|The car:||2006 Civic EX|
|Stock engine:||R18 1.8L inline four|
|Current mileage:||Approximately 75,000|
Hondata and TSI
A few months ago, Hondata released the FlashPro system for the R18 Civic. Having spent some time preparing calibrations for the majority of intakes available for this car (and frankly not too impressed with the overall gains), we began looking for more power. It occurred to us that the single exhaust port of the R18 would allow for easy fitment of a turbo.
A search for R18 turbo kits brought up manufacturer Turbo Specialties Inc (TSI), which is only twenty minutes away. Twenty-four hours later, we had a turbo kit to fit to our test car; a 75,000-mile '06 Civic EX. Installing a turbo on an exhaust system that was originally designed for just 140hp was going to seriously limit our power though. Another call to Skunk2, and the very next day we had a shiny new 60mm exhaust system.
Up until that point, the TSI turbo kit had come with a piggyback tuning solution. Here is what we were able to improve:
We were very pleased with the power and torque characteristics of this kit. The TSI turbo system generated four PSI of boost at 1,500 rpm, and was fully spooled to ten psi by 2,700 rpm. Peak boost was then held until 5,500 rpm, dropping to eight psi at redline. Torque increased 70 percent from 136 to 231-a 95 ft-lbs tq increase all the way from 3,000-5,000 rpm! Peak power increases 85 hp, a 59-percent increase. (91 or higher octane is required)
It's way too easy to hit boost during city driving. With the massive surge of low end torque, you rarely need to spin the tach past 5,000 rpm. The downside is fuel economy. Because it's so easy to hit boost, city fuel economy will suffer if driven hard. We saw mid to low twenties around town. On a three hour, 75-80 mph freeway trip with constant use of air conditioning, we saw 34mpg (Honda's rating for highway MPG is 36 mpg). Freeway overtaking is a breeze. You don't even need to downshift from fifth. With 10 psi of boost available from a low 2,700 rpm, you are just a flex of the ankle away from very rapid acceleration. The Skunk2 exhaust system delivered a slightly louder exhaust note, but not obvious enough to draw unwanted attention.
So for almost the same cost as the previous TSI kit with its previous piggyback tuning, we have engineered a solution that starts perfectly, runs better, and makes significantly more power and torque. In addition to this, we've laid the foundation for future power upgrades. A simple turbo upgrade and tuning could net another 50-60 hp for example. At around $3,200-$3,400, the TSI Kit with FlashPro kit delivers V6 performance with 1.8 liter economy. This is a fantastic bang for the buck.
Since the introduction of the FlashPro for the R18 Civic, several other turbo manufacturers have announced plans to build turbo kits for the R18 engine. We've just seen CP forged pistons become available, and soon we should see replacement rods as well.
Hondata Notes On The R18
After speaking with Doug about his new test car and the impressive results he'd found with the TSI and FlashPro combo, I headed to Hondata to give my own impression. Like many, I hadn't grown very fond of the R18 due to the lack of aftermarket support, and the fact that I simply hadn't witnessed very much in terms of customized performance upgrades since its introduction. However, when Doug says he has something special in the garage, you high tail it to Hondata. Period.
The car itself is completely stock, other than the turbo kit and exhaust upgrades. The bolt-on kit fits very well inside the Civic's bay, with no fitment or overcrowding issues. With its deep inset front lower bumper grill, the intercooler tucks nicely out of plain sight. After some information on the upgrades, I jump into the driver's seat; Doug takes shotgun, and Source Interlink sales extraordinaire, Willie Yee, takes the rear passenger side. As the car fires up immediately with the turn of the key (one of 1,789 keys on Doug's incredible, multi-car keychain), the Skunk2 exhaust note isn't obtrusive or overbearing; rather it gives a slight "burble" to let me know it's there. We head out on the surface streets, and before I can even think about shifting into second, the slightly sinister hiss of the turbo becomes the fourth entity in the car. The best way to describe the torque that spills over as the needle rushes through the midrange during acceleration is, as Doug noted, V6-like. A surge of power that can be felt in your stomach as the RPM climbs is a reminder that this is no longer a boring passenger car. I head toward the freeway after a few blocks of forcing the sedan to spool up and snarl at unsuspecting bystanders. Climbing the on-ramp, matching speed with the aggressive LA road warriors was child's play as the boosted four-door, carrying three adults, had absolutely no problem catching up to, and surpassing, the flow of traffic. Fresh off of an hour drive in my S2000, I foolishly (by force of habit) downshift to fourth gear in order to pass the slowpokes. Doug reminds me that there's no need to bother, as the almost immediate torque in fifth gear is far more than you'd ever need to scoot around those text- messaging zombies who were no doubt a little confused by the sultry sound of boost followed by the subsequent whoosh of the blow-off valve.
In the end, my only gripe stems from the quick boost that begins at such a low rpm, with mild pedal pressure. Now if you're an R18 owner, the super quick torque that's just a throttle blip away is going to be music to your ears; however, you'll need to be aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid any unwanted attention.-Rodrez
About The Author
Doug Macmillan is the Co-Founder (with Derek Stevens) of Hondata, located in Torrance, CA. Born in New Zealand and raised on a farm, if he wanted to drive a vehicle he usually had to fix it first. He holds an Honors degree in Physics and multiple world landspeed records. In 2007 he piloted Hondata's twin supercharged Acura RSX to a top speed of 234 mph and in 2009 won the SCTA points championship-proof indeed that Kiwis can fly.