What engine do you just HAVE to open up?
Article and Photos By Justin Pritchard
To the masses, an engine is a bunch of complicated metal parts that slosh around in a bunch of oil and gas somewhere under the hood of a car with the goal of providing the miracle of forward momentum.
To the enthusiast, engines have a character, a soul, a personality – and even a voice.
Have you ever redlined a sports car and laughed gutturally at the resulting sound effects? Do the corners of your lips ratchet ever-upwards with each full-throttle gearshift? Have you ever heard a blow-off valve in traffic and turned to locate the vehicle responsible?
I’m one of those folks – and if you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you probably are, too.
The slew of engine designs, features, systems and technological implements on the road today is stunning when one considers that all engines work on the same primitive principle of blowing up a flammable liquid.
Done properly, this process can result in a sound that plays in the heads of enthusiast drivers while they try to sleep, or even announce the identity of the model in question to fans within earshot. There’s thrust too – often with a shape to it. Maybe some turbo lag followed by a body-check into your seat – or a peaky flood of high-RPM pull.
Further, a level of smoothness or roughness transmitted throughout the ride in question can add to the experience of “opening it up”. Ditto the response from the transmission to which the engine is attached.
Do you wear a second cardigan to keep warm after supper and frequently search for shepherd’s pie recipes on Pinterest? If so, you’ll probably want to skip the rest of this article.
However, if you’re a combustion-loving gearhead like me, you’ve probably got a mental ‘favourites’ list of powerplants you’ve used to turn gasoline into smiles. Here’s mine.
Ford Coyote 5.0L V8. Click image to enlarge.
Ford Coyote 5.0L V8 (Mustang)
The Nuts and Bolts: The new-age ‘five-point-oh’ is a sweetheart! This all-aluminum V8 gets a trick variable cam timing system for maximum breathing, pulls strongly to a surprising 7,000 RPM redline and makes sound effects that’ll make your grandmother cuss. A freshly-updated 420 horsepower for the Mustang doesn’t hurt the senses either.
Full Throttle: Who says a big American V8 can’t breathe? Nobody who’s opened up the new Coyote engine, that’s who. The ponies pile on strongly and linearly towards the generous rev-limiter, with the V8 burble giving way to a semi-exotic snarl in the process. The power is delivered in nearly endless wave, and with a small but appreciable amount of vibration and harshness that adds to the effect. Modern advances in engine breathing and a dose of good-ole American V8 character combine here.
Don’t Miss: The intake noise pipe – which opens a flap at full throttle to blast the warm, loud and lumpy sound effects into the ‘Stang’s cabin for your enjoyment.
VW Group 2.0T (Various)
The Nuts and Bolts: This award-winning mill consists of a lightweight 2.0L four-cylinder with turbocharger and direct injection, and can be found spinning away under the hood of the VW GTI, Golf R, Audi TT, Audi A4 and others.
Full Throttle: Just enough turbo lag to know it’s turbocharged, followed by a firm push into your seat, and a generous, saturating and meaty ‘humm’ from under the hood. Listen closely, and you can hear the turbocharger whistling away, as well as assorted blurting, burping noises from the tailpipes. Torque output is rich and flat – so the 2.0T just starts scooting from virtually any RPM and pulls strongly to redline. Refinement is big-time present here, too.
Don’t Miss: The gearshift speed when you hook up the 2.0T to the available Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Click the right paddle, and the ignition cut which facilitates fast rev-down sends a little ‘pop’ out the tailpipes as it swaps gears in a jiff.