RS3 8V: One step at a time


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Anyone that knows of me via my previous Subaru and A45 project threads will appreciate I like to delve that little bit deeper with my project threads, at least in respect of the kind of testing and information I like to gather and share. I aim to ensure this RS3 project thread is no different.

What I aim to do is go into detail about what’s being done, why it’s being done and be utterly truthful about the results, supported by as much evidence as possible. I’m not going to state I’m looking to reinvent the wheel, but there is no harm in aiming to make a wheel better! I’m quite excited with the potential development areas that could be investigated.

I’m a “privateer” and enthusiast, so have nothing to gain from this…… other than I absolutely love doing this kind of thing, and love to learn and experience new things. If at least one other person finds this project interesting…… that’s a mega bonus!

My previous performance car was an AMG A45, which after going through a modification project, ended up being the quickest A45 down the drag strip in the UK. Didn’t break any “real drag” records, but it achieved a decent time of 11.80s. Not bad considering it was a hatch with pretty basic levels of tuning.

So… A45 move over. Here’s the RS3!

Why did I swap out for an RS3 then?

Being totally honest….. the limited tuning available for the A45, with the Achilles heel being the transmission.

I went out and bought an RS3, pretty much fully loaded…… the kicker being that based on what has already been done with the 2.5 engine, pretty extensive levels of tuning are available. Just up my road then! Lol

Approach - Project Roadmap

Obviously I can’t do this on my own, as the amount of resources needed to do this kind of project approach justice, is more than my brain, skill and hands can cope with. So I’ll be working with a number of “professionals” along the way, but more on that once we get things underway.

The areas I would like to cover/investigate are (we’ll have to see if all these come to fruition - although certain areas have already been discussed with the individual's I’ll be working with):

Tuning Box

Secondary Decat pipes

ECU remap

Uprated plugs

Look at intercooler and inlet efficiencies at this level, look at testing upgrades if warranted

Turbo (along with remap and again looking at intercooler and inlet efficiencies).

End target is at least 500bhp - ideally looking to get in the 10’s down the strip, but this will probably need quite a bit more than 500bhp - we’ll see how this all goes.

This is all very very high level, but gives an idea of the kind of steps I’ll be looking to take. Depending upon how the car reacts, I may look at chassis / suspension / braking mods. I will also be undertaking some subtle styling mods... just to jazz things up a touch. Nothing too "Halfords" though.... don't worry!

So…. that’s enough of the introductory stuff.

The next update will be coming your way soon - so let the fun begin guys. First round of performance mods and testing will be starting at the end of August.

I really hope (and encourage) for you all to get stuck in and feel free to contribute to this open discussion thread.


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Styling Mods
So before we delve into the performance side of things I thought I would make a start with completing a few subtle styling mods.

Whilst we all know what an 8V RS3 looks like, here are a few pictures of mine as I picked it up from Audi.

Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the RS3 styling takes a bit of a battering from some. In my eyes (well… I do wear glasses!) the RS3 (as with the rest of the RS range, R8 to one side) is pretty much a Q car. Understated, but does what it needs to from a performance perspective.

Based on the previous performance cars I’ve owned the RS3 is quite understated…. but I like that. It’s a change for me and quite a pleasant one. However, I thought I would add a few minor changes….. perhaps not to everyone’s taste but they are what they are.

Wing Mirrors
As you can see from the pictures above, my car originally came with the standard matt silver wing mirror covers. I wanted to change these to either black or carbon. Yes, I appreciate there were other options for different colours from Audi, but this car was dealer stock, so I made do with what I had.

I managed to get some carbon ones off eBay for £100, which was cheap, but they used OEM covers and had carbon fibre layered on. I thought for £100 it was worth a punt. After a speedy delivery they turned up. The quality was very good…. I was impressed.


I had heard conflicting stories as to how you could remove the outer covers, with and without taking the whole assembly apart. After a thought process upon receiving the new ones, and seeing where all the lugs were located, I decided to have a go at removing the OEM covers WITHOUT taking the assembly apart.

The way to do this is by inserting a credit card (or equivalent) where you see in the picture below.

Once you’ve pushed the card in far enough, you’ll see that the clip in that area will release.

If you then move the card to the right of the picture, you will start to release further clips. You then need to move the card all the way to the left. Once done, you should notice the right hand side starting to come away from the mirror assembly. You can then move the card up that vertical side to further release the cover. Finally give the assembly on the right hand side a slight pull and it should really start to open up.

Now comes the bit where you need to be careful, but slightly forceful at the same time.

Whatever you do, do not pull the cover up. There is a horizontal clip at the left hand side (closest to the car), which will break off if you try to pull the cover up and off. You need to pull the cover into you from the front, gently but with a short / sharp action. It will just come off if you do this and all the clips will be retained.

Once the cover is off you’ll be left with the assembly behind the cover…… and no broken clips (if you do it correctly).

The first mirror took me about 10 minutes as I was doing everything carefully to find my way around each clip. The second mirror took me about 2 minutes. I didn’t break a clip on either OEM cover.

The next bit is really easy….. you just push the new cover on, exactly how you removed the OEM cover. It clips straight back into place.

As I said, quality is top notch and for a £100 they were very good value.

They have the desired effect, especially with the car being Daytona….. Looks quite stealth with black trim.

Audi Rings
You might start to see a pattern as to where I’ll be going with this car…. external styling wise.

Next up was to replace the front and rear Audi rings with a black ring set. Now, I could have tried the plasti-kote method, but I decided to opt for replacement badge sets.

Again, eBay can be your friend here. I bought this set for just under £20 for the front and rear. You need to be careful ordering the correct front badge, as I understand the 8V badges are slightly bigger than the previous cars. You may also (if you’re eagle eyed) notice the smaller rear rings are slightly smaller than the OEM ones. This isn’t an issue, but there is a difference…. just so you’re aware.

Rear Rings
I started off with replacing the rear ring set.

These are bonded on to the boot lid with adhesive, so using a hairdryer (the Mrs’ not mine as I haven't any hair!) I heated the rear badge, and then slid a credit card (same trick as with the mirror covers) between the badge and the boot lid skin to break the seal.


Making sure you keep applying heat, keep repeating this process around the whole badge. I wouldn’t recommend you start to pull the badge off straight away…. you’ll probably end up snapping it. Just take your time.

Once you’ve removed the badge you will still be left with residue from the glue.

At this point I continued to apply heat and pulled off further what I could.

With the last bits of glue left I then turned to using some glue / tar remover (TARDIS). I’ve used this for many years to remove tar from the sides of cars and glue from vinyl car stickers. This emulsifies with water, so is really easy to rinse off. You don’t want any wax or cutting agents left on the panel prior to putting your new badge on.

After liberally applying TARDIS and cleaning / rinsing the panel, it was all clear / clean and ready for the new badge.

To ensure I put the new badge on square I measured and placed a masking tape line (with a centre position) on the boot lid and offered up the new badge before final fitment.

After I was happy with the positioning I then stuck the new badge on, peeling off the backing to the new adhesive layer on the new badge. Personally I always gently heat the adhesive…. not too much, but just enough to help the bonding process.

Front Rings
Next up was the front ring set. Again I had heard conflicting stories about removing these. Some saying you needed to remove the front bumper, others saying you can reach down from the top and get to the clips and one other I saw said you could remove from the front. I chose the latter!

In my opinion I would not advise you try to remove the rings from the front (without taking the bumper off) unless you have suitable trim tools, spudgers etc. You’ll either risk snapping the oem badge or damaging the badge grill surrounds.

Using a trim tool start from the bottom. With your new badge as a guide, you’ll see exactly where the securing tabs are and this is where you need to feed the trim tool in to push the tabs back.

As you pop the bottom clips you’ll see the badge coming away from the grill.

Once you’ve released the bottom and lower side / centre side clips, then move to the top clips.

This is the first time I’ve done this and it only took me around 10 minutes. Just to prove I never broke any clips, here is the underside of the OEM badge. There was zero damage to the badge / grill surround either.

Once removed you’ll be faced with the grill ring mount, which will need a minor clean up prior to fitting the new ring set.

Mounting the new ring set is easy. Just push it on ensuring all the clips are engaged correctly.

Much like the mirrors, I really like the look of the all black trim set. Makes it look stealth, but also aggressive…. not everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure.


So for the time being that’s the first round of styling mods. I’m planning to do a few more things, but I’ll discuss this as and when I get to do them.


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Stock Power Performance Benchmarking
Whilst this piece of benchmark data will be quite specific, it will give a baseline for where the car is at the moment in its stock state. As I progress I will be gaining more data, not just from the drag strip, but also from getting VBOX logs for acceleration and in-gear performance. I have a lot of data from my previous A45 (which will be a good comparison), together with other RS3 data I have from a REVO tuned Stage 1 and MRC Stage 3 car. I’ll be overlaying and all sorts, so this will be interesting moving forward. Of course I’ll also gather dyno information as I progress… again, I can overlay this data against my A45 for comparison.

Shakespeare County Raceway
So three weeks back, after running the car in (just over 1k on the clock), I ventured down to Shakespeare to see what my stock car would do. Obviously the engine would still be fairly tight, but I needed to get some baseline data in.

As they say….. The bulls**t stops when the flag drops. You’ll hear me repeat that quite a few times throughout this project thread!

I haven’t had the car on the weighbridge yet (will do though) but it is pretty highly spec’d, at least in regards to the “added weight” options! Lol Good for the gadgets…. Not so great for acceleration.

I personally prefer Shakespeare as it’s normally quieter than the Pod…. this day was no exception.

It was a warm day, circa 24degs and little to no wind. The downside was that the track had not been used in a few weeks and it had been raining the day before. Surface prep is key at these places.

I don't really like running early on, especially when no events were the previous day. You tend to find the start line will be a tad "waxy" until some rubber goes down and the track heat starts to build up a bit.

I understand that the RS3 suffers with intercooler issues in warm weather (the A45 charge cooler was unbelievably efficient and effective), so to some degree I wasn’t expecting the car to perform it’s best.

After signing on you need to get your car scrutineered. Not something you need to do at Santa Pod. The rules are the rules though! Lol Thankfully being a new car, it didn’t take long. The scrutineers laughed when they found out how many miles were on it.

Once scrutineered you’re given a running number, which is painted (don’t worry it comes off) on your back screen. Well, they gotta know which car to log the times against.


It was a shame I didn’t arrive a couple of minutes earlier…. I could have bagged “A3” as my number!!!!

So with the car ready, I went down to the “fire up lane” in readiness for my virgin run in the RS3.


Yes… I was first in line.

First run 12.22 @ 111.94mph
Believe it or not this was the first time I had actually launched the RS3. I was a bit nervous I was going to balls it up, but unlike the A45 LC, the RS3 is so much easier to set-up. And unlike my A45, the RS3 just gripped and went like a stabbed rate off the line. Christ the LC on the RS3 is smooth…. Like so smooth. The gearbox as well is a country mile better than the Mercs on the strip. The whole run just went ahead with no drama….. It felt good, which the time and terminal speed showed. This is pretty damn quick for a stock hatchback.

Second run 12.24 @ 110.50mph
Felt just as good as the first run….. How’s the time for consistency. Lol Not sure why the trap speed had decreased… could have been heat soak perhaps.

Now normally I’d be getting really anal and checking / playing with tyre pressures (lowering pressures can aid launch grip), but since this car just launched with no wheel spin or axle tramp, I really didn’t see the need to faff around with anything. The 60ft times back that up with a good 1.79s and 1.80s respectively.

Quite abnormal for me I decided at this point to hand in the gloves. I was happy with those times with a stock car, and as they were so close on both runs, I didn’t think there was much point in further runs. In reality I should have parked the car up and ran later on in the day, once more rubber had been put down…. It may have helped.


Santa Pod
This weekend I decided to take the car down the strip again….. Just for a bit of fun of course! This time though I was going to use the UK’s de facto drag strip. Santa Pod.

The reason for going in reality was I wanted to see if I could better the previous 12.2 and also try a different launch technique to see if I could bring the 60ft time down. Improving the 60ft time can have a dramatic affect on the ET’s.

Luckily the day was dry, sunny but was once again warm. Certainly felt warmer than the 25deg ambient suggested. The event was pretty busy as well. Not great and something I don’t really like about the Pod…. it tends to get very busy, which means you spend a lot of time queuing for your next run. Not ideal by any stretch.

I actually didn’t arrive until lunch time, but I had already heard via whatsapp that the track appeared to be running slower than normal (based on the times that other guys were getting - not in RS3’s mind). There was also a cross wind…. again pretty normal for the Pod.

First run 12.53 @ 108.73
For the first run I launched as I had previously as Shakespeare, using Sports mode on the ESC. It felt good and smooth….. Until I saw my timing slip. Christ that wasn’t good at all. Lol 60ft wasn’t brilliant at 1.82s, but certainly nothing that made me think that was the reason for the slower ET.

Second run 12.44 @ 109.65
Due to the amount of cars running and I did rejoin the queue straight away, I had to wait nearly an hour for the next run. I forgot to take my OBD logger with me, but my charge inlet temps must have been sky high.

This time I tried launching with the ESC OFF.

As soon as the car launched it lit the front tyres up and I had slight axle tramp. Because of this I thought the run was not as good, but it certainly bettered the previous run. The 60ft time had dropped to a good 1.75s, which was where I really wanted to be.

Third run 12.34 @ 111.25
Again, well over another hour had passed before getting my third run in.

For this run I went back to the ESC in Sports Mode, just to see what would happen to the 60ft. It went back up to 1.83, but the overall run was quicker and with a better trap speed. Not sure if the track was starting to improve or what.

Anyway… it was now just before 4pm and I didn’t think there was much more reason to carry on, so I called it a day.


Of course I was hoping I could achieve a better time overall at either event, but all things considered it’s ****** quick for a stock hatchback. As a comparison my previous A45 was no quicker down the strip when it had a Tuning Box fitted (running 12.2s). Stock, the A45 runs around a 12.7s quarter.

At the end of the day this provides a baseline…… future times will be a good comparison.

I hope to be back down the strip in September once I’ve added the first round of mods.
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Feedback on some of the common “issues”
I thought I would also add some feedback on my experiences over the past 3k miles of use in respect of, shall we say, some of the more common problems reported with the RS3.

To add some context this is a second car for me. More of a weekend blaster in reality. However, saying this I have managed to cover just over 3k miles in 12 weeks. This has predominantly been down to the running in, wanting to get that out of the way, and also a Scotland Road Trip I undertook in the RS3 last week.

