My turbo lag addiction

20 04 2010

I have a confession. I really like turbo lag. It’s universally slated by motoring hacks, but I like it.

For those readers who don’t know what turbo lag is, let me explain. Basically, an engine releases exhaust gases after it has burnt the fuel. A turbo uses the airflow from these exhaust gases to spin a little turbine. This little turbine then spins an air compressor which grabs more air and forces it into the engine to help make the explosion bigger in the engine, giving more power.

However, the time between when you press the accelerator and when the turbo spools up enough to give you more power can vary, and this is known as turbo lag.

So, sometimes there can be a delay between you flooring it, and the car actually making any decent progress. It can be massively inconvenient and sometimes dangerous if you’re expecting more power, but I admit… I’m addicted to it.


One widely-experienced drawback of turbo lag is when you’re at a roundabout.

You roll up at about 10-15mph in second, you look to your right, there’s a car coming, but you know you can get out in front of them without making them slow down. If you’re a bloke, you definitely think this. So you check left, right, and then you floor it…

And the engine does sod all. Oh. Crap.

It’s too late now though, you’re in that other bloke’s way. Bugger. You’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. The turbo is your paddle, but it’s disappeared right when you bloody well need it.

So you look straight ahead and ignore the ever-nearing car because you might as well – he’s getting nearer, and he’s only going to look peed off with you. Might as well ignore him and tell yourself that not giving way was the right decision.

Then, after the engine has made some deep droning noises, the turbo slowly spools up and then suddenly you have your paddle back and you can frantically get yourself out of the faecal creek.

Turning right

Now, you’re happily driving down a road and you need to turn right. On goes the indicator and you slow down. Coming the other way is a seemingly never-ending line of cars. But, luckily for you, there’s a decent-enough gap in front of them to make your way down the little side road on the right.

Two things can happen here. The engine might not respond as actively as you want, like in the scenario above.

Alternatively, it might respond quicker, but at the wrong time. You think you’ve got the timing and acceleration well-judged, and you’re smoothly turning into the junction.

But then the turbo says: “Wahay! Time to party!” And it spools up, and suddenly you’re driving 5mph faster towards that hedge than you were hoping.

If you’re lucky, there’ll be an old Fiesta crammed with old ladies, who you recognise from your street, on their way to an open garden in aid of the church. They all look very disappointed, and they’ll go away with the impression that you’re a madman. The whole local gardening fraternity now hates you. You are “that” hooligan intent on causing fear and distress to vulnerable motorists around you. You boy racer, what do you think you were doing, tear-arsing around that corner. Tosser.

Why turbo lag is good

Granted, there are many times when turbo lag is annoying, and you’d just rather have smooth, consistent, instant power. But I like the lag. I’m a turbo lag slag.

For about 40 days every year (it’s what the insurance company allows), I’m allowed to be temporarily put on our family’s Laguna insurance.

The Laguna has a 1.9 turbo diesel engine. The turbo makes me excited. It makes me giggle. It’s like a little power surprise every time I put my foot down.


One of the first times I discovered the merits of a turbo was when I was on holiday with my parents. I reach a tight left -hand corner in fourth, going about 35mph. I round the corner and there’s something I didn’t expect: a hill. Granted, I could’ve just dropped into third, but nah, I decided to pretend I was in the correct gear, so I pressed the accelerator all the way down.

The diesel engine grumbled. It didn’t appreciate my ignorance, so in retaliation it filled the car’s cabin with an unpleasant booming noise to say to my parents: “Your son’s in the wrong gear, the idiot. So I’ll just annoy you.”

Slowly but surely, the turbo slowly spun up. Between 30 and 35 there was a faint whistle, building up gradually. But then at 40 we had full turbo happiness. The turbo was at full spin, and suddenly the Laguna was my friend again. It propelled me and my parents to the top of the hill. And then Dad told me to slow down.

Pretending you’re in a rocket. 3, 2, 1…WHOOSH!

There’s also the moment from going from a 30-limited road and onto a national speed limit one. On purpose, I shed 10mph off my speed, and then I let third gear whoosh me from 20 to 50mph. Yes, I am that sad.

It’s not so much the total power that I enjoy, because there isn’t that much, but the sudden surge of power and the accompanying noise. I like sinking my foot to the floor, hearing the turbo spool up, hearing the engine become more energetic and then suddenly having 221 lb/ft of torque available. I know it’s not much, but I’m speaking relatively here. It’s the effortless speed, the effortless power.

I’m Peter Adams, and I’m addicted to turbo lag.

Note: I first published this blog post here, but, I thought I might as well put it up here too (I’ve kept the title the same, for the sake of our friend SEO, ‘search engine optimisation’). What’s more, for being a lovely faithful reader of my blog, you even get three or so extra paragraphs thrown in. I have even got a different picture for you. Yes, you are very lucky.




One response

25 01 2011
Recliner Chairs

‘.* I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information `-,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: