Differences between naturally aspirated and turbocharged engine

In contrast to the situation from 20 years ago, there is now an incredible variety of adaptable engines that can be tailored to the requirements of each user.

To the age-old competition for market share between diesel and gasoline, we must now add a new competitor: the electric motor, which, in the long run, aims to bring about a fundamental shift in the composition of the vehicle fleet.


However, one needs patience, time, and agreement on the well-established dichotomy between gasoline and diesel engines, one need of this; in addition to hybrid engines in their various iterations, electric motors with increased battery autonomy and even a hydrogen cell engine are now enormously added.

The conventional internal combustion engine is currently the dominant type (and will continue to do so).

These new versions, powered by Euro regulations, are not even close to being their definitive versions.

Therefore, they have not yet wholly established themselves in the international market; however, the figures do not lie, and the market’s growth is exponential and positive.

As a result, any news relating to the pollution caused by diesel engines is a blow to the chest of the companies that manufacture them.

Fortunately, gasoline engines have reached a compromise position that protects them from the barrage of environmentalist arguments currently being made (for now).

As a result of all of these new regulations regarding pollution, manufacturers have been forced to increase the cost of their automobiles and decrease the amount of power their models produce to conform to international standards.

Therefore, traditional naturally aspirated engines, as opposed to turbocharged or supercharged ones, have lost ground and are increasingly being replaced by the latter.

But what exactly differentiates them from one another, and is there a clear winner between them? Let’s take a look.

What exactly is meant by the term “naturally aspirated engine”?

These engines are known as atmospheric or naturally aspirated, without a turbocharger distinguishing them.

As a result, they require a significantly larger displacement to generate the necessary amount of power.

The operation of an atmospheric engine is straightforward: the air the engine takes in from the surrounding environment does so through an intake calibrated to the atmospheric pressure (hence its name).

In this context, its most significant power is generated at high revolutions per minute (rpm), which will always depend on the capacity of its cylinders.

Therefore, the larger the displacement, the greater the potential power output because the intake will accommodate a greater air volume.

The performance of the atmospheric engine primarily depends on the atmospheric pressure and the temperature of the air that is aspirated; for some reason, the lower the temperature, the better.

Because there will be a greater quantity of oxygen in the mixture, we can achieve more efficient combustion, resulting in increased power.

Therefore, the amount of power that can be generated by an atmospheric engine with naturally aspirated combustion depends directly on the temperature of the air drawn into the engine’s cylinders.

For instance, significant differences are typically observed depending on the height above sea level. This is because there is less oxygen at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes.

What is a turbocharged engine?

The turbocharger is a component exclusive to turbocharged engines; naturally aspirated engines do not have this component.

This is one of the key differences between the two types of machines. This mechanism ensures that the intake pressure is more significant (thanks to a turbine) than the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere; in other words, the air drawn in from the surrounding environment is “adulterated” by a turbo.

As a direct consequence of this, the engine is no longer reliant on the pressure and temperature of the surrounding air.; as a result of this, we have been able to lessen the performance drop that was typical of atmospheric engines when they were used in specific conditions, namely at high altitudes and in scorching environments.

Because the air that receives the mixture previously passes through a turbocharger and enters and exits very quickly from the internal combustion chambers, turbocharged engines require less displacement to achieve maximum power.

This is because the air that receives the mixture previously passes through the turbocharger.

The pressure applied to the combustion chamber distinguishes an atmospheric engine from a turbocharged engine.

As we have seen, air enters an atmospheric engine’s cylinders by atmospheric pressure (intake).

On the other hand, in the case of turbocharged engines, the air first travels through a turbine to obtain the air that is pressurized before entering the engine.

This means that the pressure in modern engines is increased by anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 bars compared to atmospheric pressure.

In the following section, the differences between an atmospheric engine and a turbocharged one will be broken down point by point so that you can better grasp both types of machines.

