Hondata Reflash for FD2R

HONDATA REFLASH                                                See Reflash II HERE

Many would question the ability of a mere reflash of the car's ECU to develop huge amounts of horsepower. For turbocharged cars this reflash can really bump up power but what of a normal aspirated engine especially one that is already extracting 225 bhp from 2-litres (112.5bhp per litre)?

Manufacturers rarely tune their engines to the very ragged edge of destruction because of reliability and environmental concerns. The few exceptions are the 458 Italia's 570 bhp from 4.5-litres and the GT2 RS' 620 bhp from 3.8-litres. Most manufacturers use a very conservative map which leaves quite a bit of room to exploit for more horsepower. The easiest form of reflash does not require a rolling road. The software genuises have created a slightly more aggressive engine ignition and fuel map that will eke out a decent amount of power that should satisfy about 80% of those who opt for this easy mod. It is not at the ragged edge but there is barely any downtime and can be even done at one's own premises, just an ECU swap or reflash in under an hour.The next step up is a reflash done on a rolling road. Why is this necessary one asks? Not all engines are created equal and one can have his car tuned to the absolute maximum of the ingredients he has decided to put in. This also raises some caveats as we shall highlight as we go on.

The FD2R's K20A motor is already highly tuned. A reflash without a rolling road might not get the desired results as it is already pretty close to the limits since there is slight pinging already evident especially at lower revs. The only reliable way to get decent power is when its done in conjunction with a rolling road.

We all know that a K&N filter and a CAI (cold air induction) works to produce more power or even a rear silencer box or even a extractor manifold. But oftentimes bolting these items on may not get the desired effect of boosting power. Well part of the secret is to have a rolling road reflash right after putting items on. For this test everything was stock except for the Mugen CAI and an altered rear box.

Caveat #1. Please fit ALL the power producing items on before a reflash. Do not fit or change other performance parts after a reflash.

So if you plan a slow acquisition of parts then reserve the reflash for the last. For the FD2R one must get Hondata's FlashPro OBD box as this both stores the original binary map as it swaps it out for the new programmable Hondata one. We had decided on Rhommel Singh's services though we have heard of others also doing the same. It does not amount to an endorsement but we are satisfied with the results.

From the preloaded Hondata map and with the FD2R on the rolling road, each point up the engine fuel, cam, VTEC and ignition map is optimized for max output/torque throughout the powerband. Its a long (2hrs) and painstaking process to get the map just right for the engine and its various performance parts. It so happened that the tank was left full with Shell V-Power thanks to the F-1 weekend promotions. But this leads to caveat #2

Caveat #2. Choose the fuel you would like to use on an everyday basis rather than the most expensive one.

The remapping also optimizes for the characteristics of the fuel being used. We tried the fuel saver 98 and the power drop felt bigger than pre-reflash days. This means we are stuck with V-Power. Another FD2R was remapped with the fuel saver 98 and resulted in the same max power and similar power delivery through the rev range. Subjectively V-Power had more punchiness but that lead is reduced when comparing the two reflashed FD2Rs. So you might want to think about this when going for the reflash. Remember only 97 octane stuff is available across the causeway. Anyway the FD2R has knock sensors and if there is too much pinging or knock it retards ignition so you may run the poorer gas but with a slight loss in power.

The results

Right away we noticed the VTEC point had been lowered from 5800 rpm to 5000 rpm. While this has the effect of allowing us to play with the VTEC earlier we were not entirely sure that more power is produced as a result. The second set of cam timing is more aggressive and as such produces an angrier exhaust and intake note which we like but with such long overlap in cam timing we are sure the fuel consumption suffers once the VTEC comes on. At 5000 rpm the standard FD2R is doing 160 km/h and if that is enough speed for you then its fine. Otherwise 5800 rpm equates to about 188 km/h before the VTEC comes on. Fortunately with the 6th gear ratio swap 5000 rpm already reaches 180 km/h which is plenty fast already.

The next thing we noticed is the renewed aggression of this engine, charging to the redline with newfound vigor and this is no figment of our imagination. The K20A is already amazing but made even more with the reflash. We had only fitted the Mugen Cold Air Intake and left the experimental rear silencer on and with the first baseline run we netted 227 bhp at 7936 rpm, just about what Honda had claimed. But after the remapping on the rolling road, the result was an impressive 240 bhp at 8258 rpm. The rev limit was raised from 8700 rpm to 9000 rpm. Torque peak was lifted from 220 Nm to 228 at 6197 rpm but on examining the torque curve it was a huge 20 Nm improvement at around 5500 rpm which means the lowered VTEC point might actually be worth something right there evidenced by the nearly 20 Nm improvement in torque.

Far from being the marginal improvement we had expected, the $1000 plus spent on the reflash is well worth it (not to mention the removal of the irritating 180 km/h speed cut!) but this leads to another caveat.

Caveat #. Change spark plugs before doing reflash. Use original long life platinum ones from Honda.

The reason for this update is the experience we had when merely changing spark plugs. It is already an unnecessarily difficult job to change the FD2Rs plugs but when it screws up the performance because it alters the ignition timing ever so slightly as to produce more pinging and thereby activating the knock sensor retard to lose power is really an unforgivable oversight. We recently decided to replace the originals with NGK Iridium Max which had some good reviews but it really messed up the fine tuning by perhaps changing the ignition timing a bit and with the ignition retard protection on, the engine lost all its sparkle and while the low rpm lugging improved, the pinging also became more evident at low revs.

So tuned to the ragged edge? You bet. And we love it, reminds us of the 430 Scuderia, the attack of the engine that is, not the sheer power. The Scuderia with 510 bhp from 4.3-litres or 118.6 bhp per litre and the 120 bhp per litre of the tuned K20A results in an engine that has the same energetic characteristic and since one Scud buys nine FD2Rs we'd be inclined to just sit back and grin.

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