Truly Something Incredible

Engine technology just got a whole lot smarter. Here’s cutting through the jargon to explain Skoda’s brilliant TSI or turbocharged stratified direct injection engine.

As anyone who’s driven a skoda with a 1.8 TSI engine will tell you, the rush of power and sheer strength of acceleration belies this motor’s relatively small displacement. And as owners proudly claim, the 1.8 TSI’s mileage is comparable to that of a smaller-engined car. So what makes the TSI a jack of economy and master of performance? Well, you really need to get under the skin of the engine to fine out.

For starters, the TSI motor features stratified direct fuel injection. Not just fancy jargon, this method of fuel injection actually contributes massive gains in engine efficiency. In a standard fuel-injected engine, the injectors spray petrol in the air intake manifold. Air and fuel mix here generally in a ratio of 14.7 parts of air to one part of fuel. This mixture, now in the form of a fine mist, is then introduced into the combustion chamber through the opening of the intake valves and is then combusted through the compression of the piston and spark.

In the TSI engine, the injectors do not spray fuel into the inlet but directly into the combustion chamber near the spark plug. The advantage? Firstly, this allows more precise control over quantity of fuel injected, pattern of spray and duration of each injection. The second benefit is that by spraying the fuel directly in the region of the spark plug, the combustible air and fuel mixture is concentrated around the spark plug. This also serves to reduce heat transfer to the cylinder head and walls, further enchancing thermal efficiency. Direct fuel injection operates most efficiently at low and medium engine speeds where traditional petrol engines are not always as efficient.

While on the topic of intakes, worth a mention is the TSI engines’ variable valve timing arrangement for the intake valves. The system minimises valve overlap to benefit torque at low speeds and lengthens overlap when power is most needed.

When efficiency and performance are bundled together, you know a turbocharger is going to find mention too. Key to the TSI’s scintillating performance is a turbocharger. So what exactly does a turbocharger do? In brief, a turbo system comprises a turbine and a compressor. The turbine uses the otherwise wasted energy of the exhaust gases from the engine to drive the compressor. The compressor, in turn, draws in fresh air which it supplies to the cylinders in compressed form. This boost enhances the volumetric efficiency of the engine and in effect increases the size of the ‘charge’. That explains why the 1.8-litre Skoda TSI motor is able to produce as much power as a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine. And all this additional power is simply thanks to the clever use of exhaust gases. Turbocharged direct injection engines clearly are the future. What’s great is that you too can experience the thrill of this technology on the Skoda Laura and Superb without digging too deep into your pockets.

There is little doubt the tech-laden TSI motor delivers all that a car buyer wants in terms of fuel efficiency with a healthy dose of performance thrown in. To an eco-conscious petrol head, that is truly the best of both worlds. Do you really need more?

Source: Autocar August 2011

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