Driving a turbo’d 86

Back in October we dove right into the engine bay of my Toyota 86 and installed a Sydney Motorsport Engineering FBomb Turbo Kit, this was the the culmination of 1.5yrs of ownership in which I finally decided that while I loved the car I needed more power. The SME turbo kits are well known in the community for their build quality, pricing and local support – for me the choice was easy as I wasn’t interested in superchargers.

Here are my thoughts and recommendations to those of you who also own 86’s and want more power.

Turbo's & Tinnie's


On the AutoInstruct hoist with 3 mechanically inclined people, installation was a breeze taking about half a day. Unlike most modifications you actually install more parts onto the car than you take off, something I’m not used to! Although SME do not provide step by step instructions it’s all reasonably self explanatory, only once did I give in and call the guys for support (shoutout to Mike @ SME for assisting me on the phone straight away, a big reason why I went with a locally designed kit).

One thing to note, these kits do not come with an ECUTek tune, you’ll need to get the car on a dyno with someone who knows what they’re doing – dyno tuning is always better than a OTS tune anyway. To get the car down to the tuner, I used a Tactrix to flash a turbo basemap that was rev limited to 3500rpm allowing me to drive the car.

Tuning it

A month after installation I was itching to drive the car properly, finally the car was put on the dyno at Chequered Tuning. Unfortunately the worn OEM clutch had other ideas during the dyno run and packed it in at 162kw/250nm…. my fault for thinking I could get away with it. Immediately I ordered a Mantic Stage 2 Clutch and booked it back into the tuner 4 weeks later. That day I also had the tyres swapped out for brand new RE003s (just to make life even better for the clutch), since the stock wheels are 7″ I’m limited to 215 tyres which was a bit concerning when power levels were going to be significantly elevated.

The Mantic stage 2 clutches use a different material on each face of the clutch disk; organic on the pressure plate side and cerametallic on the flywheel side. The supposed advantage of the dual materials is that peak torque capacity is 550nm while an OEM pedal feel is maintained, in practice this clutch behaves exactly as advertised and I couldn’t be happier. Trent from Chequered recommended upgrading to a 3Bar MAP sensor as the OEM part would only be good for 6-7psi and would essentially run blind after that, not ideal. Before getting back on the dyno I also took the time to finish off the exhaust so that the car now runs a 2.5″ setup front to back, a 3″ system would be better for power however, this car is daily driven and its loud enough as is.

Back on the dyno a month after its first run, the car ended up pushing 205kw/322nm @ 9psi with no further issues (Factory cars get approximately 100kw on this dyno, so a 100% power increase!).

Just a little bit more power than stock!

Driving It

The first thing you notice with an 8psi turbo setup is that it doesn’t quite feel like other turbo cars, the turbo easily spools to these pressures and lag is quite minimal. The other thing you notice is that where the 3-4k torque dip used to be there is now a veritable mountain of torque! Shifting up under hard acceleration greets you with another tsunami of pulling power, a great feeling coming from the asthmatic stock engine. The way this setup brings the 86 alive compared to being NA is surreal – I’ve never owned a car where my modifications have doubled the output compared to factory.

As expected even though the tyres are brand new 215mm is much to narrow. The car no longer gives me the confidence that I can plant my foot coming out of corners, something I enjoyed and a good enough excuse to put some decent wheels and tyres on the car later on. Driving through Toolangi I noticed that I could get to the limits of the suspension, brakes and tyres very quickly, since the car won’t see any track work its not the biggest issue however, wider wheels and tyres are a must.

A beefy FMIC lurks behind that grill


Would I recommend turboing your car to other 86 owners? Absolutely. Some nay’sayers believe that a turbo “ruins the purity of the car”, I think this is complete rubbish. Coming from a screaming Civic Type R with the same power output as the 86, the 86 just needs FI it does not have the same free-revving NA character – Honda’s K20 is happier at 8,000rpm then the FA20 is at 4,000rpm! With only ~8psi at the manifold turbolag is minimal so you just get a lovely, predictable and repeatable surge of torque that puts a smile on your face. Supercharging would be another interesting route, I personally enjoy the character of turbo’s and all the sounds they make which is why I was not interested in supercharging.

If you really want to go crazy with this chassis there is always the option of installing larger turbo’s and building the motor to make 300kw+ atw or even doing an engine swap altogether however, for what I want the SME FBomb kit is fantastic value for money and does exactly what I was looking for.