The EVO is a scalpel among butter knives. Hellacious, visceral and ball busting are a few adjectives that come close to describing the Lancer Evolution driving experience. As rewarding as the EVO is out of the box, few cars make more willing boost-up partners. Our mission is to take an '06 EVO IX and make pure, reliable power with a Zen-like balance of hardware and software, and do it in a highly cost-effective manner. Best of all, our endeavor will also show techniques that relate to modding almost every turbo car. Boost junkies, pay attention.
Flash Of Genius
With so much talk on the horsepower Mitsubishi left at the stable regarding the EVO's stock tune, we elected to flash tune our car while in stock form to illustrate what horsepower gains your car can achieve with a $200 flash tune alone [see side bar, next page]. English Racing's Lucas English and Aaron O'Neal served as a soundboard throughout the process, flashing our EVO's stock ECU to new power levels using Tactrix, EcuFlash and EvoScan. Tactrix is the hard-part connection to the ECU, EcuFlash is the software that talks to the ECU, and EvoScan provides in-depth datalogging of critical parameters.
"There has been a paradigm shift; the old way of piggyback fuel computers is obsolete," says English Racing's Aaron O'Neal. "With modern technology, the ECU works more like a flash drive you'd buy at Best Buy. We can download, examine and rewrite the stock chip virtually an unlimited amount of times before any issues arise. We have access to all the fuel, ignition and MIVEC maps, with full programmability and not just a percentage of this or that." A quick reflash and dyno tune netted our EVO with 274.5 hp and 267.8 lb-ft of torque-an increase of 8.5 whp and 3.4 lb-ft of torque over our. Upon completion, we re-flashed the ECU back to stock and broke out the wrenches to begin our budget build.
Cone Filters vs. Intake Kits
There are four basic types of intake upgrades: drop-in panel replacements, add-on cone filter kits, short-ram kits, and cold-air kits. Sporadic idling has been attributed to short-ram and cold-air kits that replace the factory piping with hard pipe-if the hard pipe promotes vibrations that confuse the air meter, it can send a false signal. "Also, the length and shape of the piping affect how the air moves through the MAFS, and can cause a choppy idle, inaccurate fueling, can make the car stall-prone, etc.," says Lucas English. "If the short-ram doesn't have enough curve, or too much curve, it will affect the vortices in the MAFS at slower air speeds. The filter can also contribute to these problems. A closed, flat-top cone filter hinders vortices to the meter, while an open-top filter allows the air better access to the metering element. The Vibrant-type filter used in the Buschur add-on cone filter kit, and those included with AEM and K&N kits work awesome."
Going with a cone filter on our EVO IX was one of its best mods. Think about airflow and the harsh effects of restricting it. With a few exceptions, drop-in panel filters can't match the flow capacity of cone-type replacements, and factory airboxes stamp out most audible evidence that you have a turbo under the hood-and who doesn't like to hear turbos spooling and bypass valves venting?
Using an add-on cone filter kit on an EVO has many advantages over a pipe-and-filter system, short-ram, or cold-air system. The bypass valves in EVO IXs are much improved over those in VIIIs and do not hiccup when the boost is increased. Since there is no need to upgrade the BOV, it makes sense to leave the stock piping intact. Most importantly, a cone setup is about a third of the cost of entry-level short-ram kits.
The Buschur Racing cone filter system was a snap to install, and audibly brought the car to life and pushed peak output to 280 hp-a 14-horse jump. A flash update netted an additional two wheel horses and smoothed the graph, offering 282 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque.
Before purchasing an exhaust, decide which best suits your vehicle. Noise level, construction, piping diameter, weight, appearance, muffler chambering, cat-back or turbo-back are some of the bigger factors to consider. We elected to go with Greddy's Racing Ti-C, featuring 80mm stainless piping, a polished stainless-steel canister and a heat-treated titanium tip. Greddy claims its testing netted a lower-than-94db sound rating, its straight-through design makes more power, and fit and finish are second to none-all without breaking the bank.
The Greddy unit sounds awesome when the 4G63 is under duress. However, it can drone a bit at cruising speeds in Fourth gear. The key is to get into Fifth, because from 2,200 to 3,500 rpm the system purrs like a kitten. More sound suppression can be had by installing the included silencer. Drift-Office manned the Dynojet in testing the Ti-C, and the Ti-C and with an English Racing tune, upped the ante to 288 hp-a six-horsepower jump over our gains with just the Buschur filter. Peak output was recorded at 288 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque.
