As I sit behind my computer, staring at a blank computer screen, I ponder the evolutionary history of automotive electronics, thinking back to the earlier days of import cars and the limited technology that was offered. In the early '90s, turbocharged Honda's began rearing their ugly heads, terrorizing the public highways and local drag strips with their newfound horsepower. Proud owners of these force-fed machines found themselves experimenting with aftermarket fuel computers equipped with what's now considered to be an outdated DOS program. Not only were these standalone fuel computers a costly upgrade, but they proved to be difficult to tune and overly complex for the average enthusiast-until A'PEXi came to the rescue.
A'PEXi revolutionized the import tuning market with a compact sub-computer known as the AFC. Equipped with a VFD (Vacuum Florescent Display) lit screen and four-button interface; the A'PEXi AFC gave both novice and expert tuners the ability to modify the vehicle's air flow meter/pressure sensor signal voltage going to the factory ECU (Engine Control Unit), adversely changing the amount of fuel injected. Most importantly, the AFC enabled vehicles to fire larger size injectors without stumbling on their faces. Success followed in the footsteps of the AFC as copycat manufacturers began selling their own piggy-back versions over the next few years but never in comparison to the success of the AFC. With an influx of turbo cars hitting the market such as the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi EVO, it's more important than ever for enthusiasts who sport numerous bolt-on products, such as aftermarket filtration and exhaust mods, to require alterations to their air/fuel ratio knowing that these cars tend to run on the rich side, affecting overall performance.
At this year's Tokyo Auto Salon in January, A'PEXi debuted a newly redesigned Air Flow Converter known as the AFC Neo. Consider the Neo a hybrid of sorts as this piggy back fuel controller incorporates both previous model S-AFC and V-AFC functions into one simple-to-use unit. At first glance, the Neo's exterior is already generations ahead of its previous models with its easy-to-read, full-screen color LED, interchangeable button and background colors and sleek gloss black casing. While exterior amenities are appealing, the more tech-savvy individuals ponder the thought of whether to consider purchasing this new unit. Tuning options have been upgraded with the Neo as 32 points of tuning (16 low and 16 high) overpower the previous AFC II unit, which used 24 points or 12 low and 12 high.
A scroll through the main menu options on the controller will send you to a mode select screen in which the user has the option of selecting between "easy" mode and "pro" mode. The easy mode feature boasts an eight-point low and high adjustable fuel curve while the pro mode can custom tailor your tuning with a sixteen-point low and high adjustable fuel curve that can be set in 500 RPM increments-versus 8 and 12 on the earlier AFC and AFC-II, respectively; a serious upgrade when looking to fine-tune your engine. Tune ability has never been easier with the AFC NEO as its older model, the AFC II, required end users to toggle between the low and high throttle correction rate screen. The AFC Neo can be programmed with its air map graph still requiring toggling between low and high or the air map numerical tables which display both low and high settings on one simple-to-read screen.
History recalls it was A'PEXi who introduced the first digital fuel computer that combined fuel computer functions with a VTEC engagement controller, so naturally, it was no surprise that they took their success and combined both AFC and V-AFC functions into one unit. The integrated VTEC Controller can be independently adjusted at two specific set points when the engine switches from the Lo to Hi cam during acceleration, as well as when the engine switches from the Hi to Lo cam during deceleration. Equipped with V/T unmatch to adjust the air map settings correctly when the ECU recognizes the low cam but the high cam is selected and visa versa. V/T unmatch has a maximum adjustable value of +/-50 percent.
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AFC Neo has followed suit in packing its unit with the same popular display monitoring features as the previous models. The Neo is able to display an array of features including RPM, throttle, battery voltage, correction percentage, air-flow percentage, boost pressure, Karmann and VTEC. With an MSRP of $469.00 and a street price of $380.00, the A'PEXi AFC Neo is a logical alternative to those high-priced fuel computers.