I’ll digress slightly, but if you have never done a full on road trip around Scotland…. I would highly recommend you do it.

I’ve been threatening to do this for years and now wish I had years ago.

What a fantastic place to drive…. Yes there are still places in the UK for doing that! And the scenery… simply wow!

Over 6 days we covered just over 1500 miles in the RS3, and it was faultless from a drivers perspective. Opening the car up over the highlands was great and the car was effortless to drive quickly.

Oil Consumption
I haven’t owned a VAG car for some years now, and when I did they weren’t renowned for chomping oil. Whilst I’m not suggesting they are chompers now, they do appear to have a leaning towards an engine that tends to consume oil. Due to this I have regularly monitored the oil level.

Prior to going on the trip to Scotland the dipstick was at MAX, so that was after 1500 miles.

As soon as arrived back at home (just over 3k miles in total), I parked the car up in the garage and left it for 10 mins and then checked the dipstick.

As you can see it is virtually MAX.

The next morning I checked it again (cold) and it was at the same level one side and two diamonds down from MAX on the other side.

After I went down Santa Pod at the weekend I checked it again when home (warm). It had returned to MAX on both sides.

If it’s used any oil over the past 3k miles it is certainly minimal.

I’m quite anal about the running in process and whilst I don’t smash the backside out of the engine during that period, I certainly ensure it gets a varied workout, with plenty of mixed loading. Using the box often and engine braking quite a lot. Whether this has helped with my oil usage, who knows, but it’s the approach I have always taken with new engines.

I will obviously still monitor oil usage but based on what I’ve done so far I can’t see consumption being an issue, especially as I’ll normally only do around 5k per year and I’m on fixed 12 month services.

Brake Squeal
Not one bit of squeal or brake performance issue so far. Not saying it won’t happen, but nothing has materialised yet. Discs are clean and pads look 100% with no sign of accelerated wear.

Knocking Rear Top Mounts
Quiet and no noise. My car is a March 16 build date iirc, so not sure if that makes a difference. Again, no issues thus far.

The car had quite a heavy workout over the Highlands, but as of yet, none of the common issues have really reared their heads.

We’ll obviously see how this goes moving forward.


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Whilst I appreciate this might be a really dry subject to some, others may know this already, but I assume some people won’t (as I’ve seen a few questions about this crop up in relation to the RS3).

The amazing subject of oil…..

So what oil do you need for the RS3?
There are effectively two VW specifications of oil for the RS3, and these are dependant (in-line with manufacturer recommendations) dependant on what type of servicing your car is setup for. That is whether your RS3 is Variable or Fixed servicing.

For Fixed Service intervals the specification recommendation is VW 502.

For Variable Service intervals the specification recommendation is VW 504 / 507.

Why the difference?
Effectively the 504 / 507 specification is classed as “longlife”. Both specifications are fully synthetic, but 504 / 507 has a different composition (additives) to ensure the oil maintains its desired properties for longer. Hence why the service interval on variable (using longlife oil) is longer than the fixed interval.

So the first indicator as to which type of oil you need would be initially based on what your servicing schedule has been set to (coupled with what oil resides in already - see next point).

Will I cause any harm if I use 504 / 507 specification oil in a car with a Fixed Service?
No, although there is an argument that you are using oil beyond the specification you need (and it will normally cost more). It’s down to you though in reality.

On the flip side to this though, you really don’t want to be using 502 specification in a car which is set to Variable Service intervals!

Oil Weight
The second element of oil choice is based on the weighting of the oil, however, don’t assume that the weighting dictates the alignment to any specific VW specification. It doesn’t! Hence the reason for highlighting the VW specification first in this discussion.

The weighting is expressed in the format of xxW/xx.

These numbers are to do with the viscosity (thickness) of the oil, both at cold (first number) and at normal operating (second number) temperature.

The norm for the RS3 appears to be 5W/30 although 0W/30 is also available (maybe others?) against the VW specification.

Personally I would tend to use the thicker (5W) oil, because if there is any piston blow by, which is probably the reason for the oil consumption of VAG engines (loose tolerances on ring to bore clearances), a thicker weight when cold may at least help reduce usage during the cold start-up period.

On another note, I never let the car idle on the drive (for instance) when it’s cold. This, imo, will only add to wear acceleration. I get in it and off down the road to get the car up to normal temperature as soon as practically possible. That isn’t by thrashing its pants whilst cold obviously! Lol

Can I mix oil of different grades and specifications (in respect of what’s been discussed here)?
Physically yes, but it would be common sense to ensure whatever oil has been put into the engine as part of the servicing regime, the same viscosity and specification is maintained with any top ups. As long as viscosity and specification is the same, brand of oil should not matter. You also wouldn’t want to mix specifications if your car is set to Variable Servicing (as previously stated).

To finish off with I ordered some oil for top-up purposes (just preparing myself in case lol) from Opie Oils. I’ve never used them before, but I know they’ve been around for some years now.

I ordered 5ltrs (4+1tr) of Castrol Edge Titanium FST 5W-30 (VW 504/507) on Friday and it arrived today… all for a very good price of £40 delivered! In comparison, Halfords wanted £67 for the same amount!! Ha


Oil choice shouldn’t be an area of confusion, so hopefully this helps with making it simple. :)

One last piece of utterly boring information for you is that I have also just had this delivered today, to carry on with the recent styling theme changes. A rear boot RS3 badge….. In black.

I’ll get around to fitting this when the weather permits!

£6 off eBay -


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Rear RS Badge
Decided to replace the rear RS3 badge today, with the black one recently purchased.

This time I wanted to mark the original badge out as this is a three piece badge.

All I did was mask below the original badge and mark where each specific character was…. Saves any guessing come positioning of the new one!

Same kind of deal as with the removal of the rear rings. Apply heat and then slip a credit card down, however, when it came to removing the R and red block that method didn’t work.

Due to that part of the badge being mega flush with the panel I had to use some dental floss (couldn’t get the card behind), which acted like a cheese wire. Just hook it around the top left hand corner and slower pull it behind the badge to the opposite corner. Comes off in seconds that way.

Once removed I cleaned it up as with the rings.

With the guide in place and the relevant marks, repositioning the new badge is really easy. The characters on the new badge were ever so slightly smaller, but it doesn’t make any different in reality.

I might be tempted to pull the rear exhaust tips off and get them powder coated in black, when I get the wheels done. Just to finish off the rear.

Due to get the car on the dyno this coming bank holiday weekend, fit the secondary decats and Tuning Box. That’s when I can get stuck into the logging and the real fun begins.


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First off I would like to underline a key point. I’m not suggesting at the moment that I’m going to find out anything new or revolutionary. A lot of the initial steps I’ll be taking will undoubtedly be exactly the same as others have done before me. But I need to do it “one step at a time”, because that’s the way you learn using a pragmatic approach.

If you’re looking for “just” power graphs and peak figure talk….. whilst you’ll find that information here, this is really not what my project thread will be about - there is a lot more to modifications than just using these two elements as reference.

If I have one “mission” in life, that “mission” is to keep highlighting that on their own, peak figures mean diddly squat. If you just skim read this project, focussing on peak values and comparing those with other peak values (from others achievements), you are in my opinion, missing valuable context. Peak figures do not make for a quick car, and they certainly don’t tell you what you really need to appreciate. Peak figures are for the pub - and the next round won’t be on me!

You best get your empty plate ready, grab some salt and pepper, tuck your napkin in under your chin and prepare yourself for a mammoth “eat as much as you like” experience!!

I want to understand the detail of why and how, which will hopefully allow us all to understand how things could be improved and what is potentially looked at next in the journey.

First thing is to state is that Litchfield Motors will be the key company I’ll be working with at this stage. They have worked with me on three previous projects (two Subaru’s and my previous A45 AMG) since 2005, and they’ve always come up with the goods for me.

Performance measurement and tuning aids - Rolling Road Overview
Perhaps the single biggest bone of contention is how I would decide to measure/test for any increases (and of course decreases) in power, when looking at engine modifications. Several ways exist, namely use of a Rolling Road, Engine Dyno, Performance Meters and the regularly used “**** dyno”.

For the purpose of engine based modifications, stats will be attained by use of a Rolling Road, coupled with real driving feedback on the road.

Even though we may all agree that various rolling roads will give different readings, and the arguments that RR figures at X are incorrect and RR figures at Y are correct, is meaningless to a degree.

Although many conditions even on the same rolling road can cause changes in figures, we need something we can use to compare with accuracy and repeatability. Obviously the more conditions you can stabilise the more your figures will be representative.

Now, before I explain things further it’s probably worth me stating one thing here and now. I’m a self confessed “dyno queen”. At a guess, I suspect I have had well in excess of 500 runs on various dyno’s over the years (I wouldn’t actually be surprised if it’s closer to 1000 runs).

Even though I’m just a member of the Joe Soap gang, this number of runs on various dyno set-ups across the UK has provided me a vast amount of knowledge around this area. I’m sure we’ve all seen the arguments about which ones do or don’t over read. How important wheel horsepower is and how inaccurate flywheel horsepower is!?

Let’s get one thing straight…. a dyno is a tool, and if used correctly, a very valuable tool.

For the pub talk fanatics out there you know which type of dyno to go to, to receive inflated figures. If that makes you feel better, bully for you….. it’s your money and your ego. Personally, I place more emphasis on accuracy and repeatability.

Remember... there are lies, damn lies and dynos!

I could tell you heaps of ways that I could alter the way a car was run on a dyno, that would influence the figures obtained. Be rest assured that this is all about being “real” from my perspective. I have nothing to gain from presenting inflated figures, and it’s certainly not something I suspect you want to see.

If you are not already aware, power figures on Rolling Roads are normally part measured and part calculated. For the purpose of this project we will be showing flywheel BHP and torque figures. The core reason behind this is that here in the UK, that is our normal method of measurement. Some people will suggest that wheel horsepower figures are the be all and end all. I totally disagree in respect of chassis dynos. Like flywheel figures, wheel horsepower figures can also be up for a “slagging”. Different chassis dynos will undoubtedly produce different wheel horsepower figures. Why? Well it’s to do with the physical makeup of the dyno, like the rollers used and how all the “gubbins” works to “measure” the power. I could then start to talk about tyre deformation and the effect this has, but I suspect that will send you to sleep.

Some others will then take the stance that it matters not what figures the dyno produces, it’s the difference of the before and after in percentage terms. With people using those % differences as a defacto way of measuring performance. You have to be open minded about this as well, as you’re assuming conditions are like for like and that the power reported is based on linear measurements on a like for like basis, with the previous run. You can not guarantee that, especially when you’re using a dyno setup that you already know provides inaccurate data.

It makes absolute sense to start off with a dyno that you feel provides accuracy from the get go. It makes no sense to start off with a dyno that you already know provides inflated figures. This is assuming you want a level of accuracy in respect of figures attained….. although there are other key (and more important) reasons why a dyno provides a worthy advantage to tuning overall. This is something that will be explained further at appropriate points in this project.

Performance measurement and tuning aids - Which type of chassis dyno?
OK…. so I want to use a dyno that provides accurate (within context) flywheel figures and repeatable results. But what about the known issue of Haldex transmission and dynos?

The RS3 uses a Haldex system to manage traction (torque balance) between the front and rear axles. Predominantly the system is front wheel, but has the capability to shift torque to the rear axle, when it detects slip at the front. So why is this a potential problem?

Since the Haldex system can and does switch to 4WD, you need to use a 4WD dyno for starters. I know some people have forced 2WD, but that’s certainly not indicative of what the car will do on the road.

Many 4WD dynos have locked front and rear rollers (resistance wise), which for a permanent 4WD system (like on a Subaru) that’s all fine. For a Haldex equipped car….. that’s potentially very bad. In basic terms, running a Haldex car on a non-Haldex compatible dyno can result in damaged transmission. You need to use a dyno that is able to adjust resistance as required, between front and rear.

So let’s assume we have that situation covered with the dyno choice made.

The “cell” in which the dyno is located is also very important if you want to maintain accuracy and repeatable results.

Airflow is paramount in achieving both accuracy and a level of safety of your vehicle during dyno use. A dyno is a VERY harsh environment for your car, so you need to ensure that the best environment within the cell is provided. Decent airflow not only helps with replicating (as best as you can) road conditions, but also ensures appropriate airflow assists cooling. A properly constructed dyno “cell” will support these requirements.

There are so many so called “cells” that are effectively in part of the workshop. You’ve seen them. Big open spaces and very high ceilings. Trying to control airflow and pressure in a large space is going to be extremely difficult, if nigh on impossible with the majority of fan and exhaust systems tuners use. The smaller the “space” (cell), the better the environment can be stabilized and controlled, with appropriate fan and exhaust systems shifting huge amounts of air in and out.

Taking all of this into consideration, and based upon my previous experience of using this type of dyno (to appreciate it’s repeatability), I’ll be using the latest MAHA MSR dyno.

An added benefit of the MAHA is that it measures coast down (transmission drag) to derive a flywheel BHP figure (wheel figure + coast down). On a chassis dyno this is the only way to more accurately measure transmission losses. Forget the “fixed %” that is used by so many…. drivetrain losses are not linear. Just think about heat build up (friction/drag) in your drivetrain, which builds as torque is created. The higher the temps, the more friction and greater the losses.

Performance measurement and tuning aids - Racelogic VBOX
We know (well…. I hope we do!) it’s not all about dyno figures, and whilst I’ll be explaining how you should dissect a dyno graph to gain the important information (and that’s NOT going to be about peak figures in isolation), we really need to gauge performance on the “black stuff” surely. Part of this will be completed via road driving feedback, but that can be subjective to a degree. What we really need is another “measure” to compliment ALL the information that is being gathered.

Performance monitoring as regards to recording 0-60, 0-100 & 1/4m times was historically a bit hit and miss as far as the high street consumer has been concerned. Whilst a number of solutions have existed that are very accurate, the costs involved with these solutions had always been out of reach, except for those that require such equipment for official testing and have the budgets to substantiate such equipment.

With the advancements of GPS and the keen pricing of such equipment to the general consumer sector, a new solution appeared on the market a few years ago, that now makes this kind of performance testing, both extremely cost effective and accurate.

RaceLogic have constructed an all-in-one solution that combines a single unit that not only houses all the sensors, GPS receivers and built in screen, but it also gives the ability to log results which can be stored on a memory card and later read and analysed using some very powerful software supplied. All you need is a fag lighter socket (for power) and off you go…… sounds too simple to actually be true and accurate doesn’t it….. well let me assure you it is certainly both simple to use and very accurate. I’ve personally been using these devices for years, attaining “figures” and times which have been referenced against specialist and very expensive timing equipment.

