Review: Unibrace UB and RB


There comes a time when modding your daily that you have to tell yourself to stop. We all know that impossible, but I felt I was pretty much done with my vehicle. However, across the forums, I heard such great things about Unibrace as a company and their products that it was a battle to quench the temptation, but in the end, it won due to a group buy.
The offer was too good to pass up, so I took the plunge.


As mentioned before, I’ve heard of these braces for about a year now and never gave them a second thought. I always thought, “Chassis bracing? Nah, my car is already pretty solid now, don’t need any thing else hindering my ride quality.” After discussing the matter with a few individuals (Including Paul from VAGer, I started my quest. In my true Zach form, I began the engineering analysis and theory to push my objectiveness to justify the purchase.

I went as deep as I could. I studied cross car moments, as well as chassis twisting. I manage to tag along some 4-Post studies here at work to observe the chassis twisting in every day vehicles. My conclusion was pretty solid…..Cross Car deflection in corners due to Whitebody bending or twisting is a huge impact in design of sports cars. Not so much commuter vehicles, but there are trade offs that always are considered to lessen a vehicle’s price. The GTI, succumbed to this mantra and was blessed with two very flimsy stamped braces to tie the exhaust well in.

I drew my reach to Audi bracing to see if they did anything different and sure enough, there are actually extra ties from these braces to the subframe. This would solidify the joint even further and prevent the subframe shifting and cross car deflection even more so. [SEE SUBFRAME MY SHIFTING SOLUTION].

You can see the extra ties arent much, but just knowing that there is a difference just from model to model that use the same PQ35 platform is interesting. Thus justifying my want for the purchase even more.

I sort of withdrew myself from the purchase when I found the pricing. it was hard to justify a $340 purchase for chassis bracing when I never wanted it in the first place. However, I was enthralled at the fact that Bruce (Owner of Unibrace) puts on almost Seasonal Group Buys that drop that $340 to a manageable $274 (WITH SHIPPING!!!) I was sold. Again, this was at a sale price during the seasonal group buy.

The RB was a different story. I heard many reviews of Bruce’s XB and UB upgrades, but this was a group buy first by offering the RB for the first time. I was “in the loop” during prototyping by a few individuals who had the chance to modify their prototypes that were sent to them, pre-production. I never thought that the rear control arms actually moved much, but the theory was pretty sound. I was already sold on the UB, so I took the plunge and tagged the RB with it.

Why only the UB and RB? Well, My overall goal (at the time) was to stiffen the entire underbody. I managed the front subframe stiffening with the Tyrol Collar Kit (SEE REVIEW) and it was my only logical step to do the midbrace (UB) and the Rear Brace (RB) due to funds and installation timing. From there, I clicked Paypal and sent my hard-earned Bonus to Bruce, and he began his shipping process to the 35-40 people who entered the GB.

Straight Forward PayPal process. I sent the $473 total to him and within a few days I had a tracking number and installation instructions.

I received my Braces on 11/30/12 at around 5:00pm. The first thing I noticed was the box was ENTIRELY too small. On the side was Written “UNIBRACE UB”. I was scared that I only received the UB so I was JUST about to email Bruce when I opened the package up and noticed both braces were in there. WTF!? I never realized these bad boys were so small. And LIGHT. The entire package weighed a total of 6.3 pounds and that was WITH the packing material and box. Talk about negligible weight right?

IMAG1498 IMAG1499 IMAG1500 IMAG1501

Wrapping was standard. Lots of tape and lots of foam. Very well packaged. The box had 3 items in it. UB, RB and Hardware for the RB. No hardware is needed for the UB because it uses existing mounting locations and stud nuts.


The quality of these parts are AMAZING. I haven’t seen a product so well made in a while. I think most of it is the presentation of it all. The powdercoat has a nice matte rough finish. The laser cutting is purely awesome. No sharp edges. And the bends and relief angles in the part are nicely formed without any cracking and any stress concentration. Whoever Bruce uses for production does a fantastic job and definitely deserves a round of applause. This was probably the first time I took a product and “FELT” it up. It was so light and just so well done that I probably inspected it for a good 10 minutes before I realized how weird I probably looked to my wife just sitting there gawking at these pieces. I focus a LOT on quality at work and this was definitely a prize in my book.


