Although petrol in Malaysia are broadly categorized into RON 95 and RON 97 grades, it is the combination of base fuel, as well as the fuel additives used by the respective brands that play crucial roles in determining the overall impact of the fuel formulation on the performance of the vehicle.
Not all fuels are the same. Good fuels incorporate high quality additives that clean up carbon deposits in the engine to help achieve an efficient combustion, resulting in improved performance.
Shell’s technical partnership with Ferrari provides the company’s fuel scientists an opportunity to combine the right fuel additives with the base fuel and test in extreme conditions from which to extract an understanding on what will deliver the best possible performance out of any given engine.
Leveraging on decades’ worth of experience on track, Shell was the first fuel retailer in Malaysia to offer a special grade of fuel catering specifically to the demands of high-performance drivers. The Shell V-Power race fuel supplied to the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team contains 99% of the same types of compounds used in Shell V-Power Racing road fuel available at Shell stations.
What’s the big deal?
Compared to regular grades of petrol, Shell V-Power Racing is formulated to offer four key benefits:
- Active Engine Cleaning: In conventional carburetor and port fuel injection engines, the air-fuel mixture is fed through the intake valves of each cylinder. Carbon deposits accumulate on each intake valve disrupt the flow of this mixture and robs the engine of its full performance potential. The cleaning ability of Shell V-Power Racing’s formulation help eliminate these deposits that can result to smoother entry of the air-fuel mixture into the combustion chamber. For engines that utilize direct injection, this cleaning action takes place at the injector itself, minimizing clogging of the injectors.
- Friction Modification Technology (FMT): The FMT additive of Shell V-Power Racing is designed to form a protective coating between the piston ring and cylinder wall to help minimize the engine’s frictional loss. FMT is designed to provide additional lubrication in areas that are hard to reach by the engine oil such as the upper piston ring.
- Enhanced Octane Rating: Whilst it is true that most vehicles will run on RON 95 grade fuel without any problems, it is not always true that high octane fuel benefits only high performance vehicles. Regular engines may also benefit from higher octane fuel to help minimize knocking incidents, depending of course on the engine as different vehicles respond differently to high octane fuels. Vehicles equipped with knock sensors and are designed to respond and benefit from the presence of higher octane fuel can automatically advance its ignition timing to liberate extra power.
- Euro 4M: Since January 2015, Shell has upgraded Shell V-Power Racing to be compliant with Euro 4M standards, meaning its Sulphur content is lowered. This allows the use of Euro 4 vehicles which are equipped with emission control devices designed to improve your vehicle’s emissions.
Locating a Shell station with Shell V-Power Racing
Shell V-Power Racing petrol is currently available at 45 stations nationwide. (Follow this link for GPS coordinates and navigational shortcuts.)
The selected stations that offer Shell V-Power Racing can be identified from afar by looking out for the ‘Shell V-Power Racing’ branding affixed atop the fuel dispenser islands of the station. In Shell stations that do not offer this fuel, the branding reads ‘Shell V-Power’ only.
Certain stations additionally mark the Shell V-Power Racing-designated fuel dispenser islands with a red parking box.
When fueling your vehicle up, remember to pick the red nozzle.
On the Road
As part of an engagement programme with Shell Malaysia, this writer tried out Shell V-Power Racing petrol on three separate vehicles with mixed results.
Differences were immediately noticeable when Shell V-Power Racing was introduced in a 2010 Proton Saga FL 1.3 and a 2012 Ford Escape 2.3 FWD, as both vehicles that have been regularly fueled by RON 95 petrol by their respective owners.
In both these vehicles, the engines felt noticeably punchier and delivered standing starts with greater conviction. The Saga’s engine also revved more freely, delivering smoother and more purposeful acceleration. After returning to RON 95, the owner of the said Saga even noticed a reduction in performance.
A more comprehensive test was undertaken in a 9-year-old Proton Waja Campro that serves as the daily ride of this writer. Compared with the earlier two vehicles, the improvement in performance was not immediately noticeable, perhaps due to the fact that this car has been operating on a RON 97 diet for some years now.
In the low- to mid-range RPMs, there were subtle improvements in pulling power in which the engine noticeably needed less effort climbing slopes. Effects at the top end were more acute – the engine felt more eager to accelerate.
As a measure to mitigate placebo effects, I made it a point to measure my vehicle’s fuel consumption to ensure that the added performance was not the result of a heavier foot. To my surprise, the car averaged slightly better consumption when fueled by Shell V-Power Racing compared with other fuels.
Compared to the usual 9.5 l/100km (10.0 l/100km with RON 95) thereabouts with regular fuel, I was able to record a remarkable 8.7 l/100km in mixed driving. In my nine years of owning this vehicle, I have never seen a figure lower than 9.0 l/100km in situations other than full highway cruising. This is an impressive demonstration of the added combustion efficiency which the Shell fuel is designed to deliver.
Based on the above figures (which are admittedly derived by rudimentary manual calculations), my car when fueled by Shell V-Power Racing consumes 13 and 8 percent less fuel than when fueled by regular RON 95 and RON 97 petrol respectively. In high performance cars, expect the difference to be starker and substantial enough to offset the fuel’s premium pricing over regular petrol. Do take note that these numbers can vary from car to car and also due to different driving styles!
Whilst I do subscribe to the wisdom that not all fuels are the same, I have always been somewhat skeptical towards premium fuel. I am particularly wary that the added performance claimed by many owners can simply be a result of placebo effects. The simultaneous improvement in performance and fuel economy in my own vehicle suggests that there is substance behind Shell V-Power Racing fuel after all.
Don’t just take my word for it, of course. Do try the fuel yourself, and let us know what you think. If you need guidance to find a station, follow this link.