What is Turbo Lag?

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Turbo Lag:

No matter what RPM level you’re at, there’ll be a momentary delay after you tread the accelerator and when the turbocharger responds. This delay is what’s called turbo lag.

A natural part of the turbocharging process involves getting your turbine to spin quickly enough to make a lift (that is, additional air going into your engine’s cylinders). Unfortunately, your turbocharger won’t always be spinning quickly enough to make a lift as you’re cruising along. It’ll only spool up when the throttle is opened, i.e. when the gun is pressed. That’s what ends up in turbo lag. This process must even be repeated when you hit the accelerator.

When you exempt the throttle completely, you’ll experience turbo lag another time after you press the pedal, and the process repeats. However, at higher engine loads/RPM levels, the lag time is going to be at low RPMs.


Turbo Lag Example:

Say that you’re merging onto a highway, accelerating from 40 mph to 65 mph. With the car in 4th gear, you set your foot right down to begin speeding up. There’ll be a small lag period before the engine truly delivers its power. It’s hardly noticeable in the latest engines, especially one with a turbocharger as small as the ST’s. But during this turbo lag period when the turbocharger is starting to spin-up, your engine will essentially behave as if it’s naturally-aspirated. In short, you won’t have a total amount of power.

It’s hard to mention how long turbo lag generally lasts; it varies heavily from car to car. But on the main focus ST, let’s say it’s around the neighborhood of 0.75 seconds (based on my internal, gut-based readout). You hardly notice it.

After the turbocharger begins to spool, it delivers even more power because of the spin rate increases. Maximum power delivery is reached after you hit the boost limit of your car (or, once you ease off the accelerator).

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