Install of the UB was very straight forward. In fact, it was laughable at how easy it was to throw this baby on. It took longer to Jack the vehicle up than it took to install. So easy….here’s a DIY right here in the Review Thread:
– Jack Vehicle Up
– Loosen 8 Cross Brace Nuts
– Place UB on studs
– Tighten all 8 Nuts onto studs (Soft tighten each side to make sure proper alignment)
– Do a final torque on them. I managed a hard hand tight + 90*. Probably a little much, but it works. The spec calls for a 25ftlb torque, but the final tightening wont be around that. Normally, you can get it pretty snug and call it a day. You DO NOT WANT TO OVERTIGHTEN! That will cause the stud to actually snap.
– Done

IMAG1518 IMAG1522

Install of the RB was slightly problematic, but I will get to that. It’s a little more involved but relatively easy. You start by dropping the passenger side exhaust hanger, a simple 2x 13mm bolts. Once dropped, I found I could slide it in without needing to drop the driver’s side hanger. In hindsight, I should’ve because it would have given a better angle to install without having to rubber mallet the two “arms” over the lip of frame. Still, I managed well without having any bad feelings about it. Next you angle the RB upwards and bolts 4 bolts int he existing holes in the frame. Simple enough. Once I got the exhaust hanger back on and nice and tight, I decided to inspect my work like I ALWAYS DO (A good habit to have)!!! This is where the problems began.

My problems existed with fitment as opposed to install. I looked around and noticed everything was well placed. However, I looked at my Stock CBE and noticed a very small clearance between the bottom plane of the RB and the top tangential point of the CBE. Obviously, the Stock CBE is not manufactured to be concentric with the frame where the two control arms meet. I moved the CBE around and noticed a nice thunk upon light agitation. I Figured this was a No GO and I uninstalled the brace and shot an email to Bruce, thus began my Customer service side of it all!


I’m very sensitive to even the slightest suspension inputs and changes. With my mind totally open from the Tyrol kit, I had to focus hard on the UB. I took a few initial test drives with the UB alone to gather a piece by piece review. I immediately noticed the UB did what it was touted to do. I felt a good SOLID feeling across the bottom plane of the car. I could tell most of the chassis twisting was gone and the car felt more sure of itself through the turns. Lane changes are direct and quick impulse turns are exotic now. The chassis reacts so nicely to smaller inputs now without having an imbalance or a numb feeling upon initial compression.

This initial compression numbness is highly attributed to the “bending dynamic” of the chassis with higher steering inputs. Imagine the car flexing, without placing any forces through the suspension. Now, you actually have a dual dynamic between chassis and suspension. These often counter each other and prevent proper damping in turns. This is an extreme case, but the theory remains.

I’m very happy with how the UB performs and it was definitely enough to tell I installed it. I would even say it was on the magnitude of every day normal enthusiast perception. Meaning, Joe Schmo would notice a change.

Customer Service

If there was ever a modification I would buy SOLELY off supporting a fellow member and enthusiast of the community, Bruce would be number one. This man is so knowledgeable at what he does and cares so deeply about making people happy. I was back and forth with him on concerns about the fitment issue and he was at full disclosure about everything in his design. I actually felt like he cared so much to get the matter fixed that he practically gave me his entire methodology of design and the possible reasons why the brace was fitting the way it was.

I bounced a few ideas off of him and he gathered some intel from other members that he used for the prototyping phase. We came up with a few countermeasures:

  • Longer Exhaust Hanger from Summit Racing
  • Silicone Coupler Wrapping to prevent hard knocking
  • Bending the exhaust hangers
  • Shimming the passenger side exhaust hanger
  • Shifting the design tolerances to gain a few mm of access

With these ideas on the table, I set out to install the RB again.

Install Round 2
Again, I did not drop the other exhaust hanger and AGAIN, I should’ve. I had a bad angle and had to force it over the lip on the frame again using a rubber mallet. My own fault to be quite honest.

