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How to choose the right ECU upgrade

Bulblebee_86

New member
Location
Dubai
Car(s)
GTI MK7.5
There are so many that I don't know from which one to choose.


From my point of view (and maybe many others to) I look at the graph and I see one is more curved than the other and one gives more HP then other ... but I bet there is more underneath this.
For example, I understood that tunes that gives high torque in low RPM stresses the engine the most and are more prone to have engine failure, if this is true, you guys hope can confirm.
Some tunes are more aggressive then others with high/low torque options as well, what I want is one that's the most natural, that gives torque in a linear way. I saw some gives 3k/rpm maximum and than dies out. I know turbo has it's limitations but still, even if I am a newbie in this I can tell that is not the best.


My question is if there is someone who understands this topic to name some companies that make tunes more engine friendly and are not that aggressive.

I have MK7.5 GTI DSG which makes the main reason not wanting an over aggressive tune (wheel spin etc.), beside the protection of the engine.

Just for the record I will want to upgrade, in time, after the stage one: inter cooler, air intake, down pipe, turbo inlet (to cool down better and have a better airflow because of the hot area I live in, 45°C/113°F 8months a year)
 
Last edited:

ShadyMF

Go Kart Champion
Location
Upstate NY
Car(s)
2020 GTI IS38 6MT
Anything off the shelf for a bolt on car is going to be relatively safe and similar regardless of where you go.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Euro Tuning scene, the one good thing I will say is that there are plenty of options and I've tried a few.

The biggest difference between most of them are driving characteristics from my observations.
Do some searching, read a bunch. Contemplate back and forth, second guess your self constantly and pick whatever one gives you the best warm and fuzzies.
 

mrmattolsen

Autocross Champion
Location
Jacksonville, FL
Car(s)
2015 GTI DSG
A few tips that I've learned:

1) Peak Torque/HP number don't tell the full story. Don't chase those numbers. "Area under the curve," or the size of the power band tends to matter more.

2) Research the refund/support policies. Some tunes will offer a refund if you don't like it. This could be valuable when you're not sure what you'll like.

3) Remember these cars are FWD. Traction ain't easy. More power, at some point, becomes increasingly difficult to drive without lots more practice and concentration.

4) Look at the shape of the power band. This will define how the car "feels." Low-end power, high-end power, and flat power curves all feel different. For example... A big peak at 3000rpm then dropoff is common with these cars, and can be exciting in certain conditions, but if you want to be able to wind out the engine, that powerband might feel frustrating as it tapers off a lot. Something that holds power longer might be more to your liking (as it is for me).

5) Consider how the tune is applied. Some use a proprietary cable, some use a Cobb AP, some can only be done at authorized dealers, some are even more limited. These differences will affect your ability to easily make changes to the tune in the future, should you desire.

6) Ignore the fanboys. Everyone thinks their tune is the best.
 

Nineeightyone

Drag Racing Champion
Location
USA
Car(s)
19 GTI 04 JSW 10 MZ3
A few tips that I've learned:

1) Peak Torque/HP number don't tell the full story. Don't chase those numbers. "Area under the curve," or the size of the power band tends to matter more.

2) Research the refund/support policies. Some tunes will offer a refund if you don't like it. This could be valuable when you're not sure what you'll like.

3) Remember these cars are FWD. Traction ain't easy. More power, at some point, becomes increasingly difficult to drive without lots more practice and concentration.

4) Look at the shape of the power band. This will define how the car "feels." Low-end power, high-end power, and flat power curves all feel different. For example... A big peak at 3000rpm then dropoff is common with these cars, and can be exciting in certain conditions, but if you want to be able to wind out the engine, that powerband might feel frustrating as it tapers off a lot. Something that holds power longer might be more to your liking (as it is for me).

5) Consider how the tune is applied. Some use a proprietary cable, some use a Cobb AP, some can only be done at authorized dealers, some are even more limited. These differences will affect your ability to easily make changes to the tune in the future, should you desire.

6) Ignore the fanboys. Everyone thinks their tune is the best.

These are all excellent (and non-biased) points. Lots of people seem to really like EQT and Sneeky, though APR also seems to be somewhat popular. It's generally pretty well accepted that Cobb's OTS tunes aren't quite as good as the 3rd party options, and for the 2.0T the Unitronic stuff isn't as popular. Personally, I went with the popular option and ordered the Stage 1 OTS EQT 91 Octane tune, I'm going to try it out tonight (assuming the flash goes smoothly).

