Alfa Romeo Twin Spark (TS) Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Alfa Romeo Twin Spark (TS) engine!"

Here we consider Twin Spark (TS) tuning and outline the best mods that work. Alfa Romeo Twin Spark (TS) are popular engines and with a few sensible uprated mods like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will dramatically maximize your driving fun.

History of the Engine

The Twin spark, named after it's clever ignition system of firing 2 spark plugs to ignite the charge in each cylinder. On the 8v engines both sparks happen concurrently, the 16v engines the sparks would be timed for maximum effectiveness.

This allows a very lean mixture to be used and offers a really smooth idle.

8-valve Twin Spark engines

  • 1.7 L (1,749 cc 113 bhp) @ 6000 rpm,  (108 lbft) @ 3500 rpm
  • 1.8 L (1,773 cc 131 bhp) @ 6000 rpm,  (122 lbft) @ 5000 rpm
  • 2.0 L (1,962 cc 146 bhp) @ 5800 rpm, (137 lbft) @ 3000 rpm
  • 2.0 L (1,995 cc 139 bhp) @ 6000 rpm, (138 lbft) @ 5000 rpm

 

16-valve Twin Spark

  • 1,370 cc (1.4 L 102 bhp) @ 6300 rpm, (91 lbft) @ 4600 rpm
  • 1,598 cc (1.6 L  103–118 bhp) @ 5600-6200 rpm, (103–108 lbft) @ 4200-4500 rpm
  • 1,747 cc (1.7 L 138–142 bhp) @ 6500 rpm, (120–125 lbft) @ 3500-3900 rpm
  • 1,970 cc (2.0 L  148–153 bhp) @ 6400 rpm, (133–138 lbft) @ 3500-3800 rpm

 

Tuning the Alfa Romeo Twin Spark (TS) and best Twin Spark (TS) performance parts.

Best Twin Spark (TS) mods

The optimum Twin Spark (TS) modifications on an engine are typically the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular Twin Spark (TS) modifications, they need to be cost effective.

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen cam profile, so large torque gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

Fast road cams normally increase the bhp and torque throughout the rpm band, you might lose a little low down torque but higher rpm power will be higher.

Race cams, increase the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Competition cam won't do well if in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your engines power to your preferences so for a road car stick with a fast road Twin Spark (TS) cam

Different Twin Spark (TS) engines respond better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the bhp gains you'll make.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Stage 1 mods: Fast road camshaft, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Panel air filters, Sports exhaust manifold, Intake headers.

Stage 2 mods: Fast road cam, induction kit, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injectors, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, fuel pump upgrades.

Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing & blueprinting, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Twin charging conversions.

The Twin Spark (TS) engines are great to work on and we're pleased to see that there is a lot of mods and performance parts out there.

Mapping helps fully realize the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your Twin Spark (TS).

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the end result often depend much on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

It is the aim to any performance tuning project to force more fuel and air into your Twin Spark (TS)

Headers take the air from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

Structure and flow rate of the Plenum can make a big effect on to fuel atomisation on the Twin Spark (TS).

Commonly we find the intake are improved through aftermarket tuning parts, although a few OEM provide well optimised intake.

Larger Twin Spark (TS) valves, getting Twin Spark (TS) port enlargement and head flowing will also increase power, and more importantly will permit a better power increase on other parts.

Turbo upgrades

NASP engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your Twin Spark (TS)

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes excellent power gains.

When an engine is fitted with a turbocharger modifications are simpler to install and turbo engines are built using more solid components.

There are common areas of failure for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some only just able to handle stock power

It is important to find these limits and fit better pistons and crank to utilize the power.

There are many people spending a a stack of money on turbo upgrades on the Twin Spark (TS) only to have the motor literally blow up soon after it's been enthusiastically driven.

Big upgraded turbos tend to suffer no power at low rpm, and smaller turbos spool up really quickly but don't have the peak rpm torque gains.

Over the last 20 years the world of turbo chargers is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust gases into two channels and flow these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also help the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on these engines when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although harder to get working. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling

When you boost the performance you will need to increase to the fuel system.

More performance needs more fuel. It makes sense to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and allows a little spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder NASP engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp

Exhaust

You only need to to boost your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll see your flow rate is good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow out of the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too wide or you could will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalysts installed, so adding a higher flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the Twin Spark (TS)

The Twin Spark (TS) engines are generally reliable and solid as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Regular oil changes are vital on the Twin Spark (TS), especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

The variator that controlled cam timing was prone to jam or excessive wear. The newly designed replacement part has improved reliability and durability. Symptoms of this issue are a slight loss of performance and a diesel type rattle from the top of the engine, which appears at startup and gradually lasts for longer as it progresses and develops. Later engines this was revised so should not be an issue. Replacement at cambelt change time is recommended.

For more information on Tuning your Twin Spark (TS) engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these Twin Spark (TS) articles which are continually updated.

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