We recently bought an '03 Focus ZTW 5 Speed. Great little car, but I
find that the acceleration is disappointing. When I hit the gas, I
don't get the punch that I'd like to feel. Have been looking at the
Diablo Sport performance chip and was wondering if anyone has
experience with it? Also wondering if others have experienced this
and what you have done to remedy it. Thanks.
Strange, mine 2.0DOHC (1999) needs according to the drivers manual
"Super unleaded", which is AFAIK 95 octane, here.
I agree that this engine is one of the best Ford engines I have driven.
Even on a dry road ASR will turn on, if accelerating like crazy, in the
second gear at about 80 Km/h. Vmax is really good, 209 Km/h according
to GPS, not that bad looking at the 201 Km/h Ford says. If it only
wouldn't swig the fuel then...;(
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Octane requirements vary with engine type, especially compression ratio,
not just with displacement. For the 2003 American models, Ford specifies
a minimum octane rating of 87 for the 2.0L SPI, 2.0L Zetec E, and 2.3L
I4 engines. This is the middle grade gasoline at most service stations
in the United States.
For the 2003 Focus SVT (2.0L SVT Zetec engine), Ford specifies a minimum
octane of 91, which usually means the top grade or "premium" gasoline.
In any case, you've got to go by the octane number, which is a standard,
and not by the oil company's name for a grade of fuel.
Here (Germany) there are three kinds of petrol, the octane are the minimum
guaranteed (DIN 228)
* Benzin bleifrei (91 Oktan)
* Super bleifrei (95 Oktan)
* Super Plus (98 Oktan)
They are sold with this name.
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Not sure about American gas but I thought Sunocco topped out at 94
Octane and they were supposed to have the highest octane available.
Hmm, 87 Octane is *low grade* gas in Canada. 89 is mid grade and
91-92 is for premium grade. While 87 is fine for everyday driving, I
find the higher octane adds a little smoothness to the engine.
I like to run with an 5% ethanol blend in the Focus. This is
equivalent of mid-grade gas -- the octane runs 89-90 which is fine for
this car. The ethanol is a little more environmentally friendly to
boot. 5% ethanol premium is also available, but at a significant cost
One problem with running an ethanol blend is that ethanol acts as
solvent - dissolving residue left over from regular gasoline in the
tank/fuel line. Many people who switch to ethanol have problems with
fuel delivery because the dissolved solids collect in the fuel filter
which can in turn choke off the flow to the engine. For a few bucks,
change out that old fuel filter and engine will notice the difference
There is a lot more to the grades of gasoline than the octane
difference. In fact most manufacturer's say the octane level is
really a minor point in fuel. The other additives make for cleaner
burning, fewer deposits and eventually longer life for the engine.
Still it's not quite the same thing as my '88 Mustang 5.0 litre
running 10% ethanol 94 octane (no longer available, just the 5%).
That engine just purrrrred... Running mountain highways was an
absolute dream... :-) Unfortunately all that torque on the live axel
was a bitch to handle in the winter.
If you upgrade the engine computer chip (Superchips, Diablo, et al) it
means you can only run premium fuel with 91-92 octane because the
timing of spark is slightly different. Higher octane also means the
motor runs slightly cooler.
Something else to look at is the amount of sulphur in the gas. We
used to run fairly high sulphur content gas until the rules were
changed. Last year all the refineries in Canada had to get down to
150 ppm by July 1 and will have to reach 30 ppm by 2005 which is
equivalent to current California gas regulations IIRC. By that time I
think California is due for a further reduction in sulphur to
something like 5-10 ppm. Still, I think Canada is ahead of the rest of
the US in regulating the sulphur content. For our local refinery, the
shift was easy -- they were already running in the 180-200 ppm range,
in Ontario it was another story as some refineries were running in the
700-800 range! Gag!
Low sulphur content means the catalytic converter (platinum) works
more effieciently in its secondary burn of the fuel, and thus cleaner
emissions. Jury is still out an whether it adds any more HP at the
I don't think so. I usually see 87, 89, and 93 octane.
For instance, consider Mobil. From their page at
Mobil Regular Unleaded Our most popular gasoline has an octane level of 87 and
is blended with a detergency package that helps keep your vehicles fuel
injectors and intake valves clean when used regularly.
Mobil Special Unleaded With an octane level of 89, this gasoline was developed
to meet the needs of drivers like you with cars that could benefit from using a
gasoline with higher octane.
Mobil Super+ Unleaded Formulated to meet the demands of today's engines, it
generally has an octane level of 93, but is blended with an octane level of 91
on the West Coast and in some other geographic locations.
Update to my situation...started putting in higher octane gas (89 -
mid grade) and driving the car a bit more agressively (letting it rev
up to 5000 rpm or so). Getting much better acceleration and pep and
good mileage. Very happy with it now. FYI, I was advised by a
co-worker that the Diablo chip would help a lot for an auto tranny,
but not much for 5 speed. Love the car. Handles great.
Thanks for all discussion. Craig
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