ForcedFed Turbo Elise

NOTE: Since the writing of this article ForceFed has closed. The ForceFed turbo kits are no longer commercially available. However there is information in this article about what goes into a turbocharging the Elise or Exige.

ForcedFed - Elise Tuners

Traditionally the Lotus enthusiast who has wanted to enhance their Lotus has had to be part engineer, part test driver, part fabricator and part pioneer, willing to venture into areas where no man has gone before. There have been turbocharged Europas, Sevens with V8s, Esprits with nitrous and Elans with rotary engines, all done typically in the shade of a large tree and the sweat and knuckle blood of the owner.

Enter the Elise to the US shores and in numbers that smaller tuning shops are venturing into developing unique products for this low production car. Armed with experience with other higher volume cars, a few shops and manufacturers are cropping up around the world to cater to the Elise. ForcedFed located in Livermore, California is one such company who has made a business decision to build and produce high-end performance parts for the new Elise.

ForceFed is about a year old and was started by principles of Modacar ( and Brett Payne.

Modacar has been supporting the sport compact performance scene since 1996 and grew from a home-based e-commerce business to a brick-and-mortar location in Pleasanton and then moved to its current location at 6583 Las Positas Road Livermore, CA 94550 in summer 2003. Customers can walk into their showroom and see a wide array of performance parts for their Acura, Honda, Nissan, Mazda or other sport compacts. Along side the showroom is a shop includes an installation bay equipped with a in-floor Dynojet dynamometer.

Payne joined to help build a new business and focus on the marketing of Modacar. It became clear that Modacar's e-commerce business was being attacked by off-shore and small firms selling cheap poor quality parts sold at little or no margins. Challenged to meet its business objective Modacar decided to spin off ForcedFed and build proprietary performance parts that required significant R&D and offer those to the discerning enthusiasts. ForcedFed looked at the market for cars that had significant build numbers, yet were niche products and attracted the enthusiast. They first chose the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII and more recently the Lotus Elise.

Taking lessons learned from Modacar, ForcedFed is focused upon creating quality performance parts that are well engineered, use top materials and built by experienced and skilled fabricators.

Fig 1 - ForcedFed / Modacar shop

ForcedFed is in the process of developing 3 stages of engine performance packages. All packages require installation by authorized ForcedFed dealer/installers. Each ForcedFed installer will have access to a dyno where the customer's Elise will be dynoed before and after the ForceFed modifications are installed.

By requiring installation ForcedFed is trying to protect their significant investment of 350+ hours of R&D that has gone into their Stage 1 turbo package. Were the ForcedFed package to be sold over-the-counter in a box, it would be only matter of time before someone duplicated the pieces overseas with lower quality and undercut ForcedFed. ForcedFed is planning to train their authorized installers to assure that the kits are correctly installed.

Fig 2 - Exhaust manifold & turbo. Note how the manifold tapers to smaller diameter runners in order to maintain the velocity of the exhaust charge.

The first Elise performance package (Stage 1) ForcedFed has developed is a turbo kit that develops 241whp (estimated 275hp at the engine) and 170 lbs-ft torque at the rear wheels (stock is 166hp & 119 lbs-ft).

The 275 horsepower Stage 1 Turbo Kit consists of:

  • Garrett GT28R Turbo
  • Stainless Steel Turbo Support System
  • 321 Stainless Tubular Manifold
  • Heatshielding for turbo and manifold
  • Spearco 450 HP Intercooler Core
  • 750CM Puller Fan
  • Aluminum Dedicated Intercooler Ducting
  • Powder coated Aluminum Intercooler Pipes with isolator Mounts and Chassis Brackets
  • Samco Intercooler Hose
  • 304 Stainless 3 Inch exhaust system with flanged removable cat and muffler with optional tip and test pipe, using the factory donut with swivel and motorcycle springs for flex
  • 550cc Injectors
  • Proprietary Engine Management Computer
  • Dedicated Air Intake System
  • Modified Toyota Oil Pan (core exchange)
  • Pressure Adaptor Fitting and Line
  • NGK Spark Plugs
  • Bosch Porsche BOV with Plumbing for Recirculation
  • Brackets, Braces, Lines and Fittings
  • Engineered Engine Restraint System

    The ForcedFed Stage 1 Turbo Kit is priced at $7200 (without installation). Total weight gain over stock is estimated to be 20 lbs.

