By on May 1, 2017

hondata-2017-honda-civic

Honda’s new Civic is a heck of a car, even if the styling is polarizing. But it’s not a performance car like Civics of old, where mixing and matching engine and transmissions from other models could yield a very quick ride with a stratospheric redline. Enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the Si and Type-R trims, which promise plenty of power — but what of those who already have a car, or need features the high-performance cars don’t have?

Enter Hondata, the firm that’s been tuning Honda engine management systems for years. It’s been the industry leader for those looking to do those engine swaps, and has developed software and devices to add performance to the factory ECU.

Recently, Hondata released its FlashPro for the newest Civic powered by the 1.5-liter turbo engine, and I had a chance to drive a Hondata-tuned 2017 Civic.

Even stock, the new turbo Civic is faster in the quarter-mile than the previous-generation Civic Si, so the extra performance should be impressive.

Per Doug Macmillan at Hondata, the FlashPro device can add either 3 or 6 psi of boost, adding anywhere from 10 to 20 horsepower with a few keystrokes. Based on customer feedback, the FlashPro cuts anywhere from a half to a full second off 0-60 times. Doug also tells me the 174-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo seems to be underrated by the factory, as Hondata is seeing un-tuned cars producing 200 hp on the dyno as long as greater than 87 octane is used.

Installing the FlashPro is remarkably simple. It simply plugs into the diagnostic port beneath the dashboard on the driver’s side of the Civic. From there, another cable plugs into a USB port on a Windows PC, and the included Hondata software will allow you to change the tune from stock to the various increased boost levels with a few clicks.

In my testing, it took about 5 minutes for the reflash and another 5 to 10 minutes of sedate driving for the ECU to relearn the octane of the fuel in the tank before I floored the throttle.

hondata-flashpro

Mercifully, enthusiasts in California can play too, as Hondata is working on CARB certification for its 10th-generation Civic reflash. Doug Macmillan tells me all of Hondata’s reflashes since 2006 have been CARB certified.

I was able to test a 2017 Honda Civic Touring package, powered by the 1.5-liter turbo, driving through the CVT. Honda lists this as producing 174 hp at 6000 rpm, using 16.5 psi of boost. I tested this car both with the factory tune and Hondata’s +6 psi tune burning 89 octane fuel. Times were tested using a Racelogic Driftbox (provided by FASTtechLimited.com), which uses GPS signals to accurately measure time and speed.

Caveat: The car I tested was on slightly oversized snow tires — 225/55-17 versus the stock 215/50-17 — so the test vehicle was a bit slower off the line than a stock car. 1.2 inches difference in wheel diameter will blunt performance slightly. For comparison purposes, this should be fine as the vehicle itself was consistent.

I’ve seen published 0-60 times anywhere from 6.9 seconds up to 7.8. Few publications are clear as to the trim levels and transmissions on their test vehicles.

Tested as the Civic came from the factory (save the snow tires), the car ran consistent 8.2 second 0-60 times, and 6.7 seconds from 50-80 mph as a test of passing performance. Once the 6 psi tune was uploaded via the OBDII port under the dash and the ECU acclimated itself to the new tune, the same Civic dropped nearly a second off the 0-60 time — 7.3 seconds — and the rolling 50-80 test now took 6 seconds flat. That’s a significant performance jump for $695 and about 20 minutes of work.

Per Hondata’s dyno testing, the low RPM torque increase is the most accessible part of the performance envelope; improvement isn’t only at redline. The CVT maintains the engine around the torque peak between 3,000-3,500 rpm, ensuring that extra torque is always available.

Of course, you don’t have to drive around with the box plugged into your car. Once the reflash is downloaded to the ECU, you can unplug it. However, those who may be racing the car might want to leave it in, as the FlashPro will transmit data via Bluetooth to your iOS or Android device, acting as a second set of gauges to monitor engine performance. Below is a screenshot from Hondata Mobile on my Samsung Galaxy S7.

hondata-screenshot

The owner of this Civic tells me he can see the same fuel economy as the standard car as long as he remains light on the throttle, but that the extra boost can be intoxicating. Now that the snow tires are off, he reports 41 mpg in daily commuting.

At $695, the Hondata FlashPro adds plenty of performance to your standard 2016 or 2017 turbocharged Civic for the price of a couple extra car payments. It’s certainly much less than what the new Civic Si will cost. An even less-expensive option simply requires you to take your car or send your ECU to a Hondata dealer, where they will perform a simple, one-time reflash for a mere $350.

I think I need to start shopping for a Civic.

[Images: Hondata]

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31 Comments on “Drive a New Civic? Got a Tax Refund? Time to Add Power...”


  • avatar
    brawnychicken333

    Why oh why are his snow tires oversized? Snow tires work best when they are smaller-not bigger.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Snow tires should be undersized in width, not necessarily diameter, no?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        My experience has been the more aggressive and the more wide the tread, the better traction results in snow.

        And for icy roads, the wider the tread, the more room for screwing in your own studs for better grip.

        That works for me in mountain country.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          It can also depend on the vehicle’s weight. If the vehicle is light enough that it could concievably drive over small drifts, wide is best, like a snowshoe. But our 6400+ lb. F-350 came with 325-width “cat squishers,” and there’s no going over drifts with that thing. Going back to stock 235s cuts through the snow a lot better.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Narrow is better in most winter driving conditions. It’s only if the snow is so deep that you can’t cut through it with a narrow tire, or you get hung up, that you’d want the flotation of a wide tire. Flotation is not desirable unless it’s necessary.

