ECU TUNE: Giulia Quadrifoglio by Squadra Tuning (Mid/Massimo Tuning)

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Giulia Quadrifoglio ECU tuning by Squadra Tuning (Mid/Massimo Tuning) Tuned by Alfissimo in the USA. 

Squadra Tuning is a renowned and respected chip tuning company in Holland specializing in the software tuning of cars from the FCA group. Due to this niche specialization, they are expertly aware of all technical aspects of these vehicles. They develop the engine management software from their technical knowledge, years of experience and are realistic about what is and what is not possible in terms of torque and power gains. They distinguish themselves by knowledge, quality and no-nonsense attitude. Their personal attention to the customer is also highly regarded. Squadra are trained/educated engineers (yes with engineering backgrounds and experience working with Alfa Romeo directly in there ECU tuning department) and all their tunes take time and testing to become what they are. 

This tune is not only about more torque and power for the Giulia Quadrifoglio, although let's be real, you will get that but that said, this tune is much more about a better driving Giulia Quadrifoglio. Is that possible? Yes it is!

Introduction

The Giulia Quadrifoglio (without Verde!) is etched in many petrol heads heart as the most exciting Alfa Romeo ever. In magazines and on Youtube, the Q is often chosen over the mighty BMW M3/4 and Mercedes C AMG63. The Q is praised for its entertaining driving characteristics, speed potential and great sound. It has been tested by the entire car press, on many circuits. Fully drifting, a lot of sets of Pirelli Corsa’s have been smoked, to prove time and time again that the Q was the best supersedan and often still is since 2016. On the world famous German Nordschleife the Q has (or had…) the best lap record in its class. In short, a Giulia Q can’t do any wrong in terms of a real driver’s car.

 

And yet we didn’t really like it…… What? We hear everyone shouting now. Do not like it? Well… Not liking it is exaggeration, of course. A Giulia Q is of course GREAT! It’s exactly what’s described above. A road & track racer, a tire smoker, a hot rodding machine, but….but uncontrollable as a wild horse. At the slightest touch of the pedal, she flies away. Personally we look for more in a real driver’s car. Absolute speed (power) and willingness to make speed (torque) the Q has enough, the magnificent Ferrari V6 will take care of that. Spectacular motor… full power up to the rev limiter!

What’s wrong with the Q? It’s a little ill mannered. As a result, you don’t feel like a driver of the Q but more of a rodeo rider who has his hands full to keep the Crazy Horses controlled. Sure there is excitement in this but at some point the rodeo rider is thrown off. This was proven by the fact that quite a few Q’s could not be kept between the lines, with early “retirement” as a result. Also not all understood that the standard supplied Pirelli Corsa tires are not intended to be driven during cold weather conditions. Heated up and the grip (and wear) is superb. But until then, you are on ice skates.

So now, it’s time to give this beast some manners all the while releasing even more potential.

 

The "awaiting" time

The Q was the first Giulia to be presented to the public on 24 June 2015. The first cars were delivered months later. Many tuners went straight to work with it. 510 hp and 600 Nm did not seem to be sufficient. More, more, more they wanted….. What was a bit disappointing was the accessibility of the engine control units and thus the practicality to carry out a chiptune. There are even two engine control units. Actually 3, but the third  doesn’t need to be modified. The engine control units are in such a place that it takes several hours of work to reach them. Then the ECU’s need to be opened in order to read and write our software. When that is done it takes a couple of hours to have the car drivable again. We could therefore imagine that very well developed tune is a bit of a problem. Every modification takes 4 hours at least. To develop really good tuning programs many modification steps have to be done. For the finishing touches on a tuning program there may not have been that much time/motivation. Of course exceptions are left there for tuners who really take their work seriously.

As one of the very few chiptuners  we don’t do just more  torque and power tuning nor do we leave potential adjustments. We go a lot further than that. In order to make the Q Squadra Tube worthy, we have to do a lot of testing. A lot! One test, including the removing and installation of the ECU’s, would take about 4 to 6 hours. And then we don’t take into account a hot engine that is difficult to work around. That is why in 2016 we decided to leave the Q and concentrate first on the Giulia 2.0 petrol and 2.2 JTDm.

As time passed and around the end of 2018 the possibility (new ECU communication strategy) of reading and writing the ECU is suddenly offered. This is a huge advantage in that the ECU’s no longer have to be removed and opened. Now the connectors have to be removed from the ECU and that is it. This significantly shortened the programming time. With some experience it’s now takes about only 15 minutes.

