What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled Is the NA engine dying for real?

With Honda, Toyota, Ferrari, and Porsche all crying uncle in the face of increasingly strict regs, I’m wondering.... who is left that is still NA?

  • Acura is holding out for now, but that new 2.0T would make the ILX, TLX, RDX and even possibly the bigger cars more competitive. I can’t see Honda not going that way with Acura.
  • FCA, GM and FoMoCo have embraced turbocharging to varying degrees, but they all seem headed down the path. Ford has even gone as far as to offer turbos in its bread and butter pickups. HOWEVER, the V8 remains SACROSANCT. The V8 is also, from my estimation, the biggest source of emissions problems. I think moving to smaller displacement twin turbo or even hot V single turbo systems would help a lot and retain these engines characters. Ford would also be able to move away from the awesome but very expensive and huge Coyote motors back to a simpler OHV setup, albeit with a cam-in-cam system for VVT, DI and all that other good stuff. I think the domestics should also turbocharge their muscle car V6s along with the V8s.... keep everything conservative though. ~330-350HP for the V6s, ~450 or so HP for the V8s with tons of low end torque. Then leave some meat on the table for the high end models and the aftermarket.
  • Mazda- Mazda is carrying the torch and really making holistic designs that work. I admire that. They also aren’t really in the financial position to create a whole slew of new engines, especially since their current gen of engines is very new. Maybe next go round, but for now all I’d want is a ~200HP 2.5L Miata (coupe since we are dreaming).
  • Nissan- Nissan is a strange holdout. They are starting to warm up to it but they are mostly still chugging along with 10-20 year old motors that are still competitive. I think some selective applications would work... for example, if the Maxima had a hot V turbo with AWD and a DCT it would have enough separation from both the Altima and the Q50 to validate its existence. All their SUVs could use a little more power too, and turbocharging the existing engines would give that without killing their class leading fuel economy. Z is OK... just needs to lose weight rather than get more power.

Who else is there? All the Germans led that charge and are pretty much all blown. Is there anyone besides Mazda keeping NA alive? And is that necessarily a bad thing?

Me personally, I’m not really bothered. Cars are more robust than ever, meaning I can see cars from the last ~10-20 years lasting for 30-50 years in the hands of the right people. And to that end there will always be crate motors and the aftermarket in general. I used to rock an “NA is best!” sticker on my first Accord, but for the street, where midrange is king, I am OK with boost. It just has to be done correctly. I have a simple rule for this... for every lb of car, there has to be at least .66cc of displacement. So if a car weighs 3500lbs, the bare minimum should be a ~2.4L engine with a snail. Any less than that, you start to lose the benefits of turbocharging as the car is in boost all the time. But that’s just my opinion.


I will kind of miss the wail of NA screamers, but in real life running engines out is just too risky. Plus there will always be the track. I hope the aftermarket picks up the slack to make more focused driving machines. A 3500lb sports car makes no sense to me, and as a motorcycle rider I’m glad to sacrifice safety and convenience for engagement and performance (as all sports car drivers should be IMO). But again just my opinion.

Are we in a war we will eventually lose or just moving through another stage of automotive progress? I don’t know.

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