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Turbocharging Vs Supercharging

3992 Views 16 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  ruf
So, I haven't read any threads yet on the proposed 2006 "upgrade" to a turbocharged engine. My friend who is far more mechanically / technically minded than my good self says that my MCS with supercharger, soon to be a JCW, is a far better set up than the proposed 2006 Turbo & any JCW turbo to be offered. What are your views please & is this change to a factory MCS turbo just a cost cutting measure?

Mike. :ebblack:
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mate im not mechanically minded either but from what Ive heard superchargers are better than turbo..i have owned turbo cars before and unless you are in the right rev range they can be downright pitifull eg had a 90 supra twin turbo, take off from the lights well there wasnt much I could beat really, once up and going it was fantastic. They call it lag or something

I find the MINI to be much more responsive right from down low in the revs. I think i recall reading that the lag problem wont be apparent on the new turbo MINI but im sure someone with more technical info and know how will give you a more detailed response as to which is better.
Turbos are mini turbines spun from exhaust pressure leaving the engine. At lower engine rpms, there is less exhaust created, which does not create enough pressure to spin the turbine fast enough to spin the second part of the turbine that creates boost pressure. Low boost pressure means the motor is effectively naturally aspirated. Turbo lag is the wait time for there to be enough exhaust pressure to spin the turbine fast enough to create enough boost to create a noticable gain in performance.

With turbos, larger is not always better, with a properly sized turbo, it is said that you can virtually eliminate turbo lag.

Superchargers spin off the motor, so they are not as efficient as turbos (they use the motor's energy versus the motor's exhaust (spent energy)). However they are constantly spinning when the motor spins and are much more effective over the entire rpm range.

I won't speculate which will be better, the supercharged mini or the turbo charged one, although I am quite happy with my supercharged mini.
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Turbo v Supercharger

With Turbo you have 'lag' , foot down and nothing ,then bang power on ... supercharger instant power and always seems to be there .
same price, more money...

For BMW. They decided to try to make the next generation MINI less costly to build but still appear to be a premium small car. You can see it in the more traditional bonnet design such as eliminating the headlights from the clam shell. I'm certain that turbo charging is such a change. I've had a couple turbos in the past and I don't think they're as useful as a supercharger. Certainly not as fast too respond. But cheaper and not uncommon in smaller perfornance cars.
Frankly I can't wait until they make the change....tat'll just mean the Supercharged S will become rarer over time.
While discussing the relative merits of either is a bit pointless (both approaches are valid, useful and reliable) the relative scarcity of supercharged cars will win out (value wise) in the end.
Supposedly the New Mini's turbo will kick in at 1400 RPM's--if that's true, there should be very little, maybe even imperceptible, turbo lag. That being said, I'd still prefer the Supercharger--there are very few cars out there with them, and it fits the Mini's quirkiness better than the more conventional turbocharger IMHO.
The biggest "downside" of turbocharging is due to the heat that is created.

This requires a larger cooling pack (water pump capacity, intercooler etc). In a small car like the MINI, this can be problematic to package, whilst maintaining crash signature etc.

I'll also go with plugot's comments regarding for like, a turbocharged engine will be significantly cheaper to produce, than a supercharged one, due to lessor part count, and that the parts cost less as well (well perhaps not the intercooler!)

With modern, variable geometry turbos, lag can be minimised to a large extent.

One comment regarding turbos that has been over looked is "drive-by-noise". A turbo quietens the exhaust related noise down considerably.......with noise reg becoming more stringent, this is advantageous!

(ex-Lotus Engineering / JCB / Ricardo)
Themikanic said:
So, I haven't read any threads yet on the proposed 2006 "upgrade" to a turbocharged engine.
Best pop into the "future variants" forum then......

turbo more expensive

im pretty sure that a turbo setup is more complicated. a supercharger just mounts directly onto the intake manifold and attaches to the pulleys via a belt. for a turbocharger, you need more piping, more intercooloer tubing, you gotta worry about keeping the air and oil more cool since it runs off exhaust gases which tend to be hot. Also the amount of boost it pushes relies on software. it just doest seem that much cheaper to me.... maybe theyre less prone to breaking? either way there are ups and downs. downs are that with turbos yes, you do get turbo lag. buuut you can easily increase horsepower by just messin with your ecu and boost controller. also you get to have a blow off valve which is super cool. you pretty much dont have to add any parts if you wantmore hp. with the super, you gotta get a pulley and new software.

