VTEC Is Always The Answer

There’s a good reason why performance-grade Honda models are a popular choice for track day aficionados the world over, and a lot of that comes down to their high-revving VTEC-equipped engines.

On my recent car cultural exploration of Malaysia, I had the chance to check out a track day at Sepang International Circuit, which led me to take a closer look at two different cars running Honda engines – an EK9 Civic and an AE86 Corolla Levin.


Before addressing the elephant in the room, let’s take a look at the Civic.


If the Spoon decals around the exterior didn’t give it away, the iconic blue and yellow theme throughout speaks of the owner’s inspiration. With the carbon fiber hood propped open to help evacuate heat from a previous run, I decided to take a look in the engine bay first.


The originally-fitted B16B, which sported a rather interesting digi-camo valve cover design, could still be found in engine bay, with a few bolt-on performance and cooling upgrades made in order to boost power and reliability.


Spoon calipers just tuck inside the 15-inch Spoon SW388 wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova AD08Rs. With added suspension tuning, the already agile Type R must be a riot to pilot around Sepang.


Peering inside, most of the Civic’s factory Type R spec interior remained intact, notable additions being a Spoon steering wheel and a gauge pod on top of the dash.


It’s easy to get carried away when building a car like this, but I think the owner of this EK9 has struck a really nice balance by not going overboard with upgrades. Simple is good.


Aside from its well-balanced chassis and light weight, one of the defining aspects of the original Toyota AE86 is undoubtably its 4A-GE engine. But you won’t find one of those in this Levin notchback.


When the current owners got their hands on this car a lot of work was needed, but luckily the body itself was in good condition making it a perfect candidate to turn into a race car for the Asia Classic Car Challenge (ACCC). Using the AE86’s FIA Group A homologation documents as a guide for the build, they began the lengthy process of creating a fast and reliable car.


With Group A spec suspension, Wilwood brakes and Yokohama Advan A050 tires wrapped around 15-inch wheels, the Levin has the gear to be competitive.

As you’d expect for a race car, the interior is purposeful. Along with a fully welded-in roll cage there’s a custom console, Momo steering wheel and a whole lot of weight reduction. The instrument cluster and shifter reveal what Honda engine has found its way into the AE86’s engine bay – any idea what it is?


Anyone who guessed F20C from the AP1 Honda S2000 would be correct.

In order for the car to be competitive in the ACCC’s Class MC, the team are running a freshly built F20C that with supporting mods including a more efficient intake, exhaust and upgraded cooling system, outputs a modest 240hp.

I wasn’t able to catch either the EK9 or AE86 making laps around Sepang, but I’m sure that both would be a blast on the track. The question is simple: which one would you take?

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

More stories from Malaysia on Speedhunters



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Both are good and relatively simple and effective builds but I'll got for the 86 simply because of the drivetrain. I think all the choices will be based on the drivetrain layout, it's even you prefer FWD or RWD.


The Levin gives instinctively an agile, fast, sensation, just watching it! l'd take that for sure!


The civic would be so fun to drive i reckon. Lightweight+high revving NA engine+proper diff is a recipe for success imo,\

Steffen Hansen

I'm old and can only say RWD - only to put my complete lack of skill on display!


The swapped corolla!

Rafał Szulejko

Unlike the Continental from the latest post with a tragic wheel choice, this AE86 has in my eyes the perfect one. I usually don't like the photos of wheels alone, but I'm glad you added this one to the post - these proportions make it really pleasant to look at.


I'd choose the EK9. The Spoon inspired exterior is such a classy and timeless combination. Those clear taillights it has, really work well with the rest of the exterior.


AE86 hands down. Really fun looking car. FWD and performance don't really belong in the same sentence :O


Oh that's a bunch of malarkey... The Garage Work EK9 and the Aslan EG6 both have lapped Tsukuba in the 56 second range, the Garage Yellow EG6 has lapped Tsukuba in the 57 second range. Those times are on par with, and in some cases faster, than high horsepower turbo RWD & Turbo cars. If that's not proof that FWD cars are competitive, or have "performance", than I have no clue what else would..


Well let's see:

F1 - the fastest thing around a circuit - (rwd)
Top Fuel NHRA - the fastest thing in a quarter mile - (rwd)
SCC Land Speed Car - the fastest thing on the planet - (rwd)

It's almost like all the fastest cars in the world are rear wheel drive. Weird.


I'd have to say there is a group of people that disagree with you. FWD performance cars can be jaw dropping in terms of how they perform. Honda has done pretty well for themselves throughout the years. The Si and Type-R models are good examples of that. Light weight and great suspension is what makes Honda's name essentially known.
With the technology we have today, FWD and RWD cars are getting closer and closer.

To each their own, I suppose.


Comes down to packaging at the end of the day Dylan, the closer you get to a purpose built racing car that is only made to go fast the more FWD becomes a horrible idea.

Basically as soon as you move outside of any Time Attack series.


Raeder Motorsport TT-RS - won a race of the VLN. Granted the heavy rain had a big impact but is was still a FWD TT winning against dozens of GT3 class cars


That's pretty cool to hear. It's not that they can't be fast. Just at a certain point it becomes a serious disadvantage. It's flawed by nature. You can make it work but its not going to be as good as something else packaged with rwd etc. Sorry just a fact.


will you feature the yellow B13 ? but with your question I'll get the levin. I have a thing about rwd. hahaha


Can someone explain what Vtec does? not rly sure what a camshaft is for.

Shahrul Nizam

Would love to take the EK9 but since I already own a EK and haven't drive any RWD car so AE86 would be my choice, gotta taste the high revving F20C