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Old 04-27-2004, 12:12 PM   #1
Orson
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Default Prodrive Power Pack stage 2

Here is my review and observations of the Prodrive Power Pack 2.

First of all, you should understand how I have installed the PPP2. I did so over the course of 30,000 miles:
1) When the car was fresh off the dealer lot, I ripped off the OEM muffler and installed a Prodrive oval-tip axle-back muffler.
2) At 25,000 miles, I installed a Prodrive intercooler silicon Y-hose (After installing the Y-hose, mild boost surging was evident.)
3) At 30,000 miles, I installed the third cat pipe (With the addition of the third cat pipe, boost surging became worse. The boost would surge to 1 bar, relax to 0.8 bar, and then settle at 0.9 bar.)
4) At 31,000 miles, I installed the PPP2 ECU (Now, there is no boost surging whatsoever.)

Note that I have no other engine modifications of any kind. We are talking about a PPP2 and nothing else. No up-pipe. No 3/16” mod. No K&N.

Second of all, I do not have a calibrated butt. Since I added the pieces so gradually, the improvement from each step is relatively small. For this review, I will refrain from subjective impressions, since there seems to be plenty of them anyway. I will comment, instead, on the interesting boost characteristics resulting from installation of a complete PPP2. The boost pressure roughly corresponds with butt-o-meter anyway.

On a stock WRX, most owners are used to the following behavior:
- At half throttle, you get about half of peak boost, or approximately 0.5 bar.
- At full throttle, you get full boost (about 0.9 bar).
- At half throttle, the car feels like it has 60% of full throttle power
- A rough description of how the ECU commands boost is as follows: “For a given throttle position, let boost build as high as it will go within 1 second, then hold the boost pressure there.” Therefore, half throttle gets you approximately half of full power.

On the PPP2, the behavior is very different.
- At 25% throttle, you get 0.9-1.0 bar of boost. It is not lag-free, however. It still takes the same amount of time to build boost as in the stock car, except now, the boost is free to climb even higher. It can take 2 full seconds to build to full 1.0 bar boost at 25% throttle.
- At full throttle you get 1.0 bar to 1.1 bar of boost
- At half throttle, the car feels like it has 90% of full throttle power.
- A rough description of how the ECU commands boost is roughly as follows: “Let boost build as high as it can, regardless of throttle position. Cap boost only at the maximum limit of 1.0-1.1 bar.”
- Maximum 1.1 bar boost is easily achieved in fifth gear. Third gear tends to cap off at 1.0 bar. This may be from gear-conscious logic, or simply load dependent.
- Jumping on the throttle seems to get you to higher boost than easing in.

One of the upshots of this unique behavior is that passing only requires half-throttle or less. This will be a matter of personal preference. The car will certainly feel “more peppy”, but this is at least partially offset by the loss of resolution in throttle control. That is, whereas the stock car requires you to use the full pedal travel, with the PPP2, you are essentially doing 90% of your work with the first half of the pedal travel.

Overall, I am quite surprised by all the negative reviews of the PPP2. The package seems to do what it claims to do, although it is different from what I expected. Maybe my overall satisfaction arises from the fact that my car is otherwise bone-stock while other dissatisfied users have other modifications.

If Simon or Dan are around here, I would be interested in hearing their comments on the approach and philosophy behind the tuning. Some other questions that I have include:
1) Are the throttling losses significant enough at 25% throttle to counteract the increased boost? The turbine would seem to be boosting against a mostly closed throttle plate.
2) Is fuelling left “pig rich” to protect the up-pipe catalyst?
3) When is Prodrive coming out with a Prodrive Radar Detector to protect me?
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Old 04-27-2004, 03:35 PM   #2
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Nice evaluation! I've been looking for reviews of the stage2, but most people seem to run the 3.
I also saw in the Prodrive Opinion thread that you looked at the Cobb also. Could you let me know how you arrived at the Prodrive? Because a simple Cobb reflash seem to get to about the same point as the Prodrive stage 1, which includes a cat-back.
Thanks
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Old 04-28-2004, 11:45 AM   #3
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Most people focus on pure power. If that is your objective, all you have to do is look at dynos and your wallet to decide.

