Understanding a 1.8T Remap

The purpose of this page is to give our readers a insight into a 1.8T remap, what it is, a brief analysis of how it works and the different types of remaps that are available.  It offers a more in-depth explanation from our Tuning Basics 


The 1.8T engine is fitted with two main types of ECU’s that are manufactured from Bosch.  The early models, such as the AGU/AEB came with a Motronic 3.8.3 (M3.8.3) ECU which is used in conjunction with a cable throttle body.  This is a easy way to tell whether you have older or newer style management.   The later models, from ~year 2001 onwards, came with Motronic 7.5 (Me7.5).  The Me7.5 ECU can again, be split into two main types;  this goes off the fuelling method to what the ECU has been designed for by Bosch.  These are narrowband and wideband type.


Why a 1.8T remap?

When cars are produced by the manufacturers, there are whole host of different criteria that they have to meet, such as emissions, drive ability, quality of fuel used; for example 95RON and 99RON, component longevity and safety. For these reasons,  standard cars are set-up to meet all of these for your average driver who has no intention of gaining a few extra ponies out of their car.   Once we look for performance, many of the original manufacturer intentions can be thrown out the window such as emissions, fuel quality and length of component life.  This is because components are designed to cope with certain power levels so once performance is increased, some may experience shorter lifespans.

Now the boring bit is out the way about how stock ECU’s were intended to be setup, the main reasons for wanting to get a remap is the additional performance offered by means of altering fuel, boost, and ignition timing maps inside the ECU to give optimal performance.  A remap will give higher peak power and torque (for those wanting to discuss their cars performance down the pub) and most importantly, and a crucial area to look at, is greater area under your torque and power curves, which will give much more performance rather than focusing mainly on higher peak numbers.   A good note to remember is higher bhp/torque isn’t always necessarily better, or mean you will have a faster car than somebody with 25bhp less.  This will be because the car has greater volume of power at all RPM points rather than a car with less power across the entire rev range, but has higher BHP at the redline.


What types of 1.8T remap are there?

This is actually a pretty broad question.  Are there really different types of remap?  If you want the best performance after spending £000’s on modifications or want to tailor your car to suit a certain driving style, then we believe there is.  There are 3 main types of people who can flash a remap onto your car.  Those people who buy a laptop, cheap flashing cable and a set of files off the internet and become a Flash Mapper, generally your small individual in a small garage who aren’t primarily focused on tuning.  Your average remap company such as those who are primarily focused on remapping cars and have a dyno installed at a unit.   The final one being your Specialist Tuners who are those companies that specialise in a certain marque of car (in our example VAG, Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda) or certain era of management such as Bosch Motronic or those who have much more knowledge with standalone systems.  We will explain a bit more about these types below.

Flash Mappers

We like to call these guys flash mappers as they usually just give a car a very quick look over for hardware faults or often not at all, with no data-logging prior to flashing a remap to the ECU or give the car chance to be run on a rolling road.  Many of these people are small individuals who bought a cheap cable off eBay, and maybe a disc of pre-tuned generic files and simply flash them to your car with little or no knowledge of engine tuning itself.  They simply flash a file on, take your money (often a LOT cheaper than a reputable company) and that’s it.  Their job is done.  Car feels faster but is it ultimately reliably safe or properly calibrated to any engine modifications that are present?  Does it take into account any ageing sensors or hardware?  Chance are, no they won’t.  Will this remap be as good as something that’s professionally done?  Probably not as no health of the engine hardware or sensors and modifications have been taken into account.

Remap Companies

There are a tonne of good companies out there who are solely setup to tune cars.  They have a accommodating unit/premises and have a rolling road.  Their main job is to spend their day remapping/tuning cars.  They will do important pre-checks prior to flashing any new remap onto the car.  Some of these checks may include a in-depth health check prior to strapping the car down on a rolling road, and a boost system pressure and smoke test to highlight any potential issues with the charge air pressure route.  Generally, after a health check, the car will be run on the dyno in its current state with logging software running to get a overview of power levels and sensor data to be analysed by the tuner.  They will then read the file off the ECU, and either use one of their pre-written files they have tuned before, or occasionally, some tuners will send the file away to another tuner to be modified before being written back onto the cars ECU.   The car will then be run on the dyno again and you will probably get a graph showing the before and after power level and increase.  There is generally nothing wrong with these types of companies as they have the tools for the job and have a good understanding of whats happening in a tuned car.

Specialist Tuners

These cars are like the Michelin Star of the tuning industry.  They will have a dedicated unit for tuning cars fitted with a rolling road or dyno cell to control environmental conditions.  99% of these guys will specialise in a certain brand of car or engine management system and they will know all the ins and outs of the cars management and what really makes them sing and dance.  They will be able to tailor the remap to exactly how you want it setup or to the cars modifications fitted such as exhaust systems, bigger intercoolers, intakes, larger injectors, bigger/hybrid turbos etc.  A full comprehensive health check will be done prior to custom/live tuning the car on a dyno where different revisions of the map are changed to get the best safe performance from the setup.  Once the car has been custom/live tuned, sometimes with a ECU emulator to make map changes on-the-fly, the car will be road tested to ensure it’s perfectly setup and no other issues which weren’t apparent on the rolling road.  You will the get a copy of the cars original state of tune and the finalised version showing power increase, boost, AFR plots etc.
A specialist tuner will also alter a lot more individual map parameters inside the actual remap file itself.  This will allow greater refinement to get the best possible output from the 1.8T remap.  If you would like to learn a bit more about some of these maps (there are a LOT) then we recommend having a read of some of the more technical pages out there such as the following.

ME7.5 Tuning
Understanding 1.8T Remapping
Nefarious Motorsports Forum


What should you look for when choosing someone to tune your car?

There are a few things you should look for.  The most important one is what type of remap you are looking for and to what modifications need to be accounted for.  This is described above on the different types of places you can get your 1.8T remapped.   Another important thing to look for, is the quality of service your chosen tuner offers.  Has anyone else with the same marque vehicle been to the place you are looking at before?  What is the feedback like for the tuner on forums/facebook groups?  How many people recommend them?  What is the level of aftercare service like should you encounter a issue?  All these questions are important factors when you are looking for your 1.8T remap.

Who would we recommend for your 1.8T Remap?

As described above, there are various types of people who can tune your 1.8T.  If you have a heavily modified car with plenty of bolt on modifications such as Stage 2 K03s or Stage 2 K04 turbos, then we would say go to a specialist tuner who can tailor the remap to the exact hardware configuration of the car.  Remember, the 1.8T remap will not do any black magic and give you any more power that the cars hardware is not capable of.  If the supporting hardware is present, then the remap will finish everything off nicely and you will have plenty of smiles.
If you are just looking for a touch more power for a stock hardware configuration, then a reputable company will do the job to unlock some more extra ponies.
As with any level of tuning, just ensure there are plenty of reviews/feedback present from previous customers about the quality of their work.


To conclude our 1.8T remap advice/overview page, we have a few trusted companies that we recommend for our followers to get their 1.8T remapped to any level of tune.  These guys are highly experienced in the 1.8T field and are always on hand to offer advice or talk through the options they have available.  These guys can be found in our Suppliers section for a company overview and also below.

R-Tech Performance
Badger 5 LTD
Devil Developments (Ben Parsons)

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