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Is It Really Possible To Get Better Performance And Economy By Uprating Your Engine Management Software? It Sounds Almost Too Good To Be True. Andy Enright Visits Industry Leaders Superchips To Find Out More
I must admit I was once fairly disdainful of aftermarket modifications to cars. After all, who was I to say that legions of highly qualified engineers and designers had got something wrong? As I grew to understand a little more about the economics of car manufacturing, it became apparent that it was possible to improve your car significantly with a few tweaks here and there.
Keen drivers will know that the two most important areas where performance gains can be made are in the tyres and the braking systems. Stickier rubber and uprated brake pads and discs can make a lot of difference, but we all crave that bit of extra power. Extracting extra power from increasingly complex engines is no longer the work of the backyard enthusiast with an ignition timing lamp and a set of big carburettors, so I took my turbocharged Toyota MR2 along to the experts in the field of electronic fettling, Superchips.
Over the past 27 years, more than half a million vehicles, including 150,000 in the UK, have been 'Superchipped'. The company's catalogue lists over 3,700 different applications, covering the vast majority of makes and models. All engine types are catered for, whether normally-aspirated (non-turbo) petrol, turbo petrol or turbo diesel.
Superchips claim their conversions can increase the power and torque of turbo diesel engines by as much as 30 per cent, turbo petrol engines by 25 per cent and non-turbo petrol engines by 10 per cent. Ford owners also have the option of using a 'DIY' tuning kit called Bluefin, which allows them to perform the conversion themselves, quickly and easily.
All of this shows how much Superchips has changed as a company. Back in the eighties and early nineties, the company earned its corn through conversions to cars like the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. The market has matured a great deal since then and most of the business now comes via turbodiesel models. Expansion into the US market has also proved lucrative. Racing has also been a successful sideline and Superchips has worked with Volkswagen Racing (UK), achieving notable success with a 230bhp Volkswagen Caddy that competes in the Volkswagen Racing Cup.
I almost felt I was regressing the company back to its roots with my rather boy-racer MR2 Turbo, but any lingering feelings of guilt were quickly expunged when I took a look at the dyno plots before and after the ECU change. A small adjustment to the plumbing to replace a missing hose and the engine management changes had liberated another 41bhp. This additional power made the MR2 feel a different car, bringing genuine urge right down to 3,000rpm instead of its previous stratospheric levels. In short, it was quicker everywhere with a negligible penalty in terms of fuel consumption. Call me a convert.
Buckingham-based Superchips provides conversions through an 85-strong nationwide network of fitting centres, as well as a fleet of mobile units, which carry out conversions at customers' homes or places of work. All engine types are catered for, whether normally-aspirated (non-turbo) petrol, turbo petrol or turbo diesel. To find out if your car can benefit from a Superchips conversion and to locate your nearest dealer, visit 'www.superchips.co.uk' or call 01280 816781.