Self Esteem

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 21

We have an argument going round our office if the best engine transplant on the Zen is the one from an Esteem. There have been different prospects like the Baleno G16B, Cultus GTI, Honda D15s and VTECs all good in their own respect but somehow I maintain the Esteem G13B wins with its ease of availability, fitment and adaptability to the application. Needless to say, it is also cheap to procure and light on the engine mounts, but the thing that attracts me, most of all is that it delivers the punch without corrupting the handling. A Zen with Esteem engine is a brilliant combination that should have been there in Maruti showrooms years ago. And while we were fighting with each other, arguing about each one’s option, Shameel showed up in his new acquisition.

On the face of it, it looked like any other Steel, except for the front grill which comes from an early type I Zen. And if you think the fluorescent yellow alloys are a little loud, wait for the engine to crank up. The exhaust is loud enough to be on a drag-spec car and the opening on the side only helps amplifies it. The header job was completed by Raj Hingorani in Bangalore.

Shameel bought this car complete with the Esteem engine in February, but then it was running a lot of mismatched components. He then painfully swapped each of those to make it to the stage it is today. The engine has Green Cotton Wind filters and a larger Baleno throttle body. The camshaft has been swapped for the one from the Baleno but the rest of the engine including the ECU is from the Esteem.

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The acceleration from a start is manic for a Zen. Although, we were on a dusty surface and the Hankook tyres were bald, we couldn’t resist timing it. So we, slapped on our Racelogic to clock an impressive 10.2seconds, with two people on board and the tyres spinning away some power in first and second gears. With proper rubber, the time should read any where in the 8-9 second region. Factoring in the weight and allowance for gearing, Racelogic estimates the engine should be putting between 90-97bhp, and that is pretty nifty for a light car.

In the corners, one can still enjoy the balanced chassis and with the engine well wound up, you don’t need more power. More power would make it faster on the straights, but in the corners, the way it is set up now, it would turn to be a handful. Shameel is now more than happy with the car. He prefers its handling to some of the bigger cars he own. The throttle response and drivability are fantastic and makes driving in town, a doodle. On the highways, he has smoked many larger cars and got its drivers wondering, what’s lurking under the hood of this little car. And in traffic junctions when they catch up, they are all thumbs up for his three door Zen.

So what other mods will Shameel do, in the near future? He will immediately switch back to 13inch wheels, which are better for everyday driving. Then he will start with some weight reduction probably deleting the rear seats and replacing the front ones for racing buckets. He also intends to uprate the suspension and replace the brakes before adding…yes, you guessed it – more power!

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

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