SAAS S-DRIVE THROTTLE CONTROLLER PART 2 – THE VERDICT
In the June 2020 issue of NZ4WD I wrote about us acquiring an SAAS S-Drive unit to fit to my 2003 Range Rover V8. Initially I had a problem working out how to access the wiring plug on the luxury Range Rovers ‘organ’ type accelerator pedal but once I found out how to remove the pedal it was literally a two-minute job... only for the wiring plugs to be different.
BMW vs Ford
I went back to North Island importer Warren at 4WDbits, sending him photos of the unit and the wiring plugs. It was baffling as the unit supplied was the correct unit for that model Range Rover. However, Warren was the one quick enough to identify the wiring plugs as BMW and considering the Range Rover had the BMW V8 engine and the accelerator pedal actually had the BMW logo and numbering on it, we tried a BMW unit and it fitted.
All we can think of is that Land Rover fitted the BMW engine for the first couple of years then changed to the Jaguar engine under Ford’s ownership and possibly also changed the wiring plugs at the same time.
It took all of a few minutes to plug the unit in and refit the pedal and run the wiring up to the dash for the small S-Drive display controller. The display has a sticky pad on the back so once you know the exact location you can stick it to the dash.
Set ‘n forget!
Once fitted the first thing to do once turning the key is to set the transmission type (to automatic or manual) by holding the mode button for three seconds (as per the instructions). And do you know what?
No sooner than I had started the engine I immediately noticed an instant improvement in throttle response while it was still sitting in the garage. It was like the engine had suddenly woken from a long period of hibernation.
Five of the best
The five modes are; Comfortable, Sport, Racing, Eco Fuel saving, and Normal (factory settings) and – believe me - there is a considerably noticeable difference between Normal and say Sports mode. Taking it for the first drive up the road was exhilarating. I always considered that the V8 had very good acceleration, especially using the tiptronic sports mode in the gearbox but with the S-Drive it was a completely different vehicle.
Standing starts at intersections had the tyres chirping, not normally associated with a 2.4 ton permanent 4WD vehicle. In sports mode the throttle was very positive and responded to the slightest touch.
Like a kid in the candy store, I kept playing with the throttle feeling the instant response but quickly limited the use of race mode. After all the manufacturers purposely build in that ‘lag’ to give longevity to the vehicle.
Eliminating throttle ‘lag’
If anything, in fact, fitting the S-Drive highlighted how much ‘lag’ vehicle manufacturers tend to tune-in for smooth throttle responses to minimise strain on the vehicle. This ‘lag’ is the delay from the moment the accelerator pedal is pressed, to the time the signal gets to the throttle, and the S-Drive has eliminated it almost completely depending on mode setting.
In saying that the system also works ‘the other way’ when you are off- road because you can get better throttle control on rough tracks by selecting the eco mode which gives a slower response and smoother acceleration.
We have all been there when the foot bounces on and off the accelerator on rutted tracks and eco mode gives you more throttle control thanks to the dulling of pedal input.
Big tick for ‘real world’ use!
For a real world drive a day journey of around 370kms was undertaken which included highway, city driving and country roads. Trying to pull out from my typically