IMAG1574 IMAG1573 IMAG1519

This time, everything went smoothly in and upon my final tightening I started to do my countermeasures:

  • The longer exhaust hanger would not work. It put the CBE in a bind and you COULD NOT actually install it due to the constraints. You would inevitably have to change EVERY single hanger to satisfy the need. This would possibly cause UB fitment issues if you had a downpipe resonator. Judged: NO GO
  • Bending the exhaust hangers is DEFINITELY not an easy task. SOme heat was needed and I did not have any means of doing so. Judged: NO GO
  • Upon tightening, I pushed upwards on the RB pushing all of the manufacture Tolerancing upwards which gave me a good 1-1.5mm of clearance. Judged: OK
  • I shimmed the exhaust hanger about 3.5mm which in turn gave me about 1-2mm at the RB problem area. Judged: OK

Overall I had about 5-6mm clearance between the two now and felt a lot more comfortable with it. The silicone coupler was purchased but hasn’t been installed, even to this day (12/14/12). I took a couple of test drives on the worst roads around here and never had any rubbing issues. The plan is to install it anyways for peace of mind. But the fact remains it hasn’t hit the RB to this day. HOWEVER, I have not checked to see if it actually has hit, but it has not made any noise.

Bruce is currently thinking about shifting some bend lines to gain just a few mm here and there, but overall he’s got a great product going for him. I wouldn’t worry if you’re on the fence with this mod. It has been confirmed that A LOT of different aftermarket CBEs have NO clearance issues what-so-ever.

Performance Part Deux

Again, I’m VERY sensitive to changes in my suspension dynamics. At first, I threw the car through the same corners I did with the UB and could only tell a MINOR difference. However, the more I pushed the car the more and more I appreciated the change. It was VERY noticeable at the limits and created more of a rear end balance, but not enough to rotate the rear. I have a feeling I’m getting on the edge of rear stiffness dynamics, and MIGHT have to change the Rear sway to soft upon install of the XB. Still, the RB added sort of a comfortable stiffness that compliments the UB so well, that most might not even see it. I’ve talked with some that had the RB on and a few have said they never noticed it, but others have mentioned that ever-so-slight change that was VERY appreciable for the cost of the brace.


I’m sold on Unibrace, and ever more so, I’m sold on Bruce. This guy is awesome. He knows his stuff well and he knows how to pitch it to you. The website is nicely done, the product is better IN PERSON than in the perfect photographed pictures he has on his site. He offers such a great experience that I would buy 100 times from him.

My current plans are to purchase the XB to complete the package. After talking with a bunch of people with all 3 braces, they have mentioned that the change is unlike anything you’ve seen. I’m excited and can’t WAIT to deal with Bruce again.

Review: Tyrol Rigid Collar Subframe Kit

(C) TyrolSport

I’ve always enjoyed Tyrol as a business. They’ve offered brake bushings for the longest time to allow users to have a “sufficient” brake upgrade that doesn’t crack the bank. After purchasing and installing them on my car, I’ve been a fan of Tyrol. So here’s a new take.

First, my problem was much more than just the standard subframe “clunk” seen by many who have a PQ35 platform based car with the aluminum subframe. After installing my front sway bar (and ECS spacer kit to prevent the clunk), I’ve had a slow change in driving dynamics over the last 10,000 miles. I noticed the steering was becoming rubber band like, or in other words, just plain loose. It lost that loving feeling that I had for so long. The car wandered at highway speeds which was a clear indication of my alignment being off, but how was that the case? My alignment was perfect after my DG Spring install but something “happened” that I was unaware of.

Upon my analysis, I immediately found that the subframe was shifted to the passenger side by roughly 3-4mm. What the hecK? I though the subframe was not supposed to move under proper torque specs…but apparently I was wrong. I manage to browse about 100 different resources and found that it is a COMMON issue with a planar subframe setup to float in different directions over time. No go for the engineering side of me. I HAD to do something.


My research for this case often included Honda forums, VWVortex, Golfmk5, Mk6, and various others I had been on. It seemed to be a glaring issue no one wanted to address. It wasnt until a special case popped up with indexing pins on the MKV repair manual, that the thinking wheels started to turn. I could spend $36 and “datum” or “index” my subframe to the appropriate holes in the whitebody (MFG term for Sheet metal Frame) of the car. I was gung ho. It was a simple procedure listed in the manual and seemed easy enough right?

Well, I started thinking…..”What happens in another 10K?” I didnt want to have to do this every other oil change. Lowering your subframe sucks enough, I didnt want to KEEP doing it. So I posted a thread up about it and got some immediate answers.

