Everyone loves a challenge and no one more so than the in-house engineers at Superchips. When MINI’s revised 181bhp turbocharged powerplant was launched in March last year with a new Bosch MED 17 ECU that blocks programming via the diagnostics port, they were right on it.
Out the window went Superchips’ conventional Bluefin OBD remapping and an alternative solution was found by removing the ECU from the MINI itself. Superchips’ extensive development work with this ECU that included dyno testing and on road assessments resulted in a 25bhp power increase at 5444rpm and 32Nm boost in torque at 3765rpm on an otherwise standard MINI. Modern MINI was invited along to Superchips’ Buckingham HQ to get behind the scenes and see how this extra oomph could be implemented to a customer’s stock five-month old Eclipse Grey R57 Cooper S convertible. Owner Paul Clifton (who’s had an impressive eight MINIs in two years!) was keen to see what difference this extra power could make to his everyday driving.
With the ECU removed from the Cooper S’s engine bay, Superchips used CMD Boot Kit hardware engineered by an Italian company to ‘talk’ to the MINI’s ECU. Senior technician Dave Tinsley first attached the CMD probe card to the circuit board by temporarily soldering two wires to an exact point, then the ECU was attached to a jig and the pins in the probe card lowered into the correct position on the board. This allowed a laptop to download data across and rewrite the memory of the ECU.
The whole process took little more than five minutes. The ECU was then put back inside its protective housing, screwed together and reinserted into the Cooper S’s engine. Superchips use its rolling road as a learning tool to work out a car’s limitations and out on the road as the ultimate, realistic test. Dave demonstrated why with Paul’s MINI on the dyno – it proved one major issue this turbocharged 1.6 engine suffers from – heat soak. This is caused by insufficient fresh air getting into the intercooler which in turn makes the air charge temperatures soar and reduces overall power. In comparison, out on the road with the laptop plugged into the MINI’s diagnostics port, it showed the air charge temperature sitting at a maximum of 43 degrees (instead of a whopping 80 while on the rollers) which is why Superchips prefer to use on road data. And hitting the road was where we were off to next!With Dave in the hot-seat and Paul alongside armed with Superchip’s laptop, data was collected from a specific road route that combined fast stretches of bypass perfect for a spirited run and windy country lanes. Back at HQ, Dave confirmed that all was well with Paul’s MINI but it would be over to him for the real test!
Four days later, Modern MINI caught up with Paul Clifton to find out exactly what he thought of Superchips’ remap on his familiar territory. Crucially, he reported that miles to the gallon seemed unaffected and he could happily still obtain a combined 48mpg on the motorway at 70mph with cruise control.
In terms of power gains, Paul used a 0.98-mile section of straight dual carriageway for comparable tests and found his Cooper S now reached the 60mph speed limit considerably sooner than it did before and kept on pulling hard. This makes logical sense as Superchips’ power and torque graph curve shows; the increase in low-down peak torque starts from 2000rpm and increases steeply towards 3000rpm which is the exact area where a torque boost would sharpen performance and be very noticeable.
Excerpt from Modern Mini