KPE, one of the forum sponsors, is headquartered in the Phoenix area so I dropped by to check them out last Tuesday.
KPE is a subsidiary of and shares offices with Evolution Motorsports. I was aware of Evolution Motorsports from numerous magazine articles but didn’t realize they had a facility in the Phoenix area or that KPE was a part of them.
Evolution has a huge shop with more than a dozen project cars in the works. They don’t allow pictures in the shop but I was blown away by a new R8 they were working on. Among the upgrades, they were adding multiple direct injectors to each cylinder because there are no direct injectors that can supply the fuel this car will need with just the 10 it came with! And of course there was a plethora of Porsches and the odd Mclaren, Ariel Atom (with the car engine), etc, etc..
I believe KPE started out specializing Cadillac Vs but have branched out to other Cadillac and GM models. In addition to Vs, they are pretty big in the supercharged Camaro V6 world and gaining market share with other GM models.
Evolution and KPE are partners with a company in Germany who is one of the best Bosch tuners in the world. You may be aware that some of GMs recent turbo engines used a Bosch system. They are also experts on the GM system used in the ATS and in GM’s other cars now that the Bosch system has been phased out.
That company and KPE partnered to produce a handheld tuner for GM cars. It’s called the Intelligent Power Flasher (IPF). It has some interesting characteristics I hadn’t seen before. One is that the tuner is not locked to any vehicle or even model of car. Naturally each tune is tied to a particular car. Tunes are downloaded into the IPF over the internet and can be re-downloaded at any time. That saves some times with new tunes and updates to tunes but it also allows one IPF to tune any number of cars without dedicating onboard memory to every one of them. In addition to selling IPFs, they will also rent them for a very nominal fee. Some of these features aren’t big plusses for individuals but could be huge for clubs or groups of friends with GM vehicles. There are currently IPF tunes for 30 GM models from the Sonic to the Z06 Corvette.
While I was there, KPE’s president (Jason) and sales manager (Andy) asked me if I would like an ATS tune in exchange for reporting about it on the Cadillac forums. They had sold a number of ATS tunes but none of the customers were into forums. I agreed but with the understanding I would report everything, whether good or bad AND only if the car was dynoed because advertising claims or seat of the pants estimates aren’t as useful for forums readers deciding which tune to buy. The main reason I hadn’t bought a tune already was the lack of decent dyno results for a similar car from any of the tuners.
As you would expect Evolution has a world class dyno facility capable of dynoing supercars putting out over 1000 HP. I was particularly impressed with the air flow. I’m sure theirs isn’t the only one like this but every other dyno I’ve seen in operation relied on large fans blowing air in the direction of the radiators. In addition, the cars being dynoed always had their hoods propped up to maximize cooling which was particularly annoying to see when a manufacturer was dynoing their CAI that seals against the hood in real life! Evolution’s facility has a ducted air system that seals against the front of a car and pumps air thru at high speed. They wouldn’t say how much air it would move but admitted it was over 70 MPH. Another employee commented that it would knock you down if you walked in front of it when it wasn’t stuck to the nose of a car, so I suspect it is pushing a lot of air and maybe over 100 MPH.
They were prepared to install the tune and dyno the car last Wednesday but I had a conflict so yesterday was the first time the dyno’s and my schedule matched.
When I got there I met Todd who is the president of Evolution Motorsports and who was going to do the runs himself.
It was important to get meaningful results so around a dozen pulls were done to make sure the water and air temps were the same for the final base and tuned runs AND to ensure the computer had “forgotten” its real world experiences by the time the final base run was done.
I own a Syclone and know how much the Arizona heat drains power from a turbo so was not expecting a huge gain in the 100 degree temperatures but it was at the top of the range I expected and VERY noticeable on the street afterwards. The increases are right where I want them for the street.
The dyno sheet and video are at the end of the post. The other base and tuned runs were very consistent with slight variations due to temperature and computer learning. The posted base and tuned graphs are NOT the highest numbers of either. I and I assume most people who install a tune aren’t doing it for some number on a graph but for real world performance.
At this time, KPE tunes do not let you switch between factory and KPE tune on the fly. They said their customers had not asked for that. I told them I thought it was not very important for a manual transmission car but even I would like to be able to switch on the fly, if for no other reason than for demonstrating the tune to passengers. I also said I think switching on the fly would be very important to many auto trans owners so they could turn the transmission tune on and off. They said that makes sense and they would be adding that to their tunes. I told them they should try to find a way to switch back and forth with the sport setting but that I understand another company uses cruise control for manual trans cars because those cars don’t have a transmission computer so they could not use a sport mode signal from the car to that computer to do the switch in manual trans cars.
Interestingly, they said their standard tune for manual trans ATSs like mine does produce slightly more peak torque than their auto trans tune because the auto trans is not as strong as the manual and it would be pushing the limits in the long run. They said it wasn’t much of a difference and no difference for most of the power band, just at the peak and not noticeable by seat of the pants.
The standard dyno disclaimers apply. If you aren’t familiar, dynos are different. You can’t compare results from one dyno to another, and to some extent, you can’t even rely on graphs from the same dyno under different conditions or calibration. A dyno is really only useful to compare before and after done as close as possible to each other and with meticulous attention to making ALL conditions match. You can not dyno your car and say you have more or less power than someone else who dynoed somewhere else. The closest you can come to meaningful comparisons is if you know the base runs were with identical cars (but unfortunately, cars off the assembly line don’t produce equal power), then you can compare percentage increases but even then you have to trust that the dyno operator knows what he’s doing AND doesn’t want to skew the results. Lastly, peak power and torque numbers are not as important as the “area under the curve”. That’s particularly important with turbo engines. Peak numbers are just that: a peak at a particular RPM. If you are accelerating you have to go thru a wide range of RPMs. A high peak HP loses to a lower one if the lower peak motor has a better average thru the RPMs.
On to the graph and video:
And a pic of the car waiting patiently for its turn on the dyno:
I apologize for the poor video. I have no idea why the sound is so low and the phone didn't deal with the contrast between outside and into the dyno room. And i wish I had gone around to the viewing room inside to get a video showing the awesome air system. It reminded me of a gigantic snake trying to swallow my car like some rodent it caught. LoL
And the video reminded me I wanted to comment on the fact that it was a Mustang Dyno and that they ran it in all wheel drive mode (if you were wondering why the front wheels were spinning). I don't recall all the technical reasons they had for having the rear drum spin up the front one. I understood it at the time, but I guess there was too much in my head for it all to survive 'till this morning.