UPDATED  AUTUMN 2015.

I'm going to be very frank with this tuning guide. Here at Fusion we know the Pulsar. In fact I would go so far to say we are currently and have been for a some time the leading GTi-R tuner in the UK and possibly much of Europe. I don't make that comment lightly, for a long long time we just did our work in silence but now the numbers speak volumes. Most 400+BHP Pulsars in the UK? - Fusion. Most 500+BHP Pulsars in the UK? - Fusion. Most tuned Pulsars? Fusion. There are of course others that have been well built and not been setup by us, but many have. This is no coincidence. Fusion was founded due to the Pulsar, and this all started back in 2002/3. As of now that's nearly 13 years ago. That is a lot of time to refine the art and now feel entirely confident that the advice we give is the RIGHT advice.

Thinking of getting one mapped or setup elsewhere? Well sure some others can do it but with the same level of experience? No hope, I'm sure many tuners will be happy to learn at your expense, for us its all about developing your car and applying the knowledge we already have. I'm not going to say we've seen it all, as were always getting surprised at new ways to 'bodge' cars that have visited our workshop.

So you want to tune your GTi-R? Otherwise you would not be reading this, right?. So lets get to the point, lets start by some very very hard and fast facts about the GTi-R

Inescapable facts:

  • Stock AFM is totally on its limits at 320-330hp.
  • Most stock turbos will make at best between 310-320bhp. Our stock turbo records is 330bhp but this was a one off. Remember this when reading other peoples claims.
  • Stock injectors on a typical setup are good for 300-310hp - JUST. This is at 3 bar pressure.
  • Stock ECUs and JDM re-maps (Mines etc) all have HORRID ignition maps. This really wastes power, and spoils drive ability. ONLY a remap can cure this.
  • Almost every GTi-R running increased boost without a re-map we find is running potentially dangerously when tested on the dyno. Don't be a sheep and follow the people giving advice that its safe to run 1.2 bar boost. Its almost ALWAYS NOT SAFE without it being checked first regardless as to what ecu you have plugged in - Mines etc. It's easy for someone else to give advice with its not their car that's taking the risk right???
  • Most engine failures we see are due to poor setup, and were totally avoidable. EVEN WHEN RUNNING IN. Yes unbelievably we have had cars come to us for a setup with newly built engines that are already nackared due to lack of care from the people that built and fitted it.
  • The Pulsar transmission is VERY reliable at around 350bhp, and only really begins to become a problem over 380bhp, over 400 on your head be it - BUT we do have customers running stock boxes on 400hp. Some die at 350 others don't.
  • Stock cooling system is VERY good. Don't underestimate it. Even at 550hp on a track stock rad/pump has proven to work just FINE.
  • The stock block is good for around 350BHP, anything above this we recommend head gasket and rod bolts. Its better to do this work in ADVANCE rather than throw a rod or blow a headgasket and then have damaged components to work with.
  • Oil coolers give more hassle than they are worth. Pulsars have a stock oil cooler that unless you are doing hard track work is just fine. If you insist we can supply, but we have monitored temps and found in the UK for most applications they are just not needed.
  • Stock rods can do 500hp with uprated rod bolts. We can't say for sure if this is a long term good idea, but we can say we have several cars still doing this with the owners fully understanding that they could fail - but 3 years on they have not. We still however recommend good rods and bolts (not ARP2000s) if you really do want to do 500hp+
  • Neo VVL heads are great - but not that great. Recently we could do a back to back test. SR20DET RNN14 block, both running GT35R turbos both running 1.7 bar of boost. The VVL head made 5BHP more than the stock Pulsar head.
  • Stock ECU can run upto 500BHP. Knock control is nearly non existent so you have to be careful with fuels. 550+ you really need something like a Syvecs to allow everything to be controlled correctly - with room for error.
  • A few other points though if going 400+. Stock manifold is ok, stock downpipe elbow is not. Your going to need a custom downpipe and exhaust system ideally of around 2.75 or 3 inch.