Even then we didn’t start tuning the Q. To develop really good software you need the test car for a long period time. And the Q is of a caliber you don’t just borrow and certainly not for a few weeks to months. At Squadra we do not use tuning software from someone else, we develop in-house thus we bought ourselves a Giulia Q in 2020. This is crucial for good tuning. 

New cars should be driven in. In this case we don’t mean running in the engine, but driving it to get to know the car (very) well. And o boy, we did……Here is what you will get from our extensive tuning period.

 

Product properties modified:

The cold start and after start running.

The cold start makes the eyebrows frown immediately. The engine cranks around nicely to start smoothly a few moments later. Starts just around 2000 revs and then drops to around 1500 to stay there for a while. And that’s not exactly subtle. The exhausts is screaming it out, accompanied by a noise that we personally can’t appreciate. Technically, this is called the “cat heating”. Due to environmental requirements, the catalytic converters must be brought to operating temperature as soon as possible. This is done by producing very hot exhaust gases. This is achieved by setting the ignition timing very late. We are going to save you details, but we can tell you that an engine/exhaust doesn’t like that. Every technician knows that you have to heat up metal gently not aggressively. The amount of fuel injected is also more than twice as much as it is actually needed under normal circumstances. In short, stress for engine and a waste of fuel. The “cat heating” MUST be switched off.

After our adjustment, the engine cranks the same as before but after it is started up it drops to 950 RPM within a few seconds. The late ignition is only for a moment to regulate the RPM back. Within a few seconds, the engine runs with a normal pre-ignition timing and with exactly the amount of fuel desired. The engine therefore runs more beautifully after a cold start.

Cylinder deactivation

Pretty soon after the first kilometers/Miles we were confronted with the cylinder deactivation. Under quiet low load conditions, half of the V6 is switched off. Not only in the A and N modes but even in Dynamic. As a result, the engine behaves like 3-cylinder with the corresponding annoying exhaust sound and vibrations. Some people also experience it as a resonance (exhaust drone) . A little gas on ensures that the engine returns to what it was designed to do, running on 6 cylinders. But of course you can’t keep pushing the throttle. That ends up at 307 km/h, the top speed of a Q. In short, the cylinder deactivation must be switched off.

The Start/Stop system.

 The next annoying feature is the start/stop system. The conditions are such that the engine will switch itself off when you come for a standstill for a moment. As a petrol head there is almost nothing better than listening to the strokes of a running engine. And especially to that of a V6 Ferrari. In short, start/stop must be switched off. 

DNA + Race

We offer two levels of tuning. Medio and Massimo tuning. Medio is our drivability package without any absolute torque or power increase. Massimo tuning goes all the way including torque and power increase. 

Below is the description for the Medio tuning.

Advanced Efficiency, the A-mode.
Of course, all positions of the DNA+R button are thoroughly examined and tested. By default, the A-mode is clearly limited.  Nothing wrong with that. The torque is mostly limited. Up to about 380 Nm at 2500 revs and then remains virtually flat. The power thus comes to about 350 hp at 6500 revs. We have made the shape of the torque curve a lot more natural. It peaks at 3000 revs at about 450 Nm. At 5500 revs, the old and new torque curve crosses each other. With these new values, the Q is a faster car in the A-mode and well considered the torque gradient feels more natural.

Normal of Natural, N-mode.
The Normal mode releases all available torque and power by default. At least that’s what one hopes. But beware, the first 6 gears  torque is limited up to 4500 revs. At 3000 revs, about 130 Nm is missed. From 6the gear all engine torque is available. We have decided to remove that limit. In all gears, all the torque is now available. In the N-mode you could still contradict this decision but in the software this same limit also applies to the Dynamic mode. And that is unacceptable as far as we are concerned. However by altering a different map we limited the N-mode in all gears to about 550 Nm and 420 hp.

Dynamic, D-mode.
As described above, in Dynamic torque is also limited to about 4500 revs in the first 5 gears. Engine torque peaks at 600 Nm and just after 4500 RPM it quietly decreases to about 550 Nm at 6500 rpm which result in 510 hp. But you don’t always drive between 4500 and 6500 revs. It is precisely on country roads that the majority of the time you are under 4500 RPM and of course all the torque must be able to be present on call. That’s how it should have been…. This makes the Q a lot faster, especially under those conditions. This is particularly evident when one decides to switch to manual control of the ZF 8-traps.

