We’ve put a huge amount of groundwork into this ALL NEW Stage 1 software for the GPF (Gasoline Particulate Filter) era of vehicles on the VAG platform. Here’s what you need to know.
We’re very excited about the new Revo Software. Not least of all because the latest generation 2.0TSI engine (Gen3 with GPF) has seen some substantial changes. In factory form to keep in line with the latest emissions laws.
As an aftermarket tuning specialist, GPF (and the effects it may have on performance) has been a big consideration for us. There is also another significant change to the latest EA888 units – the switch to a direct injection system.
There are a number of questions that the addition of GPF raises. Yes, it’s similar in function to DPF for diesel vehicles. But before we go any further have a read of our other blog post (click here).
Huge Stage 1 gains!
Before getting stuck into the tech, here are the headlines you’re looking for. In short, these are the key facts and benefits:
- Performance increased to 370BHP/500NM
- OEM quoted power 286BHP/380NM
- Stage 1 GAINS +84BHP & +120NM
- Switchable Software – 3 Performance modes & anti-theft
- Specifically tuned for 95, 97 and 99 Ron fuels
- Speed limit unlock
- Cold start protection
- Temperature protection
- Enhanced turbine control
- Recalibrated gauges for extra performance
- OBD port installation
- Designed to work with the stock DQ381 gearbox
Right, now you’re fully up to speed let us share with you what we’ve learnt. What has gone into making this all possible and our approach to developing the most comprehensive performance software available?
From the ground up.
Rather than tweaking existing software (for the very similar EA888 non-GPF line of cars). We’ve taken on a brand new GPF-equipped development EA888 MQB-chassis car and built ALL-NEW Stage 1 software from the ground up.
We have also had access to a number of other GPF-equipped vehicles globally on this platform to test the software, too. Like all of our software development, it’s an extensive and very involved process. Ensuring we launch the best version possible that works globally, with all different fuel types and climates.
This one gets quite ‘techy’ so I enlisted the help of in-house Revo Calibration Engineer, Jake Menesse. Who has been responsible for developing this software along with the rest of the calibration team.
How about GPF delete?
Before we go any further let’s get this out of the way.
This is covered in the other blog post, but for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t read that yet. Here are the key points.
We anticipate it being as illegal to remove as DPF. Therefore removal of the GPF is not a process supported by Revo.
“We’d rather complete the tuning process correctly the first time around with GPF in place,” said Jake. “We can understand why there’s a temptation for people to remove the GPF. Potentially, more power would be available although it’s not something we’ve tested, support or can verify,” he said.
It’s a legal requirement for a road-going vehicle if fitted from factory. If Governments are coming down hard on manufacturers. It’s likely they will be looking out for people removing them after purchase too.
Revo’s mission is to develop products that are road-legal, and don’t require you to essentially break the law to enjoy. If you intend on using yours as a daily it’s an important consideration.
How restrictive is GPF? Actually?
“The real-world impact(s) of GPF in terms of tuning and tuning potential was, in the beginning, a complete unknown to us,” said Jake.
“Close monitoring of the GPF system has been an essential step in finding the limitations and tuning potential of the newer DNU engines. In brief, months of testing and thousands of miles has thankfully shown that GPF isn’t as limiting as we initially thought it might be.
“After early testing on several GPF equipped cars, we were surprised by the results. Our assumption of the restricted performance came from our extensive experience of working with DPF’s. The GPF is in fact nowhere near as much of an issue as the DPF.
“In fact, we’ve ended up pulling torque back for this Stage 1 software to ensure the clutch is protected and retains OEM-like levels of lifespan,” he said.
It has taken almost 40 revisions to get the software to a point where we are happy to launch it. One of the very first versions of the software allowed us to make 515NM of torque without pushing anything too hard. That’s 135NM over the OEM 380NM quoted for the stock/factory map and actually MORE than our non-GPF Stage 1 software makes.
But all we care about is making POWER!
Actually, no. One of the purposes of any Revo tuning upgrade is to improve power, but power alone does not equal an amazing driving experience – drivability, safety, economy (in many cases) and perfecting how the power is delivered throughout the rev range are also some of the key features often overlooked by other ‘tuners’.
There are also legal and environmental responsibilities for us to support as a global tuning company.
Stock Vs Stage 1?
“It’s a significant improvement,” begins Jake. “The car feels far livelier and more responsive. We have spent a lot of time developing the software on partial throttle tuning, which is where the car will spend most of its time in real-world daily driving.
