When it comes to car modifications, Audi Performance, and Racing, LLC (APR) set the industry standard when it created its APR Tuning programs. These programs provide considerable increases in speed and performance, in some cases, with no physical modification to the engine required at all. Is it for you?

If you have you been thinking about increasing the performance and speed of your vehicle, an APR Tuning program might be right for you. Maybe you are considering a full-bore overhaul to run 10-second quarter miles. Perhaps you want a slight step up from where your vehicle is now. Whatever your end goal might be, we've researched for you and compiled it into this handy guide that will break it all down.

APR modifications are available for vehicles made by Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, Porsche, and Seat vehicles. If you happen to own one and want to learn how to increase your performance, we can help.

​​​APR Tuning - Everything You Need to Know Before You Modify

There are a lot of different variables that come into play when deciding to tune your car. These include warranty, insurance, potential mechanical issues, and a myriad of other little details.

We will discuss exactly what APR Tuning is and explore the pros and cons of modifying your automobile in this way. There will also be a list of essential questions you should consider before making any changes to your vehicle.

What is APR Tuning?

Ultimately, tuning your car using APR technology means you will need a mechanic to perform modifications on the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The ECU is the computer for your car's engine. With modifications to it, you can expect increased speed, torque, and overall better performance.

There are three different stages of APR tuning depending on what your exact needs are.

Gains as high as 67-71 Horsepower (HP) and  93-101 Foot-Pounds (Ft-Lbs) of torque are possible under stage one, without any physical modifications to the engine. With a stage three modification, you could run a quarter mile in less than 10 seconds. Stage three requires some hardware, though.

The stages give the end-user the ability to decide just how much faster they want to go.

The three stages of APR Tuning

APR's stages are a genius way to get a tune on your car no matter how much horsepower you want to add.

If you already have some mechanical modifications on your car, please note the following. There are software packages available that are compatible with cars that already contain:

  • High flow intake systems
  • High flow downpipe exhaust systems
  • Upgraded intercooler
  • Upgraded catback exhaust or other bolt-on mods

Starting in stage two, you will need to have some updated hardware. Each stage has octane-specific variations available, so it doesn't matter what you're running in your car, APR has it covered. Following are all the phases broken down.

Stage one

The first stage of APR's tuning program is essentially the baseline model. With this particular upgrade, the majority of the time no physical modification to the car's ECU is necessary. In stage one, gains of up to  67-71 HP and 93-101 Ft-Lbs of torque (depending on octane) are possible.

APR Tuning front end of car

APR's calibration engineers were incredibly thorough. Instead of merely boosting all the systems they could without giving a thought to the engine's overall health, they developed a deeper understanding of the car's torque structure and engine management system in the ECU. That dedication enabled them to create a program that will give you the desired boost without undue pressure on your car's long-term engine health.

Phase one will produce more torque and power across the entire power band by:

  • Increases in boost pressure
  • Optimizing ignition timing
  • Optimizing lambda (exhaust)

APR even offers a "Low Torque" software package. Lower torque means that if you have an older car, or otherwise want a little less power merely to conserve your clutch, brakes, and suspension, this option is for you. There is a lower torque option available in each stage, as well as options for different octanes.

Even with a stage one upgrade, a lot of end-users opt to update their suspension, brakes, and clutch. At the lower power ranges, depending on how you drive your vehicle, the extra horsepower and torque do add some wear and tear to those systems. As you get into the later stages, you have no choice.

Stage two

Stage two is where the addition of other hardware comes into play. If you want more power than that offered in phase one, that is only possible with modifications to other systems in the car.

To upgrade to APR's stage two technology, you will need to have a high flow intake system and a high flow down pipe exhaust system, as well a the Bosch MED 17 ECU. Gains of up to 77-95 HP and 102-134 Ft-Lbs of torque are possible through the power-band depending on what octane you are using.

APR Tuning apr ecu sized

In stage two, you will exchange your car's ECU for APR's version. The Bosch MED 17, though, was designed to require no custom tuning by the end-user. The ECU makes intelligent adjustments to the engine's processes, even when the weather conditions change. The fun doesn't have to stop for any button punching.

Stage two provides everything in stage one with some exciting new additions.

  • Acceleration rate will increase through calibration changes
  • Increase the vehicle's speed limiter
  • Enable left-foot braking
  • Install a Rev Limiter which allows the engine to reach maximum RPM and the ECU will not slow down acceleration
  • Depending on driving style, fuel economy will increase, as well

Stage three

Stage three is the top of the food chain. It provides everything available in stage two, plus some extra goodies. You can go for this upgrade whether this is a project car or your daily driver. Even with stage three, though, depending on how you drive it, the tune could increase your car's fuel economy.

Stage three sees the introduction of APR's turbocharger. The APR EFR7163 Turbocharger System will produce up to 536 HP. This super-powered supercharger is the addition that will have you running that 10-second quarter-mile. With APR's stage three tuning program, everything bolts on and no after-market part sourcing or end-user adjustments are necessary. APR did all the work so you won't have to.

The video below is an APR stage three MK7 Golf R running the quarter mile.

Now that you know what's available let's talk about the other variables you should think about before taking the plunge.

Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Tuning Your Ride

There are other things to consider, on top of the massive power gains you will achieve. Let's break them down.

Can you handle the power?

This one is simple. Don't do this to your car if you can't drive it once it's enhanced. Please don't be that guy.

Do you have the budget?

Make sure that you have the funds needed for the tune-up, in addition to some cash in reserve for other needs. Here are some other expenses that you need to consider when budgeting:

  • Insurance - your insurance will likely go up once you tune your car. Note: some insurance companies will not cover cars modified in this way - contact yours before you adjust.
  • Gas - while a tune could increase fuel economy, you will need to use premium gas to get the most out of your tune.
  • Clutch, suspension, and brakes - even with a stage one, there will be additional wear and tear
  • Mechanical - your car must be mechanically sound before you tune it
  • Tires - once you have a decent tune, you will want the tires that will make it go zoom

Have you thought about warranty and the ramifications?

It is possible to set the ECU back to factory settings. However, there is a debate around whether or not that is detectable by a technician down the road. That's important when you are talking about warranties. Generally, tuning your car like this will void the warranty. Some individuals on the message boards and forums say that if you go to a "tune friendly" garage, they will work with you. However, this is a risk you take if you decide to do this to your car.

Pros and cons


  • You will have more power
  • The car will achieve more speed
  • You will definitely have more fun
  • The different stages give you a lot of options depending on your needs


  • Extra wear and tear on the car's system and engine over time
  • Insurance issues
  • Warranty issues

Maintenance Before Modification

And there you have it. A full rundown of the things to consider before contacting an APR certified technician and taking the next step. APR's website has a chart where you can input your car's year make and model to find out precisely what is available.

Please remember, however, to always practice maintenance before any modification. Check over your car thoroughly and don't think for a second that you can ignore that worn component. It will create problems down the line in one way or another.

Make sure that if you sell the car, you tell the buyer that you had it tuned.

Good luck in making your decision. If you have any questions or helpful suggestions, let us know in the comments.

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