Since the last update on the FC1 project, I've been stockpiling parts in my overcrowded garage. Overcrowded because it's housing multiple project cars along with their corresponding OEM and aftermarket parts, and to be completely honest it's become a nuisance. Thankfully the last of the parts I'd been waiting for finally rolled in and it was time to get to wrenching.
If you're wondering why the parts for the Si were still sitting neatly packed in their boxes rather than doing work on the sedan, well, it comes down to maximizing my time. @prlmotorsports was nice enough to send over their down pipe/front-pipe combo a few months back when I installed their COBRA intake system and front-mount intercooler but I didn't crawl under the car to install them because @27won was planning to provide their W1 drop-in turbo upgrade. In addition, I reached out to Cusco about picking up a front shock tower bar and they not only supplied that piece, but also added some additional under-chassis bracing, to boot.
GREDDY PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS - @greddyperformance
All of the above-mentioned goods are much easier to install with the help of a lift, so it just made sense to knock them all out at the same time in a single day. So, I reserved a lift at the MotorTrend Tech Center on a Saturday and the day before, headed to GReddy Performance Products' Irvine, Calif., facility to install their DD-R exhaust. I was already familiar, having seen it on display at SEMA last year and shortly after, spending a few months with it bolted to the Si for testing.
Based on their wildly popular "Dynamic Dual" exhaust system from back in the day, GReddy's DD-R system pulls some inspiration from the past and combines it with some modern technology.
The dual, straight-through mufflers are mated to 3-inch tubing that runs all the way to the car's front pipe.
Based on the look of those two aggressive mufflers pointed slightly upward in the space once occupied by factory tips that can't help but be compared to an HDMI-port, you're probably assuming they'll cause ear-bleeds within a 5-block radius. In actuality, the tone is very low, and while it's far more pronounced than the factory system, it's never overwhelming or annoying, whether on surface streets, at highway speeds, or even the dyno.
Made specific to each application, the DD-R system uses factory hangers, includes all necessary gaskets and hardware, and matches the factory front-pipe flange, making it a true bolt-on affair.
In addition, the muffler tips are removable and GReddy will offer optional finishers and silencers to give you complete control over the look and sound.
Installation is as simple as you'd imagine with a bolt-on exhaust system from a quality outfit like GReddy, the toughest part involving hauling off the factory system, which just like its distant S2000 cousin, uses a one-piece construction from front to back rather than multiple flange points.
HONDATA - @hondata_inc
When all of the 10th gen. Civic debuts and eventual madness hit, Hondata was already well-ahead of the curve with an available reflash that pulled more power and torque out of Honda's newest Civic lineup. Shortly after, FlashPro for the new Civic was introduced and it's almost odd to find a car that doesn't use the system. Now, I'm well aware there are other systems on the market; in fact, I'm reminded of that (sometimes to a painful degree) any time I use the Hondata name in person or in writing. It's a good thing, having more than one option, as it increases competition, further development and breakthroughs, and we, the enthusiasts, reap the rewards of all of that hard work. I've relied on Hondata for multiple builds over the years and have always been extremely happy with the results. For this project, it was definitely the right choice.
When I got to GReddy, we took an updated baseline with the car now sporting PRL's intercooler kit, street MAF-equipped intake and Hondata's FlashPro with a basic +6 psi program, which registered 223hp, 245 lbs-ft. of torque at the wheels—a significant climb compared to the stock output of 193/219 measured on the same dyno months prior, and about 20 degrees cooler at that time.
After the GReddy exhaust system was installed on the car, I decided to swap PRL's street MAF for the larger Race version. With just a few clamps and a set of screws for the MAF sensor itself, the process took me just a few minutes.
I jumped in the car with GReddy's laptop and plugged in the FlashPro to upload a Hondata program that works with PRL's Race MAF addition.
The result was a bump to 229hp, 264 lbs-ft of torque at the wheels.