My weapon of choice is the Racelogic Drift Box.

Firstly don’t let the name Drift Box put you off….. this little box of tricks is far more than a box that shows you drift angles!

For the purpose of this project and testing, I suspect we will be concentrating on the uses of the Performance Meter, Lap Timer and Data Logger.

Performance Meter
With the DriftBox it is very easy to measure acceleration times, braking distances, quarter miles times and much more. There are a number of configurable screens that show specific test results such as 0-60, 0-100, 0-100-0, 1/2 miles and ¼ mile etc.

DriftBox is based on the Racelogic VBOX, which is used by the majority of car manufacturers, tyre manufacturers and car magazines around the world to assess performance.

Because it is very easy to edit the test ranges, DriftBox is a very powerful tool for use in many different kinds of vehicle testing.

Lap Timer
Displaying your lap times as you drive around a circuit is simple with DriftBox. You can display your current, last and best lap times, and also display split times for up to six specified split points around the lap.

Through the DriftBox forum you are able to download circuit overlays from around the world, compare lap times, and share lap overlay data with other users.

Data Logger
Every item of data that the DriftBox displays (and loads more besides) is logged and can be recorded on a SD card. This can be read in to a PC at a later date to analyse. The piece of software that comes with the DriftBox to enable this function is very powerful indeed, giving you many different tabular and graphing facilities to display and compare the information captured. The software will even enable you to "play back" captured data sets on screen.

How accurate is it?
Amazingly accurate!!!!!

The lap timing mode proved (based on my testing) to be within .1 seconds accuracy of official track timing equipment.

The performance meter proved (based on my testing) to be within .1 seconds accuracy of several FIA approved drag strips for the 1/4m.

I say all of this I now need to buy a new one as mine appears to give me results that are much slower than real. lol It’s only recently developed this fault…. Being over 10yrs old probably doesn’t help and it’s been dropped a few times. That’s another £500 to fork out then! :D

Right…. that’s enough “rice” for the entrée.

You best visit the toilet for a bowel movement and make some space for the main course (some fitment and testing of tuning products), which will be up for “tasting” shortly!

See you in a couple of days.


Registered User
**Because there is so much to go through and document (that has taken place over one and half days), I'm going to document over the next few days and release updates as they're produced at appropriate points**
Engine Stage 1 Development
Apologies to those of you who understand the theory side of tuning, or those that are simply not interested. Something I like to do is provide some background physics explanation and/or theories, when I explain new elements that are being investigated and/or tested. Many people find this interesting and I feel it adds appropriate context to the what and why questions.

The old skool way of anything relating to “Stage 1” used to be exhaust, air filter and a carburettor rejetting and/or ignition timing alterations. Whilst methods may have changed since the “old days”, the principals remain the same.

In respect of the internal combustion engine: more air in (and more exhaust gas out), more fuel in, more ignition, bigger bang and what do we have……. more POWER!!

Luckily with modern set-ups, (read: ECU’s) and of course forced induction (turbo charging), the results can be quite dramatic, with relatively little effort.

Talking of turbo charging, whilst I suspect we know what this term relates to, do we all actually know how it works?

Simply put:

- air is effectively sucked in through the air filter; through the compressor side of the turbo (which, as the name suggests compresses the air to make it more dense by volume);

- through a cooling unit to increase/retain density, into the combustion chamber of each cylinder;

- this air is nice and dense (compared to an engine that is not turbocharged), so when you add fuel (proportionally) and introduce a spark you get a much bigger bang;

- on the downward stroke of the piston the exhaust gas passes through the exhaust manifold/headers (via the exhaust valves opening), through the turbo (exhaust side), which drives the compressor (compressor and exhaust on the turbo core work together - suck and blow air) and the cycle starts again.

Sounds quite complicated to explain but the physics are pretty simple.

Basic engine “tuning” nowadays (more so for turbocharged vehicles) normally relates to an ECU (Engine Control Unit) “remap”. Which crudely put, is done by changing values within the ECU “map”, which tells your engine what to do in relation to fuel, air and ignition.

Same as “old days”, just using different methods to control it all.

For the majority of us we don’t really care what this side entails. As long as we get the expected results, who cares what parameters have to be changed and for what reason…… but equally there are a number of us who are interested.

Mapping needs to be undertaken by a professional that really knows their stuff. Many people claim they are experts, but in my experience, this does not always relate to a good job. Whether that relates to a fast car (or not) or, probably more importantly, one that doesn’t grenade itself due to a bad map. In my opinion one of the biggest and most key decisions you’ll ever make when tuning a car, is who maps it and should you require this, who builds you an engine. NEVER take these decisions lightly. Do your research guys (as I’m sure some of you are already too well aware of).

Tuning Box - For Information
Whilst I was initially aiming (even up to the day of Day 1 performance tuning kick off) to look at tuning boxes first, a decision was made on the day to utilise the better method (in respect of overall results possible) of ECU tuning.

Just for added information though I will give some background information on tuning boxes...

Nasty way of tuning or actually a method that can work? I used to always think the former if I’m being honest.

Having been a part of the Ford and then the Subaru scene originally, you’d never dream of using a tuning box. In fact I never liked the idea of using these devices even with my daily diesel hack. However, I’ve always open to some testing and finding stuff out.

So what does a tuning box actually do (yeah, yeah - it tunes!!!)...

Whilst we’ve established the basics of air, fuel and spark make power, and we’ve also stated that modern engines control all of this via the ECU. Where does a tuning box fit in all of this then?

Most tuning boxes effectively sit between certain engine sensors, reading data going to or coming from a sensor, from or to the ECU. A tuning box can basically “alter” data between what is read in and what is sent out of it.

The most crude of tuning boxes will simply use a form of linear resistance bridged either over one sensor or between two. These types of tuning boxes would be best avoided in my opinion.

The most advanced ones have heavily populated data tables on them, which cross reference many things to provide safer control, across multiple sensors, and even allow you to make incremental changes to the overall settings of the box. This provides an element of flexibility for differing conditions and environments.

Even after doing my research on tuning boxes I still felt a bit uneasy, as “altering” data between the sensors and ECU never really sat well with me, as I was always concerned about the safety elements, that effectively the ECU would not be in total control.

This is where modern ECU’s appear to help the cause.

Modern ECU’s can have a lot of self learning and to a degree, on the fly mapping adjustment capabilities. Many ECU’s are now able to adjust fueling and ignition (within certain boundaries) based upon readings from a number of the engine sensors. So even if a tuning box requests more boost, the ECU detects that a fuel mixture is running lean and will add more fuel to compensate (again, being very simplistic). Assuming the tuning box works in conjunction with the ECU capabilities and engine, you could have quite a nifty setup available for a Stage 1 tune.

The single biggest advantage of a tuning box is because it sits between your ECU and sensors, it can be easily removed and (in most cases) undetectable - read: warranty friendly.

I would suggest the biggest downside (let’s assume the tune levels and setup is safe) is that a “proper” remap (which may also bring issues around warranty) of the ECU tables may provide better gains. Not always in peak figures for Stage 1, but a custom map of your car will probably net driveability gains.

Based on the testing I did with my previous A45, using a Tuning Box gave good results. I know Tuning Boxes still get bad press, but it’s my opinion that this can be largely down to how aggressive the Tuning Box map is, and the tables / protection on the ECU that it contends with.

I didn’t have any problems with the Tuning Box I used on my A45, but I know others have. I would also suggest that the tune on my Tuning Box was not that aggressive compared to some others. I think this was perhaps the reason why I never experienced issues.

Tuning boxes exist for the RS3, but I don’t know how these perform with data I have collected. Your own mileage may vary.

Getting An Initial Baseline
So before fitting / changing anything I needed to gain a baseline with the RS3 in standard guise.

Just for clarity we will conduct three runs for each test. The first one to ensure the engine, ancillaries and transmission are up to effective temperature, and the final two to gauge consistency of figures.

The MAHA dyno simulates quite a lot of load, and the runs can be longer than on some other dynos. As long as the dyno cell has proper/effective airflow, this won’t be an issue and it helps to ensure that appropriate load is being seen by the engine and ECU for each run (as you would see on the road).

Something else we’ll be making use of to ensure that we can gauge an element of satisfaction around what the ECU is seeing and how the engine is reacting, is to monitor detonation / knock. This is very important when you’re tuning a car, to appreciate whether or not you’re getting pre-ignition. This can be caused by all manner of things, and is ultimately bad news for your engine (damage to pistons, rings and crank bearings etc). I’m sure you’ve all heard of tuned engines that have melted a piston....... knock is one of your enemies.

The ECU will have it’s own knock strategy (many modern ECU’s are so powerful nowadays), and be surly recording any knock events (via a knock sensor located on the engine block) in it’s logs. It will use this information to “learn” (within certain boundaries), adapting ignition (by retarding) etc to reduce the occurrence of any knock event, once an event has been “seen”. Once we get into the ECU side of things we should be able to log this more effectively. We’ll be using a mixture of DET CANS and ECU logs whilst testing work is being done on the dyno and road, to ensure we can “listen” for any knock events that happen. This is in part, to make sure any level of tune is “safe”. In layman's terms, DET CANS consist of a microphone and a set of headphones. The noise of DET happening can be distinguished through the headphones, to a person who has a trained ear.

Dyno Corrections Used
I want to get this out of the way to provide ABSOLUTE clarity to the dyno results we will see throughout this project.

Nearly every dyno has a correction facility, which based on whatever correction factor is being applied, will use data from the environment (barometric pressure, inlet temps, ambient temps etc) in conjunction with a calculation to normalise the power readings. This is to ensure (any dyno accuracy of readings in general to one side) that it does not matter (to a degree) whether you dyno your car on a hot day or a cold day, your figures will be comparative. These correction factors are a leveller to normalise figures regardless of environment atmospheric conditions.

I would suggest that you only use a dyno that has corrections applied, for any reasonable power output figure.

The large majority of data and dyno set-ups in the EU will use the DIN correction factor. However, the latest correction factor that is being adopted across the EU now (and certainly by the manufacturers) is EWG. The short and tall of it is EWG will generally provide LOWER figures than DIN.

Make sure your dyno graph has a correction factor for starters, and then ensure any other graph you’re comparing with, is using the same factor. Don’t forget the differences can sway both ways as well.

If you compound correction factors with “optimistic” dynos, you’ll now start to understand why there is some major disparity with dyno numbers in the wild. Certainly with some of the figures being touted around the forums.

Just be open minded about all of this….. AND DON’T CONCENTRATE ON DYNO NUMBERS in isolation!

Since a lot of the comparable data in the community for the RS3 has been measured by using DIN, that will be the correction factor I’ll be using for the time being (it will be clearly marked as such on each graph).



Registered User
TEST 1 - Baseline Figure
Apologies as I’m awaiting the separate stock graph PDF to be sent to me. I’ll update this as soon as I have it. The graph is used on some of the overlays seen further on, so at least we have clear reference points at the moment to discuss.
Summary of Spec
Standard MY16 RS3
Fuel - VPower Nitro (99 oct)

TEST 1 figure achieved was 388bhp & 350lbft @ the flywheel

TEST 1 - Baseline Figure - Comments
Well we already appreciate how quick this car is, even in standard form on the black stuff. But in reality this is due to a number of things. The area under the curve, the gearbox and Haldex system - as a complete package it pretty much rocks, but what does the “pretty” graph tell us about the power delivery.

The area under the curve is always more relevant than the peak figures.

I can normally look at an entire power graph and make a decent judgement as to the potential of the power delivery and flexibility on the road, taking into account the power band and torque available. Make no mistake, it’s the torque that gets you to where you want to go…. Quicker.

Since the MAHA RR is able to appropriately load the engine up, you can deduce how the turbo comes on song. You can see here that you’re achieving near (around 340lbft) peak torque at around 2600rpm, which in 4th gear is pretty good. Suffice to say, due to loading, you will see peak torque coming in slightly earlier the higher the gear. So 5th would see this 2800rpm drop slightly….. this is all normal (3rd gear would be slightly later and so on).

Low rpm’s for torque makes for more pace from lower revs, however by looking at this torque curve you see the RS3 holds this torque pretty well all the way through to 5800rpm. For a road car that is a nice torque band. This is why the mid-range feels really strong on the RS3 and explains why the engine keeps pulling through the rev range. When you combine a wide torque band, with an early onset of torque, you end up with a very agile package.

There are a few peaks and troughs throughout the torque curve, but these don’t really “get in the way” of the power delivery. We’ll come on this later.

When we also see how much more power/torque this turbo can provide further on, it makes the overall set-up even more amazing.

So what else can we find out?

Another advantage of most rolling roads is that you can also capture and overlay other data, that is gathered at the time of the dyno run. This data either comes from plugging the dyno into your OBD port, or buy connecting additional sensors to the dyno, directly connected to the car.

I did capture a lot of data on all runs but it was a mix between additional sensors (true wide band sensor), ODB to dyno and also using VCDS. Which leads me on to the next subject….

VCDS (previously known as VAGCOM)
I won’t bore you guys with talking about what VCDS is…. I’m suspecting most of you guys know, but what I will concentrate on is talking about the logging facilities as this was the real reason why I purchased VCDS.

In basic terms the ECU reads a varied number of sensors (some dependant on OEM ECU version). Upon looking at the sensor readings available via VCDS, you may be overwhelmed by what data sets can be logged.

You may be thinking why I can’t just plug in a simple OBD reader into the car and use a smartphone app etc to read the sensors. The main constraint with this is that these loggers / scanners only read generic OBD codes (PID’s) generally. Some applications will also decipher / read manufacturer specific codes, but not to the extent that VCDS does. VCDS reads all the VAG sensors that I’m aware of, and it’s access to this information that I wanted.

Whilst some may be meaningful, others will have the reaction of "What the hell does that mean?". Obviously to a professional or knowledgeable enthusiast, this will equate to useful data but in reality the majority of us will neither understand or be interested to a degree...... but make no mistake they can all be meaningful.

Here is a screenshot of a log I took (excuse the rather slow sample rate - that’s my fault) for the stock level of tune.

This specific screen shot shows two logs in the same file.

They both contain all sorts of data varying from timing ****** per cylinder, boost, charge air temp and ambient temps, fueling, overall ignition, camshaft timing etc. You can view all sorts of useful date which is very very useful (needed) when you’re mapping. All of these are normally recorded against RPM.

