Honda’s engineers really, really love naturally-aspirated engines that rev their rings off, and they love their VTEC cleverness too.
When we asked them, at the unveiling of their downsized, turbocharged 1.5 and 1.0-litre powerplants, whether they’d prefer to be sticking with natmo tech, they did that polite Japanese thing of looking at each other, smiling (and clearly panicking internally), before pointing out that they will still make such engines, for as long as they can get away with it.
In the meantime, the global drive to reduce emissions means a focus on lowering thermal losses, and applying VTEC to turbocharged power trains.
The most impressive result is the new 1.0-litre turbo engine. To drive it, as we did in a Honda Civic (you're looking at the coming tenth-generation Civic in these images), you really wouldn’t believe it’s just the size of a milk carton in capacity.
It does, admittedly, get a bit wheezy over 150km/h, but on the way up to that speed is startlingly good fun, highly rev-friendly and even manages to sound more-than-a-bit rorty.
Fuel economy will be its party trick, of course, and while Honda wouldn’t tell us a figure they claimed it would be class leading.