Flash tuning pays instant dividends on the EVO IX platform. To illustrate this numerically, we flashed the car in stock form and baselined at 266 hp at 20 psi. The flash netted a peak gain of eight hp, which is nothing to sneeze at, but deep in the run where the engine is factory tuned at a stiflingly rich 10:1 air/fuel ratio, English Racing gained an impressive 48 hp by trimming the fuel maps. The English Racing flash also increases rev-limit, adds a valet mode and turns the check engine light (CEL) into a knock warning light, that illuminates when a knock count of three is realized using EvoScan software. The accompanying photo shows the knock counter and other streaming data ready for a dyno pull.
|English Racing Flash:||$200|
|+HP [Max]:||48 hp @ 7,100 rpm|
Spoolin' and Droolin'
Boost control is a big savings opportunity for the budget-minded boostaholic. If you plan to keep things reasonable (i.e. stock turbo and stock injectors), and won't be boosting more than an additional five or six pounds, go manual. A whopping 80- to 90-percent savings in cost can be realized.
EVOs have a boost spike at initial spool-up, at which point the turbo tapers boost pressure as the engine progresses through its rev range. "Typically, the boost spike is resultant of the controller being used," says O'Neal. "Manual boost controllers using a ball and spring will spike because of the dynamics involved. Some electronics will mimic the factory spike while others can be used to tune the boost curve relatively flat."
"Boost taper results from the turbocharger running out of breath. A stock EVO's turbo is really too small to make much more than 22 psi at redline without some really aggressive modifications to the turbocharger and intake."
A Hallman Pro RX boost controller could be the best $89 ever spent on an EVO. It features a ceramic ball and stiffer spring not offered in other manual boost controllers. And like all Hallman units, it sports a slick aluminum body, easy-to-use adjustment knob and comes in an assortment of colors.
Lucas English dialed-in the Pro RX to 25 peak pounds of pressure, tapering to 19. With the EcuFlash generating conservative air/fuel ratios of 12.2:1 to 12.4:1, Lucas was able to coax 318 hp and 299 lb-ft of torque from the 4G63. That's a 52hp peak gain and a whopping 75hp improvement at 7,100 rpm.
Test pipes or cat deletes are an express train to power, making them bang-for-the-buck standouts. Installation of a test pipe only requires a few bolts, but the ECU may need to be tweaked to run without firing a CEL, and/or falling into limp mode.
The test-pipe fitted to our EVO eliminated a big restriction, resulting in better spool-up and a higher peak boost of 26 psi, versus 25.12 with the factory cat. On the rollers, the EVO responded with an impressive 327.59 hp, aided by a few ECU tweaks from O'Neal.
The proper gap for spark plugs on an EVO.
The EVO ECU pulls one degree of ignition timing for every three counts of knock.
Fuel pump rating difference, in liters per hour, between a stock EVO IX (225 lph) and stock EVO VIII (190 lph).
Size (cc/min) of stock EVO VIII and IX injectors.
|Buschur Cone Intake||$80|
|Short-ram / cold-air||$239 - $475|
|Potential savings||$159 - $395|
|GReddy Ti-C Exhaust||$489|
|other Cat-back exhaust||$470- $1,395|
|Potential savings||-$19 - $906|
|Hallman Pro RX MBC||$89|
|Electronic Boost Controller||$410 - $769|
|Potential savings||$321 - $680|
|Helix Test Pipe||$99|
|other Test Pipes||$70 - $126|
|Potential savings||-$29 - $27|
|English Racing Flash||$200|
|Piggyback computer||$327 - $616|
|Stand-alone EMS||$1,600 - $3,000|
|Potential savings||$127 - $416|
|Potential Boost-Up Savings||$1,400 - $2,397|
2NR Boost Stimulus Package
A breakdown of the cost for each additional horsepower generated at the wheels of our Evo IX.
|Boost-up +HP [Peak]||61 hp|
|Boost-up +HP [Max]||81 hp at 7,100 rpm|
Tales Of The Tape
Our array of penny-pinching power mods resulted in a total gain of 61.58 hp and a max gain of 81 hp at 7,100 rpm. Torque production checks in at 300.24 lb-ft-a 33 lb-ft gain-with a maximum gain of 82 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm.
An incredible amount of gain for less than a grand.