I HAVE been reluctant to chip my Cruiser and even more reticent to remap the main engine computer.
With an electronic background in the Army and quite a few years playing in the auto field that may be hard to reconcile, but put it down to a wariness of adding more electronics to what is essentially a bush vehicle. Maybe even put it down to changing something the manufacturers have spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars and effort into developing.
I was finally convinced I should chip the 4.5-litre V8 Cruiser and it was just a matter of which electronic chip to fit. We’re spoilt for choice in Australia, with units costing anywhere from around $550 to $2000 or more.
They all profess to add more power and improve efficiency and fuel economy, and in the end I settled for a TDI Tuning ECU chip. This company hails from the UK and may be less well-known here than some other brands, but it has been making tuning boxes for a wide range of vehicles for more than 10 years. In Australia its products are distributed by Bluetooth Diesel Tuning in Port Macquarie and range in price from $895 to $1300, depending on the vehicle.
The TDI unit changes fuel and boost settings and optimises those for the engine and driving conditions. The settings can be adjusted for either economy or performance by pressing the + or - button on the keypad on the unit and shifting the settings from ‘one’ to ‘seven’. ‘One’ is the most economical while ‘seven’ will deliver the biggest increase in performance.
These units can also be activated from your phone via Bluetooth. In fact, the unit can be switched on or off – and the performance you want can be selected – from the cabin, while for cold starts you can activate a warm-up timer.
4x4 gear: Flash tuning 101
The units are easy to install, but I had it fitted by the crew at Outback 4WD in Bayswater. While the instructions say you should remove the intercooler, the experts at Outback did it much easier without that hassle, finding the required fuel and boost control plugs located behind and under the intercooler pretty quickly.
The hardest bit of the fitment was finding a suitable place to mount the unit where it was out of the way but provided easy access for when I wanted to change the settings. The setting you want can easily be changed: once the engine is running, just press the up or down button to choose the desired setting.
Figures released by TDI have – on the number ‘seven’ setting – the V8’s power increasing from 151kW to 190kW and torque improving from 430Nm to 512Nm. When using setting ‘one’ there is only a modest increase in power and torque, but fuel economy improves by 1.0L/100km.
In fact, during testing on setting ‘three’ fuel economy registered 12.0L/100km instead of around 13.5L/100km, depending on conditions. Going by the chart, the V8 is developing 182kW and 482Nm on setting ‘three’, which is a handy increase and one we can certainly feel.
Still, those fuel figures can vary widely, as I found out more recently when towing into a headwind. When towing our camper into a strong headwind on the Stuart Highway the Cruiser pulled it effortlessly but drank fuel at up to 25.0L/100km.
Get the right prep with 4x4 gear
Available from: www.bluetoothdieseltuning.com.au
RRP: $895 (70 Series Cruiser)
We Say: Worth considering if chasing a power/economy balance