          Winter rally car tires:

          http://www.jaggybunnet.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Pirelli_Sottozero_Ice.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            When I was up North, back in the 1900s, the term for the tall and narrow Winter tires on the ubiquitous trucks was ‘pizza cutters’. Nearly every truck ( including my FJ pickup ) had a come-along; good cable; a detachable winch; and spare fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’ve heard that term before. But the 1900s? I didn’t think there were any vehicles at all that were suitable for winter use back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      The owner of the car had used these tires briefly on a prior vehicle, and mounted them on the new Civic since they were “close enough”. The owner knows that it’s not an optimal snow-tire solution, but is aware of the limits – and fortunately, the winter weather in this area is typically mild.

      For reference, I’ve never used snow tires in this region, and as far as I know I’m still alive.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Does Hondata pay for repairs or provide legal services if your warranty claims get denied as a result of using their product?

    • 0 avatar
      never_follow

      Very important question. Lots of people in the VW scene have been burned after flashing and subsequently taking their car in for warranty work that was declined.

      I imagine Honda is wise to this, and has a permanent log of flashes somewhere in the ECU

    • 0 avatar
      jmp2006

      You gotta pay to play. If someone isn’t willing to “risk” it then they shouldn’t do it.

    • 0 avatar
      maxxcool7421

      It depends on how dumb the user is.. If they tell the dealer and get voided that’s on them.

      If it is a weak oem part that fails after taking ownership, as long as you flash back to stock and don’t have a bunch of obvious bolt-ons and keep your pie-hole shut they will never know.

      In some cases dealers do not care, *as long as* the issue is not related to the MOD. In my case the Ford dealership here doesn’t care if your tuned. if the ‘issue’ with the car still occurs after ‘returning to stock’ they honor the warranty. if it is obvious you have been running the car 6000+ rpm the whole time then your a idiot and they will see that regardless of tune state.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      No, they don’t. IIRC, they disclaim this on their website – you flash at your own risk to warranty.

      All that said, for off-the-shelf tunes, Hondata is probably the best, safest off-the-shelf tune out there. They do their research.

      CSB on engine safety: I had the Hondata reflash in my RSX-S. Rev limiter was raised from 7900 to 8600 and VTEC crossover was dropped from 6200 to 4800. For those out there doing math, that’s almost 4000rpm on the big lobe of the cam. It was fun as hell, and great on track. Plus the extra revs screamed.

      With the fuel and ignition changes plus an intake, it was good for 10hp up top, but over 30hp in the mid-range. I ran it like that from 40-100k miles without incident. The raised rev limiter wasn’t an issue due to the RSX-S valve springs being the same part # as the Integra Type-R, which also had an 8600 limit.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The low boost is on the CVT, can’t stand the torque would be my guess.

    Oh, what about the fuel economy with a ecu tune? It better be 50+ mpg if it get 40+ on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The turbo is tapped out. I think the tune has the boost in the mid 20s… probably right on the beach of Efficiency Island.

      Not sure why a tune that bumps power by 20% would increase fuel economy by 20%. Honda is not GM, they know how to tune small engines. Do you know how engines work???

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    20hp gain seems relatively weak for extra 6psi of boost. Considering that the car make 180hp on premium fuel, doesnt seem worth the $700 for the little gain.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The VW turbos seem to respond better to such tuning, they make big power from a quick flash. But still, this is a no greasy bits way to find some extra ponies. Plus you can likely reflash to factor settings whenever you desire. Per the article the cost is only $350 if you send them your ECU, that makes it seem worthwhile.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    … Or you can get Elantra Sport and be well under 7 sec to begin with for 5 large less. And it will also give you variable intermittent wipers vs 2-speed in Civic

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Great, so when I buy a >$30,000 Sport Touring Civic I can get up to 200hp for only $700 more? That’s such a small percentage of the purchase price it’s be stupid not to.

    I know, every time I complain about the price of cars someone points out inflation. But in 2000 I would still have balked at a $20,000 Civic.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    a 10 HP gain is giving a 1/2 second 0 to 60?? A 20 HP gain shaves a full second?!?

    I call shenanigans, the Civic isn’t that light. If there was an extra 1/2 second to be had for just 10 extra HP, I’m pretty sure Honda would have shipped it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Look, Civic Hatch Sport comes with all those horses and goes 6.5sec 0-60. Why bother flashing? Oh well, you can’t have apple/android in it. Buy Elantra Sport already and have it all, power and amenities, beauty, all under 20K… with nice leather seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Performance is prolly coming from boost/tq at lower revs than wherever they measure peak hp; they likely limit peak due to CVT or other constraints.

    • 0 avatar
      Dengine

      You fail to understand the torque increase. This engine doesn’t make much HP past 6k rpms,therefore not much HP there, but makes huge torque over a good rev range.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “The owner of this Civic tells me he can see the same fuel economy as the standard car as long as he remains light on the throttle, but that the extra boost can be intoxicating. ”

    isn’t this the bad rap the Ford ecoboost engines get? sure, great power, but nobody can stay away from it.

    i was wondering if and when anybody joined Ford after bashing the turbo moves. they did and suffer from the same mpg vs power choices.

    my mks can ave 20/21 if i drive easy breezy. if i start enjoying the feeling in my back, forgetaboutit!

    and this extra power stresses the trans, an issue i would think when there is a cvt. the fords usually force the buyer into AWD when the higher powered turbos are gotten. at least with their fwd based set ups.

  • avatar
    DearS

    It looks like one of the steps need to turn a hatchback into a SiR. Limited Slip and the Si suspension are next. That will probably bring up the total to $5k, not counting installation.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      If they even fit. Previous Si have had slightly different suspension mounting points and geometry preventing an OE swap-out. If CR pricing is similar, the parts are around $16-1800 new, but $6-800 for take-offs from someone who went aftermarket.

      I doubt the Si diff fits a standard civic transmission, but quaife or M-Factory should have options in the $700-1k range.

      From experience (used to be a frequent modder) install on those parts is around $400 each.


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