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Surbo and the turbocharger

(This page was written in response to the frequently asked question: the difference between the turbo and Surbo)


1. Both Surbo and the turbo raise the top speed of the vehicle.

2. Both increase the acceleration power of the vehicle, the turbo more dramatically of course with increasing boost, while the Surbo provides a flat boost profile, somewhat like an increase in engine capacity, and is more controllable over bends.

3. Both take a moment before full super charging takes place. For the Surbo, there is an "activation sequence" (How Surbo Works), while the turbo needs a certain engine rpm before the exhaust has enough air speed to drive the turbo (phenomenon known as turbo lag).

4. Both have an inlet diameter of around 2 inches.

The good news is, they can work together, the Surbo in a complementary role (the Surbo's increased low rpm airflow speeds up the exhaust gases, which turn the turbocharger on boost earlier).


1. The turbocharger is the most powerful device that can be added to an engine, while the Surbo's action is like a VTEC cam, with a Type R Honda Civic 2.0 owner saying that with the Surbo, he used only the first VTEC stage to reach the rpm limit, instead of all three without Surbo.

2. The Surbo gives some improvement even from idle. For example, for automatic vehicles, the Surbo provides instant takeoff with no delay due to very low end improvement (shown by increased rpm at idle, or extra hill holding ability). For turbos, since there is some lag, the starting off may not be as quick compared to its non-turbo version of similar horsepower but bigger capacity.

3. Location: the Surbo is placed along the air intake. It could be at the inlet to the air filter case, its outlet, or pipe after the filter case towards the throttle. The turbo is always located at the exhaust manifold of the engine.

4. Legality: the Surbo is compliant with requirements of LTA Singapore as it is fitted before the intake manifold and does not cause added emission, while installation of a turbo for a non-turbo vehicle is not allowed because it is considered an exhaust modification.

5. The Surbo extends the rev capability of an engine, typically sending it to its rpm red line with just half throttle, and its power does not drop sharply from that point (see Dynamometer Test Results). In fact it is possible to extend the rpm by just taking out the rev limit, and we have done vti-engined cars that could achieve 90 to above 100 kph in first gear (the list includes Toyota Vios, Proton Gen 2, Honda Civic VTi, and Accord Euro R). A turbocharged engine has a narrower power band, because once the engine torque dips and exhaust gases slow, the turbocharger slows, and there will be a sharp rolloff in power.

6. Fuel consumption is lower in a Surbo-equipped vehicle, but may not be lower in a turbocharged vehicle, reason being that before the turbo is on, the engine has less power due to inherent lower compression, built-in to cater for extra compression when the turbocharger delivers full boost. A 1.6 turbocharged engine, when on boost, has not only the power output of a 2.4 normally aspirated vehicle, but also its consumption. However, on a Surbo vehicle, since the Surbo is fully on only during acceleration, it avoids the full time large capacity fuel consumption.

7. The Surbo requires minimal diy or installer maintenance of the sealed air intake system, while the turbo system and pipes require workshop maintenance, and sometimes expensive guesswork in finding the fault. The Surbo lasts a lifetime, but not a turbo.

8. The Surbo does not heat up the air going through it, but a turbo system does as it is driven by hot exhaust gases, so much that an intercooler is required. For long drives, a turbo car may need breaks to cool off, but not a Surbo car, as it runs cooler due to less fuel input (less combustion heat) due to a lighter throttle. On a trip to Penang from Johor Bahru, a Surbo-equipped Peugeot 207 GTi arrived an hour before a standard Subaru WRX STi, for the above reason, as well as better fuel economy, requiring fewer stops for petrol. Both cars were turbocharged.

9. The Surbo depends on an airtight installation to provide an intake manifold back pressure to activate its compressive air jets, while the turbo depends on sufficient flow of exhaust gas to turn itself, which the Surbo can provide from a lower rpm.

10. The Surbo brings earlier, higher compression while avoiding overly high compression (and heat) from flooring the accelerator (as it reaches the rpm red line with just half throttle, so not needing to use full compression). The turbo pushes the engine with very highly compressed air so the engine parts and drivetrain must be of high grade to withstand the forces and heat.

