We Test NF
— Max My Ride Magazine - Issue 26 - June 2011
Over the years there have been many products that have come onto the automotive market that claim to work miracles. Flip through any magazine or walk through any trade show and you'll see various people punting the latest gizmos, gadgets and potions that claim to increase performance. With this in mind, Max My Ride decided to do some consumer testing to find out which of these products actually do make a difference. One such product that has hit the market in recent years with a bang has been octane boosters. Octane boosters, as the name implies, increase the octane rating of the fuel you use in your car, which I will admit is a pretty good idea considering the low grade fuel you get from the pumps at your local garage.
For the test we decided to use two top of the range products from the NF catalogue. First up was the NF Ultra Race Fuel Concentrate which comes in 1 litre for petrol engines. The other was the NF Diesel Boost which comes in 300ml. The cars we used for the test also had to represent more or less the engine set-ups you would normally find on the roads. So we decided to test a diesel in the form of a 2007 VW Polo TDi Sportline, a 2004 Audi S4 V8 Quattro for the petrol test and representing the turbo charged petrol camp, a Subaru Impreza STi Type RA.
The diesel test was done, as I mentioned earlier, using NF Diesel Boost which acts as a Cetane booster in diesel. On the first run the Polo managed a reading of 82.6kW at 3131 rpm with a torque reading of 297Nm at 2934 rpm at the wheels (Test 2) with an ambient correction of 12%. For the test we mixed 300ml of NF Diesel Boost with 50 litres of 50PPM (50 sulphur Parts Per Million) Diesel. After the first run the booster was added and the car was taken on a 30km drive to mix up the fuel and booster in the tank. For the car's second run, the car only managed a reading of 83kW at 3071 rpm and the torque reading was down to 293Nm at 2380 rpm, this time with an ambient correction of 14%. Now, before you think that this was a complete waste of time, you must bear in mind that modern engine ECU's need to adapt to fuel additives. With this in mind, the car was taken back to WRC Tuning on the Tuesday after the weekend giving the ECU three whole days of driving with the booster in the tank. This time around the Polo was given a phase 1 re-map, which is slightly more aggressive than the stock map and took only 5 minutes to upload. This was done just to make the most of the ECU's adaptation to the Diesel Boost. With the car strapped down for its final run, it achieved a power reading of 93.1kW at 2971 rpm and 333Nm of torque on the wheels (Test 8), clearly showing a fairly decent increase in power.
The first petrol engine test was done using a naturally aspirated Audi S4 V8 Quattro. On the car's first run it managed a power reading of 144.5kW at 6088 rpm and 278Nm of torque at 4029 rpm at the wheels (Test 3) with a 24% ambient correction factor. After the first run, 1 litre of NF Ultra Race Fuel Concentrate was added to 60 litres of 95 octane unleaded pump fuel increasing the octane by 6RON. On the second run, again after a 30km drive to allow the ECU to adapt, the car produced 149.2kW at 5844 rpm with the torque figure rising to 299Nm at 3640 rpm. The major change, however, came 3 days later when the car was taken back and the increase in power was a major shock. On the Audi's final run the power jumped all the way up to 152kW at 5863 rpm and the torque figure went all the way up to 308Nm at 3352 rpm at the wheels (Test 9). This was purely from the change in fuel quality; the car had no software changes or mapping done. We saw a large jump in power and if the car was tuned for the fuel, we would have seen even bigger gains.
Turbo Charged Petrol
The turbo charged Subaru Impreza WRX STi Type RA, which was fitted with an aftermarket exhaust and boost controller, was where we saw the largest gains on the dyno using the NF Ultra Race Fuel Concentrate. For the first run on the Subaru, the ECU was mapped to run on 95 octane pump fuel. The reason for this is because the original Japanese map from the factory is designed to run on 100 octane fuel. The car was given its first run on the dyno using 95 octane pump fuel with the boost set at 0.9bar. On this tune the Subaru gave a reading of 144.3kW on the wheels at 6568 rpm with 256Nm of torque at 4847 rpm (Test 16) with an ambient correction of 24%. After that run 1 Litre of NF Ultra Race Fuel Concentrate was added to 55 litres of 95 octane unleaded pump fuel giving an octane increase of 6RON. With the addition of the NF Ultra Race Fuel Concentrate the ECU was remapped for the higher octane fuel. Due to the fact that the higher octane prevents detonation, the boost could be turned up to 1.2bar boost and ignition timing advanced by 12 degrees. This is the main advantage to running octane boosters in turbo charged cars. Apart from better performance, you can run more higher boost levels more safely without having to resort to expensive racing fuels. On the car's final run (Test 30), the power jumped all the way up to 190.9kW at 5917 rpm and the torque reading rose to 340Nm at 4717 rpm. Clearly a major increase in power thanks to the added peace of mind of being able to run a higher boost level more reliably with higher octane fuel.
From the figures shown here, it's clear that octane boosters do work. There's one thing that you must keep in mind though, when adding any performance parts of additives to your car, you must get the car tuned correctly. You must do this in order to get the best performance from any new additions or modifications. The same is true for octane boosters. If you wish to run octane boosters in your car it is bet that you get the car mapped correctly for the booster and also you should use the same product continuously so your vehicle ECU can adapt to the higher octane fuel.
Max My Ride would like to thank Hylton Tiedt from WRC Tuning for the use of his dyno as well as doing the software mapping for the tests and of course Michael from NF for supplying the octane boosters and allowing his super rare Scooby to be a Guinea Pig for the test.