I think the reason they switched was because nowadays turbos are more conventional. They are used far more in the auto industry than superchargers, which leads to cheaper parts, and bigger workforce that is familiar with tubros.
my 2 cents
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Superchargers are notorious for poor fuel consumption so this may have a bearing on BMW's decision. No clamshell bonnet, no supercharger. Hummm maybe I'll hang on to my "classic".
I have a SC car (MCS) and turbo car ( bridgeported rx7)
IMO its ALOT of fun having SC in the mini. In this quick handling car, I love having the instant power in the mini and the SC sound. I think the SC sound matches mini's "cuteness"
my rx7 is all hardcore on the race track and get beat up. SC is more like "classy" just like how mini is... its hard to explain how i feel but i am sure some of u guys understand :D
My current car is a Mk4 Golf 1.8 turbo. Come March though, my Cooper S arrives WOOHOOO!!

The Golf is chipped to 200hp, so its very quick, quicker than a CooperS! There is turbo lag, but its hardly a problem at all, you gotta be below 1900rpm to even feel it. Above that the turbo spools up very quickly. Even the spool up is nice as you can feel the power picking up and shoving you back. Turbo is also fairly quiet but it whines similarly to the supercharger when its boosting hard.
Rarely notice the turbo in anything but first gear, beyond that its just got masses of mid range grunt, and its fairly fuel efficient to boot (yawn!)

The lack of lag on the Golf's engine is due to the size of the turbo. Its quite small and lightweight which means it can spin up very quickly, idea being it drives like a larger capacity car to joe public without the problems of turbo lag. Smaller turbos boost quickly but can't move much air so they have less top end. A big turbo will take an eternity to spin up but it'll generate some serious bhp once its going!!

I found the Cooper S to be very similar to drive to be honest. The supercharger effectively mimics the small turbo in the Golf. Obviously there's a complete lack of lag, but both engines feel similarly linear and responsive. Main difference is though, the Golf's torque arrives a lot lower down.
I'd say that turbo charging if done correctly is the better approach. Its definately cheaper and if done wrongly is nasty, but if done well, like with VW's 1.8T engine, its fantastic. Apparently their new 2.0T is even better.
That saying, I've still traded the Golf in for a Cooper S.. COME ON MARCH!!!
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Turbocharging Vs Supercharging.

Thanks all for your responses. It seems to me there are more fans for retaining the supercharger than the "progression' to a turbo. My feeling is that it's a cost cutting exercise to change to the Turbo, along with the other changes that seem to be proposed in the 2006 model.
Personally I think I'll keep my '05 MCS JCW Chilli & mourn the day BMW decided to make a sensational car more cheaply.
Perhaps those of us that will keep our MCS's will be grateful for their collectivity in the future, I guess only time will tell.

Mike. :ebblack:

PS. Paul Mullet, I did a search on this topic & it generally came up a blank, thats why I started the thread.
Bah. I'm not a big supercharger fan... They tend to run out of steam up top. Superchargers are for hillbillies with 5.0L engines that tickover like a steam engine.

I've been tempted in the past to rebuild an S engine with turbocharging instead of stuporcharging... :p Guess the big boys finally beat me to it. As for the whole lag issue, I actually PREFER a little lag. If you are driving at 2000rpm, do you really NEED power? If you are making any attempt at being quick, then you have no business in that end of the rpm range. I find that having a rather docile engine at low rpm is nice around the city. Get the car into the powerband and it becomes a totally different creature. This dual personality adds to the versatility of the engine imo.

Again just my opinions. The supercharger was the main reason I stayed away from the MCS model. Had it been an MCT, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. As it is, I'm pretty happy with my MC as a friendly commuter compliment (that can still rail the corners) to my more brutal toys.
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Hey Ruf, thanks for your input into the discussion....Mike. :ebblack:
Not a problem. Always happy to share my bigoted ignorant zealotry with others... :p I've got an old Garrett T25 I've been wanting to slap on my MC lately... :D For forced induction, I'd really like a engine with piston oil squirters though. :(
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