Honda makes some of the best naturally aspirated engines in the world. Little do most people know that adding a turbocharger to them makes them even better!
In the past, Honda has heavily relied on naturally aspirated VTEC engines. However, lately, their modern engines while still using VTEC have also been adopted with a turbocharger. But what about the naturally aspirated engines, what happens when you turbocharge those?
Turns out, turbocharging some of their ‘older’ VTEC engines have proven to be an excellent way to achieve great performance for a reasonable amount of money.
So this list will provide you with Honda’s greatest naturally aspirated engines which makes for a perfect match for turbocharging.
The B18 engine is one of Honda’s highly regarded engines. And the B18C is more often than not considered the “holy grail” of B-series engines.
The B18C is capable of producing 200hp@8,000 RPM with an 8,900 RPM rev limiter from its 1.8L engine in stock form, which is about 111 hp per liter which is mighty impressive from an engine from the 90s.
Despite being one of the greatest naturally aspirated engines there will always be the desire for more power. Tuning a naturally aspirated engine is costly, and for the most part, doesn’t yield any real power gains. Luckily the B18C serves as a great candidate for turbocharging.
There are a few reasons why the B18C is one of the greatest Honda engines to put a turbo on, here are a few reasons why:
In short, the B18C is better “built” from the factory than many other Honda engines.
Powerwise, on stock internals you could safely run with around 350 hp. However, there are cases where people have tuned their stock B18C to over 500 bhp. And while they temporarily seem to run fine, we highly doubt that would be sustainable for the long run.
The K24 is the most modern and highest displacement engine on this list, and it has proven to be excellent for turbocharging.
Despite being almost 0.4L larger than its smaller brother the K20, the K24 only produces about 205 hp in its stock form. Due to its larger displacement, it also has a significantly lower red line at 7,600 RPM compared to the K20’s 8,400 RPM.
But when it comes to turbocharge, having a larger displacement can actually be beneficial. In the case of the K24, it has higher torque than the other engines on this list which helps at lower RPMs.
A healthy K24 can easily handle up to 450 hp on stock internals which is significantly higher than the B18C. So, if you already know you’ll be seeking a power figure somewhere in this area, then it’ll likely be cheaper to seek out a K24 over a B18C.
Because the K24 is a very common choice for turbocharging, there are many turbo kits to choose from, and a lot of knowledge is documented on various Honda forums.
Fully built K24 engines have been seen producing over 1,000 horsepower, so the potential is more or less endless.
Perhaps the most legendary Honda has ever produced, the B16 engine is the pinnacle of Honda engineering and features an incredibly well-built overall engine famed for its VTEC system.
Despite being the oldest, and smallest engine in terms of displacement the B16 is full of potential. Some would say that if your wallets allow it, then the sky is the limit in terms of performance.
In stock form, the 1.6L I4 B16B produces 182 hp @8,200 RPM and an impressive 9,000 RPM rev limiter. This nets out to around 113hp per liter, impressive for a stock naturally aspirated engine.
Comparing the B16 to the B18C there are many similarities. In stock form, the B18C is larger, and more powerful than the B16. But once you take tuning into account, these two engines are extremely similar in what they can achieve.
Both the B16 and B18C can handle about 350 hp in stock form. The big difference is that the B16 parts are not only cheaper but also more available than that of the B18C which can be quite expensive and hard to come by.
Thus, the B16 is arguably a better choice for turbocharging.
One of the most recognized tuner engines, the K20 has for the past decade been the star when it comes to Honda tuning. The K20 offers excellent reliability and performance at an affordable price.
The K20 engine was first introduced in 2001 with the Honda Civic Type R (EP3) and Integra Type R (JDM Version). Thanks to its major success, the K20C engine is still in production today making it over 21 years in production.
There are countless project cars on Youtube and various Honda forums which have documented the K20’s tuning potential. We even have an article covering some of the most impressive K20 builds ever made!
There are a lot of numbers being thrown around regarding how much power a stock K20 can handle. But generally, it seems as if the K20 can handle somewhere around 400-475 hp with stock internals. And since the K20 engine and belonging parts are cheap the value for money is huge.
Without a doubt, Honda’s K20 engine must be the greatest option for turbocharging as it combines performance, reliability, and affordability.
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