    ForcedFed contracted a designer for the initial kit who has a long background in turbo engines having designed turbo systems for CART, Trans-Am and other racing series. The thought and engineering that went into the Stage 1 kit is apparent, the intercooler is mounted to existing holes and mounts. An aluminum shroud mounted to the left side grill ducts all the air from this opening into the intercooler. The pull fan is nicely mounted to the intercooler with studs welded to the intercooler tanks. The plumbing for the entire system is assembled with quality hose clamps and hoses and is designed to be as short as possible to eliminate turbo lag. The intercooler tanks are fabricated from sheet aluminum instead of the common cast type. Cast tanks are thick and heavy and act as a heat sink deducing the effectiveness of the intercooler.

    Fig 3 - Spearco intercooler, note the folded sheet aluminum tanks, lighter and stay cooler.

    Testing has shown that ForceFed achieved sufficient results with the intercooler. In full throttle test runs the intercooler temperatures dropped 20-30 degrees.

    The intake is mounted behind the right side grill opening that allows lots of cool air and then ducted back to the Garrett GT28R Turbo. You can barely see the Turbo mounted to a nicely fabricated s/s header with tapered exhaust runners to promote a high velocity stream of exhaust gasses to turn the turbo. ForcedFed claims that there is no perceptible turbo lag due to these design features. Maximum boost is approximately 7 psi.

    The ForcedFed exhaust system mounts to a factory donut with swivel and springs that allows ample movement to prevent fracturing. The system retains the catalytic converter and exits through the stock location.

    Fig 4 - ForcedFed exhaust system (exhaust tip is not mounted), exits through the stock location and uses the factory flex donut.

    The fuel injectors are enlarged to 550cc to cope with need for additional fuel. ForceFed has tuned the air/fuel ratio to about 11.5-12.0, substantially richer than the stock 13.0-13.6.

    There are no internal changes to the engine; the cams still come on at about 6200 rpm. However with full boost attainable at 2500 rpm the Elise is transformed into a stormer even from 3000 rpm.

    Fig 5 - Dyno chart, impressive output, note the dip when the cam phase changes at 6200 rpm.

    On this, my second visit to ForcedFed the UniChip piggyback engine management module, which was in place during my original visit was being re-calibrated. During ForcedFed's testing the stock Lotus ECU from EFI slowly adjusted the air/fuel ratio back to the 13.0-13.6 that is desired for the normally aspirated engine. When ForcedFed realized the Lotus ECU was learning and adapting they stopped testing not wanting to damage the engine (too lean). ForcedFed was surprised by the quality (smartness) of the stock Lotus ECU, it is very uncommon for a factory ECU to be able to adapt by such a significant amount. Most factory ECUs have a very narrow range in which they can adapt and change, but the Lotus board is significantly "smarter". ForcedFed working on a solution at this time and are confident that the ultimate result will be the correct fuel map.

    Fig 6 - Clean, professional installation. The intake is on the right, the intercooler on the left.

    Just after my first visit to ForcedFed they took the car down to Southern California for testing by "Sports Compact Car". The results of that test could not be disclosed to me due to press embargos, but it was clear ForcedFed was pleased the way the car performed making 10 quarter mile runs in a row in the 12 second range. Expect to see the test results in a future edition of "Sports Compact Car".

    The test car (belonging to a Chicago owner) did get a ACT clutch, but ForcedFed feels that the stock clutch is up the task for normal street driving. If the owner of a turbo car intends more frequent standing start launches then the ACT clutch is recommended.

    At this writing ForcedFed has not done any emissions testing. When asked about CARB (California Air Resources Board) approval, ForcedFed indicated that it is unlikely they would pursue approval unless they could find a way to obtain it without the cost and time normally required.

    Fig 7 - Intake is at the top and is feed by cold air coming in from the right side grill.