IMO, AccessPort tunes are a pretty safe bet -- lots of tuners are using the AP hardware. If you're unsure though, what about a JB4? That would give you the ability to not only have a relatively custom map for your car, but also tweak as you learn more/want changes. The other thing with the JB1/JB4 is that you can stack it on top of a tune, for when you get really out into the weeds. Best of all, it won't TD1 your car, which makes it attractive to those who want to retain their factory warranty.
 

Chogokin

Autocross Champion
Location
So Cal
Car(s)
GTI Sport | Audi A3
Go with a used JB4 from the classifides and start from there if you're not sure what you're really looking for.
 

Supermoto

Drag Racing Champion
Location
San Diego
Car(s)
2019 Autobahn DSG
I was Stage 2 EQT and also tried 5051. Ended up going back to stock, its way nicer.
 

DSC808

Drag Racing Champion
Location
HI State
Car(s)
2016 GTI SE MT
Another for the JB4. Use the customizable Map 6 and replicate what someone else has done with similar mods for your area. Then the tinker boost every 500rpm by .5 - 1.0 psi till you get something you like.

OR you can get EuroDyne Maestro and tune yourself.
 

mrmattolsen

Autocross Champion
Location
Jacksonville, FL
Car(s)
2015 GTI DSG
Yeah you can get a used JB4 for $300 or less. Good inexpensive way to jump in.
 

mrmattolsen

Autocross Champion
Location
Jacksonville, FL
Car(s)
2015 GTI DSG
I was Stage 2 EQT and also tried 5051. Ended up going back to stock, its way nicer.
Tell me more. I’m currently back on stock and really enjoy it.
 

Supermoto

Drag Racing Champion
Location
San Diego
Car(s)
2019 Autobahn DSG
Tell me more. I’m currently back on stock and really enjoy it.
Well, I was stock for 2 years with a downpipe and loved it. Got the fun noises and the car drove like was designed to. After a while I went crazy one night and ordered a stage 2 tune from EQT. I was extremely on the fence about it and almost cancelled my order 4 times in the next 24 hours, but I figured I will stick it out and see if its really as good as everyone says it is. I installed the tune and took the car out for a spin, and I was underwhelmed. Sure it pulled harder, but it wasnt THAT much of a difference. I started asking around to figure out if something was wrong. I posted logs, gathered opinions, and everyone said yep thats how its supposed to be! Isnt it great? And my response was unfortunately confusion followed by "honestly no, it isnt that great.

Im dealing with a front wheel drive hatchback that already is faster than 90% of cars I see on the road, and I dont even use all the stock power. Plus when stock you can actually wind out each gear and really enjoy the process, but with the tune you are basically going 100+ before you know it. I used to drive a miata so I am all about the "its more fun to drive a slow car fast" motto. The GTI is no slow car, but you get my point.

With the tune, all the faults of the car are brought out (intercooler, plugs, transmission tune, mounts, fueling, etc). Now I get knock like its no one business unless I blend with E85, my DSG needs to be tuned to handle the increasted torque safely, I need an intercooler to help with the knock and intake temps, the plugs need to be a step cooler to also hopefully help knock, and my mounts are all too soft now that I make so much power.

I started by getting a DSG tune, and that only made things worse. The entire car would jerk and vibrate, the engagement and disengagement were randomly very clangy and jerky (yes I did all the adaptations etc), reverse would randomly just pop out of gear if I was reversing up a hill and didnt give it a ton of gas, and again it just caused more problems.

So next I got new mounts, and the headache grew. The mounts found every little loose panel, squeak, and rattle and made them all come out in full swing.

So I went from a nice comfortable yet fun daily driver to a rattly, knocking, uptight unrefined hatch that does make a lot of power, but none of which I ever actually use. Long story short concluded, I sold the car to carvana for a killer price just to pass that headache on, and I bought a 2019 Autobahn DSG thats going to stay stock (ECU and TCU wise) forever. Eventually I will get a pointless open air intake and catback for some fun noises to increase the driving pleasure, but thats pretty much where it will end.
 

