I am going to log my experience custom tuning my 2016 GTI. I went with the Cobb AccessPort to flash and FreekTune.com to do the actual custom tune for it. VW tuners typically have done just OTS tunes or Off The Shelf tunes, where one tune works on all cars of that type. Even though every car of the same type has the same parts, they don’t all run the same and a custom tune takes advantage of that, promoting its strengths and catering to its weaknesses as well as the environment the car is in. Really taking advantage of any mods you have is also a custom tunes specialty. You can read more about tunes and what they do here.
I went with FreekTune specifically due to their extensive experience and great results with Cobb custom e-tunes. VW is new to the Cobb scene at the time of writing this so there isn’t really established enough yet to have a go-to tuner. So I went with someone who was good with Cobb itself and has a great reputation with Subaru WRX and Ford ST cars. That being said I see at least a half dozen people on the forums already running Freektune custom tunes with some amazing results, so its not like im their first.
Freektune has a great FAQ you should ready before getting started.
Before starting the custom tune process my GTI was running the Cobb OST 91oct STG1+ profile. So that’s what I will be comparing against.
Justin at Freektune sent me the initial profile (Rev A) after I provided him with a bunch and answers to questions he had mostly about the car itself and what I will be doing with it. For me my mods are basic, just a K&N drop in filter, snowgaurd removal and RS7 Buru spark plugs. Also will be running 91 octane at elevations between see level and 2k feet.
I also provided my Serial number on my AccessPort, this is so he can lock the profile to my specific AccessPort and not just share it around. You also wouldn’t want to share it around anyways, this is a custom tune around YOUR car, not someone else’s and may not run well at all with their setup regardless if they have the same mods.
- Received initial profile Rev A: 03/21/2017
- Instructions: “Here is your first map. Please load this and after about 30 miles, grab me a couple 3rd gear wot logs from 2500-6500rpms. For all data logging during the duration of tuning, traction control must be turned off.”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-initial-3rd-gear-pull-1-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-initial-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Clearly playing it safe just to see how the car runs. Its about the same feeling wise as the Cobb OST STG1 profile except smoother in how the car idles and accelerates. In other logs I took peak boost via IMP was about 22 PSI and Torque was 340.
- Sent back: 03/21/17
- Received Rev B: 03/22/17
- Instructions: “First logs looked solid. Here is the next map. Please load this, add boost to the data log parameters (gauges menu, and then configure data logging) and grab me a couple more 3rd gear wot logs from 3k-6500rpms”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-b-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-b-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: More powerful down low than the last and about the same up top, torque and PSI is about the same.
- Sent back: 03/23/17
- Received Rev C: 03/29/17
- Instructions: “Those logs looked excellent. Here is the next map. Please load this and grab me a couple more 3rd gear wot logs from 3k-6500rpms”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-c-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-c-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Torque and Boost about the same, but definitely feels more powerful in the lower RPM’s. The range of power just keeps growing with each revision.
- Sent back: 03/30/17
- Received Rev D: 04/04/17
- Instructions: “Here is the next map making some adjustments to the wot afr tables. Please load this and grab me a couple more wot logs from 3k-6500rpms”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-d-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-d-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Lots more power up top, especially noticed it between 60-80mph. Torque and Boost still the same, which is amazing! This reversion really made a big difference over the previous.
- Sent back: 04/05/17
- Received Rev E: 04/11/17
- Instructions: “Here is the next map. Please load this and grab me a couple more wot logs from 3k-6500rpms”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-e-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-e-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Oh wow, there is the torque! Now we are talking! First log has some knock and I didn’t go as quick on the throttle, but the second log was great! I did end up having to get more logs because there was some knock in one of them. The others also had it so im expecting him to pull back some timing.
- Sent back: 04/13/17, 04/20/17
- Received Rev F: 04/26/17
- Instructions: “Here is the next map pulling a touch of timing. Please load this and grab me a couple more wot logs from 3k-6500rpms”
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-f-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-f-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Still noticed some knock, we will see what he says.
- Sent back: 04/28/17
- Received Rev G: 05/04/17
- Instructions: “Please load this next map and grab me a couple more wot logs from 3k-6500rpms
- Log 1: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-g-3rd-gear-pull-1
- Log 2: http://datazap.me/u/jovian/freektune-rev-g-3rd-gear-pull-2
- Notes: Feels similar with less knock.
- Send back: 05/05/17
- Tune Complete: 05/11/17
- “Those logs looked beautiful, and that looks to be as far as we can safely push the tune. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with in the future”
Justin said gas was the biggest limiting factor. We have only 91 octane and pretty crappy 91 at that. So thats not something im going to be able to solve easily. Downpipe and Intercooler would also help he said, downpipe I will pass on due to California laws but intercooler I will probably do at some point.
The whole process was great, pretty amazing seeing the steps he took to take the car from enjoyable all the way to thrilling to drive! Easily is the smoothest tune I have run and performs great in all conditions if its commuting to work or spirited weekend driving. My numbers are not as aggressive as some other e-tuners or even OTS tunes like APR, so if your looking for a really aggressive e-tuner this might not be the right one.
If I had to complain about anything its the amount of time waiting between updates. On average it seemed to take 5 businesses days between responses. From what I hear the wait time between updates just keeps getting longer too. This isn’t a horrible thing as I get to really feel the differences between revisions but sometimes you are just so excited you want it to go to the next step. But if you are looking for quick responses and updates you might want to try another e-tuner.
Cobb released their spark based traction control feature. This changes the way the normal VW traction control works to be spark based and adjustable. You can read more about it here. This needs to be enabled by the tuner who creates your custom tune. So I emailed Jason and he was able to enable the feature for me. He emailed over a new profile and the flash took longer that a normal update so clearly its updating different/more areas of the ECU. The difference was significant, wheel spin was reduced and cornering was much smother. I suggest anyone who isnt using it to get their profile updated.