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.