Lotus Elise and Exige “Plug & Play” Performance ECU
Torque Developments International at last has a Lotus Elise and Exige “plug & play” performance ECU for the Toyota powered cars. The key to obtaining optimum performance from any engine is the engine control unit (known as “ECU” in common parlance). This enables precise calbration of the engine control functions in order to achieve maximum torque effectively and safely, and to optimize the other drive-cycle conditions (or “softer issues”) such as transient throttle response, cruise, idle etc which determine whether the car drives and behaves nicely.
The Toyota 2ZZ engine is quite an interesting power plant in that the intake and exhaust port designs are such that very careful consideration to the engine calibration is necessary in order to yield satisfactory results. The Lotus Elise and Exige fitted with the Toyota 2ZZ powertrain responds very well to ECU tuning, but has been relatively difficult to accomplish until now, being previously constrained to “reflashes” (1) and hard wired stand-alone ECU solutions (2).
Having had considerable success with hard wired stand alone ECU solutions such as Syvecs, we were in a good position to evaluate a new “plug and play” ECU from the Australian company Simply Sports cars. Designated their “PiP” ECU (an acronymn for Plug in Performance) as it plugs into the standard connectors and fits to the standard mounting points.
The PiP ECU is rich with the following features:
- Direct replacement for the factory ECU (simple plug and play to reduce installation cost)
- CANBUS functions retained (so that it doesn’t interfere with the dashboard or other OE functions)
- Full control over fuel, ignition, cam timing, throttle etc (enables precise tuning)
- Fully adjustable traction control (for improved safety, performance and fun!)
- Flex fuel ready (for automatic fuel type recognition between gasoline and bio fuels )
- Expansion port for additional inputs/outputs (for 5th injector, flex fuel sensor, wastegate control etc)
- Cabin mounted compact data port for laptop interface (for serial connectivity for option peripheries etc)
- Robust CNC machined hermetically sealed casing (for added durability and weather-proofing)
- Two models to suit drive by wire and throttle cable variants
- Suitable for naturally aspirated and forced induction applications
Here’s the PiP ECU and associated components that arrive in the kit. You get the ECU itself, the compact cabin mounted data port with traction control adjuster and it’s wiring harness, and a USB cable:
Here’s the compact data port with traction control adjuster knob. The adjustment is useful to optimize the permitted slip between wet and dry weather, different tyre compounds, road or race application etc. “Vanilla” settings are pre-loaded but further optimization is possible via the software:
Here’s the high quality communication cable harness for the data port:
For this project we’re using a 2009 supercharged model fitted with factory traction control. Installation of the ECU and associated components is relatively simple as the PiP ECU itself mounts to the original mounts in the original location, then the data cable is passed though the bulkhead, the seat and inner trim panel is removed to run the PiP wiring harness run to the new data port/traction control panel which is mounted between the seats. All in all, the installation time should take no more than 1.5 hours.
Here’s the PiP ECU mounted in the original location:
This particular car already has traction control so the adjuster knob is not necessary. Here’s the compact data port fitted, without TC adjuster knob:
Installation complete, the engine fires up first time on the pre-installed map so it’s off to the dyno cell for full calibration.
Opening the PiP software suite provides us with access to the engine and traction control control functions:
Here’s some images of the Lotus on our Rototesthub dyno being tuned:
Calbration/tuning complete, we’re pleased to report an impressive yield of 276.2hp and 177.1 lb/ft (DIN), and those familiar with the normal torque curve of the Toyota 2ZZ may be suprized by how smooth and linear the shape of it is which was made possible by this ECU.
An interesting feature is the provision of flex fuel capability. With the addition of a sensor in the fuel tank, the ECU is able to determine whether gasoline or bio fuel is being used, and will automatically compensate the air/fuel ratio (AFR).
Aside from the obvious performance advantages of the PiP ECU solution, the addition of traction control is another very compelling proposition, especially when you consider that it comes for free with this package which would otherwise cost approximately £1000 to install as a separate stand-alone entity.
For those interested in the PiP ECU, it’s available in the following two variants:
The price of the PiP ECU kit is £1695 plus Vat. The installation and tuning costs vary according to the application regardless of throttle actuation:
- Naturally aspirated installation and tuning £460 plus Vat
- Forced induction installation and tuning £585 plus Vat
The above prices include the pre-installed traction control calbration, but further refinement is possible if required.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discover what the PiP ECU can do for your 2ZZ Lotus.
Glassary: (1) A “reflash” is normally a generic re-coding of the standard ECU, mostly done remotely which means that the results are often a best guess at how the engine should be tuned. (2) A hard wired stand-alone ECU is one which replaces the original ECU but requires the harness to be rewired to suit the new ECU.
Please note that prices may vary.
One very happy Lotus: