That Didn’t Take Long: New Civic 1.5L Turbo Has Been Tuned
Big gains to be had with the new L15T engine in the tenth gen Civic.
We have driven the new tenth gen Honda Civic, it’s fantastic. A big part of the magic is the all-new 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that powers it. Even in stock form, it’s torquey, smooth and has a nice, broad powerband. However, what if you wanted more? How about a lot more? Well, as is the way with most modern turbocharged engines, the L15T seemingly has a good amount of untapped potential.
We knew it was only a matter of time before tuners got down and dirty with the new family of turbocharged Hondas. To the surprise of probably no one, Hondata has made headlines first. The Honda tuning giant has released their ECU reflash for the 2016+ 1.5T Civic.
Hondata has released a video demonstrating this latest development:
So, what does Hondata’s FlashPro offer for the Gen X Civic?
A few things that improve both power and driveability. First off, if your 1.5T Civic has the 6-speed manual, the tune is adding 9PSI of boost to the mix. That is good for an extra 35WHP* on the top end, and crucially, over 60 lb-ft of torque* increase in the mid-range, from about 3,000RPM to about 5,000RPM. The CVT-equipped Civic sees a 6PSI uptick in boost, with small gains around 20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft of torque. There is a big asterisk with these quoted power figures, but for now, let’s take them at face value.
Additionally, Hondata has gotten rid of the 1.5 second post-shift programmed turbo lag. This improves response, and theoretically, improves straight line acceleration. From there, the option of no-lift shift (full throttle upshifts) is offered. No lift shifts keep the turbo spooled between gear changes, for lag-free, faster shifts. It should be noted that yours truly has done no-lift shifts in the stock Civic Turbo, and it works just fine, dropping elapsed times at the drag strip. I’m guessing that Hondata’s solution cuts spark when the ECU sees the clutch pedal sensor/switch activated, and the car at 100% throttle. This should help a bit in premature clutch wear. Flat foot shifting is pretty brutal on the clutch, after all.
Speculation and side commentary
Those are huge gains for a 1.5 liter, engine, turbocharged or not, let’s talk about it. Speculators have noted that those are big gains for stock hardware, and I am inclined to agree. Having worked on a bevy of turbocharged cars, the big jump in torque down low doesn’t surprise me. However, fueling has been a question brought up, in regards to the big jumps in power.
The car in question wears a “Norm Reeves Honda” license plate. Norm Reeves Honda is a local dealership here in Los Angeles. I bring this up because 91 octane is the highest pump gas sold here in SoCal, excluding ethanol. Reading the fine print on Hondata’s supplied dyno chart shows that the “before” dyno was run on 87 octane, and the after, with the reflash, was done on 91 octane. Now, even in stock form, the ECU can control boost delivery and apply timing corrections for different octane levels. One has to wonder what the car would do on 91 octane in stock form. Looking at the massive gains below 3,000RPM, I’d bet that a stock car on 91 octane would close the gap a little bit. On 87 octane, the stock ECU is likely pulling timing to reduce the likelihood of knock at lower RPM and in full boost. Just something to think about.
Here are Hondata’s very grainy, quite small dyno plots that they have provided:
Here’s the fun fact, the big dyno numbers that get flashed on the screen showing these massive gains has the aforementioned asterisk. The meta data on the image says “RACE” calibration. The meta data on the other image says “91 octane.” Seems like the massive power figures, 232WHP and 268 lb-ft of torque were done on race gas, which is usually a minimum of 100 octane, E85 withstanding. Impressive figures no doubt, but ones that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Are we very excited for the future of these turbocharged Hondas? Naturally. Hondata makes a great product, that compliments Honda’s excellent engineering. However, it’s worth it to take a few minutes and unravel the information being thrown at you. If this really is all software, and no hardware changes, it won’t be long until tuners throw a catless downpipe, and bigger intercooler into the mix. Add a splash of Ethanol, just a few gallons, and we’ll really have a party. E30 fuel, bolt-ons and a tune will make for a mega Civic.