There are so many different sensors and you can log up to 12 different sensors at a time in VCDS.

Stock Boost
As we’re talking about the stock tune here, you can use the screenshot above to see how much boost the car makes on a stock tune as seen at the manifold.

If you look at the Engine Speed column on the left (uppermost log) and scan across to the last column (Intake Manifold Pressure), you’ll see what boost was achieved at what RPM. Whilst the sample rate is quite slow (as in the RPM increments), this does give you a good idea of boost attained at the manifold.

You must remember that the boost shown includes 1 atmosphere of measure as these are absolute readings, so you must take 1 atmosphere (1 bar effectively) off to get an appropriate reading. These are also shown in hPa as opposed to PSI or BAR. 1000 hPa is basically 1 bar, so it doesn’t take long to work it all out.

I’ll do the conversion to BAR to make it easier for you to read:


Whilst it doesn’t show it in this log, stock boost peaks at around 1.2bar, but you can see that boost does fluctuate throughout the rev range. This is also shown in the torque curve, which for a standard car isn’t that flat to be honest. On the stock dyno runs of the RS3 you can see the torque (and power) fluctuate through the mid range, and this is largely due to boost fluctuation / control. Boost control could have been tighter to be honest, but it is what it is.

As you may expect, you can see boost tails off towards the redline (just below 1bar).

Charge Temp
Something else you can see on the above log is the Intake Air Temp which is the temperature of the air after the intercooler. This is very important for turbocharged cars and is certainly an area that can cost you power as well as gain you power.

Effectively the cooler the air entering the engine after the turbocharger (and intercooler), the more dense it is and the the bigger bang you can achieve. Figures you attain here can inform you whether you’re over heating the charge air (by running the turbo beyond its efficiency) and/or have an effective intercooler.

It’s also useful to log the ambient temperatures so you can see the delta (difference) between the two temps.

You’ll see here that the charge temp (intake) is fairly OK, but rises as the run moves through the revs and more boost is being applied and everything heats up.

Cooler charge temps are the best (icing issues to one side), but I was always told in the old days that ideally you should aim for charge temps below 40degs. Anything over that will apparently start to impact power more.

Considering this is a dyno cell, and although it has very good airflow, it can’t match the cooling the car would receive on the road, so the figures attained here on the oem setup are OK. Repeated dyno pulls will start to increase temps, but on the runs we did they quickly stabilised again.

Again on the same log above you’ll see fuelling being logged (shown by the column giving a Lambda reading). Ignoring the last row @ 6733 (the throttle was lifted here), the Lambda figure slowly decreases as the revs rise. This means the fuelling starts off lean (more air than fuel) and gradually richens up (more fuel) as the power / boost rises. What you would expect.

It is possible to gain power (and lose it) depending on what fueling strategy you choose. Rich or lean mixtures have their benefits and disbenefits. However, I’m led to believe that with direct injection (as used in the RS3), you have much more flexibility with what you can do with the fuelling.

The final element to highlight is the ignition adjustment, which is also on the same log above.

Again, as the rev rise and boost builds the ignition is slowly adjusted, with stock peak ignition adjustment running at around 11degs of advance.

All the above are the basic elements to consider when tuning a turbocharged car. There are a lot more, certainly in this ECU on the RS3, but these are the basics. But you’ll probably appreciate now how important log information can be, especially when you’re looking to start tuning a car.

So with the benchmark data logged and the car pulled off the dyno…. Let’s move on to the first item to change.

Secondary Decats
Quite a common mod on the RS3 so I thought it would be rude not to.

The RS3 has several cats, both in the downpipe and the secondary mid section. It’s the secondary ones I decided to remove as it’s a fairly straight forward and inexpensive mod.

To be honest the OEM exhaust system doesn’t look that restrictive visually, but may need to be looked at further down the line.

You’d have thought that removing a couple of cats would release some power. We’ll find out.

The main reason I chose this mod was for the noise increase though. Whilst the stock car sounds very nice, I wanted to unleash that rumble a touch more. If we saw any increase in power that would be a bonus, but it wasn’t really expected from my perspective.

These are what we’re going to remove:

These are what we’re going to replace them with, a set of Miltek secondary decat pipes:

With both sets side by side:

It’s clearly quite obvious what the difference is between the two sets of pipes!

So with the new decats on, it was time to bang the car on the dyno and see what we could see.

TEST 1 - Secondary Decats
Apologies as I’m awaiting the decta graph PDF to be sent to me. I’ll update this as soon as I have it.

Summary of Spec
MY16 RS3
Miltek Secondary Decat Pipes
Fuel - VPower Nitro (99 oct)

TEST 1 figure achieved was 394bhp & 355lbft @ flywheel
Because I haven’t got the graph in front of me I don’t have the exact figures (again apologies), but from what I remember we saw circa +6bhp and +5lbft over stock. I can’t remember whether this was only peak or throughout the rev range though. I’ll update when I get the graph in my hands.

I know others have reported more increases, but unfortunately I can only state what I achieved. To be honest I’m not surprised.

Looking at my VCDS logs it doesn’t appear to have affected boost control, which if there was less of a restriction on the exhaust side by a tangible amount, I would expect to see changes in wastegate duty / boost achieved.

It’s sounded awesome on the dyno though….. It has a proper “growl on” when you open it up. Worth the cost 100% just for that in my opinion!

I was going to disconnect the exhaust valves as well, but never got around to it. I might revisit that in the future.

I also can’t tell you whether driveability was affected, not that I would expect this to be the case in reality to any noticeable degree. The first time I got the car on the road was after the next stage of tuning….. Which we’ll come on to next and something I’m sure you guys will be more interested in.


Registered User
ECU Remap
This is undoubtedly the key element for this development phase and where most of the time has been spent.

The RS3 uses the Bosch MED 17.1.x ECU family…… without going into a massive amount of detail, this ECU is one very powerful mofo. The amount of control it can have over how the engine performs is pretty mind blowing. The art of making the car “sing”, utilising/modifying the appropriate calibrations (there are well over 100,000 of these!) and ensuring you’re not hitting the protection tables (ultimately resulting in power being pulled down), is where the time and effort is needed.

It goes without saying that even from a pure technical and in essence, logical standpoint, a properly mapped ECU should be overall, far better than a tuning box (convenience to one side).

One of the plus sides of mapping the MED 17.1.x is the fact that this can be accessed fully via the OBD port. I don’t personally know if all current tuners are using this method, I suspect they are to be honest. The other method (as is the case with the A45) is via a method known as BDM. The process to achieve this is commonly referred to as a “bench tune”, which effectively means the ECU is pulled out of the car and programmed. This also makes tuning a bit of a time consuming effort, assuming you need to alter and test different calibration adjustments. It means you program the ECU (out of the car and you normally open it up); refit; log on road/dyno; pull ECU out and make adjustments and refit/log again - repeat until you get bored!

Fortunately the RS3 has OBD programming access.

So how is the programming done - put simply a laptop with the programming software is connected to the ECU via the cars OBD port, and the new map file is written to the ECU…. all in situ. It takes around 10 minutes to reprogram the ECU with each new map file.

Enough screens for you?

TEST 2 - ECU Remap and Secondary Decats
Whilst I’m reporting this as TEST 2, there was a whole process that we went through to get to this point. This was certainly not the first map that was created (in fact it was the last one of the day), but was where we finished up at the end of this specific session. If memory serves me correctly we created at least 7 maps, each one altering a single area to see what the effect was, then rolling up the “good” changes with the next change. Basically taking an incremental approach.

Summary of Spec
MY16 RS3
Litchfield Stage 1 ECU calibration
Miltek Secondary Decat Pipes
Fuel - VPower Nitro (99 oct)

TEST 2 figure achieved was 421.6bhp & 408.7lbft @ flywheel
Comparing this against the stock figure (which is the comparison the graph above shows) we saw the following:

+33.6 bhp +58.7 lbft (peak) over stock
+8.6% bhp +16.7% lbft (peak) over stock

I’ve banged on about this before (probably), but in my experience of using most makes of dynos in the UK over the years, I have always found MAHA dynos to provide quite a stingy torque figure…. Certainly in comparison to other dyno makes. So it’s worth bearing this in mind when you compare figures. Which is seen here with the stock figures as much as the tuned figures in my opinion. But it is what it is.

TEST 2 - Comments
I certainly know I’ve said this before, but one thing that is very important in my opinion, is to not just focus on peak power figures. You really need to look at the whole rev range and thus the whole area UNDER the curve to appreciate improvements.

Considering this was after the initial mapping session, and whilst the peak figures attained are good, there are higher improvements being seen in the mid range.

Looking at the graph you can see that whilst torque is by and large a nice increase throughout the mid range by around +60lbft, the power is seeing increases through the mid range of +50 bhp.

To me, for a road car, it’s about torque and mid range grunt.

TEST 2 - Road
Yeah….. That’s different!

I’ve always thought the stock RS3 was already quick, which is in part down to it’s power delivery and smoothness. This map just amplified the stock delivery, whilst retaining the stock characteristics. This map almost felt too smooth though, however, smooth delivery can mean in reality a quick car!

The car was certainly more urgent in the mid range (increased torque) and felt like it was pulling harder at the top end.

Being honest I suppose I was expecting more. Don’t know why though. Although expectation is normally high when going through a tuning process, but let’s be honest, this map was far from finished. So I needed to put things into perspective.

It felt good and quicker, but just didn’t blow my socks off. But then will Stage 1 ever do that. We’re all greedy aren't we!

The noise……

Initially I didn’t think there was much of a difference on the road, but when you start driving a bit more, you really do notice the bigger growl. Because the RS3 switches the exhaust flaps dependant on throttle, it is more or less as before until you open it up….. Then it really does sounds awesome. Something I have noticed is perhaps a very slight drone now at cruise 70-80mph. It’s only very slight and I can’t say I noticed it before. It’s certainly a great and cheap mod to make in my opinion. These engines sound awesome…. These decat pipes just makes it sound that much more awesome!

It was agreed to carry on with the mapping development in a couple of days time.

TEST 3 - Revised ECU Remap and Secondary Decats
So, the second session of mapping commenced. First off we took a Day 2 baseline run just to ensure that we were still where we left off on the previous session. This run was within a couple of BHP of where we were at the end of Day 1 (as per TEST 2), so we were good to go.

Again, just to go through the process we followed…. On Day 2 we took the map (currently on the car) from the end of Day 1 and called that Stage 1 v1. During this session we went through a similar task as the previous session, carrying on where we left off. During this session we created 9 new maps, although the last revision didn’t make any positive difference so we reverted back to the v8 map from this session. Litchfield’s had already created 6 new maps prior, and we created 3 additional new ones on the day (using what was learnt during this specific session).

We were on the dyno for around 4 hours for this session.

Summary of Spec
MY16 RS3
Litchfield Stage 1 ECU calibration
Miltek Secondary Decat Pipes
Fuel - VPower Nitro (99 oct)

TEST 3 figure achieved was 433.6bhp & 437.3lbft @ flywheel
Comparing this against TEST 2 figure (which is the comparison the graph above shows) we saw the following:
+12.0 bhp +28.6 lbft (peak) over TEST 2
+2.8% bhp +6.9% lbft (peak) over TEST 2

Overall Stage 1 Test 3 comparison against stock
+45.6 bhp +87.3 lbft (peak)
+11.7% bhp +24.9% lbft (peak)

TEST 3 - Comments
Obviously at this stage all I had to go by was the dyno data (and logs), but if you appreciate what a “good” road car dyno graph can look like, this is one of them in my opinion.

Two things to point out initially about the graph. One being the way the car was loaded up for this run. This is highlighted by the initial shape of the torque and power curve up to around 2150rpm. This isn’t a mapping issue which has caused this, this is purely because the car was not loaded on the dyno from a low enough rpm. It’s just the way this one was run (mistake by the dyno operator). It’s only that initial part of the run that was affected.

The second point (and I’m being really nit picking / anal here) is the very very slight dip (it’s probably in the region of 6lbft) in torque from 3-3800rpm. That is also replicated in the power curve for the same rpm. This is due to a very minor but further adjustment being needed to the boost control, as it looks like the ECU thinks it’s going to overboost just as it reaches initial peak boost, so it pulls back the boost slightly and then increases the boost again.

These two minor things to one side, this is such a smooth curve. The torque is virtually flat decked throughout the mid range. The power curve also looks so linear up to peak power, and then manages to hold that peak (virtually) through to the limiter.

If you compare the stock torque curve through the mid range, and even the torque curve result as part of the first mapping session, you will see that there is so much more control now in this area on this version of the map.

Even without getting the car on the road (which we did when we were happy with map, just to double check the logs on the black stuff), the curves alluded to a very nice driveable map.

As before let’s look at what increases have been seen through the mid range…..

In parts we’re talking +100 lbft and on average +90 lbft. With the BHP you’re seeing +80 bhp through a large amount of the same mid range. Those are some significant increases!

Due to time cracking on it was decided to call it a day….. For now.

For further context here is a dyno comparison of just a sample of the maps tested during this recent session. I won’t go into boring detail but you can see differences in the runs which were the outcome of the different maps. This was all part of the testing / learning process to end up with the final result.

TEST 3 - Road
Being honest I really wasn’t expecting much of a change on the road from the previous session map outcome. Perhaps I’d just desensitised myself. Lol

I fully appreciate this will be so subjective, but I thought I would just share the feedback I provided back to Iain after I go home. This is straight up and honest feedback, that was certainly never intended to be made public. But since this is what I felt / feel, I thought I would share.

“It's jeffing awesome mate.

I've never seen the traction control light coming on so much!!!! lol

I was genuinely laughing and smiling on the way home.

It's feels like a totally different car since Wednesday's map, which I wasn't expecting.

Whilst it's still very smooth and the gearbox just sucks everything up you give it, the way the power comes in (urgency and magnitude) on a low rpm pull is fantastic. With the A45 it felt you had to properly wind it up (they are pretty much at the same peak figure level now). With this though, it's much more responsive and instant.

You can feel a big improvement both in the midrange and top end since Wednesday. It feels quite exciting when you keep your foot in, which it didn't on Wednesday. Mid range feels very smooth.... but it feels like it's pulling so hard.

Top end feels like it's giving measurable improvements over Wednesday.

I look forward to your further map tweaks!!!! Get mashing that keyboard!!!!”

To be honest I’m not going to add anything else. I could keep banging on about how it feels etc but there is little point wasting bandwidth! lol

For me that’s Stage 1 done and dusted.

