309bhp at the wheel. “I re­place the pis­tons with low com­pres­sion ones that can han­dle the boost. The VTEC en­gine has a higher com­pres­sion so the first thing we do is man­age com­pres­sion to avoid knock­ing and other is­sues. Once that is done, we work on the head to flow bet­ter and make an ef­fi­cient ram-man­i­fold in­duc­tion sys­tem for the turbo.”

Nithin’s grey turbo-VTEC has also been built for street use and has a fat power­band that starts at 3500rpm and goes all the way up to 7500rpm. The Gar­ret GT28 turbo de­vel­ops max boost of 15-16PSI which, says Joel, “is well within the lim­its of what you can run with­out up­grad­ing to 97 oc­tane fuel”. Claimed horse­power is 370bhp at the crank, 321bhp at the wheel on the dyno, and when it comes on boost the kick is fe­ro­cious. With the turbo on song the revs just fly to the lim­iter and it is just one gear af­ter an­other in quick suc­ces­sion, al­most as quickly as the race-VTEC, with the speeds build­ing up al­most as quickly and fe­ro­ciously. This is how turbo en­gines used to be, lots of lag fol­lowed by fire and brim­stone when the wick is lit. Catch a tram­line when you’re on full boost and full throt­tle and you bet­ter be quick with the steer­ing to catch it else you’re off the road. Re­main alert and you get Oc­tavia RS-lev­els of per­for­mance for just `9 lakh, with the added joy of a man­ual gear­box. The build in­cludes a Greddy elec­tronic boost con­troller, 750cc high-flow in­jec­tors, Tur­bosmart ex­ter­nal waste­gate and blow-off valve, RD ECU, in­ter­cooler, tuned ex­haust and also closer gear­box ra­tios so that the revs never drop be­low 3500rpm. The turbo knocks down the 0-100kmph time to 5.7 sec­onds and the quar­ter mile to 13.1 sec­onds – and this is the mild turbo!

The wildest build here is Pranay’s gold VTEC that he not only uses on the street but slaps on a set of Hoosier slicks and races in drag events. On the dyno it puts out 386bhp at the wheel and 440bhp at the crank and with the boost be­ing so high it has, what Pranay calls, boost by gear. Pranay him­self tunes the ECU and it is mapped to de­liver in­creas­ing boost lev­els as you go higher up the gears, sort of like what Fer­rari uses in their turbo en­gines! This en­sures the front tyres don’t spin use­lessly when over­whelmed by a moun­tain of boost but as the tyres get more grip, more boost can be de­ployed.

It is, as you can ex­pect, mas­sively quick. In 2016 when the car was mak­ing 288bhp at the wheel, it was clocked at a drag race cross­ing the quar­ter mile in 12.84 sec­onds. It’s ut­terly ridicu­lous that a car that went out of pro­duc­tion 15 years ago can dec­i­mate baby Jags and Porsches. “The power­band is from 5000-8000rpm,” says Joel. “The turbo also kicks in fairly high and the gear ra­tios are taller. Pranay takes the car for drag races reg­u­larly so we have tuned it ac­cord­ingly. It runs a very tall first, does nearly 75kmph in first at 8000rpm.”

Much like the race­car, Pranay’s road car too is a con­tin­u­ous work in progress. Over the past two years a fur­ther 100bhp has been squeezed out of the en­gine, that now runs fully forged in­ter­nals, 21PSI of max boost and 800cc in­jec­tors. Of course a front-wheel drive chas­sis can only gen­er­ate so much grip – it spins its fronts in first, sec­ond and even third gear – and the quick­est it can get to 100kmph (with all the wheel­spin) is 5.3 sec­onds. But once you’re on the go, once you go up the gears, once VTEC kicks in, all hell breaks loose, yo. ⌧ 105bhp at crank 91bhp at wheel 0-100kmph 9.9s 0-400m 15.1s Cost now `2 lakh

Above: The N+ spec nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine makes 180bhp.

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