I had a slightly different need. I wanted additional power with consideration towards reliability. I did speak with Trey at Cobb and traded a few e-mails and phone calls with Dan at Prodrive. It was clear that both of them were concerned about reliability, but that they may have slightly different ideas about what is a "reliable" car.

I ran this information in front of some engineers. The engineers included people who do engine calibration and design of engine software. Many of them have heavily modified cars, themselves. In their opinion, the stock tuning and the Prodrive tuning is doing some things that clearly are not good for power. Therefore, the odd tuning must be due to stupidity or due to consideration of reliability. With Cobb, the tuning seems to lean more towards what would be considered a conventional power-optimized tune.

Finally, my own experiences as an engineer in the auto industry strongly biases me toward fully engineered SYSTEMS, not individual components. As an engineer, I see very clearly Prodrive's tendency to think in terms of systems rather than components. Again, this is a judgment based on my beliefs and biases as an engineer, so your judgment will obviously differ if you do not share my beliefs or experiences.

There are actually many more people running stage 2 than stage 3. The problem is that many early adopters of stage 2 was extremely unsatisfied. I learned through a dealer that sold to many of these early adopters that many of these people were running additional modifications: 3/16" mod, up-pipes, down-pipes, etc. (verified by searching in the archives here). These early adopters expected the PPP2 to work with any components on their vehicle. But since the PPP2 was optimized to work with a KNOWN set of components, the PPP2 failed to perform well on their vehicles. Many of these people have gone to a Cobb reflash and experienced much better performance, since the Cobb is tuned to be more "generic" and hence, work with a fairly wide range of modifications.

I think that it does boil down to this. For best power and flexibility, go with Cobb. For possibly better reliability and a plug-and-go package, go with Prodrive, but expect to pay dearly. As an aside, I fail to understand those who claim "Cobb is just as reliable", but have absolutely no data to back that up with. I'm not saying Cobb is more or less reliable, but there is simply no data. At least Prodrive can claim to have done Power Packs while under factory backed warranty.
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Old 04-28-2004, 12:12 PM   #4
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Orson,
Your feedback is very much appreciated. I live in southern Ca, and one big concern for me is reliability of the car in 100 deg temp. Your opinions have reaffirmed my preference towards the Prodrive stg 2. I don't race or care about big power, just want a little more enjoyment out of a great car. Thanks for the info.
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Old 04-28-2004, 03:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Orson
At least Prodrive can claim to have done Power Packs while under factory backed warranty.
You are referring to the UK then?
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Old 04-29-2004, 06:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by NeoteriX
You are referring to the UK then?
Yup. They've been doing those Power Packs since the GC8 WRX. If you don't value experience, then skip both Cobb and Prodrive and go with the cheapest shop that will sell you a retune.

From my conversation with Simon, the UK300 is somewhere between the US Power Pack 2 and 3, rather like a "Power Pack 2.5". So if you go with a US Power Pack 2, it should definitely be reliable. As I said, I am probably more concerned about reliability that the typical person at NASIOC, which was the major reason I went with Prodrive.

As an aside, I have now worked for two British engineering companies. What still amazes me:
1) how much British engineers think in terms of systems when designing, (concerning themselves with how components interact)
2) their complete inability to mass produce components with high quality

Luckily, with Prodrive, you get the best of "1)" while getting the manufacturing expertise of other companies. It sure does make the products expensive, though.
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Old 04-29-2004, 06:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by sneezy316
Orson,
I live in southern Ca, and one big concern for me is reliability of the car in 100 deg temp.
I think I should clarify what I mean by "reliable". My definition of reliable is going to 100,000 miles with no major repairs, not just performing well in all conditions. In other words, "longevity".

I don't mean to suggest that Cobb will "blow up" your engine. Quite the contrary. According to Trey, a handful of his customers in California have the 91 octane remap and experienced knock. He made a custom remap for them that was even less aggressive and it worked. The lesson here is that Cobb's service is so good, you can count on them to fix any problem you may encounter. Don't underestimate the value of this. The guys at Cobb are super friendly - give them a call and hear for yourself.