“Let’s be honest no one is mashing the throttle to the carpet 24/7, so part-throttle is crucial. However, when you want ALL of the performance Stage 1 has to offer it’s right there waiting for you.
The software is active in all of the gearbox and driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, Drive, Sport, Manual etc.) but the throttle and shift points are retained as per the OEM settings.
What Challenges Does GPF Present?
The first thought for anyone tuning a car is often to put a decat pipe in place, or in the new era of GPF, delete it altogether. But it’s not actually as restrictive as many would have you believe for a Stage 1 level of tune and the figures we’ve been able to produce, prove that.
There are two types of GPF found in these vehicles based on drivetrain layout. The 4WD vehicles have two smaller GPF’s, whereas the 2WD vehicles have a single larger one, due to the space restrictions with the propshaft.
“The restriction in flow caused by the GPF is THE key limiting factor,” said Jake. “The car isn’t getting the same amount of air through the cylinders (compared to a non-GPF at the same boost level) and airflow is obviously critical to making power.
“On a non-GPF vehicle, where there’s no additional GPF flow restriction, we see a better pressure ratio across the turbine so we can hold peak power for longer.
“This isn’t quite the case with the GPF models and is purely and simply down to the restriction inflow. Effectively it means that we would have to work the turbo harder and run slightly more boost with GPF-equipped cars to make exactly the same numbers as we make with our Stage 1 ECU Performance software for the previous generation non-GPF EA888 platform.
“We’ve concentrated on delivering the best possible software for both performance and drivability,” says Jake.
“Any road-biased car spends most of its time at part-throttle, so this is why we concentrate so much effort in this area.”
Generally speaking, people get caught up with ‘hero’ dyno figures, but in real-world applications, they mean far less. Drivability and performance throughout the rev range where it really matters – those are the keys to having a fast, capable car that you can easily live with and enjoy every day.
Also, for the majority of customers wanting to tune their cars ‘risk’ is always a factor. Safety and reliability are key when you’ve invested a considerable sum in your pride and joy; that’s why it’s a key focus for us. The last thing you want is for your car to be unreliable, or to be on the raggedy edge all the time.
How many miles development have been completed?
Ensuring reliability takes time and thorough testing. This isn’t exclusive to this latest software – all Revo software undergoes the same treatment.
“We are always very thorough with test mileage during development – this is a part of the process that sets us apart from almost everyone else,” says Jake.
“To begin with we spent a considerable amount of time driving the car in stock form to get a feel for the car and how it behaved and to log all of the necessary parameters.
“This also allowed us to log plenty of info about the GPF to see how it behaved on a ‘stock’ car. Just like with a diesel DPF there is a regeneration cycle, so we were interested to see how that responded and behaved once tuned, too.
This hasn’t caused any problems or issues throughout development and in fact it’s interesting to note that GPF works differently to a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter). The filter captures soot particles as the exhaust gasses pass through – the soot is then burnt and the filter regenerated when the exhaust temperature is high.
In most cases, the filter is operated under a constant trap and regenerate cycle in a passive manner. Whereas a DPF traps soot and then needs a special engine mode to regenerate.
Test mule – the mighty 2019 Cupra.
We purchased a 2019 Leon Cupra earlier this year as a dedicated development vehicle for this project. The Seat is a part of the MQB chassis platform, so this software is applicable to VW, AUDI, and other Seat models too (list of applicable vehicles included at the end of this post).
Our development process sees thousands and thousands of miles of hard road and track testing with various revisions and software files until we get it exactly where we want. We then put it onto our in-house hub dyno to verify and log what we need.
Road Vs dyno – both have their place.
A car on the dyno will perform differently to a car on the road. A dyno’s job is to measure power produced, not necessarily to replicate road conditions.
There’s a huge amount of variables that mean figures produced on two different dynos can never be directly compared. Temperature, humidity, altitude and pressure are just a few examples.
“Added to that are the differences between rolling road style dynos and hub dynos,” said Jake. “We use a hub dyno here, which bolts directly to the wheel hubs in order to record and log figures in a ‘controlled’ environment. This is used to check and double-check all of our development road miles that have been done first.
“As a tool for ECU calibration, our hub dyno is invaluable to compare the differences between versions of tuning. It allows us to load up the engine through the whole rev range to see generally how the car behaves under load.
“We record all of the OEM software power figures on this same dyno first as well, so we have a direct base for comparison.
“Two cars that are identically spec’d can still make different power. However, accepting that there are many, many variables it’s still one of the best ways to measure (as accurately as humanly possible).
