Hondata has been considered the benchmark for Honda engine management for years. Their newly released Version 3 S300 of the famed S series plug-in modules is the latest and greatest in tuning solutions for the Honda B, D, F and H Series engine. Naturally, we decided to test it out on our B18C1-powered project time attack Civic. The S300 module was installed in a P28 ECU (you can use any OBD-I Honda ECU), the ECU plugged back into the car, and we were ready to go—no wiring necessary as the car was already setup to operate with an OBD-I ECU (had it not have been, a simple jumper harness is all that is necessary to convert from OBD-II to OBD-I). We strapped the car to the dyno during a late-night tune, prior to our scheduled track event with Kristina Wong of SP Engineering fine-tuning the system.
The Version 3 S300 is the newest unit introduced by Hondata, offering a gamut of new features. The new Hondata V3 now allows for the use of a Bluetooth connection to monitor, data log and even tune the system without physically plugging into the ECU, we chose to initialize the S Manager tuning software by physically connecting the computer to the ECU via the included USB cable, within minutes a base map was loaded and tuning was underway. The straightforward yet comprehensive software allows for full adjustment of virtually every aspect of the computer, one of the great features that we immediately noticed was the ability to make changes on the fly while the engine is running—applying the new values in fractions of a second, saving precious time (most tuners charge by the hour) by omitting the need to make modifications and reload the map.
Once the tuning was completed we managed to not only increase peak power output but also showed significant gains throughout the entire powerband as well as a flat, more usable midrange. As exciting as it can be to see numbers, we wanted to see how the car performed at the track where the S300 would really be put to the test. Willow Springs International Raceway's Streets of Willow was the chosen venue for this test, due to its large variety of corners and abrupt elevation changes. On the way to the track we had a chance to check out the Hondata Mobile smartphone application by utilizing the Bluetooth capability of the module. Hondata developed an application that can be used to display every reading that the ECU processes on your iPhone or android screen and can even calculate mpg—a very neat and useful feature.
Testing took place over two days, as we had the opportunity to drive the car in very different conditions back to back. The first day was windy and cold, while the second day was hot and dry. The S300 performed as we had expected—flawlessly. We encountered not a single hiccup in the two straight days of testing. As a matter of fact, the laptop stayed in its bag the entire weekend; all necessary compensation due to the temperature and altitude differences occurred perfectly and seamlessly. Overall, the S300 allowed us to squeeze an additional 7.9 peak horsepower from the car and 3 hp on average, gains that will be significantly higher on a more extensively modified engines, especially with forced-induction applications. The most important and beneficial aspect of the Hondata S300, however, is the reliability of the unit, in which we are confident to run our engine all day long in any temperature or track conditions.