If your definition of "reliable" is simply to avoid dropping pistons on the asphalt, Cobb is more than up to that. In fact, I will bet that plenty of people can drive a Cobb retune to 100,000 miles. The differences that I found during my investigations may turn out to be minor in the big scheme of things. Or not. I decided to play it safe and go with the shop that gave more nods to longevity and with more road car experience.
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Old 05-06-2004, 11:34 PM   #8
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Thanks, Orson.

I've been trying to make the same decision in the last few weeks, and I don't mind paying a little more for the added peace of mind. My car's a daily driver. Excellent review. How long would you say the install takes, if it's done all at one time?
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Old 05-07-2004, 04:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: Prodrive Power Pack stage 2

Quote:
Originally posted by Orson
Here is my review and observations of the Prodrive Power Pack 2.

<omitted>

That is, whereas the stock car requires you to use the full pedal travel, with the PPP2, you are essentially doing 90% of your work with the first half of the pedal travel.

Overall, I am quite surprised by all the negative reviews of the PPP2. The package seems to do what it claims to do, although it is different from what I expected. Maybe my overall satisfaction arises from the fact that my car is otherwise bone-stock while other dissatisfied users have other modifications.
Great review Ors! - I don't know if you knew -- but I'm a "closet" PPP2 adopter - I've had the PPP2 fully installed on my wrx wagon for over a year now, and am still happily (and silently) enjoying it amidst all the negative reviews

Actually, I remember when I first got the PPP2 installed, I thought that the car felt much more "slingshotty" and that very miniscule adjustments in the gas pedal would be akin to "pulling" the rubber band of my new "PPP2 wrx slingshot" back before release -- sorry for the crude analogy but that's how it felt.

So to me, your point about doing 90% of your driving with only 1/2 of the throttle travel is actually "spot on" -- I didn't even realize I was doing what you described until you mentioned it in this thread! I really can't remember the last time I have put the gas pedal all the way to the floor -- once you drive the PPP2 you'll realize that there's simply no need in day-to-day situations.

A comment about the weather -- I'm on the west coast, and the weather here is usually wet/cool, and rarely scorching hot -- so my PPP2 almost always feels great. In fact, I've run the PPP2 through the other extreme (snow and ice during winter) and no CEL's or odd behaviours to report.

Great review Ors - thanks for having the courage to post it amidst all those negative reviews!

-- Dendrobium
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Old 05-11-2004, 09:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by danford
How long would you say the install takes, if it's done all at one time?
I suck at installs. I skin lots of knuckles and things like that. My newbie hands installed the components in the following amounts of time:
1) muffler: 30 minutes
2) silicon Y-pipe: 45 minutes
3) 3rd cat pipe: 90 minutes
4) ECU: 20 minutes

These are conservative times. That is, I would highly doubt that you are as clumsy as I am and that I would highly doubt that you would need more time than this.


Dendro - nice to see you around again. I don't get around to NASIOC much anymore.
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Old 12-09-2004, 11:34 PM   #11
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overall, does everyone approve or disapprove of prodrive kits?

-Jeff
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:48 AM   #12
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Excellent thread and exactly what I was looking for. The write-up is excellent as well.

Okay so what I want to do is get more performance out of my 04 WRX but I refuse to reduce reliability, defined exactly as you have (100,000 miles with no major trouble) and safety (such as too much boost killing the turbo and possibly some of the cats etc.). I have looked at various products but I keep coming back to Prodrive for reliability reasons. As such how are things currently going with your PPP2 kit? It has been many months since your write-up so I thought I would ask. Also, are there any specific reasons you choose PPP2 versus PPP3? I use my WRX as my daily driver if that helps.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:06 AM   #13
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Keep in mind that my judgments on reliability are based purely on inferential information. Unfortunately, this is the best we can do since no tuner wants to discuss details of tuning philosophy. Experience does count, in my mind, and for that reason, I would not consider anyone other than Cobb or Prodrive, as I described above.

My car has recently exceeded 50,000 miles. So that's 20,000 miles on the PPP2. I do not race, but I am not gentle on my car either - once it's warmed up, I floor it whenever I get an open stretch of road.

