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http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0508/17/A01-283759.htm

Asians oversell horsepower

Toyota, Honda inflated claims of engine muscle; new tests force automakers to come clean with buyers.

By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON -- After years of touting ever higher horsepower numbers to win new customers, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and possibly other automakers are now backtracking on some of those claims.

Strict new tests developed by the industry's top engineering group are prompting the carmakers to roll back horsepower estimates on several key vehicles, including the Toyota Camry, America's best-selling car, and Honda's luxurious Acura RL.

For the 2006 model year, Toyota says its Camry equipped with a 3-liter V-6 engine generates 190 horsepower. In 2005, Toyota said the same car with the same engine had 210 horsepower.

The revised ratings comply with new Society of Automotive Engineers standards designed to eliminate subjective interpretation in establishing horsepower claims.

While Toyota and Honda are retesting their entire vehicle lineups, other automakers generally are retesting only cars and trucks with updated powertrains.

Over time, most automakers are expected to comply with the new guidelines, and horsepower ratings for other vehicles could be revised.

Detroit's automakers say they have been conservative in calculating horsepower and don't expect to have to reduce horsepower ratings on many vehicles. In fact, after retesting, the Big Three have revised horsepower ratings upward on several vehicles.

The changes are likely to raise questions among customers.

"Horsepower is a big draw," said Jim Sanfilippo, an automotive marketing expert at AMCI Inc.

"This is at best difficult to explain," he added.

"Toyota and the other companies better have a good answer when customers ask questions about what happened."

The Camry has been a best-seller for years and a linchpin in Toyota's strategy to increase sales in North America.

Honda is reducing horsepower ratings across its Acura brand. The flagship RL sedan will lose 10 horsepower, to 290 from 300. The popular MDX SUV will fall from a rating of 265 to 253. Less powerful models such as the Honda Civic will see smaller reductions.

"From what we've seen so far, this is going to affect the Japanese and the Europeans a lot more than the domestic manufacturers," said Mark Brueggemann, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

Brueggemann said engines have not changed, so car shoppers won't notice any drop-off in performance during test drives. But consumers look at horsepower when they're deciding which models to test drive and buy.

For example, the 190-horsepower Camry will compete against a new Hyundai Sonata that advertises 235 horses under the hood. "This could have a possible effect of eliminating a car from consideration," he said.

The changes are already having an impact among die-hards who prowl Internet chat rooms like AutoWeek's Combustion Chamber, Edmunds Town Hall and GM Insidenews. In a recent posting on AutoWeek's site under the heading, "Acura hurt by new SAE hp standard -- numbers were inflated," one chatter said: "Bottom line is if you sell me a car with the promise of say 300 hp, I want my 300 hp!"

Toyota had to advertise based on the new SAE testing procedures because of a California state law, said company spokesman Bill Kwong. The company then decided to use one set of ratings for all of its U.S. ads.

"We hope it won't be confusing," Kwong said. "If you drive a 2006 or 2005, it drives the same. It's the same car. Customers are not getting anything less or anything more."

Honda spokesman Mike Spencer predicted it would take a few years for customers to understand the changes, but eventually all manufacturers will be using the new SAE tests.

"We've been using SAE procedures all along, it's just that SAE changed their procedures," he said.

The news is better for General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Some models such as the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Fusion sedan are faring better under the new testing procedures, which could give them a much-needed edge in the marketplace.

The Cadillac XLR roadster with a Northstar engine saw its horsepower rating go from 440 to 469.

"We have confidence that our customers will get the power they pay for," said GM spokesman Thomas Read. "It's going to give the consumer a better rating for their engine."

As the new testing procedure is phased in, it may be tricky for consumers. For example, the Ford Five Hundred sedan is rated at 203 horsepower for 2006, the same as the 2005 model. But the 2006 rating does not reflect the new SAE testing procedure, because Ford is not going to the expense of retesting its existing engines, said company spokesman Nick Twork.

The company will use the new SAE test only when it overhauls a powertrain, as it did for next year's Explorer, Twork said.

But Twork said Ford does not expect significant drop-offs in horsepower as the new test is phased in. When Ford unveiled its midsize Fusion sedan in January, it projected 210 horsepower. When it was tested under SAE's official protocol, the engine received a 221 horsepower rating, Twork said.

"We typically like to underpromise and overdeliver," Twork said. "We feel we've been pretty conservative, and we don't anticipate any major changes."

DaimlerChrysler is using the new SAE procedures on any model with changes in its powertrain, said spokesman Cole Quinnell. He said the company expects new ratings to be within 3 percent of the old ratings, with some going up and some going down. DaimlerChrysler is making a special effort to test high-performance models, like the Dodge Viper V-10. The Viper now tests at 510 horsepower, up from 500 in 2005.

"We've wholeheartedly embraced the new procedures," Quinnell said. "We hope it shows our credibility."