Race mode.
Race mode is only adapted at one point, the accelerator pedal behavior. We find it incomprehensible that in Race mode, where one is completely reliant on one’s own traction control, the throttle reaction is made so wild that it is difficult to determine how much torque and power you want to send to the rear wheels. It’s going to be a marketing thing. No, as far as we are concerned, it is much more convenient to fully take advantage of the stroke of the accelerator pedal. By default, the powerful V6 releases all its torque and power at less than 50% of the accelerator. That’s half, the second half has no influence whatsoever. Almost an on/off switch. With our tuning, the entire torque is present at about 80% gas, the power at 90%. This gives a much better dosable feeling. The accelerator pedal is much better able to indicate what needs to be done.

Throttle reactions.

What applies to the Race mode throttle reaction also applies to the A, N and D mode but to a slightly lesser extent. The maximum torque and power is reached far too early in the accelerator pedal. The accelerator pedal behavior from the A and N mode are software-linked. We have also made these much more docile compared to standard. The Dynamic and Race mode throttle reaction are not linked in the software. Yet we have chosen to make them equal. For example, the difference between Dynamic and Race mode is no different in terms of engine response. Of course, there remains a difference in switching behaviour and Traction Control and Forward Collision Control strategy.

Exhaust valves.
For the exhaust valves we have also found another, very nice strategy. Stock these will open in A, N and D modes depending on the speed and engine load. In Dynamic a bit earlier than in Normal and that again a bit earlier than in Advanced Efficiency. However, if one gets a little enthusiastic, the valves can open for a moment and close again after shifting up to the next gear. That seems weird. Both outside and in the car. It’s really just causing disruption. Moreover, we often hear that one always wants the valves in Dynamic to be open. In Race they are always open by default. We have worked out the next new strategy. In A and N mode, the valves are always closed regardless RPM or load. This way you can still drive in peace. In Dynamic, one can choose whether the valves are continuously open or closed.

How? When switching from N to D, the valves remain closed. Now you can hear that the Ferrari V6 even sounds great with closed exhaust valves. Should this continue with more excitement, you switch from Dynamic to Race and a short moment twice. The Race mode is therefore only activated for a moment to return to Dynamic immediately. The valves are now permanently open in Dynamic. To close the valves, the DNA switch is switched back to the N-mode and possibly back to Dynamic.. That Alfa Romeo didn’t come up with this itself…..

All the above adjustments are in the “Medio tuning”. The “Massimo tuning” adds more torque and power. The distribution over the DNA+R positions is slightly different. See the table below.

 

 

Torque and power gains

But then there’s the big question. How much torque and power has the Alfa/Ferrari engineers left? By default, the specified power is almost exactly correct. The torque we measure is slightly higher than the promised 600 Nm. Not unusual. Only 6 to 7% more. About 640 Nm.

In particular, we expected a decent torque gain and a somewhat smaller power gain. But the facts are different. In terms of torque the increase is 70 to 80 Nm. The power increases by about 50 hp on average. We write ”average” because it depends. The 2.9 V6 is very powerful. External variables have an influence. Think of fuel quality, intake temperature, intercooler temperature, gearbox temperature and the duration of the engine’s full power supply. Under ideal conditions we measure about 570 hp and 720 Nm. If it all gets a bit hotter and the fuel is not of super quality fuel then you may see only 30hp gains.

Another trick

For the Massimo tuning we have another trick on our sleeve.

The 2.9V6 Q engine equipped with 2 liquid cooled intercooler. One for each cylinder bank. In the past, intercoolers were cooled by driving wind. Nowadays, this is done through an intermediate step. Coolant is cooled by driving air in via 2 radiators.  This cool liquid flows through the two intercoolers to cool the sucked (pressurized) air.

To our surprise, through the engine management, the intake temperature is kept at about 40˚C/104˚F. As soon as the intake temperature drops below 40˚C/104˚F, the coolant circulating pump switches off. As a result, the intake temperature will rise. If it is higher than 40˚C/104˚F, the pump will slowly start running again. As the temperature rises further above 40˚C/104˚F, the pump starts to run faster and faster. It’s a kind of thermostat principle.

We have now succeeded in increasing the capacity of the intercooler by allowing the circulation pump to run earlier and faster. As a result, the overall temperature of the coolant drops and thus the intake air is further cooled. Cold air contains more oxygen and thus the engine will deliver more torque and power.

