Bringing the Heat: Under Control!

The ECU that I had previously purchased and installed in the car was and is, I’m sure, a fantastic ECU. Purchased before the car was shipped to the west coast and with many plans in place that all got tossed out the window when my idealistic and very short timeline got completely sidetracked, this put me in the spot of imposing on another tuner a project that had been developed with someone else in mind. This is not an ideal scenario.

On the west coast, I shared last year how I met AES Auto through a fellow Nissan NX enthusiast (see Upgraded NX) and how they took on the work on my NX – in mid-project – was something I greatly valued. When Paulo told me he had taken the first standalone ECU I had chosen as far as he could, I had to make a decision. I went with AES Auto. This meant abandoning the first standalone and going with AES’s chosen platform, ECUMaster. And I could not be happier.

AES tunes a lot of ECUs but ECUMaster is the preferred choice. I also want to say that these ECU’s have come out of the writer’s wallet. Often MotoIQ readers look at our project cars and think how lucky these guys are to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. And I am lucky and do not question that. However, these ECU’s came shipped via courier after payment was made. There was no silver platter. A project car is an expensive proposition in any situation and my wallet is thinner as a result. The upside, the old ECU has gone on to another project in another garage.

Paulo and Ron built the jumper harness between the NX’s engine harness and the ECUMaster ECU. It was fascinating to watch them build it – but it also gave me a headache! Wow – intricate work.

Going to the ECUMaster Classic ECU meant that a jumper harness had to be made to connect the ECU to the Nissan’s wiring harness. AES Auto had that covered and had it built in no time. Ron, an electronic’s whiz, came in and helped with the setup and soldering. Paulo then took a bit of time to ensure that all systems were being properly read before firing up the car. I am going to wax poetic here, but from this point on it was pure bliss.

2017 saw some respectable numbers, but nothing that would really impress anyone.

Last year the car went to the track with 272.2 whp – and this is on the AES Dyno which does read low. This year one of the first hard pulls put down 296 or so wheel horsepower. That made me smile but Paulo could see that I really wanted to touch 300. He was not yet finished with his work and did a couple of more pulls. The 322 whp pull really made me smile but the pull with an astonishing 356 whp allowed me a happy grin and the realization that the car was now hitting it’s potential. Paulo backed off the boost so that it is a more reasonable and just slightly over 300 whp setup.

358.6 WHP at 7000 RPM with 312.6 foot-pounds of torque – I like those numbers. It hits 300-foot pounds about 4500 RPM and doesn’t drop below it until 6200 RPM. After this run, we backed it off to a more reasonable hill climb edition of about 300 whp.

Then Paulo started getting more intricate with the ECUMaster and, as he knows my driving style he began tuning the car for me and the courses that he knows that I run. You see, AES Auto supports his customers. I have seen him out at the track – both the drag strip and road courses (including Knox Mountain Hill Climb) – watching his customers in action.

He set up the ECUMaster Classic so that it will progressively attain three boost levels throughout the throttle range. Low boost at early throttle, mid-boost during the ‘upper’ middle throttle range, and full boost above 70% throttle.

Coming through Turn 3 on the uphill climb at Knox Mountain. Constantly fighting for traction, the last thing you want is a turbo that kicks in with a huge jolt of power. The progressive boost setup based upon throttle position that is available with ECUMaster helps ensure that is not a problem. As AES has analyzed my driving style, we’ve found that I modulate the throttle a lot more than I initially thought. Photo Credit: Mike Rommel.


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