5 Coolest Cars Ever Sold With Twincharging Solutions

Twincharging is a technology that does not get in the spotlight too often. But it has recently emerged from the archives and made its way back into production.
Overview of Volkswagen's 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger engine 10 photos
1986 Lancia Delta S4 in competition specification seen at 2011 Goodwood FoSSketch of Lancia's Twincharged engineNissan March Super TurboNissan March Super Turbo engineVolkswagen's 1.4-liter TSI engineVolvo's T6 four-cylinder engineAudi SQ7 V8 TDIAudi SQ7' V8 TDI engineZenvo ST1
For those of you that are not familiar with the term, let’s explain what twincharging is, and why it is and was a big deal when it first came into production cars.

Back in the day, most cars had naturally aspirated engines. Superchargers were a rare occurrence, while turbocharged models were just a bit more common.

Eventually, the performance demands of the World Rally Car Championship led to the introduction of supercharged cars, while some models were running turbocharged engines.

Each system had its advantages and disadvantages, but turbos were mostly criticized for having “lag,” a phenomenon that is still manifested in some modern cars.

Superchargers did not have lag, but provided less boost and “robbed” the engine of power because they were run using a belt that was linked directly to the crankshaft pulley.

Eventually, an Italian manufacturer developed a car that had both supercharging and turbocharging. The idea behind the concept was that the two systems would outweigh each other’s cons and provide a comprehensive benefit - more boost without any lag at any rpm. The first twincharged vehicle was born, and the year was 1985.

So, let’s get on with our list.

1) Lancia Delta S4 and “S4 Stradale”

1986 Lancia Delta S4 in competition specification seen at 2011 Goodwood FoS
Photo: Wikipedia user Sicnag
As mentioned above, Lancia was the first brand ever to offer a twincharged engine on a car. It was first adopted in racing, in the form of a WRC contender that replaced the Lancia 037.

The engine was also developed from the one used on the 037, but this vehicle had nothing to do with the Delta that was sold for the street. Peugeot, WRC rivals of Lancia at the time, applied a similar strategy with their 205 T16, which was far from the production car.

Long story short, the Lancia Delta S4 had to be sold to the public in a form close to the one used in WRC to allow homologation. Only 200 units were manufactured and sold under the name of Lancia Delta S4, but it was known as the “Delta S4 Stradale.”

It only came with 250 HP, but it had a space frame with steel tubes, fiberglass body panels, and a three-differential four-wheel-drive system.

Small production numbers have made the Delta S4 Stradale a collectible car from the moment the first one left the factory. Other homologation specials had the same fate, and this model had good reason to be a collectible because it was already as expensive as five Delta HF Turbo, which was the top-of-the-line Delta of the moment.

Meanwhile, the racing version was rated with a maximum output of 480 HP, but some claimed the engine was good for more than 500 HP. In the same year when the Italians launched the Delta S4 in the WRC, they tested a version that reached a maximum boost of five bars, and provided about 1,000 HP from the same 1.8-liter engine, but only for demonstration purposes.

The 1,000 HP engine was never raced, but the 480 HP car won five out of 12 WRC races it entered, with 15 podium finishes to remember. Its WRC presence ended after the tragic crash that killed driver Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto, his co-driver, at the 1986 Tour de Corse rally.

2) Nissan March Super Turbo - The souped-up Micra

Nissan March Super Turbo
Photo: Nissan
Nissan has had its crazy moments in the past, and the company still surprises everyone once every few years with cars like the Juke. In the late 1980s, Nissan developed a twincharged car, which was based on the little Micra, a model that was also sold under the “March” name.

The car had a 930 cc engine (56.7 cubic inches) that delivered 110 HP. That level of power is agreeable on a 2016 Micra, but it must have been insane in the 1980s on a car this small.

Nissan did not run the supercharger and the turbocharger at the same time for extended periods, as the former was operated by a magnetic clutch that was activated depending on throttle position.

Compared to the Delta S4 “Stradale,” Nissan’s March Super Turbo was a bargain. Sadly, the Japanese automaker only sold 10,000 road cars in this specification.

