For me, throttle lag is a pain. When I put my foot down, I want the car to respond. There are a number of reasons that throttle lag was introduced by car companies. In my opinion though, the main reason for introducing it was because it was an easy and slack way of ‘improving fuel economy’. Thankfully for us though, there is a way to override it. And it may not be as expensive as you think. Several companies have introduced their own version of throttle controllers. These are aftermarket gadgets quite simply designed to eliminate lag.
‘As always, I spend too long researching for the best deals available. But it always works out.’
Truth is, I am not generally very mechanically minded. So it did take a while to get my head around the concept of throttle controllers. One cheap version I found was from the 4wd Supercentre. They charge less than $100 and have received a lot of mixed reviews. Mostly negative. One name that kept popping up with good reviews though was the iDrive. This was more than double the price of that offered by the 4WD Supercentre. No product though got perfect reviews. Nor were people generally convinced the idea of a throttle controller was even worth the cost or effort. I held off on my purchase for years mainly because of negative reviews and because there really was no cheap way of finding out for myself if throttle controllers really did work.
I was representing the Pajero 4WD Club of Victoria recently at the Lardner Park 4WD show. While on a break, I came across a stand promoting the iDrive throttle controller. I’d never seen them up close so I made sure I had a look. The iDrive stand was part of the No Limit / MCC stand which is a 4WD accessories company based in Dandenong Australia. I already had quite a bit of No Limit’s gear on my car, so long story short, a couple of the guys recognised me and after listening to their spill on the iDrive, they convinced me it was worth a try. I also knew I was not going to get a better price than what they were offering me.
‘I did know from the beginning that the iDrive was one of the more respected brands and I was finally grateful for the opportunity to try one for myself.’
My car was on display at the Pajero Club stand. As it was close by, the guys offered to install it for me. Plug and play they tell me. They did explain the process, but it went over my head. I was more than happy for them to do it. All I can tell you about the installation really is that it took one guy literally just a few minutes to complete. No more.
I was given these basic instructions by the installer. Set it to AC for normal driving (Automatic Control), U1 for offroad driving (Ultimate)and E1 for towing (Economy). There is one setting on AC and 9 settings on each of the U or E modes. Economy was recommended for towing because it eases the pressure on the hitch.
I initially went against his advice and set my unit on U1 on the advice of fellow club member Ed Reddick, who already had one in his FJ Cruiser. So off I went. Almost immediately, the difference in acceleration I felt was amazing. The response was instant. Quite a sudden and unexpected ‘burst of power’ is what I felt. My car didn’t even think about going. It just went. Instantly responding to my command.
It didn’t take too long before I noticed my trip computer showing my fuel consumption hovering around 20 to 30L/100km. My car normally travels at around 11 to 13L/100km. Even less on a freeway. So, as you could imagine, this was a bit of a concern for me. Yes, I was excited about the throttle responsiveness, but I now had new concerns around fuel consumption. I did a bit more research when I got home and again came across mixed responses. No real answer. Some people stated fuel economy was poorer and others claimed it improved. I knew the only way to be confident was to conduct my own evaluation.
‘Let’s be clear that this is not a professional or scientifically controlled evaluation. This experiment was conducted by me alone.’
The vehicle used was my 2015 Mitsubishi PC Challenger running on diesel. During this experiment, I made sure too consistently source my fuel from the same service station. I ran a full tank on each of the different settings comparing the mileage. I did my best to avoid changing my driving style but admit that it ultimately would vary between modes mainly due to the responsiveness of the car.
When it comes to fuel economy, bottom line for me, the difference in fuel consumption between each of the modes was insignificant. Interestingly, and for whatever reason, it became clear that the trip computer in my car was initially playing games with me as the fuel economy was now showing more realistic numbers.
‘In theory, you should expect to use more fuel with a throttle controller as throttle lag is the main factor in achieving better fuel economy.’
The unit itself was small and compact fitting on to my dash quite nicely. Mounted with double sided tape and different colour options were offered by way of an interchangeable screen cover. I initially chose a bright colour but quickly changed it to black to blend in with my dash. When it comes to power, truth is, there is technically no difference in the car’s performance. If you want more power, get a power chip or a performance tune but expect to pay a lot more money. Essentially, all that a throttle controller does is reduce or eliminate the lag experienced on the throttle. The power does not go to the car. The power goes to you. And for me, having this power for myself is well worth the dollars I spent.
Having had more time to play with this unit, I’ve since decided the best setting was that as initially instructed. I now consistently run the unit on AC for the most part, U1 for off road and E1 for towing. Occasionally I turn it up a notch or two occasionally for fun. Overall, I am very pleased with this unit and can no longer imagine driving without it. It’s quick and easy to install. It’s relatively cheap. And it’s a lot of fun. I highly recommend the iDrive unit to anyone who likes to feel like they are in control. You will feel like you are driving a new car.