TOYOTA RAV4, 4-spd auto

Developing an electronic performance enhancer for the RAV4 was no easy chore - firstly because its standard Toyota ECU is one of those made 'unchippable' by the manufacturer, and secondly because it's an all-terrain-vehicle. The only problem this presents is in taking care that any modification is not too extreme, making the vehicle untractable in those occasional situations when it is used off road.

THE CHIP

The so-called 'unchippable' ECU is generally a fully sealed unit - it can't be opened, altered, added to or changed. If it goes wrong, you replace it!

But where there's a will, there's a way anf tapping into technology developed overseas, Powerchip ICON. The ICON is a high

performance engine management system which can be connected to the standard ECU by a four wire connection, which will then interface with the host board.

The ICON intercepts ignition pulses from the vehicle's own ECU and recalculates them using an ignition map developed for the vehicle.

The ICON uses the latest PIC micro-controller which runs at more than four times the speed of the Original Equipment ECU, calculating a new ignition and advance pulse for each and every spark.

The result is more mid-range torque, added throttle response and power increases of up to 10 percent. The ICON is also re-programmable, so it can be readjusted to maximise the benefits of other modifications, as and

when they are made. In the case of the RAV4, which was fitted only with an ICON and no other modifications, power is increased from 96 to 106kW and torque jumps from 180 to 195Nm - particularly in the important 3200-to-4500rpm range. The ICON retails for $750.00

THE TEST

Most noticeable was the RAV's improved tractability at low rpms... something which will translate to real value in off road situations. While power increases were only minimal, the vehicle was nevertheless far more responsive, smoother and faster both in drive and when changing the auto shift manually.

Surprisingly large gains for relatively small improvements and certainly a cost effective performance gain.

TOYOTA RAV4, 4-spd auto
Std Powerchip
60-100km/h (Drive) 7.95 7.00
80-120km/h (Drive) 12.86 10.81

1990 HONDA INTEGRA, 1.8-litre, auto

It's nice to get a older vehicle that's been well cared for and see someone put a little effort to keep it right on the pace. This car was fitted with a Powerchip and a ram pod air filter assembly; and the suspension had been lowered and the springs retuned.

A very pleasant package.

THE CHIP

The Powerchip for this car was designed for improved driveability and a power

increase of around 10 percent. It removes Honda's 'economiser' fuel overrun cutoff program for a much smoother feel in traffic and at low revs. Dyno figures show 11 extra kilowatts (up from 103 to 114) and slight increases in torque, up to 183Nm. Standard pricing: $650.00 for the chip alone.

THE TEST

With the changes made to it, the Integra is a very pleasant car to drive.

Noticeable improvement in passing speeds; smoother through the gears and a 'happy' exhaust note. The addition of the new chip also got rid of a nasty flat spot.

With its lowered and retuned suspension, the Integra was an absolute delight to drive on the Calder circuit.

This is a typical example of how a Chip or Chip-package can provide significant benefits for older (but fuel injected) Japanese cars.

1990 HONDA INTEGRA, 1.8-litre, auto
Std
Powerchip
60-100km/h (Drive)
5.60
5.21
80-120km/h (Drive)
7.50
6.99
Power
103kW
114kW
Torque
170Nm
183Nm
Australian Road & Track

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