The key to winning any drag race in Mexico

At this altitude, the difference between NA and turbocharged is unbelievable

2y ago

If you possess some knowledge about cars, the chances are you know that altitude affects how much power an engine produces.

What isn't as well known, however, is just how much of a difference this can make.

For internal combustion engines, an estimated 1% of power is lost for every 100 metres above sea level.

This really starts to add up when you go to places like Mexico City, which sits at 7,382ft above sea level.

As turbochargers force air into the engine with the same pressure regardless of altitude, the power produced remains the same.

All it means is that turbos have to work harder, making them more unreliable.

But this doesn't matter when your primary goal is to show up a 'superior' car on a drag strip.

Especially a drag strip like Toluca - 8,750ft above sea level - which provides some interesting results when, for instance, a CUPRA is pitched up against a Mustang.

Basically, owning a car with a normally aspirated engine near Mexico City is one way of ensuring you'll be shown up by a turbocharged 'underdog' at some point.

Need more proof?

Sorry 370z, it's your turn to be embarrassed.

This time, a different CUPRA takes on a different Mustang.

But the outcome is the same.

I think everything I've ever learnt about cars has just gone out the window...

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Comments (6)

  • When you say that turbo chargers force air into the engine at the same rate and therefore forced induction isn’t affected by altitude; that isn’t really true is it?

    They are less affected by altitude but the air is physically less dense so contains less oxygen for square foot which will only truly be effectively counteracted by adding something like NOS.

      2 years ago
    • That’s what I was thinking as well

        2 years ago
    • Agreed at higher altitude the percentage of oxygen per unit volume of air is less than that at sea level. Therefore a turbocharger pulling in at the same rate as at sea level with be less effectively providing the engine with oxygen molecules...

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        2 years ago