I intend to get down the quarter mile again this weekend and also carry out some VBOX logging. As and when I get these performance measures I’ll update this thread. It will be interesting to see where the car is in relation to my stock performance data.

Stage 2 will begin in a couple of weeks…. So expect more news on that very soon!


Registered User
Performance Testing - Stock vs Stage 1
It’s alright having dyno graphs but this is all about (in my opinion) how any power relates to performance on the black stuff.

I don’t tend to drive my car on the dyno to work and back, so it’s always good to use other forms of reference to measure changes.

Something I will do throughout this project is give you the good, the bad and the ugly. This is all about a journey and things won’t always go to plan etc…. That’s life especially with car tuning. Hopefully negative things will be infrequent though.

So what are we going to use to benchmark performance at this level of tuning…. Acceleration runs, specifically down the quarter of a mile.

I’ve already mentioned about using a VBOX to measure acceleration, so that will certainly be used and I’ve also ran the car down Santa Pod dragstrip when it was stock. So we’ll use that as another means to judge performance.

Some of you may take the data I will provide in this update and immediately compare it against other data available on the net. Whilst it is fine to do that, you do need to be very careful that you’re comparing apples with apples.

The fact is that you can get VBOX data from any location you choose. Some of those locations maybe uphill or downhill. Some of the data captured may actually be corrupt. When you use a VBOX and look at the screen for the results gained, that won’t tell you ANYTHING about the integrity of the data and run. I know it’s 100% possible to log a run on a VBOX that is both downhill and has dropped satellite connection part way through the run….. Both of these elements can GREATLY influence the figures given by just using the onboard screen of the VBOX.

How do you verify that the data and run is pucka?

You must ensure a memory card is in the VBOX to store the logs and check the data validity on both the desktop software that comes with the VBOX and using an online tool called “VBOX Verify”.

VBOX Verify will do just that….. It will check the data file is clean and that the run is performed within an accepted “slope” tolerance. What the later means is that it will measure the slope of the road (height data is captured all the way through the run), by ensuring that it remains within a certain % allowed throughout the run.

However…. There’s even more to it than this.

Whilst there is a slope check you can still gain acceleration performance by running on a road ,that whilst still falls within the acceptable slope (downhill for instance), does give the run an advantage. That’s physics! When you’re looking to compare figures that are coming down to 10ths of a second difference…. It can all help to make that difference.

The other area is road surface. Due to the makeup of the asphalt on normal roads you will almost certainly have less tyre drag on a public road, then you will on a proper (not airfield!) drag strip. Drag strip tarmac is a much denser compound than road tarmac and doesn’t absorb water like road tarmac does. This is why when it rains it takes them so long to dry the drag strip track out. What this ultimately means is that there is more tyre drag on the drag strip (along with the glue prep they spray on the strip to aid traction). This will normally cause slower acceleration figures on drag strips and reduced terminal speeds.

This sounds all really anal…. But again, when you’re comparing down to 10ths of a second, it can make an impact.

Context and accuracy is king in my opinion and you need to be as like for like as possible. So be very careful when you compare data you’ve attained against others.

Dragstrip accuracy - surely that’s a give then?
If it’s a proper dragstrip then at least you be assured that the timing slip will be accurate, however, there is more to it than this.

Just because you run on a dragstrip it doesn’t mean your performance data (time and terminal speeds) will not vary between different dragstrips. You also can’t guarantee that each time you run, your car will absolutely run the same times.

Assuming your car is healthy, so much can influence a drag run when you’re hunting those small 10ths of a second.

Preparation of the track can make a difference (grip and drag). Weather conditions can make a difference.

In my opinion the environment and weather can have the biggest impact when comparing data. Some cars may be impacted more than others.

Just don’t take everything literally. It’s not that black and white.

Vehicle Weight
Vehicle weight can also influence acceleration times, as the power to weight maybe different. If your car is fully loaded with the “fat” options, there is every chance that a lighter specced car will perform better. Based on the options available I think the difference in times will be small, but every little counts when you’re getting the magnifying glass out on performance figures.

Again….. Something else to be aware of.

Mine is a full fat version, but I do need to get in on the scales to find out exactly what that means.

Conditions on the day
The ambients were good being in mid teens. The cooler the air the better it should be for turbocharged cars.

Track preparation wasn’t the best. Due to rain the previous day and earlier that morning, together with the cooler air, grip for me was an issue. Something I never experienced a few months ago…. However, I’ve also got more grunt now, so that certainly wouldn’t help with the standing starts. It is what it is though.

There was also quite a strong crosswind. Again that isn’t going to help matters. Although it’s better than a direct headwind!

There were LOADS of cars running. So much that we were queuing out the end of the fire up lane. It was a good 30mins between runs. This means that whatever heat you’ve built up in your tyres will dissipate by the time you get to the start line (less grip), and you also have the added awesome feature of heat soak due to queuing! The OEM intercooler is starting to struggle with a remap on the RS3, so any additional heat build up isn’t going to help matters.

You can only run in the conditions that are apparent on the day though. Such is life.

First run 12.14 @ 114.33mph
I wasn’t expecting today to go well if I’m being honest, as the conditions weren’t the best. This first run gave an indication to how the day was possibly going to pan out.

Grip wasn’t good. Wheelspin at the start together with axle tramping. That isn’t good. More grunt and not enough grip on a standing start.

I also noticed the gearbox appeared to stutter from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd. 3rd to 4th was fine.

Second run 12.08 @ 114.63mph
Still had traction problems and gearbox stutters, but at least the time was coming down.

Third run 11.98 @ 113.63mph
This run had a better launch, but still span the fronts wheels up. No axle tramp and the stutters weren’t appearing on the gear changes. The track felt like it was starting to improve (this was just after 2pm).

I’d be lying if I stated I wasn’t hoping for more, however, that was in relation to the ET’s and I was hoping for an 11.8x. We’re talking about a 10th of a second here and considering the grip issues I had experienced, the 11.9x achieved is a solid measure.

My car clearly has more grunt now than it did before when stock. If we look at my best from the previous stock figures at Santa Pod, to these runs, the differences are marked in both ET’s and terminal speeds:

12.34 @ 111.25mph; 60ft in 1.83s; 330ft in 5.13; ⅛ in 7.92 @ 88.75

Stage 1
11.98 @ 113.63mph; 60ft in 1.84s; 330ft in 5.02; ⅛ in 7.69 @ 92.89

Taking into account my other two runs from yesterday were seeing terminals @ 114mph, this backs up the dyno after figures with the increased BHP at the top end. The car is quicker down the strip because of this.

At the level of Stage 1 on these cars you’re not going to see massive decreases in times, as the top end BHP isn’t being lifted that much over the stock figures.

Also the extra torque this Stage 1 now has won’t be benefiting the drag runs as much as they benefit the car on the road in normal driving conditions. The mid range will only be utilised through the first gear, where this can impact grip anyway. There is also less load in 1st so the benefit of the mid range is limited. Drag runs are really about the upper rev band.

The biggest negative is overall grip on launching. This is probably a combination of the track conditions and my hefty torque in the midrange on that 1st gear pull from a standing start with launch control.

I’m also on the thinner 235 section tyres at the front. Most owners will have the 255’s on the front. This should theoretically aid traction from a launch.

Whilst run stability improved on the third run, I never saw a 60ft in the 1.7’s, which is absolutely possible with these RS3’s. Assuming the rest of the run is clean, it is absolutely possible that every 10th you decrease your 60ft time by, you can double the reduction at the ET. When my car was stock I saw a 1.75s 60ft…. And I’m not the only one.

We’re getting quite anal here and this car is not being modified to be a drag monster…. It’s a road car and is setup as such.

What’s next?
The next dragstrip event is at Shakespeare Raceway this coming weekend. I’m going to try and attend and see if I can get the car in 11.8’s. I’m not going to change anything on the car, but may play with tyre pressures to see if I can stabilize the grip more on launching. Lower pressures normally aid grip, but that will increase the drag and decrease my speed….. So it’s a balancing act.

Apart from this it’s on to Stage 2. Intercooler and remap again! Then hopefully back down to strip to see if this helps my overall performance figures.

Talking of performance figures
What about my VBOX data from these runs!..........

Here is the verified VBOX data from the above quickest drag run at Santa Pod. Remember this is from a drag strip run…… not a road log:

0-60mph in 3.50s

60-100mph in 5.31s

0-100mph in 8.81s

If you wondered how accurate these VBOX’s are…. Look at this VBOX log taken on my quickest run. Pretty close to the official strip timing for a box that costs a few hundred pounds!

Here’s the quickest run on video:



Registered User
Performance Testing Stage 1 - Round 2
I did say on the last update that I would be attending the next dragstrip event at Shakespeare Raceway… so here we are!
I was adamant that the conditions at Santa Pod last weekend were not the best, and for me, caused issues due to poor grip levels. Like we all say though…. The ******** stops when the flag drops, so I was eager to try again under better track conditions.

Conditions on the day
The ambients were warmer today than last weekend high teens starting off, which quickly moved to low 20’s.

Track preparation should be better as the weather leading up to today wasn’t that bad. It was at least dry the day before and no rain had fallen overnight.

As soon as I got to the track they were already out prepping it which is always a good sign!

Another good thing (from a run / heat management perspective) is that there were no where near as many runners here today as Santa Pod the week before. Which should mean I can better manage my runs, rather than being dictated by the traffic.

First run 11.99 @ 114.64 60ft 1.87s

I’m going to start and quote the 60ft in the title. This is very important to me now as you’ll see further on.

Balls….. It’s lighting up the front tyres again and still axle tramping. Car feels really light going up the rest of the track as well.

This is the first run though and I was first on track….. I’m hoping things will improve as the track gets more rubber and heat into it.

I’m going to get straight back on, back to back!

Second run 12.06 @ 114.82 60ft 1.94s

Holy moley…. What happened on that run. Look at that 60ft!

Front grip was atrocious! Still feels like it’s struggling for grip over the rest of the track as well. It’s 4WD…. What’s going on! lol

One more run, but something to try first to improve grip….

Tyre Pressures
I’m adamant this is all about grip and not because my tune hasn’t got the power.

I normally, as a matter of course, pull tyre pressure down on the fronts for drag runs on a Haldex type setup and all round if it’s permanent 4WD. This is assuming I’m having grip problems and I want to try and help with this.

The downside to pulling out tyre pressure is that this normally negatively affects the speeds you attain. This is due to increased tyre drag, with more of the tyre (as it’s effectively flatter) spread on the tarmac.

In my opinion if you’re not having grip issues don’t mess with your tyre pressures. One of the guys running his stock RS3 at the pod last weekend did this. He wasn’t having grip issues, but with him pulling his tyre pressures down it reduced his terminal speeds by a couple of MPH. His ET’s were not really affected, but this is what it normally does.

Checking my pressures I was still running stock levels for 235’s on the front, which was 39psi. I pulled these down to 32psi at the front and left the rears stock. It’s the fronts that are having to cope with all the work in reality.

Third run 11.98 @ 114.86 60ft 1.85s

This is just as bad as Santa Pod…. I just don’t think I’m going to get anywhere today.

At this point I decided to rest the car up and take stock (and cry!).

After just over 30 mins I headed out for the next run.

Fourth run 11.97 @ 116.17 60ft 1.93

The track had been running for just over an hour by now and it’s amazing how quickly a track can evolve as more cars run, increasing track temp and rubber laid down to increase overall grip.

OK, the ET and 60ft were still **** but look how the terminals have picked up. The car felt much better after launching then the previous runs. The strip on the whole was starting to feel quicker and the car was more stable after launching…. That increase in terminals backs that up.

If the car was now achieving that ET with that 60ft and terminal speed, things were looking a lot more positive now. I’ve just got to try and get a better launch in.

Something I noticed was that the inlet temps were very high after each run, so I decided to take the approach of letting the car cool between each run for at least 20mins. In my opinion this isn’t the best thing, as you tend to lose heat from your tyres (grip) and from your downpipe and turbo exhaust housing. It’s really good to ensure your exhaust housing and downpipe are red hot to ensure gas speed (power output) is optimum. Fine line here though as you don’t want heat soak.

I can’t wait to get this intercooler swapped out!

Fifth run 11.87 @ 116.03 60ft 1.87

We’re in the 11.8’s!!!! Still maintaining terminals but still struggling off the line.

At this stage I also took another 2psi out of the fronts. We’re now down to 30psi at the fronts, whilst the rears are still stock pressures.

Sixth run 11.80 @ 116.10 60ft 1.80

Boom!! 11.80 dead!!

To be precise it was 11.80045. That’s 4/10,000ths of a second away from an 11.7!!! That is crazily close.

Much better 60ft this time, but I know there is more left in the car on launching. The rest of the run felt proper solid.

It’s worth pointing out that even with this time the fronts are still spinning up on launch and the front is axle tramping. It’s mental!

I got greedy here and did a back to back run straight after.

Seventh run 11.86 @ 115.36 60ft 1.78

Triple balls!!!!

I finally bust into the 1.7’s 60ft, but got a worse ET and trap speed. That’s exactly what happens when you get heat soak - you lose power!!!! Surely had that launch been without heat soak, I think I’d be staring at an 11.7x timing slip now! Damn…… but as I like to say, it does it when it does it.

Time for a rest (for the car and me!) looking to running again after lunch.

Eighth run 12.05 @ 115.30 60ft 1.95

This run was some 1.5hrs since the last run, and look at how quickly the track can change again!

These were the worst grip levels I had experienced all day up the strip. I’m not over exaggerating here, but the tyres were squealing all the way through 1st, 2nd and 3rd. That’s crazy.

Look at that 60ft! Ha

Ninth run 12.03 @ 115.28 60ft 1.91

The track had clearly taken a turn for the worse during the afternoon.

That’s it…. I’m done for today!

It’s amazing how better track conditions can change the times. OK it’s not when you think about it, but there has been a marked improvement seen even at the same level of tune. A point probably worth underlining here, this car has not seen any further changes since the last runs at Santa Pod. It’s in the same state of tune.

To put down an 11.80s quarter is brilliant. Based on what I know this is the quickest official drag strip time for a Stage 1 RS3 on stock tyres, full fat weight and pump fuel in the UK. Also I managed to do 3 x 11.8x passes on the same day.

Based on the testing done today I’m as confident as I can be that the car, even at this level of tune, has an 11.7x drag strip pass in it.

The other element I’m really happy with is the trap speeds. Hitting 116+ at the quarter, especially with 10psi taken out of the front tyres, is impressive. It backs up the BHP claims from my dyno plots in my opinion.

