Injection Cars - Tuning up-date 

It has been a long time between my first few words on basic injection car tuning and these - for that I apologise, but business has been unbelievably fraught this year. I did promise regular and frequent up-dates, but the best laid plans, and all that… As I said, business has been more than brisk. 
OK, so what's happened to the Min Tec/Mini Spares development program? Apart from a whole lot of investigation and repetitive research into what's available currently - not that much. It is all hinging on this forthcoming ECU from this particular company. Unfortunately the company concerned is not run by businessman or automotive engineers. They are electronics whiz kids who are trying to achieve the Holy Grail. Essentially they have come up with a system that will plug into the very sophisticated and complex MEMS-type ECU system and work using all the standard sensors, for what is going to be a very comparably favourable price. The problem is they are determined to make the ECU fit as many cars as possible prior to release. Now, as is very obvious, manufacturers are turning out new cars all the time… We have tried explaining to them the merits of releasing the 'MK1' version to re-coup a great deal of their fiscal investment, then the 'MK2' when new cars are detected requiring it, and so on. So far it's fallen on stony ground. But I believe we are getting through…the first of the prototypes has been here in UK on test for several months and has performed excellently and reliably. There were a few minor hitches, but they will be straightened out quickly and easily. To try and force the time frame, the guy here in the UK that is going to be the distributor (Mini Spares will have sole distributorship for the Mini) and has been doing all the testing and assistance in development has just gone out to the country concerned to get all the kinks ironed out and try to influence the launch date. 
Keeping a weather eye on what others are offering has thrown up some interesting claims. Before considering this - remember our goal is to produce an ECU that will plug into the standard wiring loom, using all the standard sensors (keeps costs down and far easier for DIY application) at an affordable price for the improvements it could make. So we are looking at about £400. 
I have had a great many enquiries about some of the recent advertised claims from various quarters too. Whilst my general reply is 'contact them and ask the questions, I thought it may be useful to convey my superficial thoughts… 
There have been some interesting claims on what folk are achieving. Whilst I am well aware that there are other ECUs on the market being touted for the Mini - a moments contemplation and enquiring phone calls soon bring to light the main issues; they are not cost effective and not simple to fit/use. There is one being sold at £350. Not bad. BUT, it does not use all the standard sensors at all, needs a shutter wheel and pick-up mounting on the crank pulley (not at all an easy thing to do, especially as it needs to be absolutely spot-on to have any chance of triggering the ECU properly), and will require dynoing to set the ECU data. Just the ECU and hardware necessary brings that seemingly low cost figure up to around £750. Plus dyno time for mapping… So we're looking at more like £1,000, more likely £1,200. Oops. No cheaper than the dedicated Lumenition ECU developed for Downton then… £750 plus mapping… Makes the other real alternative from Webcon look a good deal; at least is has been very extensively tried and tested - proven to be ultra-reliable - and has a wide spread dealer network and back-up capability. Still out of our target though. 
By way of a superb illustration of the real cost effectiveness of one of these kits, Car and Car Conversions did an article on one company's offering…Utilising an Omex ECU and hardware, a 1380cc engine with 286 cam, modified head, and their version of an injection throttle body to replace the standard one they are claiming 135bhp and 120lb ft… That is mightily impressive horsepower from what appears to be a single intake (much along the lines of a single 1.75" SU) on a SU-ish intake manifold. I'd have to see it to believe it…and the cost? A mere £4,000-ish…Hmmm. Allowing, say, £1700 for the engine build - that's £2,300 for the other gubbins! And I'd be really surprised if 135bhp is the real output. Be far cheaper to stick a normally aspirated 1380 in from one of the more experienced A-series specialists with a good, solid 100bhp and 95lb ft torque - about all you need to have big fun in a Mini. And £2,300-ish for an extra 'claimed' 35bhp. Hmm. 
And how 'real' are those claims likely to be? Only witnessing such an engine producing such power would be definite confirmation, so then it's down to 'scruples' I guess. How to judge? The company illustrated above claims in it's advert that they are getting this 135bhp and 122lb ft torque from their stage 3, 1380cc, Kent 276 profiled cam, injected engine - not the 286, stage 4 headed detailed above when in the CCC article the figures given for the stage 3, 276-cammed motor is only a claimed 115bhp/100lb ft torque. Some wool-pulling there or what? As this advert has been run like this for many months - I really can't see it as a genuine mis-print! 
But you could have something more basic from their range - what is generally described as a 'GSi' kit (head, 1.5 rockers, exhaust system and bits), plus just the Omex ECU and hardware but retaining the standard injection set-up. Result? They claim 85bhp - entirely feasible, but then that's what is generally achieved with the better 'GSi' kits alone, but has cost an extra £750 for the ECU and bits - and it isn't clear whether this includes mapping or not… 
The aforementioned 'big power' kit utilises an already available throttle body from a company called 'Jenvey'. They've been around for some time, and are generally regarded as being pretty good. However, we are looking at producing something that will hopefully be that bit better and specifically designed for our venerable A-series to squeeze the most out of it. What point is there trying to do less? Production of said items has been slow, largely because those doing the work (me included) have to earn a crust at the same time. Unlike major manufacturers we do not have a multi-million pound budget with dedicated facilities and personal… 
So my findings are still pretty much unchanged - there are alternatives, but they are not at all economical or cost effective, nor possibly all that they are claimed to be. And certainly not within the realms of what we are trying to achieve. I am really hoping to have something more concrete to offer early in the New Year. 
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