Turbo Or Hybrid?

Krado Low
30 Apr 2019

Turbo Or Hybrid?

It’s still odd that horsepower is still used as a measurement since the 18th century, when the term was coined to measure the power generated by steam engines. The humble internal combustion engines that burned petrol and diesel have served mankind for over 100 years, but as the eco-friendly green buzz continues to grip the headlines, newer engines are designed to be smaller in order to burn less fuel.

Until the day when electric cars offer the convenience of a traditional fuel-powered car, such as high speed fill-ups and range, hybrids, petrol will continue to be the power of choice for automobiles. In fact, today’s latest turbo charged engines feature a whole host of fuel-saving techniques to make it as efficient as the early hybrid cars.

We’ll take the latest Toyota C-HR as an example of a turbo vs hybrid comparison. Available in Singapore with a 1.2L turbo or a 1.8L Hybrid, these two represent the current trend of automobiles.

The traditional fuel option:
The new 8NR-FTS 1.2L turbo found in the Toyota C-HR features pretty much the latest in fuel engines: D-4T (Direct-injection 4 stroke gasoline engine with Turbo), which injects fuel directly into the cylinders, as opposed to the intake port. It also operates with the Atkinson Cycle, which delays the air intake valve closing to reduce pumping losses.

Each of these can be ‘stacked’ with other technologies, such as start-stop systems to create very efficient engines that reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions, while maintaining the performance levels which we have been accustomed to.

Enter the hybrid generation:
Almost every automobile manufacturer has a hybrid model in their lineup today, a far cry from the year Toyota introduced the Prius, a name which has been associated with the hybrid push for the past 20 years. The same powertrain can be found in the CH-R 1.8L Hybrid.

This hybrid powertrain combines a traditional engine and an electric motor for two distinct duties. At low speeds such town driving, the electric motor does most of the driving, while the traditional 2ZR-FXE engine will take over at high speeds and recharge the batteries for the later hybrid operation.

How do they drive?
With both equipped with CVT transmissions, you might think that both are equal when it comes to driving. While that holds some truth, the petrol variant is the winner for overall driving dynamics. It feels zippier in the corners due to its lower weight and feels more lively on the go, but the hybrid delivers a more satisfying standing start. The electric motor delivers instant torque from 0rpm, unlike traditional engines which have to be revved to a particular sweet spot for maximum torque.

The hybrid CH-R also has the ability to cruise around town in pure EV mode, which can save you even more fuel money as you stealthily waft from A to B. However, cruising on the highway is a tie for both cars as both engines will be purring away under the hood.

While the petrol manages a fuel economy of about 13km/l, the hybrid will easily achieve 20km/l. If you do drive over 20,000km a year, the hybrid will grant you a saving of over $5000 in petrol, shadowing the $466 increase in road tax. Oddly enough, both of them are priced at similar levels - but the officially imported 1.2L turbo model has a lot more safety kit such as the lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, blindspot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

So, the hybrid then?
Everything seems to be going well for the hybrid, so far. Fortunately, hybrid technology today does not necessitate the need to change an entire battery pack to replace a single faulty cell.

Furthermore, there are plenty of Singapore workshops that specialize in hybrid car maintenance - a far cry from the hybrid car ownership experience from ten years ago. However, you have to remember that a hybrid has double the propulsion systems and a unique set of maintenance specifics for the car - a potential hidden maintenance cost right there.

It is a photo finish the 1.2L Turbo and the 1.8L Hybrid Toyotas C-HRs. We’d pick the turbo since we rarely use our own cars to get to, or for work (hah!) and it will pay off in maintenance savings. On the other hand, we do recommend the hybrid for anyone who has a need to drive more - it does have potential long-term savings and a much more desirable start-stop traffic performance.

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