- Stock, measured on GReddy's dyno earlier this year - 193/219tq
- PRL Street MAF intake, intercooler, Hondata FlashPro - 223/245
- GReddy exhaust, PRL Race MAF, intercooler, Hondata FlashPro - 229/264
27WON - @27won
When I heard 27WON was working on releasing a turbo replacement for the 10th gen., my first thought was that it wasn't necessarily a new unit, but rather a slightly reworked factory turbo. I was wrong. Not only is the W1 turbocharger a whole new unit, but it was developed from scratch using CAD models and brand-new castings for both the compressor and turbine housing. Why does that matter? Designing their turbo from the ground up meant 27WON's development went well beyond what a reworked stock snail could ever hope to accomplish. After extensive testing both on and off the track, it hit the market to rave reviews.
The result of their "start-from-scratch" method is a CNC machined, forged aluminum compressor wheel that's over 50 percent larger that stock, allowing for greater boost capacity and greater peak flow. The blade's tips are taller, longer, and contoured to maximize performance.
The potential for power is improved further with 27WON's turbine wheel that dwarfs the factory version by over 60 percent yet still retains an 11-blade wheeL—a design decision that eliminates dreaded boost lag that often accompanies a step up to a larger turbo. The center housing rotating assembly that shelters both wheels relies on a larger turbine shaft and larger bearings for a replacement turbo that addresses any of the factory turbo's shortcomings—particularly when boost levels are increased.
PRL MOTORSPORTS - @prlmotorsports
In a market that's quickly becoming crowded with go-fast goods that look very much like the next guy's, PRL Motorsports was one of the first to find power with bolt-on goods for the 10th generation Civic lineup. Their COBRA cold-air intake is the stuff of legends in the CivicX community and it, along with their intercooler kit, performed incredibly well over the last few months behind the bumper of this Si.
When you visit prlmotorsports.com, you have the option to choose a downpipe with or without a catalytic convertor—I opted for the catted version. The inlet is much larger than stock and has an ultra-smooth bend down to the 400-series, high-flow (300 CEL) cat that PRL notes actually reaches operating temps quicker than most.
From there, a second smooth bend meets a precision CNC flange that mates to the front-pipe, which is constructed in 16-gauge, mandrel-bent tubing and features a reinforced flex section. Together, the combination brings the piping size up to 3 inches, drastically increasing flow.
You can do the turbo and down pipe/front-pipe installation in your garage using basic hand tools and a jack with jack stands, but since I had access to a lift for the day it made life a little easier. The process isn't terribly difficult but be warned, it's time consuming due to so many steps and an almost guaranteed battle with the factory bolts that connect the downpipe to the turbo.
To get started, as the car was cooling down it was put on the lift and the undertray and surrounding plastics removed. The bolts holding the factory down pipe/front-pipe in place were sprayed with penetrating oil so they could soak as I was expecting a fight. In order to follow a guide and make sure I wasn't missing anything, 27WON put together a very detailed set of instructions with photos and notes. It's almost 100 steps, so again, prepare for a deep dive into your 10th gen. engine bay. Because you're removing all of the front exhaust piping anyway, it makes sense to install a downpipe/front-pipe while doing the turbo upgrade.
The front-pipe was the first item to come out to allow space for the downpipe to come out. The factory hardware had been soaking for about 30 minutes by this time and weren't difficult to remove at all.
In the bay, the PRL intake was removed and the OEM plastic turbo inlet pipe was next. Out of the entire process, this might be the most tedious. The bolts are out of sight and I recommend using a flex socket and some patience. Also, a flashlight and retractable mirror actually help quite a bit to line things up. 27WON's instructions include a nice, clear image of what the attachment points look like.
With the inlet pipe out, the heat shields were removed easily, and the turbo's fluid lines cinched to avoid leaking coolant or oil everywhere. Then, the fight broke out.
If you've read about downpipe installs for the 10th gen. then you've probably come across a number of complaints. The hardware is ultra-tight and the constant heat cycling insures they get even tighter over time. Add to that a very coarse material and you're going to break a sweat.