I quickly found the Tyrol Rigid Collar kit that I had seen before, but never put any stock to. I figured, “I dont need to spend $200 on a kit when my torque spec has been met. It shouldnt be moving.” I was wrong. The more I looked at the kit, the more I realized the genius of it. Creating concentricity to thedatum holes in the body ushing bushings and a “datum” pin was pure ballsy. Over constraining a system like that would be a nightmare to install, but would provide so many benefits down the road.

The more I dug, the more I found that this kit was the real deal. I looked at reviews (very skimp in that regard) and all were very good, but didnt offer the level of detail that I strive for out of an opinion of another person. Out of nowhere, I found the Spoon Collar Kit for various Japanese vehicles. The more I read the more I learned about it. It made sense….it was perfect. THEN I found that Tyrol based their design off of these same collars and BOOM my mind was made up. Their plans also included the same bronze material they used for their brake bushings. I was already sold, so this was icing on the cake.

Purchase (Customer Service)

I purchased the kit directly from their website on November 6th, 2012. They did not have the kit shipped out until that following Monday, but I was not scheduling to do the install until a week after that. I dealt with Chris Harte when inquiring about shipping status. He seemed like a stand up guy and was prompt with his response. He had the kit out in no time, and now the waiting began. During this time, I reviewed their install instructions for the kit. Very straight forward and seemed like a 2-3hour job. I was dead set to do the job (No pun intended) :D

I received the kit 2 days later (Along with my replacement Audi bolts) and inspected the kit. Everything seemed to be there and nicely wrapped:

You can see the exclusive Tyrol “Chinese Finger Trap” wrapping for their machined pieces. The ARP bolts were quality pieces and qould not rust under Alabama’s harsh climate changes. (I opted for the $10 SS option). Also, noted the differences in the bolt types. You can clearly see the OEM stretch bolt vs. Audi Bolt vs. ARP Bolt. OEM Stretch bolt is just garbage. Its main purpose is to shear upon impact to prevent frame damage, but at this point, I didnt care. I was not going to trade off cornering performance for a slight “chance” of totaling my car upon impact.


Install time was around 2.5hours. I couldve had it done in two, but like mentioned before, when you over constrain a system, it takes a little time to wiggle it into place. Standard procedure went as followed:

1) Jack Car up
2) Jack Stands Placed
3) Remove DogBone Mount Bolts (Replaced)
4) Remove Exhaust Hangar Bolts (Did not Replace)
5) Loosened all Bolts on subframe. This allowed the middle section to center correctly when bolting everything up. Bolts included:
– Steering Rack Bolts
– APR Sway Bar Bolts
– Front Console Bolt
– LCA Mount To Subframe Bolts
6) Lower Subframe by loosening the 6 Main bolts
7) One by one, Insatll Collars
8) Tighten all main bolts
9) Tighten Secondary Bolts (Step 5)
10) Torque to Spec

One unfortunate situation was the fact that I did NOT use the supplied stainless steel bolts (added $10 to the price). Seeing as though the bolts are flat bottom ended, its hard to insert it into a hole and have the subframe shift with it. A tapered ended bolt (much like the Audi bolt I used) helped center the joint and allow the threads to engage.


The second I got into my car I rotated the steering wheel angle from lock to lock to ensure i did not have any clunking, ticks, or ANY noise related to this matter. Fortunately, there were none

I pulled away and could tell an immediate stiffness had returned to the steering. It felt solid and “normal” again as it did back before the sway bar installation. It was easy to pinpoint turns and the car responded well to subtle inputs. It was now a point an shoot vehicle again, but this time, I could fully appreciate the sways bars for what they did to the driving dynamics. The car felt alive and so neutral now.

Newly added traction was a surprise. I guess with the shifting of the subframe, there was a tendancy to under steer and allow the wheel to move around in hard turning. Though, there is more “tire talking” the benefit of the added traction will mean throttle modulation later down the road. Still, it was strange, but overall effective. I’m sure my camber evened out which would explain a lot.

