engines do not learn octane ratings. octane pertains directly to how fast the fuel burns.
Many high-performance engines are designed to operate with a high maximum compression and thus need a high quality (high energy) fuel usually associated with high octane numbers and thus demand high-octane premium gasoline.
The power output of an engine depends on the energy content of its fuel, and this bears no simple relationship to the octane rating. A common myth amongst petrol consumers is that adding a higher octane fuel to a vehicle's engine will increase its performance and/or lessen its fuel consumption; this is false—engines perform best when using fuel with the octane rating for which they were designed and any increase in performance by using a fuel with a different octane rating is minimal or even imaginary.
Using high octane fuel for an engine makes a difference when the engine is producing its maximum power. This will occur when the intake manifold has no air restriction and is running at minimum vacuum. Depending on the engine design, this particular circumstance can be anywhere along the RPM range, but is usually easy to pinpoint if you can examine a printout of the power output (torque values) of an engine. On a typical high-revving motorcycle engine, for example, the maximum power occurs at a point where the movements of the intake and exhaust valves are timed in such a way to maximize the compression loading of the cylinder; although the piston is already rising at the time the intake valve closes, the forward speed of the charge coming into the cylinder is high enough to continue to load the air-fuel mixture in.
When this occurs, if a fuel with below recommended octane is used, the engine will knock. Modern engines have anti-knock provisions built into the control systems and this is usually achieved by dynamically de-tuning the engine while under load by increasing the fuel-air mixture and retarding the spark. Here is a link to a white paper that gives an example:  . In this example, the engine maximum power is reduced by about 4% with a fuel switch from 93 to 91 octane (11 hp, from 291 to 280 hp). If the engine is being run below maximum load, the difference in octane will have even less effect. The example cited does not indicate at what elevation the test is being conducted or what the barometric pressure is. For each 1000 feet of altitude the atmospheric pressure will drop by a little less than 11 kPa/km (1 inHg). An engine that might require 93 octane at sea level may perform at maximum on a fuel rated at 91 octane if the elevation is over, say, 1000 feet. See also the APC article.
taken directly from
there is alot more, but that sums up the main point. basically the more compression you have, the higher octane fuel you need. it does not 'make' more power, but it is less likely to detonate or spark knock (which decrease power)...
i hope it is designed for a lower octane fuel to save a little at the pump. but if it calls for 93, i will definately put 93 in it. my blue camaro takes 93 or above. the speed shop that built the block tells me that it would run better with 110. hope to try that soon.