Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ECU Tune- By Squadra Tuning

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Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio ECU Tune- By Squadra Tuning "Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio" 

ECU tunes done in house with Alfissimo International

This isn't a tune focused only on more torque and power for the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. This tune is about refining the Stelvio Quadrifoglio for the driver. Is that even  possible? Hell yes!!

For the development of the tuned software we started with the Giulia Q. In short, there was room for improvements that make a Q even more impressive and well just better to drive. It was not easy though. Don't get us wrong. They are both crazy cars. But as ‘purists’, we place a little more demand on a real driver's car. It’s not all about the fastest car on the planet, not that we could not do it but there are more important aspects of this tune that are applied to the car. 

Absolute speed (= power) and willingness to make speed (= torque) is substantial enough for a Q. The magnificent Ferrari V6 takes care of that. Nothing but praise for it Full power up to the rev limiter and Gone! 

What the Q lacks are manners. A Q is 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 Horse in check. This is easier with a Stelvio than with a Giulia. The Stelvio can assist with driving forces on the front axle if necessary with the Q4 system. That said not everyone understood that the standard Pirelli Corsa tires are not intended for driving in cold weather conditions. When heat has entered the tires, the grip (and wear) is unmatched. But until then it’s like walking on ice. 

In short, time to teach the beast some manners.

The "wait and see" phase

"High time" with some shame on our part. The Giulia Q was first presented to the public in 2015 on June 24. The first cars were delivered months later. The Stelvio Q was introduced at the end of 2017. 


Many tuners immediately started working with the Giulia. 510 hp and 600 Nm did not seem sufficient. More, more, more… .. What was only a bit disappointing was the accessibility of the motor computers and thus the feasibility of a tuning. Plural indeed because there are two ecu’s to tune. Actually three, but the third does not need to be adjusted. The computers are located in such a way that it takes several hours of work to reach them. Then they have to be opened in order to read and write the software plus few hours of tinkering to make the car drivable again. Therefore, this leads to not very good tuning or refining of the tune. It takes a lot of time and effort for the finishing touches. Of course there are exceptions for tuners who really take their work seriously and we do. 

As you are used to from us, we do not only do torque and power tuning. We go a lot further than that. To make a Squadra worthy tuning, we have to do a lot of test work. One test, including removing and installing the computers, would take about 4 to 6 hours. And then we don't take into account a hot engine that is difficult to work around. 

No, in 2016 we decided to focus on the Giulia 2.0 petrol and 2.2 JTDm first, followed by the Stelvio petrol and diesel.

As time passed, then around the end of 2018 suddenly the possibility is offered to read and write the ECUs without having to open or disassemble them. Only the plugs have to be removed from the ECU, this shortens the programming time considerably. With some experience and dexterity, only about 15 minutes. 

Again, we did not start immediately tuning the Q. To develop really good software you need a car for a longer period of time. And the Q is not of the caliber that you can borrow from a dealer. Certainly not for a few weeks or really, months. At the beginning of 2020, we purchased a Q for the purpose of tuning.

“New” cars should be run in. And by that we mean driving in to get to know the car well. This is an important aspect of tuning. Without it you may be guessing. 

Optimization adjustments.

The cold start.


The cold start makes the eyebrows immediately frown. The engine starts nicely to start quickly a few moments later. Starts just around 2000 rpm and then drops to around 1500 to stay there for the time being. And that is not really subtle, the exhausts broke out accompanied by a noise that we personally cannot appreciate. Technically, this is called the “cat heating” or the catalyst heating. Due to environmental requirements, the catalysts must be brought up to operating temperature as quickly as possible. This is done by producing very hot exhaust gases. This is accomplished by setting the ignition very late. We will save you details, but we can reveal that an engine / exhaust does not like that. Every technician knows that you have to heat up metal slowly.The amount of fuel injected at that time is also more than twice as much as actually needed. Sin, sin, sin. In short, the “cat heating” MUST turn off…. So it happened.

After our adjustment, the engine runs for a moment at 2000 rpm after starting to drop back to 950 within a few seconds. The ignition is delayed for a moment in order to regulate the speed. Within a few seconds, the engine is running with a normal pre-ignition and with exactly the amount of fuel required for it. As a result, the engine runs nicer after a cold start and therefore much quieter.

Cylinder shutdown


After driving the first kilometers we were confronted with the cylinder shutdown . Half of the V6 is switched off under calm partial load conditions. Not only in the A and N position, but even in Dynamic. One is therefore saddled with a 3-cylinder with the associated annoying exhaust noise and vibrations. Some people also experience it as a circular resonance. Blipping the throttle ensures that the engine does what it was designed to do again, running on 6 cylinders. But of course you cannot keep giving gas. That eventually stops at 283 km / h, the top speed of a Stelvio Q. 

In short, the cylinder deactivation MUST be removed from such a car, so it is no longer active.

The Start / Stop system. 


The second annoying feature is the start / stop system. Not always, not always, the circumstances are such that the engine can be turned off when you stop for a moment. As a petrol head there is almost nothing better than listening quietly to the combustion of an engine. And especially to that of a V6 Ferrari. In short, start / stop MUST turn off… and so it happened.