Ride comfort was an unexpected surprise. The ride felt….smoother and more livable.  I noticed recently a degredation in my ride quality, but I chalked it up to a cold weather symptom. Definitely not the case. It seems more force is transmitted through the dampers now and a lot of the after bounces have been removed so now its a plush and smooth ride, much like it was before the shifting occurred. (See Driver Gear Spring Review)

NVH has gone down as well. Similar to the ride comfort degredation, I noticed road noise was transmitted a lot more lately, but again, just chalked it up to cold weather. With it being quieter in the cab, I noticed an eerie “calm” now that wasn’t there before. Even the wife commented on the quieter cab. Cool. Another bonus I did not expect.

I’m sure my case was a little exaggerated due to the shift, but the same could be said for people that never made a point to center the subframe up during a clutch install, or front sway install, etc. etc.

Notice the markings on the ECS subframe spacer. These markings show the subframe actually MOVES even with the supplied spacer kit. Though, it made no noise, I was still happy to see them gone.

Final Thoughts

I was going to sit back and wait a week before I wrote this review, but after driving about 100 miles in it in 2 days, I am now a believer. This modification might seem like a steep price for “just bushings” but its much more than that. Its a great peace of mind to know my subframe will never move again and will never give me alignment problems. I love what Tyrol has done and they definitely have a niche in the market with this piece. If you’re into chassis stiffening (Braces and such) and suspension mods, or having that overall “solid German” feeling, pick up a kit today. I’m glad I dropped the money on it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Tyrol is a great company to work with and has great people working for them.


Technical Understanding: Intakes: Stock vs. Drop In vs. Aftermarket

Its been quite a while since I’ve posted a Technical Understanding thread with some hard data and calculations to further feed our minds. Since most of the conceptual basis of the earlier threads were…..for the least bit…..theorhetical and quite possibly boring, I decided to do a little experimenting (with help from NS01GTI) to collaborate data to compare stock intake with drop ins and aftermarket intakes.

Test Requirements
– APR K04 93OCT Runs (~366hp ~380tq)
– APR IC (will affect IATs but will remain consistent)
– 3rd and 4th Gear Runs (Data was collaborated in 4th gear due to sample size and output.)
– Consistent Ambient Runs (Or at least within a +/- 5*F Tolerance from our Nominal)
– Stock Intake is a CBFA Intake with no modifications
– VWR Drop in incorporated the deletion of the baffle at the bottom of the air box
– Carbonio was done in two stages: Stage 1 only and Stage 1+2 (PENDING DATA COLLECTION)
– Same stretch of roadway was used
– Variation in Starting RPM Ranged from 200-300RPM in 4th (~2200) and 200RPM in 3rd (2700).
– Redline will be assumed as the normal redline but some logs will be shown past 6600RPM due to the DSG Stage 2 flash (7100RPM Redline) that was added mid testing (DSG Tuning added Post VWR Drop in, Pre Carbonio Stage 1)

Stock Intake

(C) Grambles423

3rd Gear Run:

(c) Grambles423

4th Gear Run:

(c) Grambles423


Immediately you can see that the stock box will not hold boost properly throughout the entire rev band. Sort of a “dying effect” much like the stock turbo sees.

Boost control is smooth in the midrange which correlates with the peak condition you see intially. Still, the “butt dyno” registers a loss in the system and takes away a lot of the “raw” manly feeling of the K04. You can see the discrepancy from requested and actual better in the 3rd gear log.

Some thoughts in my build thread about the construction of the stock box:

The filter is not the problem. Its a huge geometrical cluster f$%* from RAM Air vent to the MAF:

– Lets start with the ridiculous tubing that leads from the RAM air all the down, with gravity, into the bottom portion of the air box. We’re already talking about almost 6″ worth of frictional and flow loss.

– Then the air comes at an angle into the box that allows it to sort of bounce around inside without a clear direct path for it, causing turbulent flow into the filter and even more loss at higher RPMS.

– Then the air is pulled, against gravity, into a very restrictive particulate filter then is brick walled by the top of the intake box.

– From here the air has suffered enough, but keeps getting directed into the horizontal port where IMMEDIATELY is greeted by another wall to direct the flow a full 90* into the straight MAF portion. From there….its smooth sailing.

The point of most intakes is to eliminate almost 5-6 different directional changes in the system, where at each point, will create more and more loss as more flow is entering. An aftermarket setup will direction flow into one direction….directly into the MAF.

I stood there looking at this monstrosity as I was installing it and couldnt help but wonder WTF those engineers were thinking in terms of performance. I have a huge appreciation for other designs, but I cant help but wonder that there was an easier way of doing it. Sure, most of it is baffling to minimize sound, but you eliminate cooling factors and flow characteristics.

