Jim’s Word – March 2014: Maximum power vs Useable Power

We are very lucky here at Tunehouse, not only do we get to build and tune some really exciting cars but are also privy to all the latest industry gossip. Working hand-in-hand with some of the world’s best automotive equipment manufacturers gives us a very unique insight into the emerging trends and lets us keep our finger on the pulse of the aftermarket and performance industry.

So, what’s the latest trend? Well, it may be an old news to some but the request we seem to be hearing a lot of lately is ‘useable power’.  This is an interesting phrase because the common misconception out there is that ALL power is ‘useable power’. That is not exactly true.

Let’s be honest here, how often do you reach that top end of your rev range that most people are so concerned about? Every other weekend at a track day? What about the rest of the power range, the low and mid? Is the power available to you where the engine operates most of the time? Let me assure you a 10kW increase in the mid range will make a lot more difference than, say an extra 30kW at the top end.


The BRZ/86 is a perfect example of this. Yes, the engine needs more top end power, that’s a given. Fixing that infamous power dip at low RPM is what is most noticeable though. I am glad that most of our customers are smart enough to realise this. I always make an effort to go over their power graph with them and explain where the gains were made and why.

My goal has always been to tune cars to their owner’s requirements and these days those requirements include plenty of daily commuter-style driving.  Sometimes, looking forward to the peak figure of the graph is only going to lead you astray.

Happy motoring.

Jim Ghelis