The Honda badge is at the top of the food chain when it comes to affordable four-cylinder performance. One of the hardest-hitting Hondas is the Acura Integra GS-R. It has a variety of performance upgrade options, and its stock output and handling is impressive.
Finding the right turbo kit can be a chore because there are more than a dozen bolt-on turbo kits available for the B-series engine. XS Engineering's Power Tune Turbo System caught our attention because it flexes a Garrett GT ball-bearing turbocharger.
The centerpiece of the XS Engineering Power Tune System for the 1994-2001 Acura Integra GS-R is a specially matched Garrett GT ball-bearing turbocharger. While only rated at 320 hp, this turbo delivers its payload with such efficiency that very significant gains can be had at as little as 2500 rpm.
Complementing the turbocharger is a sizable front-mount intercooler system that features an 18.5x8.5x3.0-inch intercooler core. Hard intercooler pipes don't come with the kit, but XS Engineering includes four-ply Kevlar-reinforced tubing manufactured by Ford of Australia. Rated at 300 psi, these tubes are plenty durable and surprisingly light. Also included in this bolt-on kit is a durable cast-iron exhaust manifold with a stainless-steel heat shield, mandrel-bent downpipe, intake pipe and air filter.
As with all of XS Engineering's turbocharger systems, installation of this kit is a bolt-on affair. While no non-turbo-to-turbo conversion is simple, the detailed step-by-step instructions included make everything fairly straightforward. And they're written in English that's comprehendable, too! All necessary hoses and fasteners are thoughtfully included as well.
After dropping the turbocharger and exhaust manifold in as an assembly, you're left with connecting the familiar oil and water lines, downpipe and intake. The installation of the intercooler system is fairly simple, even though it requires the removal of the front bumper cover and bumper reinforcement. In case you're wondering, the front bumper reinforcement is retained in this kit so the structural integrity of your ride isn't compromised.
While the horsepower output is on par with most other competing kits, the XS Engineering Power Tune System outresponds them all. This is due largely to the properly matched ball-bearing GT T3 turbocharger. On the Dynojet, considerable gains can be seen at as low as 2500-3000 rpm, where we recorded a 24.2-hp and 42.4-lb-ft increase at the wheels.
The XS-tuned GS-R really starts to rocket away at 3500 rpm, where it picks up 49.6 rwhp and 74.4 lb-ft over the stock baseline. In fact, more than 90 percent of the peak torque is available by 3500 rpm. From there, this GS-R pours on the power until redline, where recorded peak horsepower was 262.9 whp at 7500 rpm. Compare that to the 146.1-whp baseline and you've got an 116.8 increase. The torque curve receives an equally impressive boost, as it jumps from 112.5 lb-ft to 193.8 lb-ft, for an 83.1 lb-ft increase at the wheels.
This level of tire-smoking performance on stock, emissions-legal engines was unheard of a few years ago, but is now possible through companies like XS Engineering, which learned how to exploit modern technological advances in fuel injection and turbocharger engineering.
The Power Tune System will run you $3,599, a bargain considering the horsepower that you'll gain. For those with more heavily modified engines who crave more horsepower, XS Engineering offers an optional 400-hp turbocharger for this kit. As an additional modification, XS recommends installing a thicker head gasket (also available at XS) to lower the static compression ratio to take advantage of the higher pressure ratio turbo. The addition of the head gasket can yield 300-whp results with proper tuning and installation.
Staying on top of the food chain is not an easy task when everyone else is trying to knock you down. With the XS Engineering Power Tune System you can return the blows instead of taking them.
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