PPP3? No for two reason:
1) not in my budget
2) concerned about the transmission

Unfortunately, I am in the process of removing my PPP2 solely because my wife is complaining about the noise level on our frequent 8-hour road trips.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:22 AM   #14
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So for 20,000 miles you have had no issues with PPP2?

LOL at the noise and wife comment. I just have the SPT catback exhaust and when I first installed it and turned on the car my wife looked at me like man that's loud.

I also do not race and don't care much for things like the 1/4 mile. That doesn't mean much to me. What is important to me is having a fast car that won't kill the reliability and doesn't exceed what the car was originally designed to do. I am considering going to an STi but I don't know if I need that much power as a daily driver since my WRX is really rather fast as is and I am not sure I want a longer car loan. With that said I also drive it hard when I get the chance as you stated. I am not afraid to redline the car nor am I afraid to floor it.

I was concerned about emission issues with PPP3 versus money/tranny.

That sucks. I wonder if yours would work a MY 04? BTW, thanks for answering my questions.
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orson
Keep in mind that my judgments on reliability are based purely on inferential information. Unfortunately, this is the best we can do since no tuner wants to discuss details of tuning philosophy. Experience does count, in my mind, and for that reason, I would not consider anyone other than Cobb or Prodrive, as I described above.
Hi there,

I'm more than happy to discuss tuning philosophy! Just some small details I won't tell on...

Cheers

Simon
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:32 PM   #16
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Hi Simon. Thanks for stopping by. If you are willing to talk tuning, I am interested in hearing what you have to say about fuel air ratio. In particular, the stock WRX is known to run super rich at full throttle. What about PPP2 or PPP3?
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:35 PM   #17
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Unfortunately, I am in the process of removing my PPP2 solely because my wife is complaining about the noise level on our frequent 8-hour road trips. [/quote]

Why? I have the round tip muffler and the 3rd cat delete and I find it quite tolerable- it never drones in my opinion.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:02 PM   #18
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It appears that peak HP comes in around 5000 RPM (PPP2) versus stock which is around 6000 RPM. The technical brief also shows a decrease in HP from 5000 RPM to 6000 RPM when running PPP2. Anyone have any real life comments on this? Do you even notice since no matter what you are at a higher power level than stock?
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SUPAREX

Why? I have the round tip muffler and the 3rd cat delete and I find it quite tolerable- it never drones in my opinion.
I don't know if you have a sedan or a wagon, but the wagon (what I have) leaks more noise into the passenger compartment because of the open cargo area. Also, my wife usually sits in the back seat (with my toddler). I find it quite OK from the driver's seat and most people here would agree that Prodrive is probably the quietest muffler. That's why I'm going back to stock muffler - if Prodrive is too loud, anything else will be louder.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conker69
It appears that peak HP comes in around 5000 RPM (PPP2) versus stock which is around 6000 RPM. The technical brief also shows a decrease in HP from 5000 RPM to 6000 RPM when running PPP2. Anyone have any real life comments on this? Do you even notice since no matter what you are at a higher power level than stock?
That curve from the technical brief is most likely flawed, possibly from dyno operator error. Maybe Simon Lines can comment. There's no way that the car feels like that - subjectively, the power curve always feels smooth.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orson
That curve from the technical brief is most likely flawed, possibly from dyno operator error. Maybe Simon Lines can comment. There's no way that the car feels like that - subjectively, the power curve always feels smooth.
Here are the numbers from the document:

3000 RPM-75 HP
4000 RPM-145 HP
5000 RPM-195 HP
6000 RPM-183 HP

All at the wheel figues I assume. Each level is greater than stock of course but I was curious about the loss of power between 5000 RPM and 6000 RPM.
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:39 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conker69
Excellent thread and exactly what I was looking for. The write-up is excellent as well.

