Malcolm Flynn | May 30, 2012

VicRoads is set to adjust its ‘no turbo’ rules for Victorian P-platers, in favour of a new policy based on a power-to-weight ratio.

Currently, Victorian probationary license holders are prohibited from driving any eight cylinder, turbocharged (unless diesel), or supercharged vehicle without being granted an exemption by VicRoads.

However, the growing use of turbochargers with small-capacity engines has moved VicRoads to revisit the policy, and the new rules are expected to permit any vehicle with a power-to-weight ratio up to 130kW/tonne.

The recent launch of the four-cylinder turbocharged Ford Falcon EcoBoost model is just the latest example of the need for change.

The Falcon XT EcoBoost has a power-to-weight ratio of 109kW/tonne, compared with the probationary driver-approved Commodore SV6 (manual) with 127kW/tonne.

Previously, the restrictions inferred that any petrol vehicle with a turbo- or super-charged engine is performance oriented, ignoring the efficiency benefits offered with many small-engined, low-pressure forced induction vehicles.

The Volkswagen Golf 77TSI’s 1.2 litre engine produces 77kW, and has a power-to-weight ratio of just 61kW/tonne (DSG).

This rule change will make several other previously prohibited vehicles available to probationary drivers, making vehicle choice easier for P-platers and, where the family car is a factor, their parents.

To make this choice even simpler, vehicles will soon have this power-to-weight compliance stamped on their build plate from new, a measure that Ford Australia is already working toward with Falcon EcoBoost models.

Other state authorities are expected to follow VicRoads’ example with this policy adjustment, which would simplify constraints for P-Platers who drive interstate.

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