Takeaway: Stock box is not efficient enough to hold and maintain boost through the rev band an on into the upper RPMS. Also, stock box shows higher IATs up the RPM band even with the APR IC.

VWR Drop In Filter

(c) APR, LLC

4th Gear Run:

(c) Grambles423


(c) Grambles423

So what does this mean? It seems that the drop ins will actually help alleviate some of the down low restriction and allow the turbo to spool quicker, but will not give any added flow up top. Since in fact that two MAF rates look IDENTICAL at redline, I would be safe to say that its simply not worth it. The boost still dies sharply after the “point” has been reached where the flow just cannot keep up with the requested pressure.

Dont mind the lower value for the Drop in filter for boost at the final point. This could be % error in between measurements on different days. The point to take away is that it did not ADD any “breathing” at higher RPM. Ipso Facto……the stock intake box is just too damn restrictive for the boost to keep matching requested values at the last 1/3 of the rev band.

Takeaway: While a drop in allows for some down low flow to spool slightly quicker, up top the car still cannot meet its requested boost. You’re still choking the car at upper RPMs

Carbonio Stage 1

(c) Grambles423

4th Gear Pull

(c) Grambles423

Looking over the logs, the carbonio decreases lag and onset WAY faster than the VWR drop in and Stock filter and flows more in the higher RPMs, thus allowing to hold boost easier (0.29psi discrepancy between Specified and Actual)

More analysis:
Max Variation Between Spec and Actual After Peak (Negative Denotes Higher Actual Reading than SPEC)
Stock Filter: 2.465
VWR Drop In: 2.32
Stage 1 Carbonio: 0.45

From here, we can see that the maximum variation between specified and boost are much much higher in the stock intake compared to the Carbonio. This easily can prove our theory that WITH an aftermarket intake, you can meet and hold requested boost much easier due to the optimum control strategies by the N75 valve and ECU

Variation Between Spec and Actual At Peak (Negative Denotes Higher Actual Reading than SPEC)
Stock Filter: -1.305
VWR Drop In: -1.16
Stage 1 Carbonio: -1.07

This measurement denotes the difference between Actual and Spec at the peak boost moment. Some discrepancies can be chalked up due to the date of runs and ambient temperatures etc. etc., but you can see that each can peak about the same over the specified value.

This proves you cannot boost higher with either intake. No difference in peak readings.

Average Variation Between Spec and Actual After Peak (Negative Denotes Higher Actual Reading than SPEC)
Stock Filter: 0.68
VWR Drop In: 0.38
Stage 1 Carbonio: -0.15

This measurement denotes the average variation between spec and actual across the RPM band after the peak. you can see that you’re actually making a little more boost OVER the requested value with an aftermarket intake.

This proves the point of the “dying” effect in the RPM band of the stock intake.

Range of Variation Between Spec and Actual After Peak (Negative Denotes Higher Actual Reading than SPEC)
Stock Filter: 3.77
VWR Drop In: 3.48
Stage 1 Carbonio: 1.3

The measurement shows the range of variation across the rev band. The higher the rev band the harder the engine/turbo is working to meet/hold the requested boost.

The proves to yield more power across the rev band with an aftermarket intake. You’re not really benefitting yourself by running the stock intake on a K04.

Peak MAF Readings
Stock Intake: 236.4
VWR Drop In: 235.8 *******Difference can be error between measurements
Carbonio Full: 258.8

Difference in Peak and Redline Hold
Stock Intake: 5.51psi
VWR Drop In: 5.61psi
Carbonio Full: 3.9psi

Difference in Requested and Actual at Redline
Stock Intake: 2.2psi
VWR Drop In: 2.03psi
Carbonio Full: 0.29psi

Takeaway: Data speaks for itself. An aftermarket intake is definitely worth while. Especially one that is sealed off from the engine bay and only pulls cold air from outside the vehicle.