“So to answer the question our software is developed on the road and track, then verified on our in-house hub dyno. Road and track development replicate real-world driving, which is where the car will be used,” Jake said.
That’s the benefit of GLOBAL testing.
Simultaneously we have all of our Authorised Global Dealers (based all over the world) flashing these same development files to their cars and doing miles every day to get it tested in different countries and climates. So collectively the number of development/test miles is significant.
“Our development Cupra R alone now sits at 5,000 miles at the time of this interview (end of 2019),” said Jake.
“The global feedback from the dealers has been incorporated into the development to ensure the software works in all conditions and climates for different driving styles, various fuel modes and in all extremes. All of our software is developed this way for a GLOBAL audience, not just for the UK where our HQ is based.
“And releasing the software doesn’t mean ‘it’s over’ either – we’ll continue to run that same (final) software on the car for a good period of time on our development vehicle until we work on Stage 2,” he said.
What are the modes and how do they work?
There are 4 options in the Stage 1 software – anti-theft and three other modes for three different fuel grades – 95, 97 and 98 Ron.
Anti-Theft allows the car to start but immediately shuts off. The accelerator pedal is immobilised so people can’t drive your car away without consent.
“The three fuel modes are for varying conditions, not only fuel type but also you may adjust the modes based on ambient temperatures,” Jake said. “For example in hot climates 97 Ron mode may work better with 98 Ron fuel. Similarly, in very cold weather the opposite may apply.
“The ONLY difference in the three fuel modes is ignition timing, which is the key to getting the most energy out of each combustion cycle the engine makes.
No Stock Mode – Why?
More customers would rather have more performance mode options and anti-theft than the stock mode, so it’s one fewer option (complication) within the software for the end-user.
Also, if you want a stock mode then why would you spend money on Stage 1 software in the first place?
According to all of our logging and real-world testing Stage 1 software retains almost identical mpg return to a factory ECU mode anyway, so there are no benefits to having a stock mode, other than less power and a less responsive car (which clearly aren’t benefits).
Is TCU (gearbox) software required?
There are manual and DSG/S-Tronic gearboxes available on this platform, but the new 7-speed gearbox is exceptionally good.
“TCU software will be a consideration for the future, but at this moment in time with Stage 1 it’s not needed,” Jake said. “Typically, gearbox software allows a number of improvements over the factory gearbox software and with increased power clutch pre-loads need to be adjusted via the software.
“We have pulled the torque back on this Stage 1 software to purposely protect the lifespan of the clutch.
“TCU software will more than likely be a necessity for Stage 2 power, but we’ll know more about that when we get development underway.
What have you learned from this project?
“The first and most important thing we learned from extensive testing was that the GPF is nowhere near as restrictive as we anticipated it might be,” said Jake.
“That has been a huge relief as it has allowed us to deliver Stage 1 software beyond what we originally anticipated may be possible.
“During development, we found the engine was capable of producing A LOT more torque (515NM) than the clutch packs would be happy coping with for an extended period of time.
“We experienced no issues with any clutch slip at this torque level with our development Cupra R. But two dealers testing the software in other countries reported potential clutch slip and so we took the decision to pull the torque back to an even 500NM, which is a point where the clutch packs are comfortable and will retain manufacturer expected lifespan (dependant on usage).
“This is a key benefit of having a global platform to test our software at the same time as us! Knowledge literally is power,” said Jake.
What was the most exciting discovery?
“The torque the engine is capable of producing with low boost levels was astonishing really,” said Jake. GPF and flow restriction should (mathematically and scientifically) lead to lower power levels across the board, so to have to end up pulling torque back (because we could easily make too much) was a big surprise.
“But that change to direct injection alone wouldn’t be expected to result in wildly different figures to what you’d see from the previous EA888 non-GPF Stage 1 software.”
What other features have you built into the software?
Safety is absolutely paramount for us and, as such, we build in a significant level of detail to protect your engine and components. The software is a complete solution that offers a significant increase in BHP, torque and drivability as well as a host of other benefits. Here they all are explained:
SPEED LIMIT UNLOCK – As well as improving the power and drivability we removed the top speed limiter (set at 155MPH from the factory). Interestingly the speed limiter from the factory is often in place as a result of certain component speed limitations (such as tyres and brakes).
ENHANCED TURBINE CONTROL – Revo Enhanced Turbine Control offers factory-like protection parameters to avoid over-boost and ensure turbine speeds do not exceed a safe level.
GAUGE RECONFIGURATION – The gauges on the centre console & instrument cluster have been reconfigured to display a true representation of the increased performance. The stock default values for manifold pressure and engine power have been raised.
