In February whilst attending the Montpellier GP in France we heard the surprise news that Ultimate Racing – the brand behind several Championship-winning accessories as well as the ProCircuit & Nitrolux brands of tyres& fuel respectively would have their own engine line. Naturally with news of ‘Ultimate Engines’ the story captured worldwide attention. As a newcomer to the engine scene we were keen to test the engines and see how they rated against their peers – the answer from opening the package was very impressive.
Many of the new brands entering the engine market nowadays outsource the actual manufacturing to an experienced factory, some prefer to keep this quiet, however with Ultimate they make no secret of their connection with World Championship engine maker Novarossi.
Rather the opposite in fact as upon opening the nicely presented box immediately a super sexy polished 2096 tuned exhaust pipe steals your attention and gives you a cheeky view of it’s (fuel) nipple!
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After dabbing the brow for a second, the box also contains one of Ultimate Racing’s pre-oiled red foam airfilters, a complete set of venturis in various colours (diameters blue: 6.5mm, yellow: 7.5mm & red: 8mm), not to mention an engine fitted with the popular Ultimate Racing ‘Compak’ clutch – a three alu shoe & 13T vented clutch assembly. Lastly in a small bag to the side there is a spare gasket, some zip ties – everything needed to install the powerplant.
Whilst the pipe’s slender curves of polished chrome-like perfection seduce you as a starter, the brooding moody dark grey styling of the Ultimate M5 &M8 make for meatiest of main courses.
Starting from the top the cooling head like many nowadays is a work of art in itself, with a simple concave / countersunk top complete with laser engraving followed by ten fins spaced out underneath to keep the engine at an ideal working temperature.The carburetor is the classic Novarossi offroad branded one, the crankcase is black and features the Ultimate Engines logo lasered onto the side.
Ultimate kindly supplied us with both of their powerplants – the M5 five port and the M8 eight port engine, we opted to install the M5 to begin with in our XRAY XB9 review buggy and disassemble the M8 for detailed interior parts photos.
Breaking in the M5 isn’t the easiest task early on a Saturday, definitely should not be attempted with any hint of a hangover! It took several attempts before the motor kicked into life and gave us a typical reassuring break in idle ‘hum’ punctuated by the sweet scent of nitro fumes – We love the smell of nitro in the morning!
After 4 tanks of Japanese-school of break-in (full throttle with very rich tuning, so rich that the wheels should spin slowly) we decided to let the car & engine have it’s first tste of dirt – running the engine much richer than the right tune. For the next 2 tanks we continued pausing in the pitlane every 3 laps and leaning the engine a bit each time, until reaching the desired tune.
After a break checking over the car, we fired the M5 back into life and its clear that Ultimate have asked Novarossi to craft them a fine thoroughbred of a motor – once up to temperature it was easy to obtain a great stable tune. The powerband is easy to deal with; very smooth at low rpm and very manageable throughout the whole acceleration process.
The power isn’t as impressive as we might have hoped it to be though, and we noticed it by paying attention to the travel of the trigger. To achieve the desired amount of acceleration out of the corners we had to punch full throttle.
The lack of traction experienced during the XB9 test didn’t help, however if you’re used to deal with a brutal engine the M5 will feel a bit lazy… almost slow.
Our impression was that unless pushed very hard, the M5 won’t clean out and will stay rich from low to mid rpm. It’s clear anyway that we decided to try the smoother between the two Ultimate options, the M5 is based on Novarossi’s P5 which is well known and very popular – especially in the US market as we’ve been told by NR crew – for its smooth power delivery, and for sure the M8 would be stronger at low-mid range. Having said that, the top end is great and very consistent – on the main straightaway the engine did its job perfectly and impressively didn’t flame out during the 2 hour endurance test.
We finished off with a fuel mileage exercise – pitting at 9 minutes comfortably with the engine managing 9:50 mins on the last tank – filled with a fuel gun & despite a dirty air filter, hour on track already. Its common knowledge that the best fuel mileage comes once an engine has been used for at least 8-10 liters (especially with Novarossi engines, as demonstrated by Darren Bloomfield winning the last euros with Adam Drake’s engine – that had run many liters – thanks to a better fuel strategy), so our result is pretty good on such a strange track, full of slow corners and straights.
The plug worked perfectly, and the only change we applied to the engine setup was removing a 1/10mm spacer from the clutchbell as it was a bit too tight on both the engines. A thumbs up for the Ultimate M5, you’ll see in the image gallery the attention to detail is very good and all the parts are well machined. An unsurprising result when you consider the ingredients – Ultimate’s team bringing racing prowess to the table coupled with Novarossi’s heritage, experience and quality.
As we mentioned, some might expect more punch from the M5 – its down to a driver’s personal feel but more so an engine that excels in dusty and bumpy conditions rather than flat and fast Euro style tracks. The engine’s silky smooth nature is such that it forgives trigger-happy drivers perhaps a little too easily, however all in all its an ideal engine with impeccable qualities and one of the few that is sold as a total package – engine, pipe, manifold, clutch & air filter.