Friday, November 10, 2023

Brazilian '74 VW Beetle retrofitted with a turbocharged EA827 engine

With engine swaps being a fairly common deal nowadays, a car which used to be such a strong seller in Brazil like the Volkswagen Beetle/Fusca would also have its fair share of the deal, not only from a basic utilitarian approach in order to keep an ancient car operating but also for performance enhancements, to which the Volkswagen EA827 engine range better known in Brazil as "AP" is among the favorites. And even though a stock EA827 would most likely be an improvement over the stock air-cooled boxer, there are those who take one step further and enjoy the extensive aftermarket support. Not only Volkswagens are adapted with this engine in Brazil, and turbocharging may be actually essential to keep up with the original performance of some models, while for a Beetle the performance enhancement is noticeable.
Even though a fully-dressed EA827 engine is considerably heavier than the air-cooled boxer, which can be much more of an issue for engine swaps into air-cooled Volkswagens because of the way the engine is held in place only through the bellhousing, the bolt patterns being much similar makes the adaptation easier than for most engines from other automakers. And unlike other regions such as the United States or Africa where Japanese automakers took over the market for compact cars way before the Beetle, and Volkswagen in general, fell out of favor among budget-oriented buyers, performance enhancements for the Volkswagen EA827 remain easier to find and more affordable than for most other engines. Maybe a flat-4 Subaru EJ engine could have fewer impact to the weight bias, but the Volkswagen EA827 is much more dumbproof for Brazilian standards and is easier to get either used or as a brand-new crate engine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Could the Hyundai HB20 also be competitive outside Latin America?

Developed specifically for Brazil and now in its 2nd generation, the Hyundai HB20 was meant to be an answer to some local demands, in contrast to other regional markets where Hyundai still used to source small models straight from Korea and even from India or Turkey. However, amid all the SUV craze and how it impacted other segments, in some Latin American countries now the HB20 and its sedan variant HB20S are the only Hyundai cars available new, other than SUVs or hybrids, and it's worth to notice its external dimensions being smaller than other Hyundais within the same class available elsewhere leads to an easier maneuvering through tight spaces, in the end rendering it more convenient for urban traffic.

Naturally having been designed with one specific "emerging" market requires budget-oriented measures to keep it cost-effective for Brazilian standards, also influencing other Latin American markets because Brazil is still among the most important automotive industrial hubs in the region, opportunities in other regions to which Brazilian-made vehicles used to be exported at larger quantities decades before could also receive the HB20, or even have it made locally if they have protectionist policies similar to Brazil. Still justifying the classification as a compact, while other models grew larger than what a mid-size car used to be a few decades ago, and designed with affordability in mind, the Hyundai HB20 could also be competitive in Southeast Asia or Africa for instance. There were other examples of economy cars which had been designed for the Brazilian market and went far beyond Latin America, Africa and Middle East to reach some Western European countries and even India, so there could be some realistic perspectives for the HB20 if Hyundai ever gives it a chance.