Despite the environmental and economical pressures placed upon automakers these days, there are a few stubborn engineers out there (mostly at General Motors) who have stuck to their principles and have kept superchargers in the fold of modern forced-induction. Quickly following high-powered naturally-aspirated engines, it seems that the era of the supercharger is soon to come to a close, with these cars doing their best to preserve the whining, belt-driven compressors.
A lunchbreak top trumps dream, it seems as if Dodge built the Hellcat just to pulverise the rest of the muscle car community with its stratospheric list of numbers. Starting at just over $60,000 and producing 697bhp, the SRT leviathan might just be the greatest bang-for-your-buck car of all time. As if 6.2-litres of displacement wasn’t enough, Dodge added a supercharger into the mix, making it the most powerful stock muscle car ever produced.
That 697bhp output plus 650lb ft of torque will propel the Hellcat to 60mph in 3.6 seconds and on to 199mph. It arguably has too much horsepower, but who cares.
The Z06 has developed into one of the most well respected sports cars on sale today, combining seriously aggressive design with bone-shattering performance. Starting at around $80,000, the hardcore Corvette is the heartthrob of the American car community, only being surpassed in performance by the track-focussed Viper ACR. Sporting a – you’ve guessed it – 6.2-litre supercharged V8, the Z06 has been timed at three seconds to 60mph thanks to its 650bhp output.
Although they are prone to the occasional overheating incident due to a poorly-designed cooling system, Chevy has used its recent experience on track with the C7R racecar to manufacture a blisteringly capable road car that has sold extremely well in the US. It is possible to get one exported over to Europe, but it will take some serious hustling and a whole tonne of paperwork. But if superchargers are your jam, it may be the worth the hassle.
Jaguar has been a stalwart of the supercharger for over 20 years, connecting root superchargers to its V8s (and one time a straight-six) since the 90s. The company’s latest sports car still comes with a supercharger in a world where nearly every other performance car has submitted to turbocharging, with the base F-Type using a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 outputting 335bhp.
The range tops out with the SVR which throws out 567bhp from its 5.0-litre supercharged V8, but it doesn’t look like Jaguar will be producing any more root-based powertrains in the near future.
With its new turbocharged Ingenium line of engines expected to sprout a new straight-six and the 5.0-litre V8 set to be replaced with a turbo V8 sourced from somewhere other than Ford, the days of supercharged Jaguars will soon be over.
Released in the early 2000s when models like the enormous Escalade were a detriment to Caddy being taken seriously as a performance car maker, the CTS-V has grown into a sedan that can take on the might of Europe’s performance saloons. Using the same LT4 6.2-litre V8 as the Corvette Z06, the latest CTS-V produces 640bhp which is transferred through an 8-speed transmission to the rear wheels.
Topping out at 200mph and managing the sprint to 60mph in just 3.7 seconds, the CTS-V has become a genuine contender in the super saloon sector.
With the smaller ATS-V using a twin turbocharger setup on its 3.6-litre V6, the next CTS-V may move away from supercharging, and that’s a big shame.
As if 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds wasn’t quick enough from the 2.0-litre N/A Honda engine it uses, Ariel also fits a supercharger to its track-based hardcore weapon, upping its output to 310bhp. Destroying just about any supercar on the track due to a killer power-to-weight ratio, the Atom is capable of kicking some serious ass.
This entry may be a little different to the others here since the supercharger is effectively modification that you need to tick as an option on top of the 245bhp base model, the Atom is synonymous with the shriek of a spooling supercharger.
Yep, it’s another LT4 V8-powered machine, in the form of the Camaro ZL1 and its monstrous 650bhp and 650lb ft of torque. That power is sent to the rear (obviously) via either a 10-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual.
More powerful than the Shelby Mustang GT350 and much cheaper than numerous European rivals, the ZL1 is another performance bargain that has pushed the scourge of turbocharging aside…for now.
With supercharging generally being isolated to larger capacity engines, it probably won’t be long until turbocharging takes over for good. Even though Audi is doing its best to engineer an electric supercharger to act like an extremely powerful fan blower, the rise of electric powertrains in general will probably begin to replace forced induction as an entity.
Despite all this, in a world obsessed with efficiency, GM, Jaguar and Ariel have stuck to their guns and continue to use those glorious belt-driven contraptions. And with tangible benefits over a turbocharger still, I personally hope superchargers live on into the future of automotive manufacture!
Do you own a supercharged car, or do you agree that the supercharger should be consigned to the history books? Comment below with your thoughts!