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Golf MK6 GTD Superchips Bluefin Stage 1 Tune Review

Pros – 

Noticeable increase in torque and power, Smoother daily driving, Reduced highway fuel consumption, Convenient and fully-reversible install with no mechanical modification

Cons – 

Slight increase in consumption in the city, More frequent DPF regens,

Verdict – 

The Bluefin tune delivers more than just shove in your seat but also smoother and more responsive daily driving with minimal impact on economy and reliability.


Introduction –

As modern vehicles have increasingly resorted to forced-induction in order to achieve greater efficiency, ECU remaps or tunes have become increasingly common as the most cost-effective performance modification on the market. None exemplify this more than Superchips with their Bluefin plug & go remap system that, at around half the price of a custom remap, takes convenience and value to a new level. With over half a million vehicles mapped to date, the Bluefin system is tried and tested with a wealth of reviews and feedback online. As I didn’t see any reviews specific to my model of car, I reached out for cooperation. Jonathan, who manages the Australian branch, was very quick to respond and provided terrific support and responsiveness along the way. You can read all about the Bluefin tune and buy one for yourself here and browse Superchip’s range of tunes here.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Jonathan very much for his quick communication and for providing the review unit tested today. Be sure to notify your insurance company when making modifications that affect the performance of your vehicle. All performance testing was conducted in a controlled environment, drive responsibly! I have no formal mechanical training and take no responsibility for damage to user’s vehicles, these are my personal impressions and experiences.

Install –

Handheld

The package includes the handheld device and mini-USB cable, a computer with internet access is all else that is required. Video instructions are also available on the Superchips website and the process is identical for most vehicles. Of note, the MK6 GTD and TDI also require a different handheld device (VAGH-T) than the GTI (VAG-T) as they employ a newer ECU. Installation is intuitive with instructions on the handheld’s screen in addition to clear prompts on the PC software. It’s is as simple as downloading and installing the software from the Superchips website onto a computer and plugging the handset into the OBD II port on the car where it leads the user through the steps to back up the stock map.

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Once back up and connected over USB to a desktop or laptop with Bluefin software and internet, the device begins uploading the map to Bluefin servers, and a modified map is emailed to the user’s specified address. Though the software states that the new map can take up to 8-hours to receive, mine was emailed almost instantaneously. The new map is then loaded onto the handheld after which the device contains both stock and stage 1 map. It is now able to load these maps onto the car and the user is able to switch between the two as they see fit. The whole process took me 20 minutes and toggling between the maps only takes around 5 minutes with no computer necessary. The handheld can run diagnostics on certain vehicles, however, I was not able to find this function on the Golf.

Day to Day Experience –

Interior

Upon starting the car, I was greeted by a slightly smoother running engine with less of the Diesel chug that I was accustomed to, no roughness, and no knock. Otherwise, it was a very familiar experience when driving modestly until the oil was at optimal operating temperature. Low-end torque was improved by a fair degree making the car more liveable in start/stop traffic, especially as the car tends to hold higher gears for economy. Where the car felt dead above 3rd gear, the Stage 1 Golf pulled confidently in 4th and even 5th above 1500 rpm. This was very welcome as I find the 6 speed DSG seems to hesitate for a second before downshifting one or two gears when acceleration is needed, producing an aggressive lurch that is unpleasant to passengers. With the tune, the car is able to hold gears longer which contributes to an appreciably smoother driving experience.

Economy & DPF –

The ability to hold gears longer and produce the same amount of power at lower throttle input is also the logic behind claims that tunes can increase economy, approximately 10% according to Superchips. In real-world testing, I was able to achieve similar results, however, not in all circumstances. In fact, initially, I was seeing increased consumption during city driving, with an average of 6.8L/100km stock, yielding 665km of as opposed to 7.1L/100km and 625km of range with the map. Both times, I ran the car until the low fuel light came on and refilled 54L into the tank. Considering the boost in power, the increase in fuel consumption is negligible; for reference, that’s a 15% increase in power for a 5% increase in fuel consumption. Additionally, though my drives tend to be routine, the increased consumption could also have been due to increased traffic or perhaps greater usage of the AC given Australia’s recent heatwave. Take this with a grain of salt.

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That said, the map did deliver during mixed city and freeway use where I saw average fuel consumption, as reported by the ECU, drop from 6.1L/100km stock to 5.4L/100km mapped representing higher savings than the 10% quoted on Superchip’s website. I am personally very pleased with this result and honestly wasn’t expecting any economy benefits at all. As a takeaway, don’t expect the same benefits when driving around the city, especially on Diesel vehicles with a DPF as I noted increased regens which does increase fuel consumption to some degree. The car still burns off the soot effectively and I didn’t find its function to be impaired by the tune so reliability is not affected. I also didn’t notice soot on the rear bumper as some users had mentioned on older PD vehicles. The map is designed to pass MOT emission tests and work within the parameters of the Volkswagen EA189 NOx emissions recall.

