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SA­FARI has launched its in­no­va­tive and so­phis­ti­cated Armax Per­for­mance ECU sys­tem. One hun­dred per cent designed and man­u­fac­tured in Australia, the all-new ECU sys­tem utilises M1 tech­nol­ogy and, gen­er­ally speak­ing across most ap­pli­ca­tions, can safely hike power by 20 to 25 per cent and torque by 30 to 35 per cent.

The state-of-the-art sys­tem is packed with a num­ber of key fea­tures – none more im­por­tant than its IP68 rat­ing, mak­ing it im­per­vi­ous to dust and wa­ter (and op­er­a­ble at one me­tre un­der­wa­ter). How­ever, there’s no point hav­ing an Ip68-rated unit if the wiring loom, con­nec­tors, ter­mi­nals and caps are sus­cep­ti­ble to wa­ter and dust ingress.

“Ob­vi­ously, if we were go­ing to make a unit that was Ip-rated then we had to have ev­ery other part of the sys­tem be equiv­a­lent, oth­er­wise we have a weak link,” said Duane Evans, Sa­fari’s En­gi­neer­ing Direc­tor. “All of the con­nec­tors in our wiring sys­tem are Ip-rated, the ca­ble is Ip-rated, and the ter­mi­nals are all full-ma­chine crimped, which are all in­di­vid­u­ally pull-tested. We have dual-layer pro­tec­tion like an OE wiring loom does, and even the com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­ble has an Ip-rated cap on it.”

Sa­fari ex­pects the wiring loom to last the life of the ve­hi­cle, and the same can be said of the brack­etry which is sup­plied with the kit as stan­dard. “The brack­etry is ve­hi­cle-spe­cific, the same as the wiring loom,” Evans said. “It fea­tures stain­less steel hard­ware and dual-layer cor­ro­sion pro­tec­tion which in­cludes zinc-plat­ing and pow­der­coat­ing.”

Of the unit, Evans added: “Part of the unit’s make-up is a bil­let alu­minium base that’s designed to act as a heat sink, so we can con­trol the tem­per­a­ture very ac­cu­rately in­side the ECU.”

An­other in­te­gral part of the ECU sys­tem is the unit’s Ex­haust Gas Tem­per­a­ture (EGT) con­trol, which con­stantly mon­i­tors tem­per­a­tures at all times. “EGT con­trol is stan­dard on ev­ery kit and it’s one of the key fea­tures the unit of­fers,” ex­plained Evans. “Ex­ces­sive EGT is a killer for diesel en­gines; it’s like det­o­na­tion to a petrol en­gine. It will kill that en­gine in a short space of time, or its life­span will be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced.”

By mon­i­tor­ing EGT, the sys­tem will pro­tect the en­gine if tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing at an un­safe rate, but, as Evans told us, “in gen­eral ev­ery­day driv­ing you’ll never ex­pe­ri­ence the EGT sys­tem work­ing – it’ll con­stantly be work­ing, but it’ll never ac­tu­ally do any­thing ex­cept in rare cir­cum­stances”.

The unit’s map se­lec­tion switch has been car­ried over from the orig­i­nal unit. How­ever, the ma­jor dif­fer­ence with the new unit is that it can now be op­er­ated from in­side the cabin rather than from un­der the bon­net, for added con­ve­nience and ac­ces­si­bil­ity. In ad­di­tion, the map se­lec­tion switch is il­lu­mi­nated with a light sen­sor, so when it gets darker it will re­duce in its il­lu­mi­na­tion; but dur­ing the day it will have a bright glow. With the new map se­lec­tion switch, cus­tomers can also


shift through the map set­tings – Com­fort, Tow­ing, Off-road, Sport and Stan­dard/userde­fined – on the fly. Those fa­mil­iar with Sa­fari’s pre­vi­ous ECU unit will no­tice the new unit fea­tures two more map po­si­tions.

A high ECU pro­cess­ing speed is an­other strong suit of the new unit, as is Sa­fari’s abil­ity to live-record and data-log a 4x4 – “so if a per­son is stuck some­where and some­thing’s hap­pened, we can ac­tu­ally as­sist them,” Evans added.

A sys­tem is also in place to pre­vent a ve­hi­cle from bil­low­ing dreaded ‘black smoke’. There’s the po­ten­tial for a ve­hi­cle


to ex­ert black smoke when in­creas­ing fuel into an en­gine, so to com­bat this Sa­fari mon­i­tors the sys­tem and adds ex­tra air ac­cord­ingly. “We also have the abil­ity to ramp in the fuel as the boost is in­creas­ing. So in­stead of just chuck­ing it all in there and hop­ing for the best, we’ll pro­gres­sively add fuel to pre­vent that ini­tial puff of smoke.” Evans added.

To be com­pletely sat­is­fied with the end prod­uct, Sa­fari car­ries out its own fuel con­sump­tion test­ing, pri­mar­ily in a con­trolled ve­hi­cle and within con­trolled pa­ram­e­ters. “We drive con­trolled routes with the same driver in ex­cess of 10,000km. And we see on average a 1.0 to 1.5L/100km gain in fuel con­sump­tion,” Evans said. “You get more power and torque and bet­ter drive­abil­ity, but you also use less fuel at the same time.”

The plug-and-play unit comes with ev­ery­thing re­quired for in­stal­la­tion, in­clud­ing brack­etry, nuts and bolts, and plug-and-play looms. And each unit is ve­hi­cle spe­cific and will bolt fac­tory mount­ing points, with no drilling re­quired. Sa­fari 4x4 also keeps in mind com­mon de­vices usu­ally fit­ted be­neath the bon­net of four-wheel­ers and in­cor­po­rates this into the de­sign.

Evans told us that in­stal­la­tion is rel­a­tively straight­for­ward and DIY jobs are a breeze. “If you’ve got some ba­sic tools and good gen­eral me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge, and you’re pre­pared to take your time and fol­low in­struc­tions, you could eas­ily in­stall it at home,” he said.

The Armax Per­for­mance ECU sys­tem will ini­tially be avail­able for Toy­ota’s 70 and 200 Series – specif­i­cally Euro 4 and Euro 5 vari­ants – but Sa­fari ex­pects to have a prod­uct range of 20 dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions within 12 months.

“The next mod­els will be Ranger (es­ti­mated ar­rival by the end of 2017), BT-50 and Ever­est. The prod­uct range will then ex­tend to Amarok, Navara, D-max and Colorado.” Ar­rival dates at this stage are ten­ta­tive, be­cause, as Evans stated: “Un­less it’s per­fect, it ain’t go­ing out the door.”

It’s this at­ti­tude which guar­an­tees cus­tomers of Sa­fari peace of mind, with the knowl­edge that its unit will last the life of the ve­hi­cle it’s fit­ted to.

“We’ve spent months test­ing sen­sors, test­ing con­nec­tors, test­ing parts, so that we know it’ll last,” Evans said. “I’ve been driv­ing one of the cars for months now and with more than 20,000km clocked up to en­sure that ev­ery pos­si­ble sce­nario is taken care of.”

The first cus­tomers who pre-or­dered the unit re­ceived it on Oc­to­ber 23. For more in­for­ma­tion, or to order one, head to­far­ Pric­ing starts from $2997 (RRP inc. GST). Cus­tomers get peace of mind with full en­gine pro­tec­tion and com­po­nent war­ranties.

We’ll be tak­ing an LC79 and LC200 to some dusty trails next month to put Sa­fari’s Armax Per­for­mance ECU unit to the test. So stay tuned.

Each unit is ve­hi­cle spe­cific and fits fac­tory mount­ing points.

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