Turbocharger vs. Supercharger: Which system is better?

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It’s a question that we get continually here on “Horsepower for an Hour” and it’s not the easiest question to answer. Both systems are forced induction which means they both literally force air into the engine, the idea being, the more air you can push into an engine the more power it will produce.

magnuson supercharger

In terms of efficiency, the Turbocharger wins because it is not powered directly by engine rotation. The Turbo gets its power from the hot exhaust gasses being expelled from the engine. The exhaust gas passes by the turbine blade causing it to spin, the spinning motion causes the compressor side to turn and effectively push more air into the engine. One advantage is since the Turbocharger is not driven directly by the engine it can, (and does) spin much faster.

Turbocharger illustration (Jpeg)

The Supercharger bolts to the engine and is driven by a belt that’s attached to the crankshaft. As the engine spins, it spins the blades in the Supercharger and forces more air into the engine.
Since engine rotation is needed to spin the Supercharger, it is not as efficient because it requires horsepower to make horsepower, but one huge advantage is it makes instant power whereas the Turbocharger typically has a time delay in noticeable response.

Supercharger pic 1

Both systems produce impressive power increases, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference, but here at Horsepower Broadcasting, we prefer the Supercharger. The instant power gains combined with reliability make it the preferred system for us, and it looks awesome cool bolted to the top of the engine. Another bonus with a Supercharger is it requires less maintenance than the Turbocharger and as with so many other situations in life….less means more, less headache and more tire sizzling excitement.

One of the best examples of a quality Supercharger system is designed and built by Magnuson Superchargers. Of all the systems we’ve researched the Magnuson is top tier.

Disagree?…Hit us with a text directly to the studio 877-209-4480

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About Author

Donny is a Southern California specialty shop owner with primary emphasis on transmission and differential systems. He is an automotive technology graduate with over 30 years of experience. He and his wife own DMC Transmission outside of Los Angeles and were awarded “Shop of the Year” honors in 2010 and 2011.

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3 Comments

  1. Super chargers are great. Easy to install. power at all RPM. No lag, but takes horse power to make power and you loose MPG.

    Turbo has some lag off idle. Takes almost no hp to operate. not as hard on MPG.

    Toss up, but I’d go Turbo over super charger.. I have a turbo car and it is great.

  2. I have a supercharged 6 , Audi S5, love the car, for 2018 the new AudiS5, Audi dropped the super charger and added a turbo. I drove the new car but when I test drove it I was in the city and really couldn’t open it up. The engine is the same displacement but tuned for more horse power and torque. Most high performance manufactures are turning to tubos, Ferrrari and of course Porsche has used turbos for several years. Over the long haul what is the draw back for turbos. in late 2018 Audi will introduce a bi-turbo RS5 which is a 2.9 litre 6 producing over 450 HP. Am I better keeping my supercharged car and adding a performance chip or join the turbo club?

    • Hi Sid,
      Thanks for your question, and thank you for tuning into our show. You are correct, the last year Audi produced the S5 with a supercharger was 2016. Spence and I previewed the car for one of our Horsepower for an Hour episodes and we were plenty impressed!
      From 2016 to 2017 the horsepower increased from 333 hp to 354 hp with a significant increase in torque as well. Another change that’s been implemented is the use of the ZF conventional 8 speed now in favor of the DSG transmission.
      Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the supercharger and dual clutch transmission, the supercharger, historically has always seemed just a bit more responsive. However, with the advancements over the past few years in turbocharger development, the performance gains are now better than ever.
      I also understand that from a manufacturing point of view, the turbo charger is less costly to produce which may be the reason Audi has embraced the technology over the supercharger.
      Another less costly component to produce is the conventional automatic transmission. The dual-clutch trans is superior in design and operation but it is also more expensive, and as we’ve seen in some manufacturers, a bit more problematic.
      For 2018, it seems Audi is yet again making performance gains with their twin-turbo setup and it would be tough to argue against it. In your communication you mentioned the 2018 RS5, which has more power than the S5. The S5 continues to produce 354 HP, while the RS5 delivers the 450 HP with an impressive 442 lb-ft of torque.

      In closing, if it were me, I’d stay with the supercharged model (at least for the foreseeable future), install a performance ECU tune, and enjoy the car.
      Audi has been, and continues to be one of our favorite manufacturers here at Horsepower Broadcasting.

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