When an engine doesn't measure up to its advertised performance, it can hurt. Mazda Motor Corp. reintroduced the rotary engine with its RX-8 sports coupe a few years ago. It had a high horsepower rating. But when drivers got inside, they discovered weak low-end torque, meaning that the rocket-like acceleration they'd expected was missing.

Ford pulled its high-performance Mustang Cobra from the market a few years ago when enthusiasts complained the engine did not live up to its billing. Ford tweaked the engine before selling it again.

SAE says it tightened its horsepower rules when engineers noticed some elements in the old test were prone to interpretation.

"We tried to tighten language that was open to interpretation," said Dave Lancaster, a technical fellow at General Motors Corp. who chaired the SAE committee that wrote the new requirements.

Under the old testing procedures, there were small factors that required a judgment call: how much oil was in the crankcase, how the engine controls were calibrated and whether a vehicle was tested with premium fuel. In some cases, the little adjustments added up to a big change in horsepower ratings. The new SAE procedures allow less wiggle room.

John Di Pietro, road test editor at Edmunds.com, said the drop in horsepower ratings for '06 models they have tested are not especially dramatic. For vehicles such as a midsize family sedan, the reputation of the manufacturer will likely be more important, Di Pietro said.

"It will be up to the salesman to ensure they understand the engine hasn't actually lost any power," he said.

You can reach Jeff Plungis at (202) 906-8204 or [email protected].
attached chart said:
Horsepower ratings
Vehicle 2005 2006
Acura MDX 265 253
Acura RL 300 290
Acura RSX 160 155
Chevrolet Corvette LS7 500 505
Cadillac XLR 440 469
Ford Explorer* 210 210
Honda Civic 200 197
Lexus LS430 290 278
Pontiac G6 200 201
Toyota Corolla 130 126
Scion xB 108 103
*New powertrain
Most are not significant decreases, but it does make you wonder. All these years the import fans on the net have been quick to point out how much more power their favorite import brand's engines makes over comperable domestics. They must be having trouble sleeping at night these days, as this more accurate testing procedure has revealed the imports are overstating their power figures while the domestics are understating it.

*gasp* to the horrow of Toyota fans, the Malibu and G6 actually make more HP than the greatest car on the road, the Camry (201 to 190). :lol:
 

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Good, I'm glad they are coming up with a standard.

Going to be interesting to see how the new MX-5 really tests out [cough] 150-ish [/cough] :devil:
 

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mceb said:
Good, I'm glad they are coming up with a standard.

Going to be interesting to see how the new MX-5 really tests out [cough] 150-ish [/cough] :devil:
I'm not sure about that since they've been caught on that model once before. I just hope there is no new "interpretations". I've also never understood people buying cars based on 'peak' hp ratings anyway. It's like salad dressing. "25% LESS FAT!" Uh, less than what? less than the billion fat calories it used to have? Or 25% less than you were going to put in it? :lol:
 

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Darkhamr said:
I'm not sure about that since they've been caught on that model once before. I just hope there is no new "interpretations". I've also never understood people buying cars based on 'peak' hp ratings anyway. It's like salad dressing. "25% LESS FAT!" Uh, less than what? less than the billion fat calories it used to have? Or 25% less than you were going to put in it? :lol:
Don't forget Mazda is a chronic offender of advertising HP ratings that are a little too optimistic. They didn't learn their lesson with the late 90's Miata, as they introduced the RX-8 with a figure that was too high also.

We shall see. I would think the peak HP on the new MX-5 is about right, but I am not sure all those horses hang around long since it has a fairly low peak torque.
 

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Oh man, the Z06 only makes 505 HP instead of 500 HP, how disapointing. :(


HEHEHE :lol:
 

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Fformula88 said:
...I would think the peak HP on the new MX-5 is about right, but I am not sure all those horses hang around long since it has a fairly low peak torque.
The torgue curve on the new 2.0 is much flater than the old 1.8 engine and much stronger in the 5,000-7,000 RPM range.
 

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LBJay said:
The torgue curve on the new 2.0 is much flater than the old 1.8 engine and much stronger in the 5,000-7,000 RPM range.
Defintely much nicer then the old one. The old HP curve dipped off very quickly too from some dyno comparisons I've looked at for the old engine.
 

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And we had this post from one of the Miata vendors,

Don't bother asking me for numbers because I cannot share them yet. The most I can say is that early numbers for exhaust changes are not yet very promising but tuners are finding easy solid gains on the intake side.
I suspect the same will be true for the Solstice.

For both the Solstice and the new MX-5, most of the aftermarket add-ons won't be announced until SEMA in Nov.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Don't forget Mazda is a chronic offender of advertising HP ratings that are a little too optimistic. They didn't learn their lesson with the late 90's Miata, as they introduced the RX-8 with a figure that was too high also.
I thought the RX8 problem was an ecu issue while dyno testing? Though I've never paid too much attention to that vehicle.
 

