Nowadays "e" is affixed to everything from e-mail to e-commerce, and that added letter brings with it added improvement. The latest e-improvement is the GReddy e-Manage Ultimate.
The e-Manage was slated as GReddy's first PC-tunable piggyback engine management system. This unit filled the gap between the stock ECU and a full standalone engine management system. Although the original e-Manage had much to offer, the engineers went back to the drawing board and took their e-Manage to the next level: the e-Manage Ultimate.
At first glance, the Ultimate looks like the black chrome counterpart to the original blue e-Manage. Physical dimensions are the same, but you'll notice some significant differences. While retaining all of the best features of the original e-Manage, this unit sports more flexible fuel and ignition maps, the ability to switch between two different tuning maps (i.e. street tune and race tune), an increased number of input and output ports and a more comprehensive multichannel data-logging system. Gone are the rotary dials that occupied one side of the ECU. The updated chassis has a USB-B port, which can be used to link any USB 1.1-compliant cable to one's computer, two optional sensor ports, dip switches that activate specific fuel and ignition maps and accessory ports. Since the tuning software is bundled, you'll only need to purchase the harness kit.
As with the original e-Manage, the Ultimate uses both the 12- and 18-pin harnesses, and adds a 14-pin harness. The additional harness taps into several tuning and data-logging sensors, including knock, water temperature, crank angle, intake air temperature and vehicle speed sensors. If you want to upgrade from the original to the Ultimate, you can reuse your existing harnesses and buy the additional 14-pin harness separately.
The installation isn't for the novice tuner, because it requires electrical wiring experience to avoid potentially damaging your new e-Manage Ultimate or your vehicle's ECU and sensors. While the unit is universal, you must configure its circuit board to match your vehicle's specific sensor combination. Like the harnesses, if this isn't done correctly, the vehicle's electrical system and possibly the e-Manage will be damaged. Luckily, you can access the circuit board by simply removing one of the end plates and the two screws on the bottom of the chassis. This gives you full access to all 20 jumper options and allows you to configure them to work with your vehicle.
We tested the Ultimate on a turbocharged 1994 Acura Integra GS-R. While wiring into your stock harness is rarely a pleasant experience, we found the wiring harness is comprised primarily of bullet connectors, which make it possible to return your wiring harness back to stock without breaking a sweat. Pay close attention to the instructions, since it's very easy to get confused with so many wires running around. Then install the e-Manage Ultimate support tool software onto your laptop. Plug in your USB cable, connect it to your computer and turn your ignition back on. Once you see the word "online" in the lower corner, you're in business.
Before you can start tweaking your fuel and ignition maps, you need to set the software parameters for your specific vehicle. They are important and detailed questions, so don't be too anxious to tune before you've done your homework. There are 11 set up tabs in the set up menu, starting with "vehicle." The software is so specific, it actually has a comprehensive engine list that includes practically every Japanese performance engine. Once you've selected your engine model, the software pre-populates the remaining fields with engine-specific parameters. When you've gone through, viewed and configured all the different tabs, you're finally ready to start tuning.
The Ultimate has a myriad of features and adjustments you can control. For starters, you have tuning power over 16x16-cell fuel, ignition and airflow maps. The maps are based on sensor voltage vs. rpm. Both scale and sensor choice are adjustable. You can tune the throttle position sensor, airflow pressure, the optional GReddy pressure sensor and relative or absolute pressure. Since our test Integra wasn't factory turbocharged, we elected to use the GReddy pressure sensor, which is capable of handling up to 3.0bar of boost. Our stock MAP sensor would have thrown a check engine light as soon as we hit boost, because it wasn't designed to read it. We used the boost limiter-cut feature to set a voltage clamp on the stock MAP sensor to prevent it from throwing codes. The Ultimate can make adjustments to your choice of tuning parameters based on the GReddy pressure sensor.
There are even more nitpicky tuning maps you can program based on different sensors, such as vehicle speed, water temperature and intake air temperature. For ultimate refinement, you can tune each cylinder individually, and you can tune based on vehicle acceleration.
If your daily driver is a track star on the weekends, you'll want to take advantage of the secondary fuel and ignition maps that are accessible by a couple of switches. As simple as flicking a toggle switch, the e-Manage can go from a street-tuned, pump-gas workhorse to a race-tuned C16 thoroughbred. This feature will save you a boatload of time and money, since you won't have to retune your ride each time you go to compete on race gas.
The optional ports on the Ultimate give you the flexibility to add sensors (such as the GReddy pressure sensor and a wide band air/fuel meter) that the stock ECU doesn't usually employ. Additionally, there is a serial port that you can link to any of the GReddy warning meter series of gauges.
Another handy feature is the improved integrated monitoring, map tracing and data logging. Whichever features you selected in the set up screen can be monitored and data logged in the datalog screen. Also, with the map trace feature active, the software will highlight the cells of any of the maps that you have opened on the screen. These features make tuning a little easier and give you a better idea of what your car is doing.
One of the coolest features on the Ultimate is the self-tuning air/fuel target map. When you program one of the accessory ports to read your air/fuel ratio, you can plug in a wideband A/F meter into that port and utilize the A/F target map feature. The target map helps speed up initial tuning by building a base map around air/fuel ratios you prescribe for specific rpm ranges. However, this self-tuning feature shouldn't replace an engine tuner. GReddy states that its A/F target map program is conservative, building you a fuel-rich base map to start from. You will still need to fine-tune the fuel map, but at least it can be established with less effort. If you aren't familiar with fuel tuning on the dyno, invest in your local tuning shop. Without a dyno and tuning know-how, you could do some serious damage to your engine.
GReddy has left a serious mark on the piggyback fuel computer market. With the Ultimate's tuning flexibility and data-logging capabilities, this system can do what many standalone systems can, but at a fraction of the cost. With an MSRP of $680 for the e-Manage Ultimate and $120 for the Ultimate harness, you get a lot of bang for the buck. Grab it, and get tuning!