Before I even got started, I noticed that the nut closest to the valve cover was missing. Very strange, as this is a 2018 model that had very few miles when I was handed the keys and all of the nuts and bolts leading up to this point seemed factory secured. I didn't find any bits of hardware inside the heatshield and if you look closely, the actual threads are gone entirely, as if it's been sheared off.
Like the downpipe, I sprayed a healthy amount of oil on the remaining pieces, let them soak, then did it again about 30 minutes later. Of the remaining hardware, 2 came off with a breaker bar extension and a few grunts. The last one, however, wasn't budging, and fearing that I might snap it, like so many others have complained about, I brought in a little heat and it eventually gave up (thankfully) and was removed in one piece.
With the downpipe out of the way, the stock turbo was ready to come out.
The 27WON turbo relies on the factory wastegate and has provisions to mount everything just like the factory unit. Fortunately, the new turbo also includes new studs for the downpipe connection, gaskets, and a new oil return line and coolant lines with proper fasteners. Every single piece, both OEM and 27WON-produced that has to make its way to the new turbo, fits perfectly. Not a single item had to be "massaged" or forced; it's a seamless process.
At this point, I was ready to put everything back in according to the instructions, but no longer needed them because Vincent Melon, 27WON's president, happened to be in SoCal for the weekend to attend an event and actually stopped by the Tech Center to see how things were going and offer a hand. With his help and knowledge, finishing the install was a much quicker process.
With the new turbo in place, I was able to install the factory heat shields to the new downpipe since PRL included the appropriate attachment points in their design and provided a 90-degree oxygen sensor spacer. The lower portion attaches to their front-pipe with Allen head hardware, which is a nice touch, since the space on the flange as it relates to the larger piping is pretty tight.
With all of the hardware and gaskets needed for install, the PRL downpipe was an excellent fit and didn't require any additional adjustment, and of course mates to their front-pipe perfectly. Compared to OEM, these pieces are huge, but the group definitely did their homework during development and made sure everything fit without interference.
With additional power and torque, comes additional engine movement. As dimensionally undersized as Honda's 1.5L mill actually is, excessive movement becomes a factor pretty early on. The factory rear mount is intended to keep things in place but also not translate excessive noise and vibration to the cabin. That of course comes at the expense of performance—apparent once the power upgrades make their way under the hood.
To put up a fight, 27WON developed rigid rear engine mount that features just one polyurethane mount on the engine side, and a solid surface on the chassis side. Produced in 6061-T6 billet aluminum, it's fitted with a 90a polyurethane "puck" that's coddled by a 303 stainless steel sleeve. In other words, it's built to last.
Installation is very simple and doesn't require bracing the engine. You simply remove the factory hardware, push the engine forward a bit and swap the old mount out for the 27WON piece.
The mount itself lists the torque specs and a reminder on what side goes to the engine, and the chassis - as well as that throwback quote...
CUSCO USA INC. - @cuscousa
While I had access to a lift, it was the perfect opportunity to add some under-chassis bracing that I just recently picked up from our friends at Cusco USA Inc. Even if you haven't been around the Honda aftermarket community very long, you've no doubt heard the name and seen the familiar blue colored suspension components on some of your favorite builds. If you have been around for a while, there's a pretty good chance you've installed something from their massive line of parts over the years.
A division of Carrosser Co. Ltd, Japan, Cusco USA's offices reside in Huntington Beach and their list of parts goes well beyond suspension. Browse cuscousainc.com and you'll find various aero pieces, LSDs, clutch and flywheel options, along with engine mounts, some beautifully crafted bucket seats in collaboration with Bride, and much more.
For the 10th gen. Civic line, the group recently released a number of suspension bars for both the engine bay and the underside of the chassis. This Front Power Brace uses existing chassis holes and hardware and with the undertray already removed, only takes a few minutes to bolt into place. The factory cross bar was removed first, to make it a little easier to install the Cusco piece, before bolting the OEM bar back in place. When purchasing, keep in mind that the Type R and Sport model bars are curved, whereas the Si and 2018+ Accord version, like this one, is completely straight.
