How's this for a hybrid? Volkswagen's first-of-its-kind Twincharger engine, arriving this fall in the Europe-only Golf GT, marries a diminutive 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine to both a supercharger and a turbocharger. The pint-size power plant gobbles oxygen, not gas, cranking out commendable performance and outstanding fuel economy.
Both 'chargers work on the same principle: Force air into the engine to generate more power. At low rpms, the super-charger-driven by a belt connected to the engine's crankshaft-blasts fresh air into the cylinders to enhance low-end torque. At high revs, the exhaust gas brings the turbocharger up to speed to bolster top-end performance.
VW won't say if it plans to bring the Twincharger to North America, but if $3 for a gallon of gas becomes routine, the company just might find a market for a sporty 48mpg hatchback.
VW Golf GT
Engine ... 1.4 liter, 4 cyl.
Power ... 168 hp
Torque ... 177 lb. -ft
0-62 MPH ... 7.9 sec.
Top Speed ... 136 mph
MPG ... 30 (city); 48 (highway)
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.