A four-cylinder turbocharged Camaro?
If fuel prices continue to rise, it could happen, said GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz at last week’s New York Auto Show. According to Automotive News, Lutz said the drivetrain under consideration is the same engine found in the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, a 2.0L turbocharged, direct-injected Ecotec four rated at 260 hp.
So far GM has confirmed V8 and V6 versions of the Camaro, the latter using the same direct-injected 3.6L four-cam mill found in the Cadillac CTS. The V8, according to Automotive News, is likely to be a 6.0L offering about 400 hp. Lutz said that GM has dropped plans to offer an entry-level Camaro powered by a lesser V6, perhaps opening the door for a different entry-level pony powered by the four-banger turbo.
To its enthusiast base, a Camaro with anything less than a six-cylinder underhood is an aberration. A quick scan of the enthusiast forums at Camaro5.com, for example, reveals the divide among enthusiasts.
"Four-banger Camaros are a bad idea," writes one member named Jimbo. "Fans of the cars won't stand for it. It is just a dumb idea because doing so will create a stigma upon all Camaros." Another member likens the idea to a pizza made with Heinz ketchup rather than tomato sauce.
The board moderator, however, urges perspective, arguing that "the inclusion of an I4 does not diminish the car's muscle/pony/sports car status. What other sports car could appeal to those who want a four?"
(To read the whole lengthy, amusing exchange, check out www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3269).
Scott Oldham, musclecar enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of InsideLine.com, doesn’t think the turbo four is bad idea, but questions whether it can haul the Camaro’s heft.
“With 260 hp, that turbo Ecotec is no slouch,” he says. “But that Camaro is going to weigh about 4,000 lbs., and that little four-banger just doesn’t have the bottom-end torque to get such a heavy car off the line. I’ll take mine with the LS3 V-8.”
And as the Camaro is one of the aftermarket’s most anticipated arrivals, a turbo four opens the door even wider, particularly for specialty-equipment companies specializing in the Solstice/Sky or forced induction.
“I would be absolutely elated to see this come to pass,” says Bill Hahn, Jr., founder and president of Hahn Racecraft in Yorkville, Illinois. Hahn’s company, in business for 20 years, offers a spectrum of parts including turbo, intercooler and tuning/fuel system upgrades for GM engines, particularly the 2.0L and 2.4L Ecotec.
“A four-cylinder turbo Camaro? I say “why not?” Hahn says, adding that from over 20 years of watching and working with GM, he wouldn’t be surprised to see a turbo version of the 2.4L Ecotec.
“The difference between a 2.0L and 2.4L is analogous to that between a 350 and a 427. It’s significant. You’re talking 20 percent more displacement, the bulk of it coming from more stroke, i.e. more torque. That wouldn’t surprise me.”
“I could see a turbo V-6 also,” he adds. “Nothing wrong with that. Take a page from GM’s past there, the [Buick] Grand National. Definitely as powerful as most V-8s.”
Hahn doesn’t see any reason why a turbo-4 Camaro wouldn’t sell.
“Is a turbo 4-cylinder today’s six-cylinder? You betcha. That is definitely an apt comparison. Today’s turbo four-cylinder will typically out-torque and out-horsepower any six-cylinder from the days of yore.”
“And turbocharging does more than just give you the ability to have a small motor when you need it and a lot of power when you want it,” he adds. “It can also increase efficiencies at cruising speeds.”
Dave Johnson is president of Dejon Powerhouse, an Ohio company that makes turbo kits for the Solstice GXP/Sky platforms.
“We’d definitely be on the bandwagon,” if GM introduces the turbo four Camaro, he says.
Johnson says the Ecotec’s factory turbo closely resembles those found on the first-generation Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse, among the first of the legendary high-performance sport compacts. By swapping in a Mitsubishi 16G turbo capable of moving more air, he’s unlocked about 375 engine horsepower.
“This engine we’ve found capable of handling significantly high boost pressures because of the direct injection,” he says. “Normally we’d see knock starting at around 20, 21 psi on 93 octane. I’ve been running up at 23, 24, 25 and not seen knock. It’s a very well-designed engine for boost applications.”
Does Johnson think buyers will go for a Camaro four-banger?
“For a lot of guys, the V8 is the only way they’d ever go. But the younger people are used to turbos and they see the Camaro as a desirable car. You might see younger people picking it up and going with the turbo version."
Source: "Lutz: GM Mulls 4-Cylinder Engine for New Camaro," Richard Truett, Automotive News, 3/19/08