Performance Vauxhall - - TECH -

Choice at the pumps might be lim­ited to a cou­ple of petrol vari­ants and one or two diesels, but ven­ture away from your lo­cal fill­ing sta­tion and you’ll find a much wider va­ri­ety of fuel, in­clud­ing happy juice to suit your Vaux­hall in fast-road and race en­vi­ron­ments.


In the wake of the re­cent Volk­swa­gen emis­sions scan­dal (a chain of events trig­gered when the United States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is­sued a Clean Air Act no­tice of vi­o­la­tion to the Ger­man car maker af­ter dis­cov­er­ing it in­ten­tion­ally pro­grammed more than eleven mil­lion tur­bocharged di­rect in­jec­tion diesel en­gines to ac­ti­vate emis­sions con­trols only dur­ing lab­o­ra­tory test­ing), diesel has had a bad name. In re­sponse to the cri­sis, VW’s sis­ter com­pany, Porsche, has axed all cur­rent diesel vari­ants from its line-up. Even so, there are plenty of diesels left on the road, and we’re no longer driv­ing in the age of smoky 1.5-litre No­vas push­ing 50bhp!

De­spite VW’s woes, diesel tech­nol­ogy has been much im­proved in re­cent years. Most man­u­fac­tur­ers have an im­pres­sive ar­ray of tur­bocharged diesel en­gines in their prod­uct port­fo­lios, and most prove to be vi­able plat­forms for tun­ing projects. As al­ready men­tioned, due to the fact that a diesel engine makes use of com­pres­sion ig­ni­tion, diesel fuel pos­sesses a low oc­tane rat­ing, mean­ing it self-ig­nites with ease. Thank­fully, due to the na­ture of diesel, det­o­na­tion or pre-ig­ni­tion isn’t a con­cern (un­less op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­tures are un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally high), which means a low oc­tane fuel doesn’t present the same chal­lenges as it would if be­ing fed into a petrol engine.

Al­though not mas­sively pop­u­lar, per­for­mance diesel fuels have an in­creased cetane level, which is a gen­eral mea­sure of diesel qual­ity and an in­di­ca­tor of how rapidly the fuel com­busts. In the­ory, diesel fuel with a higher cetane level should of­fer im­proved per­for­mance at higher rpm.


By far the most com­mon fuel. In the UK, fore­court petrol tends to be 95RON for reg­u­lar un­leaded, or 97-99RON for the var­i­ous brands of su­per un­leaded. It’s rec­om­mended most per­for­mance and all tuned cars are pow­ered by su­per un­leaded. While it doesn’t com­pare to a true race fuel, im­pres­sive re­sults can still be achieved. We’ve featured count­less tuned cars with over 250bhp per litre us­ing 99RON fuel bought from reg­u­lar fill­ing sta­tions. If, how­ever, you want to re­li­ably make use of high com­pres­sion and high boost pres­sures, then you’ll need to con­sider the ben­e­fits of a dif­fer­ent blend of fuel, such as many of those listed be­low.


The term ‘race fuel’ is very broad, but for the pur­poses of this ar­ti­cle, we’re re­fer­ring to high oc­tane petrol-based fuels spe­cially blended with var­i­ous chem­i­cals for max­i­mum per­for­mance. There is a wide va­ri­ety of race fuels avail­able. For ex­am­ple, C23 boasts one of the high­est oc­tane rat­ings, com­ing in at more than 130RON. It’s hugely re­sis­tant to det­o­na­tion. Many race fuels are oxy­genated, which means (go on, have a guess!) the fuel has oxy­gen mol­e­cules sus­pended within it. In essence, this means more power can be achieved when com­pared to non-oxy­genated fuel with a sim­i­lar oc­tane rat­ing. Ideal for tuners of nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gines look­ing to un­leash ev­ery last pony!


Liqui­fied Pe­tro­leum Gas (LPG) is al­most al­ways used to save money. It’s dif­fi­cult to ig­nore pump prices, where LPG is ap­prox­i­mately half the cost of petrol. What you may not re­alise, how­ever, is that LPG has a very high oc­tane rat­ing and is su­per­cold. In other words, it’s re­sis­tant to det­o­na­tion, giv­ing it heaps of per­for­mance po­ten­tial. That said, you can’t sim­ply load your car’s fuel cell with LPG in the same way you would fill up with race fuel. In­stead, you need a com­pletely dif­fer­ent in­jec­tion sys­tem fit­ted along­side stock fuel equip­ment, en­abling the driver to switch be­tween LPG and fac­tory-spec­i­fied fuel at the quick-and-easy touch of a but­ton.


Usu­ally re­served for drag and hard­core cir­cuit weaponry (in­clud­ing Indy Car con­tenders), methanol is rarely used as a main fuel, but is of­ten in­jected as an anti-det­o­na­tion aid for forced in­duc­tion ap­pli­ca­tions,

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