The world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine
February 8, 2007 In 1896, when Karl Benz patented the first internal combustion engine, it had horizontally opposed pistons, and the flat boxermotor (the German term for flat engine) has been powering some of the world’s best known automobiles (Porsche, Volkswagen’s Beetle and Kombi f’rinstance), motorcycles (Honda’s Goldwing and BMW’s mainstay Boxer range) and aircraft (Lycoming and Continental) ever since. Japanese automotive company Subaru has used the boxer design almost exclusively and is now pioneering a new phase for horizontally opposed piston engines with the release of the world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine. The Japanese all-wheel drive specialist will be displaying an entire drivetrain at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show next month.
Subaru believes passionately in its boxer engines which are more compact than in-line units and provide a much lower centre-of-gravity.
This reduces body roll for safer cornering and also enhances handling precision such as during a sudden lane-change manoeuvre on a motorway.
Due for its first vehicle application early next year, the Subaru ‘boxer’ turbo diesel is a highly rigid unit with low levels of noise and vibration.
Not only does this eliminate the need for a balancer shaft which counters uneven combustion pressures and general roughness, but Subaru’s first diesel is as compact as its petrol sisters and combines unusually strong pulling power at low engine speeds with high-rev throttle-response.
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.
All articles by Mike Hanlon
Detroit Diesel Allison Division of General Motors made a flat, opposed cylinder, air cooled Diesel engine with twelve cylinders and two turbos on it, one for each side. They were used by FMC in some of their Army tanks back in the 1960s and 70s. CID was 1250 as I recall being told when I was a tank mechanic for them. The M48 would get about 3 miles per gallon of fuel. That engine supposedly began life as a gasoline engine that was a real pig, needing 3 gallons of gas to go one mile!
4 year old article, and the boxer turbodiesel still isn\'t available in the US. I\'d love to see this in a mid-size half-ton pickup.
Whilst this may be unique in having a tubocharger, Commer were using horizontally opposed supercharged engines in their commercial vehicles in the 1950\'s.
The design was unusual in that each cylinder had two pistons, and their motion was transmitted to an underslung crankshaft by rockers. Even more unusual in its day wa the fact that it was two-stroke.
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