VW really didn’t have a tuning solution like Cobb’s AccessPort before. Until the AccessPort came about everyone has just ran OTS (off the shelf) tunes with the very rare custom, typically in the form of standalone management. These tunes were typically flashed by a shop or in some more rare cases were done via a personal device/laptop. But the profiles were almost always one profile that works on a specific type of car or specific hardware modification.
If you wanted to change your profile due to a hardware change or you wanted to flash “back to stock” you had to go to a shop and they switch it, most of the time for some up-charge on the techs time and sometimes the profile itself if moving to another stage. Companies like APR offered switchable profiles but you had to purchase all those profiles separately. Basically you are spending a lot on nickel and diming as your car gradually gains performance. If you went straight to lets say a stg3 setup all at once that was the most cost effective, but who has the money to do that?
Now with Cobb, you purchase the device for the same price (or less) as a single profile from the typically tuner and you get 91 and 93 octane flavors of Stg1,Stg1+,Stg2,Stg3 as well as valet, stock, and Anti-theft profiles all included for free. These profiles are pretty reserve and do not equal the performance of lets say APR equivalent and thats a good thing! The reason I say this is we now have a middle ground flash as a stepping stone for those who want just a bit more power and worry about pushing their car too far. This never really existed before in flash form.
So now you want more power, well you have a few options! You can get a custom dyno tune or e-tune. What this means is a custom tune based your exact car, its mods, its weather environment and your specification. Want it balls to the wall, don’t care if you blow your turbo? Sure! Want an eco profile that nets you the best MPG? You bet! Want a tune for that crazy turbo nobody else has a profile for? No problem!
A custom dyno tunes price will vary a lot but typically its about $550 give or take $100. They can get it all done in 1 day. They throw your car on a dyno and log it a few times until what ever you are going for meets your expectations and there you have it. A custom profile specifically for your car and its modifications.
An e-tune is all done over e-mail. They hand you a starting profile that you flash, you send them some logs and you go back and forth through e-mail until complete. This obviously takes a while especially with some of the more reputable tuners taking 4 business days to reply. There is also the problem with finding a legal place to do your logging which is typically a 3rd gear pull from 2.5k rpm to 6.5k, but you still get that custom tune and at a fraction of the price of a dyno tune, typically $150 give or take $50. (This is the route I went at first)
I have been super impressed with the AP and really can’t see why anyone would pick anything else at this point. I was happy with my APR and Giac on my last two vehicles but the versatility of the AP means I can get the car tuned for just about any mod I make. On my 99 A4 1.8t I shattered my stock K03 turbos exhaust flap, so I got a K04, but APR didn’t have a profile for that turbo and I switched to Giac just to support this turbo. If this situation happened to my current car I could just custom tuned for what ever part I picked, no need to really worry about profile availability.
Now there are also companies offering OTS profiles similar to APR’s performance for Cobb too, and they are typically about $125 give or take.
So to recap if you have a Cobb AP, you have the following tuning options
- Cobb OTS tunes in many flavors
- Custom e-tune
- Custom dyno tune
- Third party OTS tunes
The fact that I have options as simple as OTS tunes to e-tunes and dyno tunes is awesome! Doesn’t matter how reserve or aggressive you want to car to be, there is a solution for you.
One awesome feature that Cobb does that I have not seen anywhere else is when you flash back to Stock (uninstall your AccessPort), you are not just applying stock like settings like with APR. You are actually flashing back your stock backup that it took when your AccessPort was originally paired with your car. This is why the initial flashing takes so long, its making a copy that it can put back later.
Im sure by now you see all the tuning potential but it doesn’t stop there. Cobb has lots of other features built into its AccessPort like customizable gauges displayed on the AccessPort screen in real time. I have a single boost gauge displayed most of the time but I could have up to 6 gauges for various monitors within my car. Logging is obviously a feature since you need it for custom tuning but it can be very useful for troubleshooting/diagnosing problems. And there are load of things to log, you will be overwhelmed for sure. Error code reading and clearing is also a feature which again great for troubleshooting. Customizable shift light and 0-60/quarter mile data are all available too.
VW is a very new platform for Cobb and compared to other platforms like the Subaru and Ford we are a bit light on features. But as shown by other platforms Cobb is always adding new features and updating profiles, typically for free! Cobb has said are working on a DSG tune which I am extremely excited about.
Im sure you can tell how enthusiastic I am about the AccessPort and hope this helped you understand what it is and what it can do for you.
Update: Cobb now offers both OST and custom DSG tunes.