Carbonio Stage 1 and 2 (***COMING SOON)

(c) Grambles423

Additional Intake Comparison Data (Carbonio vs. Modshack)

Rights Unknown

Thanks to the help of NS01GTI, we were able to get an accurate depiction of the clear differances between the two common intakes seen on this forum. One for Noise control, the other for high performance. Its ultimately the end user’s decision to make a choice and what they would like, but for some fun, we decided to take the same data that we did in the previous setup:

4th Gear Run Carbonio:

(c) Grambles423

4th Gear Run Modshack:

(c) Grambles423

Comparison Graphs:

(c) Grambles423

What I immediately saw was the discrepancy in reuqested boost values and actual values again. It seems that the Modshack, while not having the restriction like the stock box, still shows upper RPM boost loss from requested. MAF vales were also very considerably different in the midrange that we couldnt just say there was “variation in the runs” Almost 50-60g/sec more.

The driver also noted the “butt dyno” difference between the two. At upper RPMs the car just felt out of breath.

A quick thought about the sound differences:

Its considerable enough to say that the spool is actually faster on the Carbonio causing a pressure differential in the actual mechanical structure within the carbon fiber. Since carbon fiber has more movement, it has the capability of better transmitting more frequencies of the incoming pressure waves, THAT is why the carbonio is so loud at lower speeds.

1) Carbonio has more mid range MAF and a quicker spool time.
2) Ambient conditions were different to each run but both IATs got down to the same temperature (~33*C)
3) Modshack has an almost 2psi difference between requested and actual at a higher RPM. The Carbonio seems to hold the boost more.
4) Carbonio log was started at a lower RPM, yet spooled quicker than the Modshack which started almost 200RPM quicker. The Carbonio log was the “hotter” of the two logs in terms of IATs


All in all this was a very fun excersise and it really showed some similarities and differences amongst OEM design, drop ins and aftermarket competitors. While it was VERY hard to keep some variables consistent, we still managed data that can be judged as sufficient for analyzing.

Furthermore, even if the data speaks so much, it helped me (and probably others) understand more of the flow dynamics involved in our little TSI engines. Where’s the performance compromise? Where’s the sound compromise?

Clutch Masters FX 400 – 600 Mile Review Update

hit 600 miles this morning so it is time for an update.

Overall, I am even happier than I was 10 days ago. A few notes:

– It has quieted down even more. It still isn’t the right set-up for you if you want NO chatter, but as someone who frequently has individuals in the car that may complain about weird noises, it still works wonderfully. Noise is incredibly minimal.
– Its great in traffic. I have been driving manual for the better part of 15 years so once I got “the dance” down it became a dream. You have to be quick, but if you are quick and smooth its perfect. It reminds me of a slightly less aggressive version of the stock clutch on the Mazdaspeed 3. All that said, if you like the “lazy” feeling of the stock clutch, this might not be for you. You do have to be a bit more “present.” not significantly, but a bit.
– As some of that 600 miles (probably about 1/3rd) was on the highway, I am waiting to really get on it for a while. That said, I did a couple rev matched downshifts today and they were amazing. Engine speed definitely doesn’t “hang” during shifts as much which makes rev matching super super easy. Additionally I think I was absolutely losing some power on the stock clutch even when I couldn’t feel it slipping.
– If you do as much traffic driving as I do I would strongly recommend the full face/8 puck. I wouldn’t want to drive the 6 puck in the traffic I face.

Review: Unitronic Stage 2 DSG Tune

Rights Reserved by Unitronic-Chipped and/or

Yep. Unitronic tuning on my APR K04 vehicle. While some might consider it an abomination to the vendor world and/or blasphemy, I consider it a blessing in disguise. My ultimate goal was to get a DSG tune that would fit my modding “philosophy” as well as justify its existance among the tuning world. We all know that DSG tuning is considered “optional” for K04, but with the hiccups of the stock tuning and the headaches that it can cause, when does “optional” become a need for functionality? Research time…..had begun.

