The last step of “round 1 of Miata mods” is the ECU tuning. The thing with many modern engines is that throwing parts at them doesn’t do too much for them without the proper adjustment of the ECU to take advantage of the new parts. As you know the car now features a CorkSport Cat Back Exhaust system and their Cold Air Intake, but to get the most out of it, and not just the audio gains (although I greatly enjoy the audio gains) I wanted to tune the ECU. After talking to a few different perfomance shops and some of the #19 cars sponsors we decided that utilizing ECUtek was the best way to go since they had racerom functionality and the most in depth tuning solution for the ND Miata. Naturally we needed a tuner to utilize our ECUTek hardware and Orange Virus Tuning came highly recommended (they are no longer taking on new Mazda customers as they have simplified their offerings but they are taking great care of us none the less). It was time to see what a solid tune could do to to further waken up our ND Miata.
After the initial reflash I was very excited to see how the car performed and I immediately took the car out for a long, spirited, drive. As per the Orange Virus Tuning instructions I needed to first drive the car for fifty miles to allow the ECU to get used to the new calibration, then I would be able to rip on it and see what it can do. The fifty mile drive was easy enough as I had to run a few errands and get to a restaurant for lunch that was a bit further away. Finally, having hit the mark I entered the freeway and I immediately slammed the gas pedal to the ground. Wow, the car felt much more alive, and felt to have less of a power dip in the middle (a complaint about the car in stock form). The car was no slouch before, but with the intake and exhaust now accompanied with a reflash it definitely had more grunt to it. The reflash was without a doubt a worth while modification. The biggest thing that amazes me outside of the performance of the car was the fact that even with the added parts, the tune and with me driving it like I stole it, I have still been averaging a crazy thirty five miles per gallon in mixed city and highway driving situations. This is the same number that I was averaging in my mind numbingly boring Honda Fit that I had as a commuter car. This was completely unbelievable to me as I was getting the same MPGs but having an infinitely greater amount of fun. The Orange Virus Tune utilizing ECUTek was simply amazing and is highly recommended for the ND.
Outside of the obvious and highly welcomed performance gains the other thing that stuck out to me was the awesomeness of the ECUTek hardware. Having tuned multiple cars before I found the ECUTek approach to be quite awesome. The new bluetooth OBD2 Port dongle was a great convenience in a small car allowing me to run less cables when datalogging (you still need to plug the cable in to flash tunes with a laptop but can now log via smart phone app and bluetooth connection). Also the app allowed for map switching and the utilization or racerom features such as auto blip down shift, flat footed shifting, launch control and so on. The audo blip down shifts I found to work quite well and I especially enjoyed having access to launch control. The ECUTek smartphone app (available on Apple and Android) is quite intuitive and easy to use and features many great tools such as performance calculators, live monitoring, error code inspection and clearing and many other features (some features require tune activation and other features are model specific).
Having just finished tuning the car with Orange Virus Tuning (after a complete custom tune featuring multiple revisions) I am extremely happy with the cars performance, power under the curve, increased redline, new features and overall better drivability as well as fuel efficiency. The tune really unlocked the full potential of the car and all of its new parts and has managed to keep me happy with the amount of power that the car currently makes. So much so that it has convinced me to hold off on adding forced induction for the foreseeable future (remember there is no point in having a car that far exceeds the drivers limits, spend the money on more training and track time practicing to improve the driving skill so that you can actually drive the car to its limits, then modify the car again once the driver skill exceeds its ability). For now the Naturally Aspirated power will be more than enough.
Long story short it’s simple, if you drive a make or model of car that ECUTek supports and you need a way to tune it, look no further as ECUTek will provide you with the exact hardware and software that you need to get the most out of your car. Go check them out, I know that I am glad that I did. As for Orange Virus Tuning, well they have made their way to mostly tuning Toyotas, so if you own one of those, especially the newer ones, make sure to hit up Mat at Orange Virus so that he can help you get the most out of your car too. I am super excited to see how this new tune helps us in the upcoming race season and how it reduces our lap times.