Further back, Cusco's Center Power Brace ties the subframe to the exhaust tunnel, again using factory mounting points. The fitment is on point as the new bar slides right into place with an extremely tight tolerance so there's no need to force anything to fit and one side doesn't overshadow the other.
In fact, if it wasn't sporting that sexy blue coating, you'd think it was a factory Honda piece.
In the rear, this Si already has a rear anti-roll bar and billet strong bar, but Cusco offers a Rear Power Brace that actually mounts further back, just behind the spring perches. It snakes above the exhaust mounting points and tucks away neatly, while adding more rigidity to the rear end.
With the car back on the ground, the last Cusco piece, their Strut Tower Bar, was bolted into place.
The new Civic engines sit in the middle of the bay, rather than being shoved under the cowl like the previous 2 generations, and a more traditional look is achieved, complemented by Cusco's tower bar.
I uploaded an off-the-shelf program through Hondata's FlashPro, intended specifically for the 27WON turbo upgrade. I also switched back to the Street MAF version of PRL's intake for the initial testing. Within a few minutes the car was ready to fire up and we triple checked for any sort of leaks or other issues. Fortunately, everything looked good and it was ready to pull out of the garage. Now, the Tech Center parking lot isn't exactly "lowered car friendly." A series of speed bumps surround the huge lot and there are a few drainage areas that don't allow passage unless your ride height is completely stock. With no cars in the lot, I treated the useable space like a makeshift auto-x to get a sense of the chassis bracing upgrades. The Si's handling is already very good, and with the springs and sway bars installed, it was even better. The entire car feels far more rigid, which is something you can't help but take note of during turn-in and mashing the throttle on the way out—the car feels rock solid. The solid feel was a welcome companion in addition to the newfound midrange power that's far more pronounced with the changes.
Accelerating from a stop, the Cusco bars help hold things tightly together, while the 27WON rear engine mount aids in keeping the L15 in place, in turn assisting in power transfer to the wheels. With no poly mount on the subframe end, you'll certainly feel more vibration upon start up and it translates to the shifter as well as the throttle response. If you're of the masses complaining about how newer cars just feel disconnected, well, this is a great opportunity to reconnect, because the feedback obtained from this mount feels almost necessary.
I like this 1.5L powerplant even though I've often said the Si would have been better suited with a 2.0L. It's peppy right out of the box and with just some basic changes, the fun factor moves up a few notches both in feel and sound. Now armed with the new turbo and front-to-back exhaust system, it doesn't at all feel like the same engine. The lag that I was expecting from this new turbo never bothered showing up. Instead, the bottom end felt as snappy as it did in stock form but as the RPM climbs, the difference in both acceleration and the snarl you hear is absolutely remarkable both in and out of Sport Mode. That's right, even in the standard drive mode the Si rips through the gears and the huffing and puffing that once occurred as you approach redline has been replaced by a far more capable unit that holds strong all the way up, and I'm essentially ruined—this turbo transforms the entire feel of the Si and I don't know that I'd be able to go back to stock.
My drive home from the Tech Center is about 40 minutes, and of that time, I was "in it" for abut 35 of those minutes. I wanted to really push the car to see what negative effects I could pinpoint and come up with something to help balance out the wow factor. Even in 90 degree weather, I didn't run into a single issue.
There are complete turbo kits now available, including an incredible system from PRL if you want to go all-out, but for the enthusiast who wants to add power yet keep things a little closer to stock form, the W1 drop-in turbo upgrade with PRL's accompanying exhaust components are ridiculously good together. Due to time constraints, I haven't been able to get back on the dyno for a complete tune but that's on the list once I get a new clutch, as I'm expecting the stock unit to call it quits pretty soon with the additional power. Stay tuned, more parts are on the way!