Nerd’s Eye View: 2012 LA Auto Show

Nerd’s Eye View: 2012 LA Auto Show

by Khiem Dinh

Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing.  All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.

I have to say, attending a Press Day at the LA Auto Show is really nice.  The crowds are minimal and you have more access to all of the vehicles.  Pop the hood, poke around the engine bay, snap a bunch of pictures, spend all the time you want and no one cares.  It provides me the opportunity to bring you guys and gals geeky content like this.  On with the show!

There are some things during Press Days that are not available during the General Public days: food and drinks provided by the various automotive companies at their booths.  The BMW booth had some pretty gourmet looking sliders to munch on.

In case you haven’t been keeping up on the German marque with the propeller emblem, they are going turbo everything.  This is under the hood of a BMW 535 with a 3.0L single twin-scroll turbocharged inline-6; BMW also still sells the twin-turbo inline-6 in the Z4.  Don’t mistake ‘TwinPower’ for twin-turbo.  TwinPower is the term BMW has devised for combining turbos, variable valve timing, and direct injection.  I guess BMW figured if Ford can have EcoBoost, then BMW can have TwinPower.  Anyway, some interesting details in the engine bay can be seen.  BMWs typically have short front overhangs which I guess limits their space to put stuff.  So, cool air is drawn from the front of the car on the driver’s side to the air box on top of the engine. 


From there, the air wraps around to the passenger side of the engine to feed the turbo; the inlet of the turbo is facing the front of the car, so the tube has to go towards the front of the engine bay and then does a 180 degree turn into the turbo.  It’s not exactly ideal, but that’s the hand you’re dealt by the chassis and body guys.  On the chassis side of things, the shock towers have ribbing for increased stiffness.  The two braces going from the shock towers to the front end of the car should help reduce front-end flex.  Hey, that’s not a bad idea…


To open the hood, you have to move this lever to the side which is connected to two hood latches.  I thought it was a cool mechanism, but maybe I’m just weird.  I guess two hood latches are better than one.


This is the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder which I expect to be a workhorse in the BMW family.  Being a shorter 4-cylinder as compared to the inline-6, I guess it gave the engineers space to put the air box up front (the plastic black box thing between the engine and the radiator).  The tube coming out of the middle of the box goes towards the compressor inlet of the turbo and it has some sensor in it.  The tube on the driver’s side of the engine bay is coming from the intercooler and going to the throttle body.  It also has some sensor in it.  There are sensors everywhere.


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