer. Here are some fast facts from Porsche of Nashua.
Both turbocharged and naturally aspirated engines are internal combustion engines. The difference is how the air gets to the combustion chamber. If your engine is naturally aspirated — like the 275 horsepower 2.7-liter flat-six aluminum engine on the 2016 Porsche 718 Cayman — it’s relying on atmospheric pressure to get air to the combustion chamber. A turbocharged engine like the 300 horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter boxer 6 cylinder engine on the Porche 911 Carrera, on the other hand, recirculates exhaust gas to drive a turbine, which spins a compressor, which feeds more air — and therefore more oxygen — into the combustion chamber, giving a better burn rate, and therefore more power.
So which one’s better? While naturally-aspirated engines are less mechanically complex — which, in turn, makes them cheaper to build and easier to maintain — they’re inefficient, harder to tune, and provide less power for their weight. A turbocharged engine does experience some lag, but it is not only more efficient, it’s also more powerful pound-for-pound, squeezing more output out of a smaller-displacement powerplant. All else being equal, it’s easier to get higher horsepower out of a smaller and lighter turbocharged engine. That doesn’t just mean fuel efficiency. It means a lower curb weight, which in turn leads to a quicker time off the line, better cornering and acceleration, and better overall handling.
Of course, the science doesn’t tell the whole story. For a lot of Nashua Porsche fans, it’s not just about efficiency. It’s about the feel of the car and how it drives. There’s really only one way to measure that, and that’s to get to Porsche of Nashua to experience a Porsche 911 Carrera, a Porsche 718 Boxster, or Porsche Cayenne for yourself.