Project Mk V GTI: Part 3

Now that the GTI has been lowered, it’s time to give it some more power. Upgrading the ECU is a given for an engine like the 2.0T. In this installment, Frank reports back on the results of his upgrades.- Joslin

When it came time to upgrade software in the GTI, I once again chose a company that I have had success with in the past. I did my research and felt that GIAC would provide me with quality software and top-notch customer service as well. I called on the services of Mike Hawkes at Emotion Autowerks here in Vegas, our local GIAC dealer and made an appoinment to get my car flashed. Needless to say, I was looking forward to unleashing all that hidden torque; after all that’s one of the reasons we love VW’s, right?!

The whole process of flashing the ECU took less than 30 minutes, but the grin on my face after driving the re-flashed car lasted for much longer. The car was virtually transformed from the software, with smooth delivery and what felt like a huge increase in torque. The increased sound of the turbo spooling immediately tells you there’s something different going on and then when you get on the gas and watch your passenger’s head snap back, you know it’s time for some fun! The car felt much quicker but not in a violent way; like I said, very smooth power delivery, noticibly improved throttle response in all modes and very noticible power increase. Taking off in Sport or Manual mode virtually guarantees wheelspin in first and second gear. It’s actually quite addicting, and my car spends a lot more time in manual now than it did originally. Amazingly, my gas mileage has remained relatively unchanged, which I consider an added bonus.

The good old Butt Dyno convinced me there was morepower on tap, but I felt thatn the elevation and high temperatures of the Desert this time of year might be skewing my perspective on just how much more power I was making. Since nobody in Vegas had any experience dynoing a DSG car, I asked GIAC for some advice, and they put me in touch with Jeff Moss of Torque Factory in Venice, California. We all agreed that it would be best to test the car at an impartial facility, so the search began for dyno in Southern California. We were looking for a quality, well-maintained dyno that could fit us in within my time frame, since I would be driving in from Las Vegas. After numerous phone calls and plenty of searching, we found a BMW tuner, Technik, also in Venice, who had a really nice Dynojet 248c with the High-Inertia wheel. The wheel is larger and usually used for higher horsepower cars, like the 600hp turbo M3s that Techinik actually builds. It wasn’t the optimum dyno for us but it was in good shape and available, so we decided to go for it. I drove down on a Saturday and went directly to the Torque Factory where I met Jeff in person for the first time. Jeff has been something of a legend in VW circles for many years and it turns out he’s actually one of the nicest guys I have met in the VW scene.

The first thing to do was return my ECU to stock so we could get a baseline number on the car. Jeff reflashed the car at his facility and then we were off to the dyno. It was my first experience with an in-ground dyno, and I have to admit there’s something cool about seeing the car run on the ground like that. Jeff took the helm and did a few pulls; the numbers were right in the ball park of what we’ve all seen on stock cars. Horsepower at the wheels was almost 187 and torque was just below 202 lb-ft, not bad for a car with a manuafturer’s claim of 200.

With the baseline recorded it was time to reflash the car with the GIAC X+ software. While Jeff started the process, I walked around and looked at the BMWs. I’ve never been much of a fan but these guys build some nice cars; they were all about subtle exteriors and big power- always a winning combo if you ask me.

With the car reflashed, it was time to get back on the rollers. We strapped her down and turned on the fans and Jeff let her rip! Right off the bat I was blown away- the increase was crazy! Horsepower was bumped up to around 205 and the torque a whopping 257 lb-ft! I wasn’t expecting numbers like that, especially with the high-inertia wheel, I was quite happy! Of the runs, the graphs shown are in the middle of the what we saw. There’s actually a spike in one of the stock pulls that went up to 209, which I thought that was kind of strange. Either way I was very pleased and I was also happy that what I was feeling in the car wasn’t all in my head. I look back at my original thougths when I had the car flashed and the dyno pretty much matched my thoughts exactly.

Some intersting notes about the runs shown above: At 2250 rpm, X+ makes an additional 12 lb-ft of torque, 16 more at 2500 rpm, 53 more at 3000 rpm, and 59 more at 3250! Horsepwoer increases by 44 whp at 3600 rpm, 35 whp at 4600 rpm, and 15-20 whp from 4800-6500 rpm

Obviously, I am very pleased with results of my selection.

I also received the new Flash Loader for the ME9, which includes the X+ pump program, the stock program, valet mode, and kill mode. The race gas mode is in develeopment and should be available soon. The new model, while similar in appearance, works very fast and is great for piece of mind, personally, I don’t valet my car but it also works great as a gag, when you finally let that friend who won’t stop bugging you, drive your car. The kill feature is also really cool. I recently used it when I parked at the airport overnight and felt confident my car would still be there in the morning. The stock mode is just that, and the best part is that it’s undetectable. Another cool new feature is the additon of a password. Each owner has his own sequence on the entry pad that must be entered before switching between modes. All in all, the unit works perfectly – it’s easy to use, switches fast and best of all, clearly displays which program you are in, which to me, in addition to the numbers posted above, is everything you could ask for in a software upgrade. The new Flash Loader made its public debut last weekend at Waterfest.

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