So what is the right way to tune a Pulsar?

Quite simply, before you even consider doing this, you should have it checked by us or someone who knows what they are doing first. The reason is simple, We always see problems with knock sensors, lambda sensors, base timing settings pipework issues, fuel pressure issues etc which prevent the car working properly in the first case. Allowing us to do a diagnostic on the car will ensure that the base you want to work from is as it should be.

Ok So my car is running properly now what?

Simple: Front mount intercooler and fuel pump. Ok so the FMIC is semi optional, but when it comes to tuning, and hot weather you will suffer. Fuel pump is a must, if it is stock then it probably is on its way out anyway, if not then it should still be checked. Oh and for what its worth, we find the majority of pumps are poorly fitted as well. If using a Walbro for example, forget about the rubber pad that goes around the pump, it can be mounted lower and more firmly in the stock pump cradle with nylon (they don't melt in fuel) cable ties. Pulsars have bad fuel surge when going round left hand bends, anything to get the pump lower in the tank to try and prevent this is a good idea.

300-320BHP

Once the two above are fitted, then you can think about boost controllers. Anything will do really, so AVC-R, Gizzmo, etc etc. But don't go turning it up yet - it would be a waste anyway. This is really where we should come in and help with an ECU remap. If you really want to do it right, then bring along a set of EVO 5-8 560cc injectors. This means we can properly map the ECU to its optimum without maxing out the stock injectors. This will give you the best power possible from the stock turbo. With a 2.5inch Mongoose etc exhaust you can expect around 290-320bhp depending on how responsive the car is. Worth mentioning that the stock brakes are 'ok' for this power, but only if you have good pads and discs are in good condition.

300 ish BHP is ok, but I want more... (350BHP)

Again, no problem. But you will need a bigger turbo, and Z32 300zx AFM or NIStune element maf conversion. For turbos essentially without getting silly you have two options, either a Garrett 2871R suitable up to about 400bhp or the Garrett 3071R capable of around 460bhp. Keep in mind that we consider the stock engine vulnerable over 350bhp, due to stock rod bolts (break but rarely at 350hp) and stock head gasket. With a 2871R turbo you can be looking at around 350bhp, you will need a new clutch if its standard, as it will most likely not take this level of power. We can supply if necessary. With this power you would really also need a FMIC. More boost and more power form the stock intercooler can mean under some conditions dangerously high intake temps.

400BHP

So at this point you need to think about where you really want to go in the future. The only option really to do it right is an engine rebuild. Ouch I hear you say, well perhaps, but again varies on spec. We can provide you with an engine capable of around 500bhp for around £2500-£3000 - Go elsewhere if you just want something cheap thrown together.
If you have chosen the 3071 turbo then this power is easy, if you have the 2871 then you have to push it a little to make the power and ensuring everything is as efficient as possible is important. The 560cc injectors will just about (not really ideal) make 380-400, so really you would sensibly be looking at 720cc+ injectors (anything above 1000cc is a bit OTT)  Then not forgetting with a larger clutch, a remap, and some brakes (You will die if you keep stock brakes with this power) your will have one fast GTi-R. Stock ignition may also become an issue here. New leads cooler plugs and attention here may be required

450BHP+

If you are at the spec above, with a 3071R turbo to get to 450BHP you will if you have not already need to upgrade the gearbox internals. Quaife really is the only sensible option. They are a nice road box but need building CORRECTLY. They MUST have all the oem nylon oil guide pieces fitted. We have customers who have had gearbox failures at this power due to these being removed and the main shaft lacking lubrication to the gear shaft, and thats a really stupid and expensive failure.. Moving on, with the gearbox sorted with the correct turbo the exhaust is now the main restriction. Ideally you need a 3 inch system from the exhaust back removing the aircon (if fitted) and the stock elbow. It is VITAL this is right - sadly there are no longer suppliers of this kind of system so they are all custom made. With this in place however and possibly a stronger actuator for the 3071, 450BHP is an entirely realistic target based on the cars we have mapped before. Cams can also get gains at this power.

