• At the pumps, try filling up with weapons-grade cocktail

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    omf-filipino20130709IT’S one of the oldest “trick” in the motor racing book; fill your car up with high-octane fuel. That way, performance gets an instant boost through virtually no effort at all.

    Actually, that used to hold true with old engines. Modern ones, with all their computer wizardry and sundry sensors, may not always get any performance boost as their electronics adjust for any difference in the stuff—fuel or air—that goes in them. But there are still a few exceptions, with high-horsepower mills the best of them.

    And so when Petron recently pitched its Blaze 100 fuel for review, it was the family sport-ute that I deemed the better candidate for the job as my daily driver—though not exactly an econobox—has an 80-horsepower disadvantage to the 230 turbo-charged horsepower that the family sport-ute puts out. Plus, the recommended octane rating for that vehicle is 95.

    Petron’s advise was to use up as much of the fuel in the SUV’s tank—which was not filled with Blaze 100—so that any change in performance would be more easily felt. However, the check-engine light adorned the car’s dashboard on the day it was to drink Blaze 100. This turned out to be a mixed blessing—unfortunate because the car spent a couple of hours alternately idling and getting revved up as a top-notch technician worked on it (the problem was traced to a possibly faulty rear sensor reading). That meant getting a fair fuel-consumption figure on the initial fill-up was out of the question.

    But the situation turned out all right, too. Because it also called for me to drive the car for the next few days as I needed to observe if the SUV’s check-engine light problem was indeed due to a faulty reading, or if that pricey sensor needed replacing. Now one of the things that would point to a sensor-replace is if the car suddenly gets thirstier than it already is.

    It did not. Over the next few days—and on the next Blaze 100 fill-up—the car drank its usual 15 liter-per-100-kilometer diet, going as thirsty as 18, which was still normal. In terms of performance, there was a bit of boost detected with the premium Petron fuel but this was marginal. It’s possible the car’s computer adjusted for the higher octane, or that the gains are more discernable in full-on racetrack blasts—if not on a longer period using the potent fuel.

    What was more noticeable was that the engine ran perceptibly smoother, ticking over at idle without “hiccups” and racing up the rev counter quicker—all signs of improved combustion going on within it. Surely, cleaner emissions are also the result here. Well, Blaze 100 is Euro4-compliant, so there really is no surprise there.

    Guess filling up with weapons-grade cocktail really has benefits—just as the motor racing book says.

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