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Single Turbo vs. Twin Turbo: What is Best for Me?

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After building up your Mustang for boost the last piece of the puzzle becomes which turbo to pick. Keep your end goals in mind when deciding just how big you want to go.

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There's more to forced induction than deciding whether you want a turbocharger or a supercharger. As far as turbochargers are concerned, you can optimize a turbo setup for any type of Mustang build. The question is what should you go with?

How Does a Turbo Work?

  • Turbochargers use your Mustang’s exhaust to spin a turbine and compress incoming air
  • Single turbo setups are slower to spool, but take up less space than a dual turbo set up
  • Dragster Mustangs tend to prefer single turbos for the big power gains
  • Twin turbo sets are easier to spool since they tend to be smaller than single turbo
  • Twin turbo kits also have excellent under hood appeal if your Mustang is more of a show car or a daily driver

A turbocharger is a form of forced induction. Instead of being powered by a belt like a supercharger, it's powered by the flow of exhaust gases. As the exhaust flows past the turbine, it spins a compressor in the housing. This compressor builds boost, and that compressed air is routed into your Mustangs intake system. Turbos are an incredibly efficient way to make horsepower, since they do not have any parasitic drag like a supercharger would. However, since they are reliant on exhaust gas flow, boost isn't made instantly. They come in a variety of set ups, but the most common are single turbo kits or a parallel twin turbo kit.

2010-2014 Mustang at Carlisle with a Large Single Turbo

Single Turbo

Single turbo kits are the most popular set up for a few simple reasons. The first reason is cost. Turbos are very expensive; for a good turbo you could pay about $1500-$2500 or more. This cost jumps substantially when you add another turbo to your kit. Another reason is space. Often times it's hard enough to find enough real estate under the hood to add a single turbo and all its associated plumbing. This becomes much more difficult when you have to find room for a second turbo as well. Singles are great for making big horsepower too. They tend to have a broader power band than a twin turbo set up, and do not run out of steam on the top end. The single turbo does build boost slower, so it makes it easier for high horsepower drag cars to hook up from a dig. Once they have traction and boost is building the power of the single will rocket them down the quarter mile.

1996-2001 Mustang Cobra with a Single Helion Turbo

Twin Turbo

Despite some negatives twin turbos are excellent kits if you can afford them! Twin turbos are awesome for the daily driven or mostly street-driven Mustang. Each turbo only needs the exhaust from 4 cylinders to spool it, so they are able to spool much faster than a single kit. Smaller turbos in a twin turbo kit can also make very similar power as a larger single turbo. Less lag for the similar power gain, but there's still the cost to think about. When they aren’t busy rocketing you around town, twin turbo kits also look very impressive under the hood. Whether you are making rounds at the local shows, blasting down the drag strip, or in a hurry to get the kids to soccer practice, twin turbos make for a great all-around turbo experience.

1999-2004 Mustang Cobra with Hellion's Twin Turbo Kit

How Do I Choose?

In order to decide which set up is best for you, you need to examine your goals for your Mustang. Do you want to go with a more inexpensive kit? Are you focused mainly on drag racing? Is there only a small amount of free space under your hood? If so, a single turbo would be your best choice. On the other hand, if cost is not a big concern, you are looking for quicker spool, great low to mid range power, and an eye popping set up under the hood, twin turbos would work well for you! No matter which style you choose, your Mustang will be equipped with a powerful and efficient set up.

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