Two months ago I wrote a column regarding my thoughts about the future of eco tuning and how the Japanese have really taken to modifying hybrids. I also wrote how their success would be short-lived because modifying a car that's all about getting more mpg from its engine (instead of more horsepower) makes little to no sense. Once you hit page 42 in this issue, you're probably going to scratch your head and wonder why five pages are dedicated to a Mugen-modified, hybrid Honda CR-Z if I don't believe in eco tuning.
Just because I don't see much potential in them doesn't mean you won't. I'm open to covering new tuning technology (even if I have little faith in it), and even more so, to what readers want to see in Modified. Email your thoughts about the Mugen CR-Z and let me know if you'd like to see more stories on such hybrids or if I'm wasting precious pages on them.
All this hybrid talk did get me thinking about fuel efficiency and whether it's something we should cover a little more. Everyone is tight on money and tailpipe emissions are a growing concern. Is there interest in increasing mpg while modifying a car to make more horsepower? I'm sure there is, but it won't be cheap. Heck, it will probably cost more in the long run, which may not make it worthwhile.
When I was at a tuning session with my EVO X at Road Race Engineering, I asked Mike Welch whether or not the new tune will increase mpg. "Theoretically, it will help, but your gas mileage will decrease," he said. I looked puzzled. "It's simple, the car will be a lot more fun to drive and you'll want to step on the gas more often, so any fuel economy gains you pick up with the tune won't do you any good." And how true it was - I found myself redlining the car more often with my newfound power.
That's what it ultimately comes down to. If you want maximum mpg, then there's more gas to be saved in your driving habits than there is in tuning and parts. I also believe if you're dead set at having a car that sips gas, then buy one, but don't expect an EVO, STI, RX-7 or any other true performance car to get you the same mileage as cars that were built for the purpose of saving gas. I love my EVO X, but I realize that it will never be a 25-mpg vehicle.
It's a fact that our hobby is more about performance and power than counting mpg. If you want 400 whp out of your car, go for it, but be prepared to also pay for it at the pumps. Don't come whining to me about how much gas your car sucked on the drive out to the track because there's no sympathy coming your way.