So over the past few months on a message board that I frequent, there has been quite the conversation between a few ECU tunes for the S54 motor in the E46 M3.
The three combatants are ESS, Epic, and Evolve. Strange they all start with the letter E.
I had run the Jim Conforti Shark Software for a few years. I noticed no gains in power. I really got it so I wouldn’t have to see a yellow SES light when my car was running catless for off road use. I was a bit hesitant in getting a tune, but after doing some research I decided on going with the Evolve Tune.
ESS – I never really considered their option. I didn’t see much power gain. Just better throttle response, but I found the OEM ECU to be fine with that.
Epic – Bimmerworld sells this. I love BW. What I did not like about this tune was that I had to remove my ECU, and ship it to Bimmerworld. My M3 is not a daily driver, but I just don’t like the idea of removing an ECU and shipping it. There was another option – Bimmerworld was hosting an open house at the end of this month. I could buy the tune, have them install it, have them dyno tune it, and be on my way. The problem with that is that it is a 10 hr drive each way to Bimmerworld. 20 hours in my M3 on the nurburgring would be great, not so much on I95 in the sticks of Virginia (no offense to my Virginia readers). The Epic Tune is nice though as it seems more custom tailored to the specific car. Also ALOT of race car drivers I know use this tune, which speaks volumes. I just could not get over the “ship ecu out”. The price was very attractive – $599 for the street tune.
Evolve – A UK Based company. I heard a few things about them for about 1.5 years now. They make a fabulous CSL replica airbox – can’t afford the 3k for 10hp claim on that one. But I did like their tune. They send you a OBD2 Cable / USB wire. It connects to your laptop and you copy your stock ecu file, send it to them, they make adjustments, send u another file back, and you upload the file and you are evolved. All taken care of. I am assuming there has to be a few drive cycles for full adaptation, but thats it. It is ready to go. One downfall is that the tune is locked to your VIN, so there is no resale – same goes for the other tunes. There have been claims of 15-24whp – and thats with a stock car. The price of this tune was a bit high – $799, but I think that the ease of the process is worth the extra $200.
So the tune should arrive in 2-3 weeks. I am having my car dyno’ed on Wednesday at Maximum PSI in Linden NJ to see what she can put down. I had my car dyno’ed in January of 2008 and I put down 290whp – oem headers, oem sec 1, rogue section 2, rogue muffler. Obviously this dyno is a different model – SuperFlow Autodyno30 -, so we will see what we put down.
I think after this, it will be the final modification to my car.