• Column: Abhimanyu Bansal EP-2

Tuning NA engines - the secret sauce

How do you make a naturally aspirated (NA) engine scream? Is a software tune enough? Do I spend hard cash on a full exhaust system worth ` 8 lakh? These are questions asked frequently in the tuner community and I feel I have what could be the most balanced solution. Building on last month’s discussion about the ease of tuning turbocharged engines, I would like to highlight that much can be achieved with a little spend on NA engines as well! A simple tune results in a mere 5-7 percent gain in power but improves driveability across gears considerably, especially at low speeds. Linear acceleration is smoother and one does not feel the need to kickdown the transmission each time. The next step is to bolt on a set of race headers, in case your car is equipped with a sports exhaust system. A software tune coupled with top quality pipes is what changes the power and sound setup for NA engines, which results in an unmatched symphonic performance. The Porsche 991.1s, BMW E92 M3s and Cayman/ Boxster 981s will go down in history as some of the most euphoric naturally aspirated sportscars and trust me when I say, they really wake up when tweaked! There are of course other aspects such as air filters, cooling systems, superchargers etc that can be looked at, but they create an added burden on the maintenance and capital budgets. My hack is a sub ` 3 lakh option that gives all that’s needed for ‘regular’ enthusiasts, sans any extra trips to a workshop.

Purists have accepted the hard truth that NA engines are now an endangered species and admit it or not, they will face extinction not too far in the future. In fact, most manufacturers beginning to curb further development of internal combustion engines already. So gone are the days where we can expect a naturally aspirated V10 or V12 engine to lead the model lineup for a manufacturer like Lamborghini. Porsche is still trying to keep the enthusiasm alive by pushing the GT car’s 4.0-litre NA range. In fact, the point to note here is that what becomes scarce is soon invaluable. This has been well supported by the recent surge in car prices in used car markets, especially when it comes to flat six and V8 engines. The two prized possessions of this era are thus the Ferrari 458 and the MercedesBenz SLS AMG that are selling for close to the same or twice the amount of their turbo successors! With that in mind, I hope I have managed to convince some of you to consider one of these as an investment or something that would result in unparalleled pleasure as we quickly drift into the electric phase. Stay ‘tuned’ for the last of the series where I will showcase some exciting projects, all within attainable budgets.

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