Master Stroke

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February 14

We do features in many ways. Sometimes, people show up on their pride and joy and often beg for a feature. It may drive crap, but when there is so much blood and sweat going into each build, who are we to judge them and drive the nuts off them? And we have friends who let us take their cars for a spin to give us a feel of the newest mods. Then we got tuning firms letting us drive their demo vehicles wanting us to test how good their creations are. So, when the usual feature revolves around a carefully written story on how someone got his car and what all he did with it and his future plans, the demo vehicles get a full shake down drive with backing data from our testing equipment. We spin tyres, burn clutch and do multiple runs to get the best acceleration times and corner hard to pull maximum lateral Gs on those fancy coilovers. The result is a report which has no gravy, no owner testimonials and no big claims. Such as this one, featuring the turbo-charged Civic from Red Rooster Performance.

We have always liked the idea of turbocharging the Civic, especially since the Indian one comes with the economical R18A motor with the exhaust manifold built into the cylinder head. On the plus side, this makes for a factory built exhaust manifold for mounting the turbo. The red rooster Civic uses a GT25 turbo running at a rather conservative 7 psi. The internals are stock and it runs a Garett intercooler, with a Turbosmart Hyper gate 45 external wastegate and suitably loud Turbosmart Type 1 blow off valve. Fuelling is done by Haltech ECU. It was dynoed around 151WHP and 209N-m by its makers using their dynapack hub dyno at the Bangalore facility. On the road, it displays a demeanour that is far removed from a Civic, let alone an automatic.

It’s a good thing they chose to do it on an automatic and not the manual. you see, on a manual, the poor low end torque makes you slip the clutch in traffic every time you move off. The auto has a torque convertor that almost doubles the torque on start up, giving an energetic start, making it very usable in stop start traffic. This also reduces the effect of turbo lag, giving sufficient performance low down and improving in town drivability. Where the turbo really wakes up around 2700rpm, there is a strong shove in back, pinning you to the seat and blurring the scenery. This terrific midrange gives it very good passing power out on the open road. You can get ahead of a line of multiple cars before they know it.

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We timed it over a quarter mile which it blitzed in—- seconds. Our best run got us a 0-100kmph in 8.3seconds, which isn’t bad considering that it’s an automatic which takes 11.8 sec in standard trim. This was arrived in S mode, using the paddles to upshift early around 5200 rpm to maximize the boost available in the next gear. The midrange is where most of the acceleration is present and it is best to stay in this part of the rev range. May be it’s the turbo size or may be it’s the fuelling, but the frenzied top end of the Civic is somewhat marred and it labours to the red line, in a very non Honda like fashion. Luckily the Civic automatic permits manual gear changes and you don’t have to wait for it to automatically shift up, which would have complicated things.

The car uses Tein super street suspension with edfc. This allows the driver to electronically vary the damping in 16 stages with the help of trick stepper motors on top of the coilovers. When set up well, this gives it great road holding over undulating roads, keeping the wheels firmly on the ground at all times. On our short drive, it was certainly making the car settle down quickly after sudden crests. Ride quality is also acceptable, though the lumpiness can be felt when the damping is set to high levels. The ride height is similar to stock to help it ease over our roads. Braking has been improved with better performance Mintex pads but when we drove it, the stock rotors were a little warped, so we didn’t test it.

The turbo drive package is priced around Rs.2.5 to 3.25 lakhs at Red Rooster Performance depending on what set up go for. But if you’re bored with the linear power delivery and the mostly inaccessible top end of the naturally aspirated Civic and want a bit of extra oomph in the mid range, it is certainly the way to go!

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