Daks

Autocross Champion
Location
Toronto
Car(s)
GTI PP
Go Cobb, enables you to go further if you need to. Big turbo. I hear what @Supermoto is saying, I do. But i love eveything I've done to the car. It's not a bother, for me the gain is much higher than the driveability or whatever is sacrificed. Different strokes for different folks.
 

mrmattolsen

Autocross Champion
Location
Jacksonville, FL
Car(s)
2015 GTI DSG
Well, I was stock for 2 years with a downpipe and loved it. Got the fun noises and the car drove like was designed to. After a while I went crazy one night and ordered a stage 2 tune from EQT. I was extremely on the fence about it and almost cancelled my order 4 times in the next 24 hours, but I figured I will stick it out and see if its really as good as everyone says it is. I installed the tune and took the car out for a spin, and I was underwhelmed. Sure it pulled harder, but it wasnt THAT much of a difference. I started asking around to figure out if something was wrong. I posted logs, gathered opinions, and everyone said yep thats how its supposed to be! Isnt it great? And my response was unfortunately confusion followed by "honestly no, it isnt that great.

Im dealing with a front wheel drive hatchback that already is faster than 90% of cars I see on the road, and I dont even use all the stock power. Plus when stock you can actually wind out each gear and really enjoy the process, but with the tune you are basically going 100+ before you know it. I used to drive a miata so I am all about the "its more fun to drive a slow car fast" motto. The GTI is no slow car, but you get my point.

With the tune, all the faults of the car are brought out (intercooler, plugs, transmission tune, mounts, fueling, etc). Now I get knock like its no one business unless I blend with E85, my DSG needs to be tuned to handle the increasted torque safely, I need an intercooler to help with the knock and intake temps, the plugs need to be a step cooler to also hopefully help knock, and my mounts are all too soft now that I make so much power.

I started by getting a DSG tune, and that only made things worse. The entire car would jerk and vibrate, the engagement and disengagement were randomly very clangy and jerky (yes I did all the adaptations etc), reverse would randomly just pop out of gear if I was reversing up a hill and didnt give it a ton of gas, and again it just caused more problems.

So next I got new mounts, and the headache grew. The mounts found every little loose panel, squeak, and rattle and made them all come out in full swing.

So I went from a nice comfortable yet fun daily driver to a rattly, knocking, uptight unrefined hatch that does make a lot of power, but none of which I ever actually use. Long story short concluded, I sold the car to carvana for a killer price just to pass that headache on, and I bought a 2019 Autobahn DSG thats going to stay stock (ECU and TCU wise) forever. Eventually I will get a pointless open air intake and catback for some fun noises to increase the driving pleasure, but thats pretty much where it will end.
Totally fair points. Although I do think there’s a middle ground. A mild stage 1 tune might be worth trying, like the APR Stage 1 low torque. Food for thought. But I love the stock setup too — it’s fast enough, refined, worry-free.
 

RisingFallens

Autocross Champion
Location
Raleigh
Car(s)
MK7.5 GTI!
I’ve really enjoyed my EQT stage 2. First tuned vehicle I’ve ever had! The power / torque curve is great. Plus I’ve got some great Bridgestones on their that help with the reaction! I’m just regretting the Solowerks Coilovers. Theyre great for a cheap build, but all this power and a bumpy ride sucks 😛
 

Supermoto

Drag Racing Champion
Location
San Diego
Car(s)
2019 Autobahn DSG
I’ve really enjoyed my EQT stage 2. First tuned vehicle I’ve ever had! The power / torque curve is great. Plus I’ve got some great Bridgestones on their that help with the reaction! I’m just regretting the Solowerks Coilovers. Theyre great for a cheap build, but all this power and a bumpy ride sucks 😛
Thats actually the other thing I forgot, traction haha. I tried PS4S and Conti Extreme Contact Sports and either way had basically no traction in first and second.
 

Chogokin

Autocross Champion
Location
So Cal
Car(s)
GTI Sport | Audi A3
Thats actually the other thing I forgot, traction haha. I tried PS4S and Conti Extreme Contact Sports and either way had basically no traction in first and second.

Haha...that's what you have to deal with on a front drive car. I have a JB4 on Map 2. With 200 treadwear tires (Hankook RS-4)...my wheels just spin if I hammer it from low speeds. Heck...I don't even have to go full throttle...3/4 will get my front tires to spin.
 
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