LA Auto Show 2016: Nerd’s Eye View – Cars, Engines, and Electrons

by Khiem Dinh


All of you have seen it- the change in the automotive powertrain landscape. The driving force behind the changes is the desire for mankind to not choke and die breathing air (i.e. check out the air pollution levels in China and India right now). The upside to this push for cleaner air has been more torque, more power, and better throttle response. You can thank turbos and electric motors for all that goodness.

A twin-turbo 4.0L V8 is under the hood of the Panamera.
As with pretty much all modern cars, everything is hidden. But, under that strut tower brace are a pair of turbos. The Europeans have all pretty much gone to mounting turbos inside the V of their engines. While it does increase the center of gravity of the engine itself, the bottom of the engine becomes much narrower because there is not a pair of turbos, intakes, and downpipes sitting down low on the sides. So, I’m guessing the entire engine can be mounted lower consequently. If anything, maybe having the turbos up in the V just makes routing the intakes, downpipes, and associated water and oil lines easier. Anyway, you can see the extreme heat shielding efforts from Porsche for thermal management.
Porsche is trending towards going all-in on turbos as BMW, Ford, Audi, and Mercedes have. The new 718 Cayman/Boxster twins have flat-4s which seem to put out more power than they are rated based on the initial dynojet numbers that have popped up. I’ve said the only way to make Project S2000 better is to make it turbo and mid-engine, so maybe one day I’ll get into a 718.
The seats actually looks quite a bit like my S2000 seats with moderate bolstering, due to the whole street/performance compromise. The side scoop just behind the door feeds air to the engine and heat exchangers.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2017 5:51 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the double/single axle VNT design is analogous to the strength difference between mounting in single shear vs. double shear. It's difficult to see in the pics.
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 9:11 PM
ginsu, yup, you pretty much got it. The double axle is used in heavy duty applications where they use the turbo to back pressure the engine for increased engine braking by closing the vanes. So similar to a jake brake on big rigs. With all the exhaust pressure, the vanes have to be really strong. On passenger cars that don't weigh multiple tons nor require engine braking, single axle vanes can be used.
Corbin Goodwin
Corbin Goodwinlink
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 10:30 PM
On page seven you mention the e, BMW seems to use e to designate a short range plug in hybrid that can get you to work and back electrically but that's about it. Reference the 330e and the X5 somethingsomething e...
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 7:37 AM
That Infinity needs more rad caps.

And those hp numbers from the 2.0L polestar are rediculous. Nice work volvo.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 8:38 AM
@Corbin, good observation!

@SM_clay, hahahahahhaa! Yeah... I understand having two: car coolant and intercooler coolant. What's the third.....

Volvo seems to have gone the direction of 'screw costs'. Compound setups are expensive and complicated really driving up costs where many OEMs freak out over a 5 cent part price increase. Their twin-charged plus hybrid powertrain used in the XC90 has to be crazy expensive! Supercharger + turbocharger + electric motor + batteries.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 8:47 AM
Oh yeah, have some friends who are not 'car' people test drive the Lexus with 2.0L turbo and Audi A3 with 2.0L turbo. The Lexus was a complete dog with dramatically worse drive-ability compared to the Audi. There is a lot of heat being generated by the turbo as evidenced by all the heat shielding around it plus the heat shielding on the hood.

I really don't know what Toyota was thinking. Well, I can imagine what went down: Program management probably said: all our competitors have 2.0L turbo engines (Audi, BMW, Merc, Caddy) in sedans. Take the 2.0L turbo from the NX200t and put it in the IS chassis. So, that's my guess as to why the turbo and intake stuff seem to be on opposite sides of the engine as one would want them.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 12:39 PM
@spdracerut it yet again proves that Toyota just have no clue on making a good engine, look at all their best engines in their history, the inline 6 in the 2000GT, 3S-GTE, 2ZZ-GE, maybe 1JZ-GTE, the V10 in LFA, and now the V8 in RCF and etc.
all these great "Toyota" engines are designed with significant help from Yamaha
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 12:58 PM
active air grill shutters seam like a horrible idea to me. can't wait for it to break in the closed position...
Thursday, February 09, 2017 6:53 AM
Warmmilk: The good news is these cars monitor everything and will go into limp mode etc. when the shutters break.

I had a student with a Focus ST at a track day and I was driving the first couple of laps. I couldn't hear a thing from the engine so I kept thinking I put it in 5th or 6th by mistake because I had no power. Turns out it was in the correct gear and was in limp mode because its shutters failed to open. Poor guy had to scrap his whole $300 track day, but it could be worse because the car saved itself from any damage.

Maybe I'm a Luddite, but it felt good afterwards to get into my E36 with an engine I could hear, free from turbo lag, traction control, e diffs, stability control, FWD and active grill shutters.
Thursday, February 09, 2017 8:44 AM
I have a 'summer' and a blanked-out 'winter' grill that I swap out on my car. It really helps with the car getting warm in the winter. It's incredible the difference, I'm surprised more high-end cars don't have active shutters.
Thursday, February 09, 2017 3:14 PM
Focus ST has that too? If my car had that I'd prolly just remove it, drop in mpg can't be enough to matter to anyone other than the EPA
Thursday, February 09, 2017 9:31 PM
@MDR, there's nothing better than no electronic intervention between you and the controls :)