There was also a racing version, which had a homologated special. They all used the same engine, but the Japanese brand never made a follow-up of this model.

3) Volkswagen Group’s 1.4-liter TSI Twincharger

Volkswagen's 1\.4\-liter TSI engine
Photo: Volkswagen
After Nissan’s late-80s twincharged “craze,” the said engine configuration was presumed dead. Volkswagen resurrected it with a 1.4-liter engine that was offered in many cars of its range.

The unit was called 1.4 TSI, but only certain power versions of the unit featured twincharging technology. The rest had a single turbo and delivered 120 or 122 HP, depending on their configurations.

Just like Nissan, Volkswagen used a magnetic clutch for the Roots-type supercharger. Unlike Nissan and Lancia, the VW Group devised a control valve that would bypass the supercharger in some situations (like high rpm) to maximize the efficiency of the engine, but the turbo would overlap it until a particular rpm.

This was possible because the German company launched the unit in an age where sensors required to do this were affordable and established on the market.

Volkswagen won a few “Engine of The Year” Awards with the unit, which was placed in cars like the Polo, Audi A1, Ibiza, Golf, Jetta, Passat, Sharan, Tiguan, Eos, and Touran. From this point of view, VW can pride itself on having the widest range of cars that featured this propulsion solution.

It was discontinued in 2011 because of complexity and cost. Meanwhile, the rest of the TSIs and TFSIs in the VW Group got better at reducing turbo lag.

4) Volvo’s T6 and T8 engines

Volvo's T6 four\-cylinder engine
Photo: Volvo
Volvo has downsized its five-cylinder and six-cylinder engines for turbocharged four-cylinder units. The T6 engine name, which used to be for an inline-six unit, has become a four-cylinder power plant, but it comes with a huge twist: it has a supercharger and a turbocharger. While the T5, its brother, only comes with a turbocharger, the T6 has a twincharging solution.

The unit develops 320 HP and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft), and its displacement is only 1,969 cubic centimeters. Peak output is reached at 5,700 rpm, while maximum torque is available between 2,200 and 4,500 rpm.

Clients can order the T6 in the second generation of the XC90, the S90, V90, and the S60. The unit is mated to an eight-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission designed and built by Japanese company Aisin.

Volvo went even further with this idea and mated the T6 engine with an electric motor to create the T8 Twin Engine. This brings the same ICE described above, but with the support of an electrical motor.

It can be ordered for the XC90, S90, and V90. Each of the models listed above benefits from all-wheel-drive with the T6/T8 engine.

5) Audi SQ7 V8 TDI

Audi SQ7' V8 TDI engine
Photo: Audi
This model is the closest thing to a production vehicle that features a supercharger with a diesel unit. While this may sound insane, Audi created the world’s most powerful diesel SUV with the use of two turbochargers and an electric supercharger. Audi had to use a separate, 48-volt electrical system just to power the latter.

While we admit that an electrical compressor is not the same as a mechanical unit, this engine is too impressive not to mention. The unit is a 4.0-liter V8 diesel that delivers 435 PS (429 horsepower) and a peak torque of 900 Nm (663.8 lb-ft). Even the worst diesel hater in the world would be impressed, because it can deliver its maximum output between 3,750 and 5,000 rpm.

The 48-volt e-charger helps this powerplant offer its maximum torque between 1,000 and 3,250 rpm. These values mean that the car gets its peak torque just above idle, and it stays the same until 3,250 rpm or thereabout.

These capabilities are outstanding, and Audi has successfully integrated the first ever electric compressor in a production car. Do not confuse this expensive and complicated electrical compressor with the 12-volt units you can buy on eBay and similar websites, because it has nothing to do with them.

While we know that this chart is focused on five of the coolest production cars that have been offered with twincharging solutions, we must note that there is a sixth model that could have been on our list, but isn’t among those seen above. It is the Zenvo ST1, a Danish supercar.

Unfortunately for the Zenvo ST1, the company’s production figures are extremely low, with less that 20 road-going units ever built and sold to the public. While it did have a twincharging solution from the factory, there are probably tuners in this world that have made over 20 twincharged configurations of the same car in the same period that the ST1 was in production.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories