Kawasaki Z H2 and Corvette C7 ZR1: Why we love the supercharger

Let's forget all the hype about alternative drives for a moment and remember a technology that is now almost a hundred years old and once embodied reliability, freedom and masculinity: the supercharger. A Kawasaki Z H2 and a Corvette C7 ZR1 are good examples.
Text Natalie Diedrichs
Photo Maximilián Balázs · ramp.pictures

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ATTENTION: The following article is not suitable for persons who categorically reject or denigrate high horsepower two- and four-wheeled motor vehicles without hybrid, mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric or hydrogen systems. The contents presented here deal with the topics of combustion engine, V8 sound, tire smoke and performance enhancement through turbocharging. Consume them at your own risk. Any legal remedies are excluded.

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Many car and motorcycle enthusiasts would spontaneously reply to the question »What is better than a lot of power» with the answer »Even more power«. Of course, only carefully whispering, because nowadays you are not allowed to admit something like that openly. At least that's what the engineers at Chevrolet and Kawasaki thought when they wrote the specifications for the C7 ZR1 and Z H2 models. After all, apart from the rather similar sounding names, the sports car and the naked bike have another important thing in common: They are both supercharged, which means that their engines benefit from a performance increase thanks to a compressor. A technology that is as wonderful as it is inefficient and is therefore rarely used nowadays - in contrast to the turbocharger that is suitable for the masses. A pity.

Apart from the rather similar sounding names, the sports car and the naked bike have another important thing in common: They are both supercharged, which means that their engines benefit from a performance increase thanks to a compressor.

Even more pleasing that some manufacturers are sticking to this concept, like Chevrolet and Kawasaki. Reason enough for us to briefly summarize the technical and emotional advantages of a compressor:

1. It offers instant power.
Short technical excursion: The basic principle of supercharging is based on increasing the performance of internal combustion engines by increasing the air supply. In contrast to the exhaust gas turbocharger, the compressor works mechanically: A crankshaft drives its synchronized rotors. Factors such as pressure and exhaust gas temperature are therefore irrelevant to it - instead of turbo-gap, it celebrates a HP fest even at low engine speeds.

2. It has a long tradition.
Longer than some people might think. As early as 1921, Mercedes presented the first series-produced supercharged vehicles with the 6/25/40 hp and 10/40/65 models. The technology used in these vehicles was based on the principle that the American Francis Marion Roots had patented as early as 1860 - at that time, however, for increasing the efficiency of blast furnaces.

3. It sounds…
Exciting. Sensual. Charming. Attractive. Stimulating. Erotic. Sexy. There are an infinite number of adjectives that can be used to describe the hissing, the howling, and the chirping of a supercharger. Probably none of them do it justice, especially when the Corvette is a 6.2-liter V8 engine and the Kawasaki a 1.0-liter four-cylinder. Whatever you want to call the sound of the engine, it's always accompanied by shivers and goosebumps when you give gas. Tip: If you've never had the pleasure of hearing a compressor in real life, we recommend the »BEST SUPERCHARGER Whine Compilation« on YouTube.

Exciting. Sensual. Charming. Attractive. Stimulating. Erotic. Sexy. There are an infinite number of adjectives that can be used to describe the hissing, the howling, and the chirping of a compressor motor.

4. It makes you manly.
To put it in the words of American car journalist David Freiburger (»Roadkill«): »No matter how skinny your arms are, no matter how unpopular you were in school and with women - if you have a supercharger, you're just cool.« This information is of course without guarantee and depends on the individual case.

5. It conveys freedom.
Compressors and supercharger retrofits enjoy great popularity, especially in the American area, often in combination with classic-traditional muscle cars. They are regarded as a symbol of the »good old« America, a country with unlimited possibilities and even more unlimited highways that run dead straight towards the horizon. The compressor - not only a driving powerhouse with testosterone overboost as standard, but also a freedom-bringer and head-clearer that simply drowns out all the stress around it.

Technical data

Kawasaki Z H2

Engine: Four-cylinder supercharged
Engine capacity: 998 cc
Power: 200 horsepower (147 kW)
Torque: 137 Nm at 8,500 rpm
0-100 km/h: 2.9 s
Vmax: 272 km/h

Chevrolet Corvette C7 ZR1 (via Geigercars)

Engine: V8 supercharged
Engine capacity: 6,162 cc
Power: 766 hp (563 kW)
Torque: 969 Nm at 6,300 rpm
0-100 km/h: 3.0 s
Vmax: 342 km/h


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