500BHP+

It's serious now. This is the point where transmission stuff starts to break, that is getting more random in nature. Its a big jump. Firstly the in tank fuel pump will not really be enough. You will now need to look at an external swirl pot and Bosch 044 pump, really just to stop fuel surges that can be dangerous at these power levels. We do have cars with internal 044s that do work however.. Stock lines are ok, but the pump will have an easier time if the feed pipe is changed to a -8 line- its not essential. 720cc injectors will be approaching their limits here, if the pump is weak it would have already done so, so 1000cc may be worth looking at. You will need a bigger turbo as well, along with a custom tubular manifold. Really you should be looking at a 3076 turbo with external 38mm (minimum) wastegate and 3 inch exhaust system. Stock ignition will definitely be showing some signs of problems and it may be necessary to change to a CDI driver. This is really where the stock ECU becomes a problem as with the distributor the spark is naturally so much weaker, as spark energy is lost here. If there is the budget than finally an aftermarket ECU such as our favourite for this - the Syvecs S6 will enable coil pack conversion and no more issues with ignition problems. Properly setup this is a 550+ capable system.

600BHP+

Are you mad? Good ok, well clearly you also like breaking things for fun as well, so read on... If you have done your setup as recommend up until now, you would be running an ECU like the Syvecs S6 and also have our coil pack conversion. 1000cc injectors are also a must.. Excellent right well now we get into big turbos. A fantastic one here is a GTX3582 with external wastegate and a .86 housing. You could go for a .64 housing (quite small) provided you have a good and highly efficient external wastegate setup, but the .86 will be on full boost by 4500/5000 rpm. Cams are also important now, in fact they have a huge role at these and less power levels. They need setting up correctly. This does not mean you fit verniers and set them at zero. Why do people do that??? Anyway, give them to us let us dial in the cams and then put it on the dyno. Have we done this??? Yes we have, still on a Quaife gearbox. I'll be honest however I don't expect that to last long!! This does mean however we are as far as we know the only performance company in the uk to have a GTi-R running 600+ bhp with proof to back it up...

Even more???

Stop being silly, your now nearly 3+ times what the pulsar was designed for. It gets really expensive here. 600+ everything begins to struggle. The Quaife gearbox in the stock casing will definitely be unknown (As above). If you launch hard, or really abuse this even at 500BHP you can crack the gear casing. However at this time I know of no one who has broken the teeth of a Quaife (saying that makes me wonder If I have seen a pic, but I cannot remember for sure) Now race fuel, again with manifolds and absolutely will need a good aftermarket engine management. Start collecting spare drive shafts, prop shafts CV joints etc. That really good 3 inch system will be even more vital here. At this point everything is to be considered consumable. Heat management with good monitoring and cooling is a must. Head work and cams will also be likely on the list.

Bottom line here is its going to cost a lot, and be realistic about the possibility for things breaking. We have a couple of customers now looking for 600BHP, but no one has actually pulled a dyno figure through us that has done so. (Evo's on the other hand we did this several years ago!!)

Oh what about the holy grail of SR20 engines the VVL heads?

Lets set a few things straight. The VVL heads are COOL!! Who doesn't want variable valve timing with adjustable lift? They rev like a mad thing and make loads more power too right?!! Well kind of... We have experience now of similar VVL and non VVL Pulsar setups. I'll be honest so far the VVL ones that have come in have only performed marginally better than the stock heads do. It's quite a lof of work and expense to get the VVL setup working, and as such right now I am not convinced given the power figures we get on the NON VVL heads that its worth the effort, it doesn't really make a big turbo spool up much eariler, and with a good set of normal cams won't make any more power when on cam either. Nissan designed them for more efficient combustion and efficiency. Up to you...

So there you have it. A basic outline of the core items you will need to make the power you may be dreaming of. Like I already said. If you really want to risk your car to another garage to learn their trade on then so be it, but if they suggest more for less or less for more, I would be wary at best and if you really want to be sensible - just bring it to Fusion.