Expect shutters to become more common as car manufacturers continue to push for improved MPG. It's all a cost/benefit calculation. As regulations get tougher, expect to see more devices for improving MPG.
Friday, February 10, 2017 3:20 AM
Khiem, you sure it's a Macan at the bottom of page 2? It looks like a Cayenne to me. The butt at least resembles more of a Cayenne rather than a Macan....not sure.
Friday, February 10, 2017 8:32 AM
@AlexB, you're correct. I updated the caption. nice catch!
Friday, February 10, 2017 4:24 PM
Why do I find none of these things even remotely appealing? The soccer mom comment may provide a clue. Bland and boring, even the 4 banger Cayman. And turbos? So over that. Give me a classic 4 valve twin cam NA engine any day.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 2:49 AM
@ spdracerut
Infiniti Cap Confusion ?
Front left cap is Intercooler reservoir
Front right cap is Engine coolant reservoir
Rear cap is the Engine coolant fill point.
(sourced from the Q50 factory service information)

Unfortunately for the VR30DDTT engine, the dumbass decision to implement stupid integral cast exhaust manifolds the reason being "to position the catalytic converter closer to the exhaust point"
Really Nissan? Apparently you haven't learnt anything from the last time you thought this was a good idea.
Interesting to note it has factory fitted turbocharger speed sensors though with the factory mapped limit of 240,000 rpm.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 3:10 AM
Post Script......
What is the deal with manufactures need to smother everything with plastic covers ?
What, because it's more appealing to the consumer ?
Did the marketing departments have a few focus groups who got watery eyes because they could see 'all those wires and pipes and whatcha-ma-call-its'
Did customers complain all the 'thing a me bobs' caused confusion and mistakenly yanked randomly away on items attempting to check the oil ?
Perhaps the bin lids are intended to protect the engine somehow?
Or maybe it's just a convenient location for a badge and latest marketing wank word.
I remember when a manufacturer wanted to hide and protect the engine they used this crazy thing called a hood........
Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:56 AM
@ Loagz: emissions laws required all the crazy hoses, wires and other shit snaking all over the place. Customers see that and think "this car is complicated and will cost me a fortune to repair". OEMs put covers on top to hide all the wizardry, and customers think "this engine is simple and will be cheaper to maintain".

As someone who travels a lot (and ends up in a lot of rental cars), I think that Toyota is currently either in the same stage GM was in the early 70s or late 90s: tops for sales, but a bloated bureaucracy that can't get out of its own way and excreting shit cars as a result. Yes, Toyotas are reliable. All cars are pretty damned reliable now and this will increasingly become a moot marketing point.

Speaking of marketing, Toyota's current marketing campaign for the Highlander is bragging about how many USB ports it has. Have we grown that despondent towards driving that this is a selling point, or has Toyota become that out of touch?

In any case, the complete lack of innovation (except for hybrids, which they have also given up the lead on, innovation-wise) at Toyota is appalling. Lifeless engines (ever floor a 4-banger Camry or Corolla? Bet you won't do it twice...), yesteryear transmissions, flabby and unresponsive chassis. Toyota "completely redesigns" the Tacoma, but it's basically the same truck. Same with the Corolla and Camry. All of it reminds me of those late 90s/early 2000s (same car, different plastic - sound familiar?) Grand Am/Malibu/Alero rentals I (ab)used on my travels: a shit car that went places with minimum fuss, but was both archaic and unforgettable for being completely forgettable.

Also: RIP manual transmissions. :(
Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:58 PM
@Loagz, a little surprising Nissan used a 'fancy' metal cap for the coolant reservoir bottle instead of the typical plastic or rubber cap.

I can think of ONE functional purpose for the massive engine covers and that is to reduce NVH from the clicking of the fuel injectors and maybe high pressure fuel pumps. But yea, I'm not a fan.
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 5:33 AM
@ Rockwood
You make a good point Rockwood, how the general unknowing consumer would be put off by the spaghetti factory. I might understand what the rats nest of plumbing and looms operate but Mr/Mrs A.Consumer would only see service costs. Ironically a large majority of the customers I attend to don't even know where their hood release is located.

I can't help having a good laugh too when the engine cover is styled to resemble a faux layout though and ponder 'why?', (a'la the Hyundai Tiburon V6 RWD-esque looking item)

Completely agree with your sentiment about modern cars. It's becoming a cookie cutter dull monotony of transport capsules with consumers intoxicated on technology tokens, increasingly distracted to their driving environment as attention is diverted to the devices of witchcraft contained within.

And as I work in the automotive industry, I am often exposed to vehicles that make me battle with sensible though or entertain the idea that slamming my man veges in the door I just escaped from would be more enjoyable than the driving horror it subjected me to.

Yes, the rewarding manual trans sadly seems increasingly endangered. Manufacturer's proclaim the dual clutch manual is the future for the common shaft cog swapper, yeh, their great when your giving it beans through the bendy's, but have you tried to perform a complicated slow maneuver in one, especially the VAG D.S.G. wow...... gearbox with a personality crisis.... Doesn't Shift Gracefully .....
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 5:34 AM
@ spdracerut
That had me a little bewildered too. I thought maybe it's possibly also serves as a breather tank/swirl pot but it appears lower than the filler port so that couldn't work. Maybe Nissan/Infinity got a bargain bin deal on pressure caps or someone screwed up the component order to the subcontractor by slapping on a few extra zeros ;)

Yeh, NVH is a possibility for the covers, I did entertain that theory after I noticed chit does get a fair bit noisier when the cover is pulled. Crazy to think how much some manufactures spend on NVH development and then go about piping induction noises etc into the cabin.
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