11. Blow-off valve. A turbo system requires a blow-off valve to limit pressure, so that the engine is not damaged. When the pressure limit is reached, and blow off occurs, the pressure in the turbo drops, so loss of power occurs, as time is required for charging up again. A Surbo does not require a blow-off valve. As observed on a turbocharged Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT fitted with a Surbo, blow-off did not occur anymore, because at half-throttle, the engine would already reach the rpm limit. Thus there is more headroom with Surbo, so if the rpm limit is raised, there will be an even higher power output.

12. For turbo diesel automatics (Chevrolet Epica LT), the accelerator has to be floored to call the turbo fully (which can bring higher diesel consumption and even smoke), but not for a similar Surbo-equipped vehicle, which requires only part throttle for the turbocharging to act.

13. The Surbo adds almost no weight or bulk, but a turbo system does, being so much more complicated and voluminous.

14. A Surbo-fitted vehicle costs nothing more to insure, but a vehicle known to have a turbo will be more costly to insure.

The Surbo costs very much less than a turbo system, and the fuel saving will pay for itself. Even if your vehicle is already turbocharged, it's still great fun to spool the turbo earlier with a Surbo. So call us today to put a Surbo to enhance your vehicle.

Related pages:

  • List of turbocharged cars fitted with Surbo
  • How to reduce turbo lag
  • Surbo system analysed, when fitted on turbo petrol engines
  • Surbo system's analysed, when fitted on turbo diesel engines
  • How Surbo transforms your car:

    Benefits using Surbo

    10% fuel saving with mixed driving and more on highways

    Faster acceleration, especially from standstill for automatic cars

    Higher top speed, which means easier cruising

    Higher RPM capability, rev limit possible with just 1/2 throttle!

    Instant automatic gear kickdown

    Safer, more confident overtaking

    Better hill climbing power

    Less diesel smoke, even with more speed

    Reduced CO2 emissions from vehicles

    Money saved, more than from fuel savings

    Transferability. Use your Surbo on your next car

    Lifetime warranty on both the Surbo and installation

    Technical Details

    How Surbo works

    What is Surbo?

    The Twin Surbo, 2 Surbos in series for even more low rpm torque

    Surbo versus other engine accessories and parts

    When the Surbo is most useful

    Dynamometer Test Results

    How Surbo increases engine compression at low rpm and prevents excessive compression at high rpm

    How Surbo increases engine efficiency

    How Surbo prevents harmful engine knocking

    How Surbo may help your engine so it can last longer

    FAQ: Frequently asked questions

    How Surbo works for diesel engines

    How Surbo's increased air density enhances diesel technology, and raises peak RPM

    Diagram: Surbo's effect on the whole vehicle

    Diagram: Surbo on petrol turbocharged engines

    Diagram: Surbo on diesel engines

    Diagram: Surbo on turbo diesel engines

    Vehicles using Surbo

    Some vehicles recommended for Surbo

    Automatic cars fitted with Surbo

    Manual cars fitted with Surbo

    Surbo5 for larger engines

    Petrol turbo cars fitted with Surbo

    Petrol CVT cars fitted with Surbo

    Petrol hybrid cars fitted with Surbo

    Petrol supercharged cars fitted with Surbo

    Natural gas car fitted with Surbo

    Diesel and turbodiesel vehicles fitted with Surbo

    Motorcycles fitted with Surbo

    Photos of Surbos installed in various cars

    Surbo sales

    Why choose Surbo?

    Surbo will pass vehicle inspections due to lower emissions

    30 day money back guarantee

    What happens during the Surbo installation

    List of Surbo dealers by country

    Buy Surbo online with installation guide, if there's no dealer near you

    Join us as dealer for your area

    Surbo racing

    Surbo on racing gokart

    Surbo on Honda Civic (runner up in Singapore race)

    Surbo wins India race

    About Us

    History of the Surbo company

    How the Surbo came to be

    Aftersales service and advice, on accessories or compatible vehicles

    User guide for Surbo

    Automotive engineering and other applications of Surbo

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