Standard 140 bhp to Superchipped A6 2.5 Tdi quattro Estate I had researched the subject with the usual telephone calls to many performance improvement dealers and quite some time reading their literature. I also spent time ringing and discussing with the staff of these establishments the actual process of the upgrade installation. When certain upgrade involve cutting into the main loom, then that sort of work is too serious and not at all reversible. Superchips offer to replace the chips and give you your old ones so that you can replace the chips at any time in the future. Once the decision was made to use Superchips I contacted Diesel Car Magazine who are running features on modified diesel vehicles to see if they were interested. In addition to this Superchips Head Office at Buckingham were installing a £100,000 four wheel rolling road and would be delighted to seize the opportunity to feature the new road and the car, with it being a quattro. The rolling road was not due to be ready until the new year so a short wait was necessary before the work could be done. The day was booked for mid January and Diesel Car journalist Bob Cooke was dispatched, in his Superchipped Peugeot Hdi 406 to report and take photographs.
The day started badly with an early morning start being hampered by the M6 south bound closed due to a large accident. After making the progress resembling a snail (10 miles in 2 hours) I arrived at Superchips Centre in Buckingham Industrial Estate, which is also directly opposite Audi Sport UK. After a quick introduction to some of the staff and one of the technical engineers, Dave Tinsley, who was going to operate on the heart of the car, the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The car was driven onto the rolling road for the first time and ‘checked out’ in standard form. The computer printout was showing a healthy 141 bhp at 3,900 rpm and 226 ib ft of torque at 2500. Audi figures are 140 and 214 but this difference could be due to the K&N air filter fitted. With rolling roads the point of contact is double that of normal road driving as each tyre sits on two rollers but they assured me this does not effect the output figures as the calibration is set to compensate for any drag or friction.. Within minutes Dave had the front passenger carpet up and had his hands up behind the dash removing the ECU. The unit is quite easy to open but not for the DIYer as this is the brain of the car and any wayward screwdrivers could cause irreparable damage. With the cover removed the labels which contain the identification numbers can be read but before removing them, a ‘Superchips reference manual’ was consulted. This book tells the programmer exactly which programmable chips to use and the correct programme to load. This part of the process is specific to Superchips with their knowledge of decoding and remapping ECU’s second to none. To get these programmes onto their computer system and to develop them into the performance programmes that we all want, Superchips acquire a development vehicle and spend many days cracking the manufacturer codes and reprogramming them to deliver optimum performance maintaining the reliability and economy of the original manufacturers programme.
So why don’t the manufacturers use a better programme themselves? The manufactures ultimate line is reliability, then economy with performance a much lower priority. The programmes they use are well within the engine build quality and are very much happy medium to try and suit all. These are mass produced units for a mass produced market. Superchips spend al lot of time and money developing staff and developing their programming knowledge. Once the Superchip programme has been downloaded into the new chips they simply fit into the ECU as a direct replacement for the originals. One of the chips is the programme for the fuelling and the other is the turbo management system. Again only Superchips change both chips the programmes are closely linked and have to be complimentary to each other to gain the optimum improvements. The cover is refitted and the unit is reconnected to the vehicle. A visual smoke test is done and amendments to the programme made. I have to say that the Audi programme was very smoky when using full throttle. Over fuelling, as it is known, is also used by one of the other tuning establishments get their extra power. By pumping more fuel into the cylinder the combustion will be greater and therefore more power, but also more smoke as not all the diesel is burnt efficiently. Dave then strapped the car down for the first of five ‘chipped’ rolling road tests. After adjusting the fuelling by reprogramming the chips and another road test to check all was well on the road the unit was secured in its original position. Technicians at Superchips say don’t look at the graphs, you have to drive the car to appreciate the differences. The new figures from the rolling road were 159 bhp at 3,600 rpm a 13% increase and 254 ib ft of torque at 2,600 which was a 12% increase. One of the runs did return 171 bhp but that was so overfuelled that the workshop disappeared temporarily. What the figures here don’t show is the on road performance, drivability and smile factor. Some crude hand timings showed that the 30mph-50mph in fourth went from 8.3 seconds to 7.3 seconds and the 40mph to 60mph in fifth went from 11.6 seconds to 10.1 seconds. Please remember that this car has a six speed manual gearbox and was pulling from well below the improved torque curve. This I feel is not normal driving as anybody on the road would change gear to accelerate quickly at full throttle between these speeds. The test road was also at a slight incline which increased the times compared to if a level road was used. A 0-60 sprint (up the same incline) reduced from 10.3 seconds to 9.1 seconds which was a significant increase and was used to great effect to remove Andy Bowskill from the front passenger seat to the rear seat later in the day. My return drive from Buckingham to Manchester took me via the AOC Office in Worksop and then through the Derbyshire countryside, just for the driving experience. This route I drive quite frequently and this time the drive was much more pleasurable with the car pulling strong right the way across the rev band. This included the additional weight of two baths and a kitchen sink! All that is left for me to do is to thank all the staff at Superchips especially Dave Tinsley the technician who carried out the operation on the car and Ian Sandford, Managing Director of Superchips, for his hospitality, co-operation and patience. Please note that the Club has secured 10% discount for members if they book their car in at the Buckinghan HO for any rolling road and chipping work.
I have to say a big thank you to Diesel Car Magazine which has featured the car in a special performance diesel editorial. Not forgetting Bob Cooke who spent the day with us at Superchips and wrote the article for Diesel Car Magazine.