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Darkhamr said:
I thought the RX8 problem was an ecu issue while dyno testing? Though I've never paid too much attention to that vehicle.
I believe what happened from talking to a RX8 owner and a Mazda dealer is Mazda was pretty much reporting the Jap power levels on the USA car. However the USA car had to be detuned to meet emmisions requirments so it no longer performed at the level the Jap version did.
 

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brentil said:
I believe what happened from talking to a RX8 owner and a Mazda dealer is Mazda was pretty much reporting the Jap power levels on the USA car. However the USA car had to be detuned to meet emmisions requirments so it no longer performed at the level the Jap version did.
Ah, California dreaming. What I was trying to remember was the wheels speed sensors not liking the front wheels not turning on a dyno and pulling back timing / power as a result of the differential front to rear.
 

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brentil said:
I believe what happened from talking to a RX8 owner and a Mazda dealer is Mazda was pretty much reporting the Jap power levels on the USA car. However the USA car had to be detuned to meet emmisions requirments so it no longer performed at the level the Jap version did.

There were two problems actually. Mazda USA published HP numbers long before the car had been certified. There were problems getting the Cat to last 120K miles in it's state of tune, so they had to richen it up (part of the reason for crappy milage), that lowered peak HP.

Then there was the Dyno problem. The RX-8 EMS/ABS didn't like the fact that the rears were spinning and the fronts weren't. Ended up with low dyno readings. But ET's were at (with the new HP figures) they should have been.

It was ugly for awhile...


On the new MX-5, early dyno reports are 145 RWHP which work out fine for the 170HP advertised.
 

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LBJay said:
...
On the new MX-5, early dyno reports are 145 RWHP which work out fine for the 170HP advertised.
That conflicts with some of the other, ahhh... non-official reports of closer to 130-134 RWHP (corrected to std conditions).

As I have said before, 170 HP means 1/4 mile times at 15.3s/92MPH, and 0-60 below 6.8 seconds even with a 3rd gear upshift (for a 2500 lb MX5), properly corrected.

Anything less means the car is heavier than advertised (even more than the 2500 is heavier than the touted 2474), the engine is not making correct power, or both.
 

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LBJay said:
There were two problems actually. Mazda USA published HP numbers long before the car had been certified. There were problems getting the Cat to last 120K miles in it's state of tune, so they had to richen it up (part of the reason for crappy milage), that lowered peak HP.

Then there was the Dyno problem. The RX-8 EMS/ABS didn't like the fact that the rears were spinning and the fronts weren't. Ended up with low dyno readings. But ET's were at (with the new HP figures) they should have been.

It was ugly for awhile...


On the new MX-5, early dyno reports are 145 RWHP which work out fine for the 170HP advertised.
Engine testing is engine testing, not in a car on a spinning dyno. The difference has always been, since back in the sixties (before time for some of you) that the mfgs would test their own however they wanted. The basic test was with the engine on a stand with absolutely zero accessories such as water pump, ps, etc water was pumped through from a device and didn't count, exhaust was straight through or non-existent and - TEST AWAY! In real world the accessories drain gobs of power off the top and new test procedures reflect how the engine is configured AND which octane gas it is designed to run with - another trick having been using av gas and playing with the advance to tweak the test engine. Now a certain number of accessories have to be connected and running and I believe an exhaust system similar but not equal to what it will have. Exhaust system can affect power output but the engine may carry its same rating in each and every vehicle it goes in.

Another blast from the past, in the 60's and 70's the big 3 did not always post the full hp found on the dyno due to worries about the insurance companies coming down harder on them. An example (I have read about it I just am foggy this AM) was the ChryCo 426 Hemi and the 440 6-pack The 440 produced more hp but was rated less because the Hemi was the poster engine. And in some instances if Ford advertised 410 hp for example and your engine was producing 452 and still climbing when you stopped testing, you didn't need to advertise much more than about 425. (numbers out of thin air)
 

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solsticeman said:
That conflicts with some of the other, ahhh... non-official reports of closer to 130-134 RWHP (corrected to std conditions).
All I can say is that my info comes from Shiv Pathak (http://www.vishnutuning.com/) who let's say, knows the right people to get the right info.
 

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LBJay said:
All I can say is that my info comes from Shiv Pathak (http://www.vishnutuning.com/) who let's say, knows the right people to get the right info.
I met Shiv back when he was still driving "Frankenstein" (RIP). He definitely knows his stuff.

BTW, does anyone remember a few years ago when Ford "accidentally" overtated the Mustang SVT Cobra's horsepower by a little over 50hp? :skep: Amazingly, Ford stated that it made 305hp which was exactly what the $10k cheaper Camaro Z28 was advertised as producing.

I've wondered if Ford's involvement in Mazda had anything to do with the optimistic power ratings during the last few years.
 

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LBJay said:
All I can say is that my info comes from Shiv Pathak (http://www.vishnutuning.com/) who let's say, knows the right people to get the right info.
And all I can say is I've seen the data for 0-60 in the new MX-5. And it is not that impressive, even with traction control off.
 
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