The torque increases seen on my dyno plot (+100ftlb over the stock run on my car) is real in my opinion, which is why the stock launch control strategy is causing me ultimate grip issues on launch. Too much sauce on launch.

Let’s see where we are now versus the stock drag runs I did:

12.34 @ 111.25mph; 60ft in 1.83s; 330ft in 5.13; ⅛ in 7.92 @ 88.75

Stage 1
11.80 @ 116.10mph; 60ft in 1.80s; 330ft in 4.93; ⅛ in 7.57 @ 92.74

It’s easy to get side tracked by focussing on these performance times, but this car is for the road and that is what’s most important to me. I don’t launch the car on the road, I drive it through the gears. The drag figures do not highlight how quick and driveable this car is on the road.

Grip is ultimately my current enemy on the strip at the moment. There are a number of options I will investigate, focussed on what changes can be made to the launch strategy (reducing boost).

I could also look at increasing mechanical grip….. Fitting different tyres and/or the wider 255’s on the front. To be honest I would rather not put 255’s on the front.

One thing I will look at is geometry. Stock factory geometry is normally quite loose, so I’ll get the car on the alignment rig and tighten that up if needed.

The last but probably the easiest, is to start running the car at Santa Pods Peak Performance days. This is when they heavily prep the track, and continue to keep that up through the day. This ensures the strip is at it’s most grippiest. The downside is that these days are £60, as opposed to the normal £25. But since this doesn’t mean I need to change anything else, and it’s only affecting the drag strip outcome (potentially), it does kind of make sense to at least try this route.

I’m not going to bother messing around with anything for the next few weeks, it’s Stage 2 testing after all during early October.

I can’t stress this enough…. These are figures from the drag strip run, not for road runs.

As per the drag times, the other areas of acceleration also saw a marked improvement from the Santa Pod runs. Better track conditions / grip is good thing!

These are taken from the quickest quarter run logs:

0-60mph in 3.40s

60-100mph in 5.08s

0-100mph in 8.49s

Looking back at what was achieved at Santa Pod, these figures have been improved upon as follows:

0-60 0.1s quicker
60-100 0.23s quicker
0-100 0 0.32s quicker

Personally, I would expect the measures / results to be even quicker on the public highway.

The data logged via VBOX is very informative, way beyond just giving performance figures. One thing you can look at is the amount of g’s the car is pulling, which can allude to drop off’s in power / traction.

I’m noticing that the 1st to 2nd gear change is quite harsh and the box appears to stutter when doing a fully loaded launch run. Together with the wheelspin and axle tramping I get, this can be seen on the g’s plotted.

Let’s look at the VBOX quarter mile log associated to the quickest drag run achieved:

I’ve highlighted five areas from left to right on the g plot.

The 1st from the left is showing lack of traction initially, which will be a combination of wheelspin and the front axle tramping. It doesn’t gain full traction until around 16mph.

The 2nd from the left is showing the fairly substantial 1st to 2nd gearbox shift stutter. I’ve seen this on stock car logs, but I think this is being amplified by the Stage 1 remap.

A DSG remap may help certainly for the 2nd issue.

Whilst not affecting the run in reality the 3rd, 4th and 5th areas have been highlighted as these show the 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th and finally 4th to 5th gear changes.


Registered User
Engine Stage 2 Development
Put simply this is going to be about testing an upgraded intercooler and also a map adjustment to suit.

Upgraded Intercooler
Whilst I didn’t labour this point as part of the Stage 1 write up, it was apparent that increasing charge temps on the dyno were a bit of an issue.

On the stock map the intercooler was “ok” but once we pushed the boost levels up, charge temps were increasing. This was even more evident when back to back runs were completed, which when you’re mapping can be fairly unavoidable.

A dyno cell is a very harsh environment…. Even the ones that have very good airflow. Whilst I’m adamant that you’ll see better airflow on the road, the results measured on a dyno are fairly indicative as to what happens to charge temps on repeated road pulls, or even single pulls when ambient temps are high. This issue is further amplified when you start to increase power.

Whilst there are a number of intercoolers available for the RS3 8V I decided to plumb for the one from Forge. Most of us know of Forge and their products always appear to get decent reviews and their prices are reasonable in my opinion.

To better gauge before and after results directly without any changes to the setup, it was decided to remove the front bumper and replace as much as possible (in readiness for the Forge intercooler), but whilst still retaining the stock cooler. Then run on the dyno and swap out the intercooler in situ and run again.

First off the bumper was removed to show the stock intercooler setup:


The large alloy frame above the stock intercooler is the standard crash bar. The stock intercooler is below and to the left and right of this are the oil, and I’m pretty sure a transmission cooler. Plenty of coolers on these cars!

Next up was to remove the OEM crash bar and replace it with the new revised Forge version. For clarity this is actually an OEM crash bar that’s been modified. Modified? Well it needs to be to enable the larger Forge intercooler to be fitted. You’ll see this further on.


The space between the stock intercooler and the new crash bar gives you an immediate indication how much taller the new Forge intercooler will be.

Some other intercoolers available are getting on for double height. Whether or not this actually makes any discernible difference to cooling ability I don’t know. Personally I think it’s predominantly about the quality of the core (which you can’t see). Surface size isn’t everything in my opinion.

At the end of the day manufacturers quote all kinds of figures about dimensions, airflow, pressure drop. All I want to know is “Does this intercooler work better and how much better?”.

So with the stock intercooler in place the car was strapped down on the dyno for some stock intercooler baseline runs:


Once these were completed we fitted the new Forge unit:


You can see how it nicely fills that void, up against the modified crash bar. Looks great as well all in black.

The new Forge intercooler is bigger than the stock item and here is a further image to show this in comparison:


Car was then run on the dyno again…..

So let’s look at the differences in charge temps between stock and the Forge intercooler.

Stock Intercooler

Run Number: 1st cool run (i.e. no significant heat soak - the best it can be I suspect for the ambients once the engine was up to temp)
Ambient Temp: 16.8degs
Charge Temp at Start of Run: 28degs
Charge Temp at End of Run: 44degs

Forge Intercooler

Run Number: 3rd back to back run on the Forge unit
Ambient Temp: 17.5degs
Charge Temp at Start of Run: 27degs
Charge Temp at End of Run: 26degs

Pictures (with a few important stats) can speak a thousands words!

The Forge intercooler is so much more efficient over and above the stock item. Not only does it sustain the drop through 3-5k rpm, but it also maintains much lower temps at the top end of the run by a tangible amount (18degs lower). Couple this with the fact that the above Forge charge temp plot was taken from the THIRD back to back run, and the Stock charge temp plot was the first run on the stock cooler, it really does provide context to how much better the Forge item is.

If you look at the data further you can see that whilst the Forge drops the charge temp through the mid range, this was only 3.5degs over ambient! That’s ****** good by anyones standards.

It would appear that this Forge intercooler works well. Very well.

Power Increases?
Sorry to disappoint….. There were none (both runs compared above achieved 430bhp). Being honest I wasn’t expecting any increases just by putting the new intercooler on.

In my opinion unless your OEM cooler is so inefficient, just putting a new intercooler on won’t magically make more power over and above what you had before “just because”. What it will do is ensure that what you should have, you have more chance of maintaining on repeated high load runs (on a dyno, but more importantly on the road) and / or due to increasing outside ambient temps. It can also give you ability to run more boost / ignition, where otherwise you may have been limited due to high charge temps.

You may see “instant” increases in power if the dyno you have used does not have really good airflow in my opinion, or you have an amount of heatsoak (which is what the Forge tests on their website allude to). A dyno is a harsh environment and I do feel at times this harsh environment (with inadequate cooling / airflow) can show some increases with a new cooler as being smoke and mirrors, without any other changes being made. Sure, I have known other types of cars to benefit instantly from a change in cooler, but that has been due to how severely ineffective the stock item was.

A more efficient intercooler will enable you to maintain power for longer, but you can’t just take your previous power figure and just assume you can add power on to that just because of an upgraded intercooler.

Make no mistake this new Forge intercooler is much more efficient over and above the stock intercooler……. By a country mile.

Every other intercooler upgrade I’ve had done you’ve had to cut this, shave that and alter this.

Thankfully the Forge unit is straightforward to fit with no cutting and shutting.

It was definitely straightforward for me because I stood there and watched someone else do it, but I suspect you get what I mean.

One of the things that needs to be done is all of the plastic and cowling / foam needs to be removed from the back of the front bumper. There are full instructions to tell you how, and this either pulls off and or unscrews. Easy!


The only consideration is the number plate……

Whilst it’s not a major deal, if you wish to retain the OEM plate surround then that will have to be fixed to the grill from the rear of the grill by other means. Or you just fix the plate directly to the grill, but then you’ll have to screw it in rather than stick it.

One other option is to do this…….


I think this looks so aggressive….. I stuck with this option.

Something else fitted was a set of lower boost silicon hoses from Forge. I have the upper hose set as well, but this will be fitted at a later date.




Revised ECU Remap
This was one other area (apart from helping to sustain any power achieved) I was hoping that the new intercooler would pay dividends…..

One of the key elements that we couldn’t increase any more at Stage 1 was ignition (without the ECU retarding). Whether or not this was in part down to charge temps, we’d soon find out.

Litchfields wanted to try quite a few different things with this remap, so it was decided to leave the car with them.

This is where they ended up:


Summary of Spec
MY16 RS3
Litchfield Stage 2 ECU calibration
Forge Intercooler
Miltek Secondary Decat Pipes
Fuel - VPower Nitro (99 oct)

Stage 2 TEST 1 figure achieved was 453.4bhp & 444.2lbft @ flywheel
Comparing this against Stage 1 TEST 3 figure we saw the following:
+19.8 bhp + 6.9lbft (peak) over Stage 1 TEST 3
+4.5% bhp +1.5% lbft (peak) over Stage 1 TEST 3

Overall Stage 2 TEST 1 comparison against stock
+65.4 bhp +94.2 lbft (peak)
+16.8% bhp +26.9% lbft (peak)

Stage 2 TEST 1 - Comments
It should never be about the peak figures, but it’s always nice to increase the top end again by around +20bhp!

The car actually made 457bhp on a few runs, but consistently made 453bhp. Just thought I’d mention that for bragging rights! lol

Whilst the peak boost levels were only adjusted slightly (running 1.5bar flat through the mid-range, tailing off to around 1.2bar at peak power), the results attained were very positive with work put into the ignition map and overall boost control benefiting from the new Forge intercooler now in place.

Iain (Litchfield) did say to me that he was very impressed with how the intercooler worked on the dyno. This car had a lot of runs…. Many of which were back to back, yet the intercooler provided stability to charge temps not seen before. You can see on the above run even at this level after a number of back to back runs, the charge temps are well in check. As a comparison during Stage 1 after 3-4 back to back runs the charge temps were over 60degs (virtually the same ambient temps as during Stage 2 as well!). That’s how well this Forge cooler is working.

One other key element that has now been delivered under Stage 2 is how much quicker the torque builds and lasts compared to Stage 1.

We’ll have to have a look at an overlay for that to become clearer:


Whilst this graph is quite “busy” it shows Stage 2 vs Stage 1 vs Stock, if you look at the lowdown torque you’ll see that this is much better with Stage 2. Stage 2 gains around 200rpm earlier torque and around 200rpm extension to torque from over 5k. This ultimately makes the torque curve wider.

Lowdown you’re talking +40lbft between 1600 - 2500rpm.

Clearly there are BHP increases between Stage 1 & 2, but this is predominantly from 4k+, with the more significant gains from 5k+.

Because boost hasn’t really been increased through the mid-range, peak torque hasn’t really altered much from Stage 1, but it was felt that 1.5bar was ample through the mid range and the engine was happy with this.

As the torque is ramping up much quicker now early on, it’s quite difficult to control boost as it hits initial peak boost. That is why you see a very slight dip in the initial part of the torque curve, as this is to prevent any overboost. With a bit more time this could be further ironed out, but it’s a minor point in reality. I’m being overly anal.

Overall the curves are very smooth.

Just as a giggle I decided to overlay the dyno plot from my Litchfield Stage 2 A45 vs where the RS3 is currently:


The blue lines are the A45. The red lines are the RS3.

This is a good example of peak figures not telling the whole story, as between the two cars the peak figures are nigh on identical….. But see how much better the RS3 power/torque is. So much smoother curves and like +100lbft of torque more lowdown. That’s pretty immense and my A45 wasn’t a slow car!

Stage 2 TEST 1 - Road
The car feels better now at the top end as it certainly pulls harder, more than the dyno figure differences appear to suggest in my opinion.

The torque comes in hard and fast down low…. It feels quite brutal. I never felt I was lacking for torque lowdown with Stage 1, but this just feels like it’s turned it up to No.11 now in comparison.

Regardless of these changes the car is smooth, responsive and very driveable….. Feels really nice on the road.

Whilst the Forge intercooler has helped increase power safely I also suspect that the added benefit of better managing charge temps on the road is also having an impact to how the car feels. Every time you floor it, it feels ballistic….... On each repeated full load run.

For me that’s Stage 2 done and dusted.

I intend to get back down the quarter mile again this coming weekend, to see if Stage 2 improves my times. My concern more than ever now is launch grip. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m not assuming I will better my last time….. The dragstrip is never that straight forward. It will be interesting and fun to try though!

In principle the context of Stage 3 has been agreed. If it pans out as expected, this will be exciting using a different approach to the tried and tested. ;)

Stage 3 will begin during November all being well…. So expect more news on this very soon!


Registered User

Engine Stage 2 Performance Testing

I managed to get back yesterday to Shakespeare Raceway and whilst the day didn’t entirely pan out as I had envisaged, I picked up some very positive performance data.

With poor track conditions, queues, bikes throwing their guts down the track and rain…. I effectively gave up after a couple of runs.

I’ll get this out of the way first….. I didn’t better my previous 11.80s ET. You’ll see further on it’s not always just about the ET for performance data comparisons.

I always knew I was going to struggle with grip off the start. I was struggling at Stage 1 and with Stage 2 we’re now producing more torque and faster. This was further amplified by the start line prep….. It was bad. Many other runners (including a few of my friends that turned up) on street tyres were struggling.

To make the situation even worse the organisers then decided to keep gluing the track up throughout the day. We saw them redress the surface 4 times. I suppose with the oil being thrown down by some bikes and cars, they had to do it after cleaning up.

Every time this happens for street tyres it adds drag which makes us slower (my speeds were dropping as were others, as the day progressed). I suspect this was due to all the bikes running yesterday, especially with the track surface temps being quite low as well.

