It’s a question that comes with a heavy connotation in the car world. If you can choose one way or another, it feels like picking sides in an age old debate. Do you want your increased engine horsepower to be linear and immediate, or efficient and a bit laggy? In an effort to prove which forced induction provides a better driving experience, Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske dives into the pros and cons of each type.
Ultimately, the ‘better’ debate comes down to personal preference, as Fenske admits to simply enjoying supercharged cars more. If you happen to like turbocharged cars more, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. While both add power by forcing more air into the cylinders, they are different enough for someone to certainly have a preference.
The supercharged engine will deliver power in a more linear fashion, while the turbocharged engine builds power in an exponential manner, meaning throttle inputs are not directly in line with engine outputs. As the boost builds, the turbocharged car will continue to accelerate without further foot input. It’s a strange feeling, if you aren’t used to it.
I tend to prefer turbochargers for many of the reasons Fenske cites he used to prefer them, using already-spent exhaust gasses to drive the boost pressure. A supercharged car can be a lot of fun to drive, with excellent sounds and instant-on shove. It’s the addictive pile-on flood of boost acceleration provided with a turbocharger, and perhaps even better sounds, takes home the crown for me.