How much extra torque and power it generates is difficult to express in numbers. It depends very much on the outside temperature, the driving speed and the duration of the acceleration. In hot ambient temps (> 25˚C/77˚F) the influence is small. At temperatures <25˚C/77˚F, the effect is relatively large.

 

 

Optionals

The Performance Logger.
This unique OBD tool allows you to precisely capture acceleration times and monitor the main parameters of the engine and powertrain. The communication takes place via the display on the instrument panel. With the finishing point, a Burn-out mode and Launch assist are programmed.

Results

  • RPM limiter unchanged
  • Improved cold start running
  • Cylinder deactivation disabled
  • Start/stop disabled
  • Increased torque in A mode
  • Torque limitation removed in D mode
  • Throttle response is improved, more control with more pedal dosability from 0-50% to 0-90%
  • Modified exhaust valve opening logic
  • No Emissions components/devices have been adjusted. 
  • 570 hp  |  531.78 Ft-Lb (Massimo)
  • No Change in power over stock with Medio Tune but includes all adjustments (exc. Intercooling technology)

 

 

 

ABOUT SQUADRA TUNING

Squadra Tuning is not the umpteenth company that has plunged into the magical world of chip tuning. We do not purchase modified software from large software manufacturers whose quality always leaves something to be desired, but we develop all software in-house. That rightly makes Squadra Tuning a unique and highly valued player in this world.

Chip tuning

Chip tuning started as a hobby. Squadra Tuning originated, actually by accident, in the early 2000s. However, my activities in the world of chip tuning date back to before that time. It all started in 1991 during an internship at Alfa Romeo Netherlands. It was there that I first came into contact with chips and their modification. At that time, Alfa Romeo NL had a chip for the Alfa 33 16v. It was a so-called 004 version. This chip ensured that the car held less cold and had less tendency to ping on 95 RON petrol. As an intern I carried out those modifications.

Software program

From that moment on, the subject started to fascinate me. After the internship year, another year of graduation followed. I studied at the HTS automotive technology in Apeldoorn and that meant a graduation assignment of a decent standard. We proposed “software engine management influencing”. In short “chip tuning”. For this purpose, a computer-controlled engine test stand was built for the first time. We could read all parameters on a PC. In addition, we obtained some 'inside information' about the exact data programmed into a chip. Together with this data and some specially developed hardware and software, the secrets of engine management were discovered. We could see exactly how the program reads from the chip. This graduation assignment also laid the foundation for a software program that makes it possible to visualize the data of a chip in a simple manner. This, together with the possibility to easily adjust this data, was the start of a software program that is still being further developed to this day. This program is used by two professional chip tuners in the Netherlands and the HTS autotechniek itself.

engine management

After graduating, I worked for a little over a year in the racing circus at Zandvoort. In that time again learned a lot about engine management systems, chip tuning and also engine technology. Then I ended up at Fiat Auto Netherlands, the importer of Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. There I fulfilled the function of trouble shooter. It was here that I really got to know the technology of the car and the problems that came with it. In addition, the knowledge of the real operation of the engine management system gave a lot of support. However, I could not suppress the urge to do more with the knowledge about chip tuning and programming special chiptune software.

So I have grown along with the developments in this field. Know “the world” well, the possibilities, the problems, but also the messes and how not to do it. My hobby was increasingly compromised by the philosophy of Fiat Auto NL. They asked me to stop with my hobby. This prompted me to look further and so I said goodbye. After that I worked at an Alfa Romeo dealer as a workshop manager and THE technical man for the more complicated problems.

Squadra Tuning

I was able to continue my hobby and see here: Squadra Tuning got a sequel. From 1 August 2001 his work as workshop manager also came to an end. From then on I started to focus entirely on chip tuning for the Alfa Romeo brand, which we love so much. That's how I turned my hobby into my profession. Squadra Tuning is therefore also a fact from that date.

Squadra Tuning has now grown into a global company. Alfa Romeo's are already on the road in more than 45 countries with our software. From Canada to New Zealand, from Norway to South Africa.

Our goal: to offer chip tuning in a fun and clear way, based on our technical knowledge and background and not making empty (marketing) promises. We want to inform you as a consumer honestly about the possibilities and impossibilities of chip tuning. Our specialization makes us a unique and renowned player in the (international) tuning world.

*Tuning is a non-returnable product that is classified under our terms and conditions as "electronic components". There are no returns. No exceptions. 
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