Okay so what I want to do is get more performance out of my 04 WRX but I refuse to reduce reliability, defined exactly as you have (100,000 miles with no major trouble) and safety (such as too much boost killing the turbo and possibly some of the cats etc.). I have looked at various products but I keep coming back to Prodrive for reliability reasons. As such how are things currently going with your PPP2 kit? It has been many months since your write-up so I thought I would ask. Also, are there any specific reasons you choose PPP2 versus PPP3? I use my WRX as my daily driver if that helps.
check this thread as well from the VIC forum:
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...light=prodrive

I'm still happy with my PPP2 setup and have gone through about 30,000 kms on it over 2 years. Still trouble-free so far in fall/winter/spring/summer.

hope that helps!
-- Dendrobium
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:17 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conker69
Here are the numbers from the document:

3000 RPM-75 HP
4000 RPM-145 HP
5000 RPM-195 HP
6000 RPM-183 HP

All at the wheel figues I assume. Each level is greater than stock of course but I was curious about the loss of power between 5000 RPM and 6000 RPM.
Oh that. (I thought you were referring to the graph in that document.) I don't know if I would call that a "loss". It's less power, but every engine has to start reducing power at some sufficiently high RPM, right? Besides, that's barely 12 HP difference - about 6% difference - and is well within the margin of "butt-o-meter" error.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:19 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orson
I don't know if you have a sedan or a wagon, but the wagon (what I have) leaks more noise into the passenger compartment because of the open cargo area. Also, my wife usually sits in the back seat (with my toddler). I find it quite OK from the driver's seat and most people here would agree that Prodrive is probably the quietest muffler. That's why I'm going back to stock muffler - if Prodrive is too loud, anything else will be louder.

I have a sedan so I see your point.
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Old 01-26-2005, 04:34 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orson
If Simon or Dan are around here, I would be interested in hearing their comments on the approach and philosophy behind the tuning. Some other questions that I have include:
1) Are the throttling losses significant enough at 25% throttle to counteract the increased boost? The turbine would seem to be boosting against a mostly closed throttle plate.
2) Is fuelling left “pig rich” to protect the up-pipe catalyst?
3) When is Prodrive coming out with a Prodrive Radar Detector to protect me?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Simon. Thanks for stopping by. If you are willing to talk tuning, I am interested in hearing what you have to say about fuel air ratio. In particular, the stock WRX is known to run super rich at full throttle. What about PPP2 or PPP3?
PPP1 & 2 Use stock fuelling due to the number of cats still present. PPP3 uses slightly reduced (i.e. leaner) fuelling but very conservative, assuming we evolve the PPP's this year I will go leaner and that ROM file will be made available as an "up-grade" (this may be free of charge or carry a small cost to cover people's time if we get a lot coming back - no decision made yet).

Your questions:-
1) I first changed the throttle response on the UK cars I did, the account manager wanted the car to feel "more peppy" and this achieved that, personally I would rather it had more progression but it makes the car feel much less "sluggish" than stock and the customers like that. When I evolve the US PPP's this year I will change the throttle response slightly. As for boosting against the throttle plate, it does have a penalty but then when you go WOT the turbo is already in full boost so you get a slight reduction in throttle response boost lag. (As I note, on my own car I run the actual throttle travel reduced by about 50% as I think for most road / track use there is no need to have so much fine sensitivity on a 4wd car)
2) In essence, yes it is - This is due to be re-visited this year
3) Try a Valentine 1, I understand them to be very good

Another thing that may be of interest, we are looking at removing the "Prodrive only" key in the ROM, they will still be encrypted ROM's but you would be able to re-flash at another tuner that uses EcuTek software without him loosing a licence. We have some details to sort out with the UK side of things first though.

As I recall peak power is around 5600, the power curve is pretty representative. However, the torque curve in the graph is appalling but we wanted to show the result totally unaltered. The problem with dyno'ing a turbo car (on that dyno) is that it's a computerised "ramp-up" for the load. This results in the system seeing nothing while your off boost so it has very little load, then the boost arrives, the wheel rpm goes up quickly and the system kind of goes "oh flip!!!" and puts a big load in, this gives a torque spike the system then realises it's gone in too hard and ramps down again further exacerbating the spike

Cheers

Simon

Last edited by Simon Lines; 01-26-2005 at 05:24 AM.
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