DNA + Race

Advanced Efficiency, the A-position.
Naturally, all positions of the DNA + R button are extensively examined and tested. The A position is clearly limited by default. Nothing wrong with that in itself, the couple is mostly limited. Up to about 380 Nm at 2500 rpm and then remains almost flat. That way, the power comes out at about 350 hp at 6500 rpm. We have made the shape of the torque curve a lot more natural. It peaks at 3000 rpm at a maximum at about 450 Nm. We limit the power to about 300 hp. At 5500 rpm the old and new torque curves intersect. With these new values, the Q is a faster car in the A position and after all, the torque progression feels more natural.

Normal or Natural, the N position.
The N releases all available torque and power as standard. For the Medio tuning we have chosen to adjust this slightly. The N-position in all gears about 550 Nm and 420 hp.

Dynamic the D mode.
In terms of torque and power, we have not changed anything for the Medio tuning in the Dynamic mode. We did adjust the throttle response. More on that later.

Race mode.
We have only adjusted the infamous Race mode on one point, namely the throttle response. We actually find it incomprehensible that in Race mode, where you rely entirely on your own traction control, the throttle response is made so wild that it is difficult to determine how much torque and power you want to send to the rear wheels. It will be a marketing thing. No, in our opinion it is much more convenient to fully utilize the stroke of the accelerator. As standard, the mighty V6 releases all its torque and power at less than 50% of the throttle pedal stroke. That's half the 2 ehalf no longer has any influence. Just not an on / off switch, but it doesn't make much difference. With our adjustment, the full torque is present at about 80% gas, the power at 90%. This gives a much better dosable feeling. It is much better to indicate what needs to be done with the accelerator.

Throttle response.
What applies to the Race mode throttle response also applies to the A, N and D position, but to a lesser extent. Maximum torque and power are reached much too early in the accelerator pedal stroke. The accelerator pedal response of the A and N positions are linked by software. We have also made this calmer compared to standard.
The Dynamic and Race mode throttle response are not linked in the software. Nevertheless, we have chosen to make them equal. For example, the difference between Dynamic and Race mode is not different in terms of engine response. Naturally, there will still be a difference in shifting behavior and Traction Control and Forward Collision Control strategy.

Exhaust valves.
We have also found a different, very nice strategy for the exhaust valves. As standard, they open in the A, N and D positions depending on the speed and engine load. In Dynamic a little earlier than in Normal and a little earlier than in Advanced Efficiency. However, if you strike it with a bit of enthusiasm, the valves can open for a moment and close again as soon as the gearbox is upshifted. That seems strange. Both outside and in the car. It really only causes disruption. In addition, we often hear that the valves in Dynamic always want to be open. In Race they are always open by default.
We are talking about a different, much nicer approach. The valves are always closed in the A and N positions. This way you can still drive in peace and quiet. In Dynamic you can choose whether the valves are continuously open or closed.

How? When switching from N to D, the valves remain closed. This way you can drive on in peace and quiet. Should this continue with more spectacle, then one switches from Dynamic to Race and a moment later again to Race. So the DNA knob is turned twice in a row to Race. The Race mode is therefore only activated for a moment to immediately return to Dynamic. The valves are now permanently open in Dynamic. To close the valves, the DNA switch is switched back to the N position and possibly back to Dynamic .. That Alfa Romeo did not come up with this itself… ..

All the above adjustments are in the mid tuning. The Massimo tuning adds more torque and power as an extra. The distribution over the DNA + R positions is slightly different. See the table for this.

Intercooler Cooling system

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

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

Through the engine management, the intake temperature is kept at about 40˚C degrees. As soon as the intake temperature drops below 40 degrees, the coolant circulating pump switches off. As a result, the intake temperature will rise. If it is higher than 40˚C, the pump will slowly start running again. As the temperature rises further above 40, the pump starts to run faster and faster. It’s a kind of thermostatic 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 ambient (outside) temperature, the driving speed and the duration of the acceleration. In Hot Ambient temps (> 25˚C degrees) the gain is small. At temperatures around freezing, the effect is relatively large.

How much extra torque and power it generates is difficult to express in numbers. It depends very much on the ambient (outside) temperature, the driving speed and the duration of the acceleration. In Hot Ambient temps (> 25˚C degrees) the gain is small. At temperatures around freezing, the effect is relatively large.

Torque and power gains

The big question, the big dispute. How much torque and power have the Alfa / Ferrari engineers left? By default, the specified power is almost exactly correct. We measured the torque slightly higher than the promised 600 Nm. Not uncommon. Only 6 to 7% more. About 640 Nm.

We mainly expected a considerable torque gain and a somewhat smaller Hp gain. But the facts are slightly different. In terms of torque, the Q motor is about 70 to 80 Nm ahead. The power increases on average of 50 hp. We state on ‘average” because it depends on many factors. 

The 2.9 V6 is very potent and has plenty of room for more power. External influences simply have an influence. Think of fuel quality, inlet temperature, intercooler temperature, gearbox temperature and the duration that the engine is delivering its full power. Under ideal circumstances we measure about 570 hp and 720 Nm. If the ambient temperatures are warmer and the fuel is not of super quality, 30 hp less can come out, this is also the same stock. 


Results

Unchanged rev limiter

Improved cold running properties

Cylinder shutdown turned off

Start / stop disabled

Torque increase in A position

Torque limitation in N and D removed

Throttle response in A, N, D and Race made much more dosable

Changed exhaust valves open / close strategy

No change to emissions

Med tune: 539hp (522 lb/ft TQ)/Massimo Tune: 570hp (720Nm Tq/531lb/ft)

Tip: Read the entire article above.

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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 has  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.

ST-SQVMED

Specific References