Driving Dynamics –

But let’s talk about spirited driving, that’s why we’re really here! As is, the map promises a 28bhp and 59nm increase over stock to produce a total of 202 bhp and 417 nm. Note, these are the peak differences between the Stage 1 remap and the stock map, not the difference between each at peak output. Still, that’s the power of a stock GTI with an extra 180nm. Switching to manual and letting the engine run to the cusp of redline made every iota of that power bump noticeable. A few weeks ago, I switched to considerably grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4’s over the stock Continental MC5’s and have experienced almost perfect traction since, I can’t recommend these tires enough. However, with the tune, traction control was working through first and second. The car accelerated with new ferocity through these gears and continued pulling hard through third. The car was perkier and more willing to rev with noticeably more top-end. Where the stock map seemed to fall off above 4000rpm, the new map kept power longer with only a small fall-off approaching redline.

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Jonathan noted that I shouldn’t expect a night and day difference and sure, it’s not transformative, but the upgrade was immediately noticeable. Butt dyno aside, I did take some 0-100 measurements using a GPS phone app (Speed Logic). I can’t guarantee whether the road was perfectly flat so times will vary, however, it does serve as an effective comparison. Stock figures quote 8.1 seconds though, with stickier tires, I was able to beat that and achieve 7.7 seconds. Testing again on the same stretch with the map, this dropped to almost 7.0 seconds flat, a figure that almost matches a stock GTI.  In comparison to that vehicle, the GTD feels faster as it pulls harder through a shorter rev range, however, overall the GTI remains the quicker vehicle despite having a statistical disadvantage. Nonetheless, the Stage 1 remap enhances the dynamics of a car that is already huge fun while simultaneously benefitting drivability and with minimal impact on economy.

Reliability –

There is a certain apprehension to modifying a car and a pervasive belief that stock is best as all parts are tested rigorously by the manufacturer in that configuration. There are also many cases to be made for remaps such as manufacturer’s sacrificing power for emissions and economy with third parties doing the opposite. However, it’s never wise to assume and there will inevitably be a certain amount of risk that an engine will fail stock or modified.

Accordingly, increasing power output will increase wear and tear. Nonetheless, I haven’t experienced issue with my car in either its stock or modified form (now on over 100,000kms) and the tune has been installed for the last 2 months. I do plan on increasing the service interval which is a frequent and logical recommendation. Jonathan also didn’t recommend changing to a more conservative driving style with the tune and suggested that these products are catered towards enthusiasts who are likely to push their vehicles harder. In turn, the maps are engineered to retain as much reliability as possible.

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Superchips also doesn’t just create generic maps, they are generated and tested on the engine of choice in a controlled environment on a 4WD rolling road. In addition, their test vehicles undergo data-logging on the open road to assess reliability in a wide range of driving conditions. As this isn’t a custom, user vehicle specific remap, their maps are slightly more conservative, but still provide healthy benefits over stock as aforementioned. Buyers are offered the choice of Stage 1 requiring no other modification to the car and can purchase higher stage maps with a small fee. Over stage 1, these maps may require mechanical changes to the vehicle.

Superchips offer a 30-day refund policy should the customer not be satisfied with the results. Understandably, they do not offer warranty over the mechanical wellbeing of the user’s car, however, it has been reported that remaps do not affect manufacturer warranty as much as previously thought. Still, the owner takes full responsibility of any repercussions in this regard. The map is fully-reversible, but not necessarily fully undetectable.

Resale –

Of note, the handheld unit becomes locked to the user’s vehicle on first use and cannot be used with other vehicles, even those with the same engine, unless reset by Superchips (after which it cannot be used anymore with the original). Superchips offers a 40% discount on other maps + reset of the handheld which limits the value of a used device.

Alternatives –

The only other option available in my area for my specific model of Golf was the REVO stage 1 software. It’s a similarly developed map, not a custom tune (though there are other companies that will do this for the GTD). The map is switchable with an SPS OBD device, however, it can’t return the vehicle to stock, only load a comparable one and users will have to return the vehicle to an authorized dealer to return to complete stock. Results are within a range from 188 to 208ps and 298 to 404 to 430 nm of torque.  This puts the Bluefin at the higher end of that range with the benefit of reduced cost, a more comprehensive handheld and the convenience of skipping the dealer. That said, the local REVO dealer does dyno test the tuned vehicles to ensure everything is running properly where the Bluefin will rely more on the proper maintenance and condition of the user’s vehicle by the owner. Superchips can also alter the map should the user experience difficulties.

Verdict

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Currently, Superchips are offering the GTD map and accompanying handheld device for $775 AUD. Considering that most remaps breach the 4-digit mark, the pricing is reasonable and the functionality and convenience are undeniable. In real-world testing, the map also delivers what is promised, and the benefits go beyond just power and shove in your seat. The GTD drives smoother and is noticeably more responsive to user input simply due to its ability to pull harder at lower RPM which also makes the onset of boost feel more progressive. When desired, the map also provides a more dynamic drive with minimal impact on economy around town and Superchips promised 10% is easily achievable with freeway driving. The map takes a lively car and makes it feel properly punchy and even aggressive at peak torque. With a quality set of tires, a full service and a quick tune-up from Superchips, my 7 year old used car finally feels like a machine, not just a utility. I thank Jonathan and the team behind Superchips for the positive experience and hope these thoughts aid those investigating or on the fence about a map.

The Golf MK6 GTD Bluefin can be purchased from Superchips for $775 AUD alongside a range of maps for other vehicles. I am not affiliated with Superchips and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

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