1. The turbocharged engine provides improved levels of performance.

When it comes to determining the differences in performance, you need to examine the way the car responds when you are driving at low and medium revs.

Naturally aspirated engines are at a distinct disadvantage compared to turbo engines because, even at “normal” revs, a turbo engine has a significantly higher power output than a naturally aspirated engine.

On the other hand, people have varying preferences; more specifically, there are supporters of each variety of engine.

Some motorists take pleasure in pushing each gear to its absolute limit to achieve the highest possible number of revolutions per minute while listening to the roar of their naturally aspirated engine.

On the other hand, some individuals are head over heels in love with the final kick or push provided by the turbo, in addition to the subtle noise that is so characteristic of it when it is activated.

To summarize, it can be stated with absolute certainty that tube engines provide superior performance because the pull is given at low and medium revs.

In contrast, atmospheric ones require that we take them to high revs to uncover all of their power.

2. Turbo engines require more maintenance

It is clear that turbo engines call for a significantly higher level of regulated and comprehensive upkeep, but why is this the case?

Extremely straightforward because a turbo engine consists of more components than a naturally aspirated engine.

We advise you to pay particular attention to oil changes to avoid a breakdown of the turbo, which can be costly.

Because of this, we will be able to ensure that all of the engine’s moving parts are adequately lubricated, ultimately resulting in the components lasting for a significantly more extended period.

3. There is a noticeable gap between the two types of consumption

Because providing a greater quantity of gases inside each cylinder results in the more excellent performance of the mechanics, a turbo engine, when compared to an atmospheric engine of the same size and weight, will be more potent at low to medium revolutions and require less fuel to operate.

The greater quantity of gases provided inside each cylinder results in more excellent mechanical performance.

After everything has been covered, selecting one of the two engines should be a no-brainer; however, the naturally aspirated ones have one more ace up their sleeve, ensuring their longevity on the market.

The air intake and compression naturally offer two advantages over turbo engines: first, it’s sound; second, the smoothness of operation along with a speed that, for any turbo engine, it is unattainable to reach.

Both of these advantages are superior to turbo engines.

4. The engines now have a linear torque curve, which results in a much smoother operation.

The driving sensations provided by each of the two engines are another critical distinction between the two options.

There is a time, or a moment in the revs, in which there is a time in which no matter how much you insist on pressing the accelerator, we will not find that “pull” of power until the pipe is activated.

Most drivers say turbo engines are more fun to drive because of this difference. Perhaps this is the difference that is the most open to interpretation.

On the other hand, a naturally aspirated engine does not have that moment of delay in the delivery of power.

As a result, its torque curve is significantly more regular, smooth, and progressive than the one produced by a turbo engine.

When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle powered by a naturally aspirated engine, you will quickly become accustomed to the significantly more aggressive and spirited nature of the vehicle’s handling (it does not have to be more sporty).

When it comes to naturally aspirated engines, the feelings drivers get behind the wheel are very distinct due to the increased regularity and smoothness that these engines provide when revving up and delivering maximum power.

naturally aspirated and turbocharged engine

5. Turbo engines generate significantly less noise compared to naturally aspirated engines.

As stated earlier, the air expelled from the combustion chamber in a turbo engine is recirculated through a turbine.

As a direct result, the amount of noise produced by the vehicle is significantly diminished. In recent years, it has become necessary to resort to various sports exhaust or modified sound systems, which emit a noise similar to that of a naturally aspirated engine, for the vehicle to successfully transmit that pleasurable driving sensation to the person sitting behind the wheel.

This is because sound reduction is so significant.

To clarify, the difference in sound is caused by the fact that a naturally aspirated engine does not have turbos, catalytic converters, or mufflers, so the exhaust gases flow freely through the exhaust pipe.

This results in that heavenly sound that every engine lover adores, regardless of the performance of the naturally aspirated engine.

This sound directly results from the engine’s ability to draw in outside air.

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