Autograph Cars: Credit where it’s due.
This is my first post on any forum of this type. Simply because, despite owning a variety of fast metal, from Lotus’ to Subaru’s, and having them all tuned, I’ve never had anything done which made me think ‘HolySh*t!’; until now.
On the face of it this modification is very simple, but theway it transforms a driver’s ability to apply almost all of a cars potential performance to the road is not. To give this some context, without going into unnecessary detail, I have had extensive training in driving very fast cars at very highspeeds on public roads and have been lucky enough to put this training into practice on a great many occasions.
When applying any system of car control to make rapid progress one of the most important aspects is to be in the correct gear at all times. That is, to have the engine spinning at the correct RPM to give instant access to a large portion of its available torque and to have enough RPM headroom left in that gear to accelerate into before changing gear. AT ALL TIMES. This is a very difficult skill to master, when balancing hazards, limit points, braking, accelerating, steering, positioning etc. Even harder when at warp speed.
Anyway, my current car is a MK5 GTI DSG tuned by APR and despite loving almost everything about it as an entertaining daily driver it is hobbled by one thing; its gearbox. I struggle to think of a better piece of technology which is as poorly implemented as the DSG gearbox. I bought the car because I believed the gearbox would perfectly automate this gear selection process, but it doesn’t; particularly in a turbocharged engine where it’s tendency to aggressively kick down at WOT takes you above the desired torque range.
However, it’s electronic, it has an ECU and therefore it can be custom mapped. Or so I thought.
What I wanted was simple. Sport Mode altered so that the throttle kick down switch was disabled, that load based kick downs were disabled, that it would still upshift with low/no load (so the revs would settle when I backed off), that it would auto upshift at peak power in all gears, that in 3rd to 6thgears the rev’s wouldn’t ever drop below peak torque and that in 2ndgear it wouldn’t drop below turbo spool up. Basically, without having to waste brain power on it, it would be in the perfect maximum attack gear at all times and that when you planted WOT it would just go, immediately.
Every tuner I called said it couldn’t be done but offered me the chance to spend several hundred pounds on a generic map that usefully disabled the kick down switch in manual mode, among other things, but nothing much else of value. Smoke and mirrors but of no real use to me or anyone like me.
Trawling the forums then brought Autograph Cars to my attention. I called up, spoke to Andrew their programmer and told him what I was looking for; to simply be told ‘yes I can do that for you’. Due to the fact it was a custom job it took a few days for Andrew to write and test the file and I know he spent a lot of hours on this job for me.
I went down on Saturday (02.Feb.2013) to get it loaded onto my car and after a few test drives to tweak the rev floors etc., I now have the finished product. Andrew also raised the rev floors in Drive Mode so that from 3rd to 6thgear the rev’s never fall below turbo spool up with the rest of that mode intact.
It is a revelation! I have never had a mod done to any car which positively altered the way it drove as profoundly as this has. Having now tested it on some of my favourite back roads it is utterly epic. I honestly can’t imagine being able to go any faster in any car I’ve driven. It’s like just having one really long gear which is always perfect no matter how fast you’re going; genius.
Autograph and Andrew deserve the credit for something so simple but devastatingly effective. Add to that they seemed like top blokes, and despite us not agreeing a price and the many hours he put into developing and writing a custom map for me, he probably undervalued his own work; can’t say fairer than that.
So like I said, credit where it is due.