After completing the test of Ultimate’s M5 engine a while back, its now time for the monster ‘Ultimate Power’ 8 port to see what it can do in a car. On paper the 8 port, should have ‘the legs’ and deliver us the bottom to mid range power that we felt slightly lacked when testing the M5, albeit at least on this type of track.
As soon as we started the break-in procedure (which proved a bit difficult due to piston tightness in the sleeve – the norm for Novarossi mills), we found the engine to run more stable than the 5 port version, that stability helped us throughout the whole day. With the piston/sleeve so tight, and high ambient temperatures, we decided to go for a longer Japanese-style break in: this is a very important process, especially if you need to race the engine immediately after and in hot conditions.
When the engine is tight, the operating temperature increases considerably, you’ll need a richer tune to get the temp back in to an acceptable window. But we can’t fully test an engine without taking it to the limit, so we extending the break-in to 8 tanks in Samurai style and 4 tanks of fuel on the track with a very rich tune.
After checking the freeness and the compression is right, we continued with the fine tuning, leaning and asking the M8 to ‘show us what you got’.
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With no surprises but a big smile, the first laps with the M8 felt radically different than the 5 port. The response at the bottom is, as guessed, way faster and somehow more brutal, even if the pipe is well matched and the result is a driver-friendly powerband, it allows the user to play with the trigger (or the gas stick if you are one of those preferring the stick to the real radios) and always obtain the right amount of power.
This is one important matter: to have an engine able to provide very good power that anyway can be modulated according to a driver’s needs and the on-track situation is crucial in 8th buggy.
You want that extra power to clear a difficult jump or just to get out of trouble, but for most of the time you need a smooth, gentle and easy-to-manage powerband, because burnouts and wheelspin whilst spectacular don’t get you to the next corner very quickly.
The M8 provides both, and at the high end it is very satisfying, pushing the car to a good top speed at the end of the straight.
Another key issue in offroad racing is the reliability of the engine, and the M8 was more than GOOD on that side. During the day of testing in very hot (32° air temp), it only stopped twice on the track, with at least one of the two that could be due to a bad idle tuning.
About the fuel mileage, it’s not easy to judge the mileage of a new engine, as the fuel consumption is higher when the unit is new. Especially with Novarossi based engines, it takes a few litrrs to obtain the best compromise between power and mileage – as proved by the stunning performance of Bloomfield/Drake’s engine in 2012 Euros, where they used a unit that had run more than 20 liters to get the best mileage possible – but anyway the M8 economy was ok.
In a racing situation we would have been able to pit at 7.30 (managing to go for 8.20 minutes with a tank) which is not stunning but at least average. Maybe with some experience and more litres on the engine pitting at 9 minutes wouldn’t be too hard to aim for.
All considered, even if both the Ultimate Engines are good quality units, the main difference between the two is the fun that they give when you drive them. While we would consider to use the M5 for a rough or dusty track for its “gentle, precise” nature allowing you to avoid mistakes.
The M8 is for sure a pure thoroughbred that requires a firm hand to control the beast but rewards with fun and speed, and when driven by a “velvet triggered racer” can be used with ease on every kind of track.