    It was on my first visit to ForcedFed that Brett gave me a ride in the Stage 1 modified Elise. The power is phenomenal. The car's nose pops up and the car rockets off getting to triple figures in a few short seconds. The claim of 12-second quarter mile times seems realistic, as does high 3 second 0 to 60s. When was the last time your head was slammed into the headrest and pinned there as you blew by just about anything else out there?

    Power delivery was smooth, with not perceivable flat spots or hesitation. The turboed engine is capable of smoothly pulling from 2500 rpm right up to redline. As you look at the dyno charts you'll note a slight dip at 6200. The higher lift cam kicks in and briefly starves the engine until the turbo has an opportunity to catch up.

    Simply put the Elise is transformed into something akin to supercar performance.

    Fig 8 - The intercooler is at the top-right and the exhaust manifold can be seen between the engine and the boot (trunk).

    Performance Specification: (per ForcedFed)

  • Horsepower: 275
  • Torque: 200
  • 0-60mph 4.0 seconds
  • 0-100mph 8.8 seconds
  • mile 12.3 seconds @113mph
  • Top Speed 160mph
    ForcedFed is designing two additional performance kits.

    Normally Aspirated Kit
    The NA kit will include a new intake system and exhaust. ForcedFed will evaluate the need for an ECU change.

    400 Horsepower Stage 2 Turbo Kit
    ForcedFed purchased a new Magnetic Blue Elise and plans to use it for developing the 400hp Stage 2 Turbo kit. The Stage 2 kit will likely include:

  • Forcedfed Built Long Block with British Racing Green Crinkle Valve Cover
  • Forcedfed Engineered Fuelling System
  • Garrett GT28/71 Turbo Internally Gated
  • Stainless Steel Turbo Support System
  • Larger Runner 321 Stainless Tubular Manifold
  • Heat shielding for turbo and manifold
  • Spearco 450 HP Intercooler Core
  • 750CM Puller Fan
  • Aluminum Dedicated Intercooler Ducting
  • Powder coated Aluminum Intercooler Pipes with isolator Mounts and Chassis Brackets
  • Samco Intercooler Hose
  • 304 Stainless 3 Inch exhaust system with flanged removable cat and muffler with optional tip and test pipe, using the factory donut with swivel and motorcycle springs for flex
  • 550cc Injectors
  • Engine Management System TBD
  • Dedicated Air Intake System
  • Forcedfed Aluminum Baffled Oil Pan
  • Pressure Adaptor Fitting and Line
  • NGK Spark Plugs
  • Bosch Porsche BOV with Plumbing for Recirculation
  • Brackets, Braces, Lines and Fittings
  • Engineered Engine Restraint System

    The price for the NA and the Stage 2 kits has yet to be determined.

    ForcedFed is looking at a Alcon brake kit for the Elise as well body pieces, aerodynamic bits - wing, splitter, limited slip diff and other accessories.

    ForcedFed has selected these authorized installers:

    KTR Performance LLC
    99 Fitchburg Rd.Ayer
    Massachusetts 01432
    Fax: 978-772-9499

    Dimmitt Lotus
    25191 US Highway 19 North
    Clearwater, FL 33763

    Lotus of San Francisco
    999 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94109
    PH: 415-776-7700
    FX: 415-771-2483

    Auto Logic 5627 Star
    Houston, Texas 77057

    Brett stated that he as spoken with a few other Lotus dealers who have expressed interest in becoming an authorized installer. New installers will be announced as they are signed-up and trained.

    I am impressed with the overall quality, design and engineering that ForcedFed has put into the Stage 1 Turbo kit. The installation and results speak well for their efforts. ForcedFed is building a quality product that has the look of a factory effort. ForcedFed is a small independent company who must be praised for their work and taking such a business risk, however they do not have the resources of Lotus and thus their testing cannot duplicate a factory effort.

    Additionally, any aftermarket kit that is not approved by Lotus is likely to void the factory warranty. The Toyota engine is has been proven to be durable in the Toyota vehicles. Aftermarket turbo and superchargers in the Toyota cars have not shown ill affect on the durability of the 2ZZ-GE engine. The Elise owner should then be armed with this knowledge and make their own decision.

    So, if you're interested in a seriously fast Elise, one that can run past a Z06 on the straights, then consider the ForcedFed Stage 1 Turbo Kit.

    Brett Payne