It is tough to choose a Stage 1 ECU Tune. There are too many good options. To help assist in my search for a tune, I sought-out the experts…automotive forums, friends, and even, my local dealership.
The questions I asked were mainly focused on the performance I could expect using the weak California 91 octane fuel (since most Tuners advertise gains using 93 octane…which produces more power) and how my future Stage 1 ECU tune would be affected by adding additional performance modifications like a performance intake, intercooler, down-pipe, exhaust, and a Water/Meth setup.
I had a variety of helpful responses from friends and forum members and they were all greatly appreciated.
I thought it was odd that most of the suggestions instructed me to purchase a Tune from my closest Tuner. I guess that is good advice if additional support is needed, or if something goes wrong but, I just want to buy the best Tune for my needs and future plans. If that happens to be my closest Tuner, then great but, I didn’t want to base my entire decision on convenience and geography.
Then, there were other suggestions for me to purchase either the APR, or GIAC Tunes because they are by far the most popular Stage 1 Tunes and people are really happy with their product.
I even asked my local Audi dealer which Tuner they recommended. Ironically, they recommended Neuspeed, my closest Tuner. Go figure. Well, at least they didn’t recommend them because they were the closest; they recommend them because of their experience and history with them.
However, going against all the advice I received online, I was most impressed and intrigued by the Tunes offered by Neuspeed and HPA because unlike most other Stage 1 ECU Tunes, they don’t require additional software or re-flashes for future modifications like a performance air intake, an intercooler, and a turbo-back exhaust system and no additional maps for different octane fuels (which will be extremely useful when I add a W/M kit). I felt that these innovative features set these two Stage 1 ECU Tunes apart from the rest of the competition and sounded the best for me and my needs.
Similar to politics and government, people like to hear what they want to hear, and not necessarily, what is best for them. So going along with that tradition, I decided to narrow my options to Neuspeed and HPA because they provided me with the most ‘free’ benefits.
Unfortunately, what killed Neuspeed is that they don’t offer a K04 Tune and if I decide to go that route in the future, I would have to have my car re-Tuned by another company which, would suck. HPA does. I went with HPA.
I not only chose HPA because of the features they offered in their Stage 1 ECU Tune but, because I have a good history with. They Tuned both the ECU and the DSG in my 2008 VW R32. I never had one issue. I was very happy with their product. I don’t see any reason to believe that their 2.0T Tune will be any different in terms of performance and reliability.
I’ve heard some say that the HPA entered the 2.0T Tuning game way too late, their Stage 1 Tune is overpriced, and there is no room for another ‘new’ kid on the performance-tuning block but, I don’t see it that way. HPA is offering some very unique ECU software features that have been pioneered, tested, and proven during their successful and on-going 2.0T racing program. This alone should solidify their position in the 2.0T Tuning market.
I believe their Stage 1 Tune is original and authentic and their pricing is extremely competitive IF their auto-adjusting and auto-optimizing claims for different octane fuel and future modifications are accurate.
Alright, the Installation.
HPA really makes this process easy. The Flash Tool kit is shipped in a professional double box package next day air. The outside box has all your shipping information and the inside box has all HPA’s return shipping information. So once you are finished, all you need to do put the Flash Tool in the box, seal it, drop it off at any UPS location for return. Simple, convenient and everything was done at my home.
Huh, come to think of it, I guess HPA was my closest Tuner! LOL!
Anyway, once the HPA software was installed on my computer, I plugged the HPA Flashing Tool into the OBD II port under the dash and started the reading process. Once finished, I saved the ECU files on my laptop and emailed them to HPA so they can be modified and sent back. This process took about 25 minutes. The next day I received an email with the modified ECU from HPA. I then quickly plugged my laptop back into the OBD II port and began the writing process which took about 35 minutes. As expected everything went smoothly. When finished, I eagerly but, carefully, disconnected all the equipment and prepared myself for my first drive with the newly modified HPA ECU Tuning. Here we go!
The most common phrase I read and hear about regarding any 2.0T Stage 1 ECU performance tuning is that “the car should have come like this from the factory”. We’ll, that endlessly repeated statement, is true! The 2.0T should have come like this from the factory. My A3 is no longer the same. Thank God!
The first thing I noticed was the razor sharp and immediate throttle response brought on by the new Tuning. There is no pause, there is no hesitation. The throttle response is excellent both on, and off boost. This alone is a huge improvement over the stock tuning. In addition, the acceleration is effortless and the power delivery is smooth, seamless, and very strong. Just the way I like it. The new-found power is intoxicating. It is definitely worth the price of admission!
The low end torque brought on by the Tune is truly comparable in strength to a much larger displacement engine. Really! Take a look at this...
My A3 was tested by Tom at EFI West in Camarillo California on his DynoJet 220xlc and made an impressive 216 peak wheel horsepower and 235 peak wheel torque using 91 octane fuel.
Here is another dynograph comparing my 100% stock A3 vs. the HPA Stage 1 ECU Tuned A3.
The HPA Stage 1 ECU Tune produced an additional 26 peak wheel horsepower and 37 peak wheel torque on 91 octane fuel. Nice!
HPA’s experience and command of the factory ECU software really shine in their Stage 1 ECU Tune. They have produced an excellent blend of innovate features and performance for the 2.0T. HPA’s connection with their 2.0T racing program is always present every time you press the accelerator pedal.
Good job HPA!
I will be logging and posting some additional dyno results for 100 octane and W/M to test The HPA Stage 1 ECU Tune for its ability to fully optimize and adjust for changes in octane fuels…Stay Tuned!
The full review can be found in by build thread here (post #53);