There is nowt you can do though…. It is what it is.


This was the best time achieved yesterday:


Anyone that knows what they’re looking at may now think “Mmmm… that looks interesting!!”.

This is one of the key indicators of launch grip.

At Stage 1 when we achieved the 11.80s pass the 60ft was being seen in 1.80s. This run was showing a very poor 1.97s. That’s how bad the launch grip was.

From my past experience any reduction in the 60ft time will see at least the same reduction at the ET.

To get the ET achieved here, with that kind of 60ft is ****** good and alludes to how much more potential the car has in it’s ET times.

Some form of logic dictates that if grip had been sufficient to achieve a 1.80s 60ft, the ET’s could have been 11.7’s and maybe even a very high (11.69) 11.6’s.

1/8m MPH
At Stage 1 we were seeing 92.74mph at this part of the fastest run. On this run at Stage 2 we’re seeing 95.33mph. This is the first indication that Stage 2 (dyno figures to one side) is clearly producing more power. More BHP will see higher trap speeds on a like for like car (as in weight).

1/4m MPH
At Stage 1 we were seeing 116.10mph at this part of the fastest run. On this run at Stage 2 we’re seeing 119.36mph. This again shows that Stage 2 is producing more top end grunt, which is what was shown on the dyno graphs.

To have trap speeds at this level for this stage of tuning on the RS3 8V is extremely good.

So what!?
Apart from the logical theory of the 60ft times and impact this could/should have on the ETs, what does all this MPH increase really mean?

It should mean that the car, after launching, is quicker than Stage 1 in and through the gears. Let’s see if that is the reality…..

All this data is from the same run as above. I’m not picking and choosing! ;)

There is no point me comparing 0-60 against Stage 1, as this is where traction was bad at Stage 2 yesterday. Stage 2 was slower than Stage 1 by 0.23s because of these launch traction issues.

60-100mph in 4.74s

This is 0.34s quicker than Stage 1.

Seeing as this had dropped a fair whack, it would be interesting to see if the 0-100mph was better, even though we knew 0-60mph was worse because of traction issues.

Not bad for a shopping car with some bolt ons and a remap. lol

0-100mph in 8.38s

This is 0.11s quicker than Stage 1 even with worse traction at the start (that lost it 0.2s)!!! That starts to tell you how much quicker this car is now.

With better launch traction I would imagine this time could be reduced further by a couple of 10ths.

When VBOX “Verified” graphs do not always tell the TRUE picture
I’ve previously said that comparing figures between a drag strip and road run are, in my opinion, not always comparative. So you need to be wary of this. On road tyres, runs on the strip tend to be slower (especially through and in-gear) than on the public road due to the increased tyre drag on a prepped drag strip surface.

One thing I’ve touched on before is the impact that “slope” (uphill or downhill) can have on acceleration figures. It goes without saying that with all things being equal if you accelerate uphill you’ll be slower, and if you accelerate downhill you’ll be quicker.

Whilst VBOX Verify (as in the charts you’ve seen in my posts), check that the datalog has basic integrity, it also checks for slope %. If the slope is outside of its specified tolerance, it will state the run is “Invalid”. You’ll see that all of my runs are marked up as “Results Valid”.

You would assume that because VBOX Verify has deemed your run as valid that’s all cool and we can compare apples with apples. In a word….. No.

You can also use a piece of software called “DBScanner”, which actually “corrects” the performance based on the slope that is recorded within the VBOX data. It effectively corrects the figures as if the run was on a flat piece of road.

This is only a calculation and I don’t know what wizardry it uses to do that. Quite a few people all over the world are starting to use this method now, as it is clearly apparent that there are differences and they can be quite considerable….. VBOX Verified or not.

I have a shedload of VBOX logs from all sorts of cars and owners. I’ve seen variances of up to 0.5s in figures between VBOX verified runs and what they have been corrected to using DBScanner. As in VBOX Verify giving a quicker figure than what DBScanner does.

I can’t emphasise this enough….. If you compare my data with anyone elses, make sure it’s like for like. Based on the comparison data I have (other tuned RS3’s which has been verified and corrected)….. This Stage 2 is properly quick.

Of course my data is from a drag strip which is a known entity and UPHILL! ;)

And finally….
Since my terminals were up as part of Stage 2 benefits and because some of the whatsapp crew have been banging on to me about getting some 100-200kmh times (this appears to be a standard measure of through the gears real world performance - 62 to 124mph), I kept my “foot in” at the end of the drag runs yesterday.

100-200km/h (62-124mph) in 9.34s

There is a very very slight downhill slope just after the end of the 1/4m at the strip (-1.5ft lol), so the corrected figure via DBScanner gives a figure of 9.35s (see below highlighted).


Again, based on the corrected data I have from others………. This time is very quick for this level of tune on the RS3 8V.

Just one LAST thing….
Although I didn’t manage to achieve the ET I was hoping for yesterday, hopefully all the other data that has been gained shows that Stage 2 has certainly made the car quicker / faster.

I know I keep banging on about traction issues and perhaps some of you will think I’m over egging this…. So here’s some more data to back that up:

This is the 0-60 VBOX graph of the same 1/4m run being used throughout this update. As you can see it’s a poor 3.63s. Lol


If you look at the parts I have highlighted you can see where the speed has dipped from around 9mph and the G’s fall right off. This was the area I lost the time due to traction issues.

I filmed my runs yesterday in-car and you can actually see what’s going on with the boost and revs during this part of the run.

If you look at the dash when I’m launching you’ll see the TC light come on, then the revs and boost drop and then it picks up. It’s quite obvious that’s going to be impacting my 1/4m times.

I’m not sure whether this is being invoked due to the lack of traction, or whether the car now needs a DSG remap to cope with the extra torque on launch, or whether we need to alter the launch strategy.

We’ll look into this more with Stage 3, but since this is a road car it’s not really an issue to be honest. This does not happen in any other scenario apart from when using Launch Control.

Roll on Stage 3…. We need more sauce!


Registered User
Dogbone Insert and Exhaust Valve Mods
Whilst this isn’t anything earth shattering, last week I made some further mods to the RS3.

Let’s be honest, it’s probably time for a bit more rice anyway!

034Motorsport Billet Dogbone Mount Insert
Quite a few people have fitted one of these and some say it’s a “must have” mod on the 8V RS3. Like most things available in the tuning world, I was quite sceptical, but for the sake of £45 I thought I’d give it a punt.

The idea behind this insert is that it stiffens the mounting off the bottom of the gearbox (and engine) with the front subframe.

The marketed benefits of this state it will make gear shifting crisper, reduce wheel hop / axle tramp on launches and provide a more connected driving experience. All sounds very good in black and white terms! Let’s see what it really does….

These do look a really nice quality item, and for something so simple to look at, you’d be forgiven for thinking how can this actually do anything worthwhile.



It states in the fitting instructions sheet that it takes between 30-45 mins to fit. More like 10 mins! It really is easy and quick.

This is the mount that we need to put this new insert into.


All you do is unscrew the bolt, push the insert in and screw the bolt back in. It’s really just that!

We put some grease around it, copper slipped the bolt and marked the bolt against the insert (just so we can see if the bolt moves due to vibration). You don’t need to do any of this though.



Exhaust Valve Mod
The next mod that I’ve been threatening to do for ages is to remove the valves on the exhaust backbox so they stay open all the time.

Since the valves on the RS3 open and close dependant upon gear and revs, maybe even throttle position with revs (as well as the obvious drive mode select) and certainly with cold start, I wanted to see what it was like with the valves effectively jammed open…. All the time! :D

The easiest way to do this is to start the car up and ensure the valves are open, then pull the plug on each of the valves. This way they will remain open regardless of what the ECU thinks it’s doing to control them. This will throw a code with VCDS but it doesn’t cause any issue.

I did try pulling the valves off whilst on my back without the car being up in the air….. It was more or less impossible for me to get my arms and hands around that space. Your mileage may vary though.

Much easier to do it on a ramp to be honest…… it takes seconds to unplug.

The valves are literally on top of each exit pipe from the backbox.



Instead of just leaving the plugs dangling and to protect them, you really need to tie them out of the way and ensure the loom ends are covered. We just zipped tied them up and covered the ends with a finger from a latex glove.


So…. what’s the difference?
I’m not entirely convinced this isn’t the full “placebo”, but the front end of the RS3 does feel a bit more solid. Not like earth shatteringly different, but certainly different.

I haven’t felt any compliance issues yet, but….. I have a resonance issue when in Sports gearbox mode at idle. I’ve always had a slight rattle in headlining where the pano roof controls are. Only ever evident with music on and shedload of bass. In Sports gearbox mode now on idle, I now hear a vibration in this same area. Never had that before and if I drop it to Dynamic gearbox mode at idle (revs drop) and the noise goes. I doubt if the exhaust valve mod has caused this, as it shouldn’t make any difference at idle.

I haven’t done a launch yet so I’m not sure if it’s helped with my wheel hop issues.

Can’t say I feel any difference with gear shifting if I’m being honest. My car always felt tight on shifts.

The exhaust…….

Mmmmm….. It’s pretty anti social now! lol

You’ll either love it or hate it with the valves open all the time….. For the time being I’m loving it.

One downside is a drone on cruise, which it didn’t have before as the valves would normally close at this point.

Just see these mods a stocking filler for xmas!!!


Registered User
How what a great detailed read i love the time snd consideration you've taken in doing a very very good write up...

Well done that man..

So any new updates


Registered User
to have put the level of detail you've put into this thread shows how strongly you feel about the RS3...i love the level of detail that you've gone into and its always threads like yours that pop up when you have a question about something specific and end up reading the hole thread start to finish..


Registered User
Great thread. Will be keeping an eye on the future mods

Ian at Litchfields is a top bloke


Rarely neutral
Gold Supporter
All work is being carried out by Litchfield. :)

Only reason I ask aside from them doing mine,is they helped develop the kit with Syvecs.

You seriously will LOVE that thing.......Storm got another 70bhp on their RS with that.


Registered User
Hopefully this will be the last substantial update for Stage 2, prior to me getting stuck into the Stage 3 development.

As you probably appreciate I like to “tell a story” when key events have taken place…. This update will certainly be no different. lol

So, since Stage 2 has been in place I have put the car under the microscope on several occasions with drag runs, dyno runs and vbox data. Whilst the the car has certainly achieved some impressive performance measures, I was always looking to gain much improved drag strip data.

Last year I had issues with launch traction but the car showed a lot of promise with the trap speeds it achieved. The additional 0-60, 0-100, 100-200 vbox data also backed up the “promise”. However…. Like most things, logic, theory and data mashing is one thing. Doing it on the quarter is something else, and something that isn’t easy to do in my opinion….. Especially when you’re hunting down those last few 10ths!

If we fast forward to this year I had already visited Santa Pod twice during February. I only ran the car once as the first event (early Feb) would have been a complete waste of time from the off. The track prep was the worst I have ever seen it, with the track being very “green”. All cars were struggling with grip so I gave it a miss.

February 2017
Desperate for a formal drag strip slip (it doesn’t matter how many times I’m able to run on a local airfield for vbox data, a proper formal drag run is the MUST HAVE leveller) I went back down to Santa Pod in very late February.

Not only was the track still “green” (they even had flame throwers on the start line to get heat into the tarmac!!), but on this specific occasion there was a 25+mph headwind!! Headwinds usually play havoc with times, especially speeds. It was stupid of me to even bother running (I had seen the weather forecast), but I was proper desperate.

I did one run and it was ALL so wrong. No grip and a massive headwind.

The result on the one and only run I did was an awful and laughable 12.28s @ 113.76mph!!


So…. in short make sure the track grip levels are good and that you don’t have a headwind. If you don’t, you could be looking at stock car times! Lol

Fast forward to this weekend…..

March 2017
The sun is shining, it’s a bit warmer and there’s no headwind. What could go wrong!!! If previous outings are anything to go by….. All of it!!! lol

I set off to Santa Pod as nervous as hell (I’d been up since 5am and the pod is like only 30mins away!!). Every time I do anything performance related on my cars I always get very anxious…. It’s the pressure and expectation I put on myself every time. I think I must have a problem!

I rocked up at the Pod and it looked like the cars were just about to start running. I thought I best just get straight on the end of the queue and quickly get signed on.

As I literally sat back in the car the cars started to run down the strip, so I very quickly connected my VBOX up and started sweating!!!

Quickly got to the front and did all the normal stuff to set the car up for the launch.

Bang off I went. Car felt very good on launch with no real traction issues and just pulled like an Ox up the strip. I kept my eye on the speedo to get an indication of what I was going to trap at. I was very close to 120mph so I knew it was a good run, so I kept my foot in to ensure I could get a 100-200kmh (124mph) data log as well.

I quickly looked over to my VBOX and saw this:


I instantly (swore) thought “Holy Moly” and started to flip through the rest of the screens, assuming that at worst it would be an 11.7x on the official timing slip.


0-60mph in 3.3s
0-100mph in 7.9s


60-100mph in 4.7s
100-200kmh (62-124mph) in 9.0s

Whilst these were only rounded (and uncorrected) VBOX figures, they all alluded to the fact this was a very good run.

I nailed it down to the timing office to pick the slip up.



11.55s @ 118.57mph

The trap speeds I had seen before, so that wasn’t a shock….. But the ET. That really did surprise me.

If you look at the 60ft time it was a good launch, and to be honest I was hoping for an 11.7 quarter. Thinking if I was lucky I’d get an 11.6….. But no way did I even think for one minute I’d get an 11.5 (and a good solid one at that).

I’ve never just rocked up and “banged one in” on my first attempt.

I then pulled the card on the VBOX and analysed the corrected data. Santa Pod, like most proper drag strips, is slightly uphill so it would be interesting to see the corrected figures for slope.

0-60mph: 3.26s

0-100mph: 7.91s

60-100mph: 4.63s

100-200kmh (62-124mph): 8.97s

Apart from the 60-100mph measure, these have been the best the car has achieved with Stage 2. To be fair though I haven’t really been able to test the car properly since the blown boost hose was found and replaced in December. It would be logically to suggest that even when I ran the car in October last year down the strip, I already had a boost leak.

The only other change has been the dogbone mount. It’s hard for me to objectively state whether this has helped with the launches, as the track conditions yesterday were good. When I ran in February (dogbone was fitted late last year) the car was all over the place on the launching, but the conditions were poor.