COLD START PROTECTION – For engine oil to work effectively and lubricate your engine it needs time to warm up. When you first start your car, the cold oil is at its thickest, producing higher oil pressure when pumped around the engine putting extra pressure on oil seals.
As the engine temperature increases, so does oil temperature. This thins the oil, enabling it to run more freely and better lubricate the moving parts of your engine.
Cold Start Protection helps protect engine components by limiting turbo boost based on RPM and oil temperature until it reaches the 80ºC optimum operating level.
SWITCHABLE SOFTWARE – Using an SPS switch you can take advantage of the switchability of Revo software. The Patented OBD2 interface is the ultimate compliment to Revo performance software, giving you the ability to switch between 3 fuel quality modes and an Anti-Theft mode via the vehicle OBD port.
- Anti-theft Mode
- 95ron Performance Mode
- 97ron Performance Mode
- 99ron Performance Mode
Simply select a program, plug in, wait a few seconds, remove the SPS device and start the car. It’s simple and there’s no fixed switch to install in the vehicle. Find out more about the Revo SPS.
ODB PORT INSTALL – for quick install. This means the ECU doesn’t need to be accessed making the install cost cheaper and accessibility very simple.
TEMPERATURE PROTECTION – Revo Temperature Protection is an additional safety feature that reduces overall load as the oil temperature passes a set limit. Exhaust gas temperatures (EGT) are also monitored, adapting the operating conditions (Air Fuel Ratio) to ensure they stay within safe parameters.
If EGT’s (Exhaust Gas Temps) reach a set upper limit, then power is automatically reduced until the engine returns to a safe operating temperature.
ANTI-THEFT MODE – As well as the fuel quality modes, Revo software is installed with built-in Anti-theft mode. Once the vehicle is put into this mode via the SPS device the engine revs will drop and throttle response will be disabled.
The low revs mean the car will struggle to be moved even on the clutch without stalling. Adding an extra level of security to your vehicle.
30 DAY GUARANTEE – We know you’ll love how Revo Software transforms your car. If you don’t, we’ll give you your money back.
FUEL ECONOMY – Depending on driving style this software will deliver like for like fuel economy in ‘normal’ driving conditions.
3 quick-fire questions:
1. How do you test for the different modes available when using the SPS?
Ignition timing is the key here. We find the optimum point to getting the most torque out of each amount of combustion chamber charge at each rpm point.
This is first done on the dyno in a controlled environment while hooked up to data screens, then verified and checked multiple times on the road. Essentially this gives us maximum torque with ZERO knock.
Knock is another topic for another day, but essentially after the spark has already started combustion, the pressure wave it creates causes an additional (or multiple) ignition events to occur in the cylinder.
The pressure wave this additional ignition causes collides with the initial, proper ignition pressure wave, and causes a massive pressure spike in very localised areas of the cylinder. This is very turbulent combustion and can easily damage the piston crown, piston rings, spark plug, valves, or cylinder head.
2. Is there any advantage to running higher octane fuel?
Higher octane fuel allows for higher ignition timing, allowing more power to be made and is more resistant to knock and pre-ignition. It allows for better combustion and has fewer deposits allowing for a cleaner fuel system.
3. Warranty? What are the risks?
As with any modification, software upgrades void OEM warranty. Stage 1 retains stock service intervals and clutch lifespan as far as we can reasonably tell.
- S3 8V – Audi
- Audi SQ2
- Audi TTS 8S (coming soon)
- SEAT Leon Cupra
- SEAT Ateca Cupra
- Skoda Superb
- VW Golf R Mk7.5
- VW Golf TCR
- Volkswagen T-Roc R
Peak Power Increase: 345-370bhp (+45-80bhp)
Paek Torque Increase: 460-500nm (+60-100nm)
Hub Dyno Figures:
Max Power Increase: 65hp at the hubs @ 3900rpm
Max Torque Increase: 118nm @ 3700-3800rpm
Using stock wheels and tyres we took our FWD Cupra DSG out for some comparison runs.
To put this into real-world figures, Revo software allows you to get 0-60mph approx 7-8metres sooner Vs stock. 0-100mph approx 15m, around 3 and a half car lengths.
|Perf. Time||Speed Unit||Stock (s)||Stage1 (s)|
Without going even further into depth hopefully, that covers what most will want to (or need to) know. And, hopefully, that will lead to you being able to make a more informed choice about whether Stage 1 software is a suitable upgrade for you and your GPF-equipped car.
Stage 1 GPF (Cupra) Software HERE.