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Chris Rees - The need to be green has been progressively changing automotive engineering. There was a time when diesel engines were the flavour of the month and were ahead of petrol engines in terms of economy and power output. But petrol engine development has overtaken the oil burners, so that now they are the bad boys in the emissions world. Part of the petrol engine revival has been due to turbocharging, with impressive power outputs, performance and economy from lower capacity units. A side effect of turbocharging has been the reduction of engine noise, which is less of an issue on domestic cars than it is on the high performance end of the market. But there are occasions where noise is acceptable, even encouraged, notably in motorsport and in particular Formula One. The drone of the current 1.6-litre F1 cars pales into insignificance compared to those fabulous, screaming 3.0-litre V8s and V12s of not so long ago. With the suppression of F1 it was not going to be long before the manufacturers of top end cars would become influenced. Firstly we have the latest Maserati range fitted with turbochargers and now Ferrari has followed suit. And no matter the claims of harmonic enhancement of the manifolds and pipework all the cars affected have lost some of their magic. While I admit there really is a need to be green, I can’t see that the relatively small group of exotic cars are going to make much difference to the environment, even on the cruise down London’s Kings Road where the big red buses surely pose a more significant threat to air quality. Ferrari 458 Speciales and Maserati GranTurismos are at the peak of naturally aspirated engine development and, due to their fabulous soundtracks, must surely be regarded as instant classics. But wait, there is still one supercar manufacturer that produces uncompromised cars – Lamborghini. It will be interesting to see how the latest Huracán and the new Aventador SV will affect supercar sales. I think Lamborghini has an advantage here, but how long will it last?
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Chris Rees
14 Sep
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