I actually think the car could have gone ever so slightly quicker as I had a higher fuel payload than I normally have when running down the strip. The fuel gauge just ticked down to half full as I turned up for the first run.


I normally run on two bars of fuel.

Sounds pathetic I’m sure….. But when you may have been able to reduce your time by 6/100ths (to get in the 11.4’s), every little can help.

Stage 2 - The End
I think I can safely say I’ve tested the backside out of Stage 2 and I’m extremely pleased with the results.

As far as I’m currently aware, this car is the quickest down the quarter in the UK for a comparatively tuned 8V RS3 (Stage 2) running on normal pump fuel (Tesco finest!) and full weight (no stripping!).


To highlight as well, this car (apart from the replaced boost hose and dogbone mount) has had NO further performance tuning or remapping since I picked the car up after the Stage 2 work last October.

My Stage 2 is pretty basic in reality, but in my opinion works extremely well.

I have had a number of people ask me offline if I have anything else done to the car that I haven’t disclosed. The answer has/is no.

I’m on stock suspension. Stock (original) tyres. Straight 99 pump fuel. Full weight car (in fact it’s optioned up with pano roof etc, so pretty much as heavy as these things get). Stock launch control map. Stock DSG map. Stock induction. Stock HPFP.

So that’s it for my Stage 2 testing and if these results are anything to go by I really can’t wait to get the Syvecs on alongside a bigger turbo!

Happy days!


Registered User
Superb thread and a great read. For your stage 2 that has achieved the 11.5s quarter, roughly what has been the cost, dare I ask?


Registered User
OK... things have suddenly snowballed since a long conversation yesterday with Iain Litchfield.

As with most plans, things will undoubtedly change and this stuff will be far from straight forward. I've been down this route before, and it can be painful. Hopefully it will be worth it though.

The plan is:
* Test the new v2 Stage 2 map on my car to see how it responds
* Get Syvecs up and running on the current set-up
* Get the pipework made up for a full frame GTX turbo (this might be optimistic for May)

Date TBC
* Start testing turbos, currently looking at three different specs (upper limit will have the potential for well over 700bhp, assuming we can get a specific blower to fit, but obviously not on stock engine)
* Start looking at building a forged bottom end, including custom pistons
* Look at the possibilities of having a billet block made

I'm tentatively looking at getting some serious power out of this lump (as the end goal).

Need to assess costs and logistics first though, so plenty to sort out and a lot to do before even getting to any engine build stage.

Should keep me busy for a bit though.

In the meantime, if any knows or hears of a scrap 2.5 block available and a set of stock pistons (even with mild det on the crown for instance), could you please PM me.

Will be looking at starting the piston design, getting a deck plate made up so the cylinder liners can be honed properly, and also look to "section" the block to see how strong it is. Then scan the block for a billet block build.

I've also been offered these carbon ceramic puppies..... although I haven't been given a price yet, so need to see if this is going to be stupidly expensive before diving in. Look Gucci though, even if my pocket ends up not being "agile" enough!



Will also need a new set of wheels, which I've also located.


Rarely neutral
Gold Supporter
I think you'll be very pleased with running a Syvecs on the car,and the bigger GTX turbo will also make a huge difference.

Getting the head worked on by someone like Tim Radley at Race Developments would also unlock a lot more from the engine,and he has a lot of experience with this engine.

The Iroz Motorsport parts may also be worth a look.....


Registered User
I think you'll be very pleased with running a Syvecs on the car,and the bigger GTX turbo will also make a huge difference.

Getting the head worked on by someone like Tim Radley at Race Developments would also unlock a lot more from the engine,and he has a lot of experience with this engine.

The Iroz Motorsport parts may also be worth a look.....

It will be interesting to see what's what once we get the GTX on.... I'm hoping I won't need to bother with the heads if I'm being honest.

A friend has just put on a GEN 1 GTX35 on his stock engine 8V RS3.

Effectively with the blower kit, stock ECU, decats and induction he has made 600bhp at 1.6bar on Tesco 99.

Car has done some vbox logs and I've corrected that data for slope..... the car is seriously shifting for a full weight 8V:

0-60mph: 2.7s (1ft rollout)
0-100mph: 6.0s (1ft rollout)
100-200kmh: 6.3s
30-130mph: 8.8s

1/4m in 10.6 @ 131mph

I'll be looking at the GEN 2 turbos and with the Syvecs, I'm expecting to gain a bit extra.

Exciting times.


Rarely neutral
Gold Supporter
It will be interesting to see what's what once we get the GTX on.... I'm hoping I won't need to bother with the heads if I'm being honest.

A friend has just put on a GEN 1 GTX35 on his stock engine 8V RS3.

Effectively with the blower kit, stock ECU, decats and induction he has made 600bhp at 1.6bar on Tesco 99.

Car has done some vbox logs and I've corrected that data for slope..... the car is seriously shifting for a full weight 8V:

0-60mph: 2.7s (1ft rollout)
0-100mph: 6.0s (1ft rollout)
100-200kmh: 6.3s
30-130mph: 8.8s

1/4m in 10.6 @ 131mph

I'll be looking at the GEN 2 turbos and with the Syvecs, I'm expecting to gain a bit extra.

Exciting times.


I do think though that if you're looking to go much beyond 600bhp,the head will increasingly become a factor.

I know that Andy got an extra 60bhp from the Syvecs alone on his RS,but most of the really big HP guys I know with RS engines have gone down the same route as me and gone to Race Developments.
The biggest change is in the torque range....mine wasn't really doing much below 4500rpm previously,with an Owens M-Spec GTX3582,and wasn't hitting peak torque until well up the rpm range.

Now,it has peak torque at 3500rpm,and flat to 7500.

I think the other big difference you'll find is with the Syvecs integration with the gearbox and drivetrain.


Registered User
Yeah yeah I know…... I said I wouldn’t be doing anymore Stage 2 updates, but I couldn’t help myself being drawn back to the strip to see if I could bag an 11.4 quarter.

Santa Pod Peak Performance Test & Tune
I attended what is known as a “Peak Performance Test & Tune” yesterday.

What’s that I hear you say!

These are predominantly “during the week” events where they specially prep the track to ensure it has more grip than normal. This is done by spraying the track with for want of a better word “adhesive”. This greatly benefits cars that are either front or rear wheel drive, and on top of that are running drag radials. Traction is always key down the strip, so this type of track prep really helps these types of cars. Unfortunately it’s not as good for AWD vehicles in my opinion as traction is not normally an issue apart from the start line.

You normally find that whilst you can gain better launch traction, you’ll end up losing time down the rest of the track as you have increased tyre drag due to the increased track prep.

It was something I wanted to try, as a better launch would certainly help me, but that may be negated by slower acceleration times for that rest of the run.

This drag stuff isn’t straightforward….. Especially when you’re hunting down those last few 10ths!

Temps were around 14degs yesterday, but there was a headwind which isn’t something you want.

Unfortunately I suffered with not being to get the grip off the line I expected. However, I managed to consistently get 11.6’s passes in the 118mph range which is still very good, and consistency in times is always a good thing. These three passes ranged from 11.66 to 11.67’s… a whole 1/100th difference!


I needed to see where I was losing time.

This is where the VBOX data logs come in handy.

If we compare the 0-100mph on the quickest run from yesterday (11.66) against the previous data obtained when I managed the 11.55s pass, things start to become clearer.

11.55s pass 0-100mph

Yesterdays 11.66 pass 0-100mph

That’s 2/10ths difference.

So let’s look at the actual VBOX graphing log to see if we can see where it’s losing the time.


Taking the highlighted circles from left to right, the first circle highlights a struggle with traction on launch as green G line takes a while to hit peak G. The second circle highlights an instant drop in G’s, which causes a slight dip in the red line (acceleration curve). This happened at the gearshift point from 1st to 2nd, which I suspect was caused by the car bogging down due to the grippy surface.

Whilst it hasn’t done it until it does it (sounds obvious), I’m extremely confident that on the right day this car will do an 11.4s pass. If you take the 2/10ths I lost off the 11.66 (in comparison to the 0-100mph on the 11.55s pass - especially as we can see the reason above), you come back with an 11.46s pass. All theory clearly, but it has the potential in my opinion.

Anyway…. Apart from the track conditions hampering the runs, which I can’t do anything about, the day proved interesting. I’m very happy with the consistent running on the day. However, suffice to say I won’t perhaps be bothering with another Test and Tune day. I will stick with the normal RWYB days.

There is a remote possibility that I’ll be running the car again on the 30th April, as a number of other RS3’s are attending the Pod for a meet up. It’s doubtful and will depend on conditions on the day.

Stage 3
I have some parts turning up this coming week, so more info on those once they’re delivered.


Registered User
So… some parts have started to arrive today.

High Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP)
Whilst I suspect many of you have heard of the term HPFP, some may not know what these are.

Cars that have direct fuel injection (as in our RS3’s) inject fuel direct into the combustion chamber via high-pressure injectors, thus improving combustion cooling and enabling higher engine efficiency which is meant to result in increased fuel efficiency and torque. This requires the use of a HPFP.

Direct injection diesels have been using this method for a number of years now….. Which is probably where you’re aware of the costs associated to these pumps when they fail. They don’t appear to be cheap!

As with any fuel system, it’s about delivering fuel at the requested rate constantly (as required). The OEM HPFP has its limits….. Certainly in respect of where I’m looking to go.

I know a few RS3 owners have had issues with OEM pumps not doing what they should do even on stock cars, let alone cars that have started to go down the Stage 1 & 2 route.

There are a number of options available ranging from £300 - £2200. Quite a difference!

I’ve personally gone for the VIS Motorsport upgrade kit which is a new piston and sleeve. Apparently this kit is the biggest piston available to fit the stock pump housing, enabling this specific kit to deliver enough sustained fuelling for up to 700bhp. It also appears to be the cheapest kit available priced at around £300 delivered (this is the current offer price - normally 450 Euro + delivery).

Luckily I knew someone in the UK who had just bought one and was trying it on his RS3 with big blower. Mapping went fine and the VIS HPFP upgrade kit did exactly what was needed on his car and coped with 600bhp no sweat. That was enough for me to pull the trigger.

Just in case you didn’t know what the HPFP looks like, you’ll probably notice this when you open your bonnet again!


Here is the pump with the new piston and sleeve fitted (not that you can really make out any difference), ready to fit to my car.



So that will be the fuelling side sorted.

Spark Plugs
Hardly exciting but another much needed item for the next stage…. NGK R plugs.

These ones are the 7438-8’s. The last 8 being the heat rating and running one step cooler than the stock OEM plugs which are 7’s.


They look quite different as well in respect of the tips.


I understand these don’t need gapping…. Just bang them straight in.

I bought these from Opieoils at £30 a pop (you can get 10% normally by using anyone of their 10% off codes banging around).

That’s it for now, but should have some further parts arriving later this week.


Registered User
And another box arrives……


A P3 air vent gauge.

Being honest I’ve never really liked digital gauges as I’ve always preferred analogue for things like boost. It’s easier to read in analogue in my opinion, however, since these gauges are mega neat on their installation and convenient to use, I got a bit wallet happy and bought one.

It wasn’t until I had pulled the trigger and bought this gauge, did I then realise I can gain access to much more information and functionality via a bluetooth connection between Syvecs and my iPhone. lol Oh well….. This might be up for sale soon then!

If I intend on keeping this gauge I do need to buy the additional analogue boost module, which enables boost to be read from the vacuum system off the engine. The reason for this and my requirement of this, is whilst the gauge out of the box plugs into the ODB port and reads ODB ECU boost, this generic ODB boost reading is capped to 1.55bar…. I’ll be running more boost than that, so will need the additional module.

I hear that P3 are looking to extend the PID’s accessed via ODB, which may allow the gauge to read the proper internal Audi PID’s…. This would mean correct and full boost reading past 1.55bar.

So what’s this thing do? A lot more than just boost display:

Boost: This mode will show vacuum and boost. Depending on settings in the config menu this may be from ECU data or an external analog sensor. Boost is read in PSI by default and Vacuum is inHg. If you configure the gauge to metric boost/vacuum will be in BAR.

Coolant: Coolant temp. Unlike the needle on your dash, this will show you exactly the temp that your engine is currently running at, and is configurable between Celsius & Fahrenheit.

Air: Air intake temperature. This is the reading of the temperature of the air entering the engine, and is configurable between Celsius & Fahrenheit. On most vehicles, this reading is taken from the T-MAP sensor on the charge pipe, before the throttle.

IGNTN: Ignition timing. This mode will show you the spark timing of your engine in real-time.

EGT: Exhaust Gas Temperature. This is the temp of the exhaust gas as calculated by your ECU. (canbus vehicles only)

Throttle: Actual throttle plate position. Use this mode to see how your car changes the actual drive by wire throttle blade in relation to what your foot tells it to do.

rp-Shift: RPM readout. It can be handy to use this mode to see an exact RPM or to record/playback and see your shifts.

Speed: Actual road speed direct from VSS. This is the actual road speed value of the car, uncorrected. This is the raw value; therefore it may not match your cluster which tends to read high in many cars. This value is taken from the left rear wheel on most vehicles.

0-60: Performance Timer, 0-60 timer with auto start / stop.

Batt: Battery Voltage. This is the voltage of your cars power system, anything between 13-14.5 volts while running is normal.

Code Reading: Read and Clear diagnostic codes, this happens automatically at startup. On K-Line vehicles this is disabled by default because it delays startup.

Peak Recall: The gauge offers peak recall of the PEAK VALUE on the selected mode, since the last recall, or since the vehicle was started. In addition to this, for 2008+ model year cars the gauge also stores peaks for EGT, Air, Coolant in the background, so that you can switch to that mode later, after a lap for example, and recall your peak temperatures.

Record/Playback: The 15 seconds record/playback feature is available on canbus vehicles only, and provides a way for you to see 15 seconds of historical data from the current mode. Recording is started when the peak recall button is pressed. Simply tap peak recall, do some acceleration, and then after you are able to look at the gauge again, hold the peak recall button and the gauge will show you the first 15 seconds of data from that mode, as well as RPM scaled onto the bargraph readout.

For something that fits very neatly into the oem vent, it provides a lot of functionality.

The gauge is approximately £315 from


Rarely neutral
Gold Supporter
And another box arrives……



That looks lovely,but you may want to consider that the Syvecs requires a controller like the Toucan...

You can see it to the left of the steering wheel on mine here....

This displays all of the things you listed,but also gives you access to the Syvecs' maps and TC settings etc.

The alternative for the Syvecs,is a Bluetooth adapter and an app.