I’ve made this debate for many many months now about which tuning I should choose, APR(still in development), HPA, and Unitronic. I read about every single FLASH imaginable. I read threads after threads of tuner bashing, vs. threads, and the occasional tuner debate every now and then. I came across 3 reviews that were worthwhile, GunMetalGTI, Davesxx01, and Plac’s (from Overall, I probably soaked in about 1000 treads worth of information and came up with a wish list for my Stock software:

1) Eliminate all Low Speed quirks (False neutrals, slow reponse time, DSG lag from a stop, low gear choices, etc. etc.)
2) Jerky Manual downshifts
3) D-Mode shifting pattern with the new power band shift
4) Better gas mileage
5) Slipping from a D-Mode start
6) Braking downshift jerkiness in Manual mode

Those were some of many, but overall I wanted smoother transitions and a transmission that could actually think for itself rather than some logical predisposed notion already programmed by an engineer that could care less about an aftermarket K04 tune. This is where I had trouble determining whether it fit with my philosophy or not, but I knew one thing….The DSG HAD to be fixed

After narrowing it down to the companies that were actually available currently (HPA and UNI) I swayed heavily towards Unitronic since it was almost $300-$400 cheaper. I was then approached by Sales and John to answer my questions. I made up my mind and took the jump.

Process (Actually GETTING the tune)
It took a phone call to John and a local Shop here (Performance Engineering – Tommy) and I was all set to meet. I took my time, reading more Uni specific reviews until the day finally came.

I pulled in, plugged up, and quickly found my ECU type was not found during the initial scan. PROBLEM. I figured this was going to happen since I have a special ECU type and found out about it when I got flashed APR K04. No biggie though. Tommy just direct ported into my Mechatronic unit, copied the info UNI needed and sent it to John to create me a file with the latest revisions. By the next day, John was on top of things and sent my file to Tommy and I was ready to be flash. Customer service FTW.

When I got there, I was in and out in the matter of about 30mins. Mostly due to the fact Tommy had to click around UNI’s dealer site to get the right file. I was giddy pulling out of the shop and was soon on my 20mile trek back to my residence.

Both John and Tommy are stand up guys. I really appreciate everything they did for me and the time they took to help me out. Tommy went out of his way to make sure he got everything handled and even offered me some WMI down the road for a damn good price. I might take him up on the offer. John was there every step of the way whether it was a phone call or a text! UNI has great customer service in their hands.

How does it Perform?

I cant remember a time where I thought that the DSG actually knew what it was doing on the stock tuning. I’ve always had to live with this “compromise” that the DSG would always be clunky to some degree and make strange noises and bad shifts every so often. Needless, to say almost 90-97% of all issues I personally had with my DSG have been resolved with this tuning.

Shifts are amazingly smooth. On stock tuning, the shift would slightly move the vehicle(like any manual would) and you would continue on your WOT runs, now, you cant really even feel the shift. Its so smooth. So smooth in fact that they are actually quicker than stock shifts. How? Well, the actual movement of the gear probably hasnt changed, but the entire “process” is definitely shortened. From the exact time I push the paddle or move the shifter forward, almost instantly the exhaust CRACKS rather than PoP POP POP POP BAP BAP. Its a different feeling and a much more enjoyable experience. It sounds refined and a lot sportier.

The torque increase can ACTUALLY be felt. I dont know if its the all of the drivers training I’ve taken or my anal ability to pick up minor details, but there FEELS like there is additional mid-range torque. It pulls just a little harder, giving it that added “edge” +1 for UNI tuning.

The rev limiter is interesting. Actually HITTING the 7100RPM and seeing it on VAGCOM logs is really neat. It means, I’ve finally exhausted my entire rev band before shifting. However, in manual mode with the automated up-shift removed, you must be wary of this in order not to bounce off the limiter. Managed to do it when I was running logs

Kickdown button is totally removed in manual. Nothing really that I’ve had an issue with, but its definitely peace of mind knowing I can MASH the pedal and not have the car downshift 5 gears [/Exaggerate]

Rolling stops are finally bliss. No more worrying about DSG lag or what gear I’m in, or what gear the DSG might put me in. The TCU always knows where it wants to be and it seems to predict me and understand me a lot better. You can almost laugh at the low speed power you’ll have no. Making a quick stop then having to get back on the throttle again is laughable. BOOM Torque and power are there instantly. None of this “lag” or “too low of a gear” scenario. If it DOES think its in too low of a gear, it immediately down shifts and applies the power smoothly. Had this only happen once and barely noticed it.

When pulling away from a stop, the DSG no longer slips itself to provide a smooth transition. Normally, whenever this would happen, the turbo would still spool, thus, when the torque finally applied 100% the car would surge forward and leave me mashing the brake before hitting another vehicle. With the UNI tune, its more direct and lag has been eliminated, but the transition is smooth and it doesnt bog down and over rev. Its really really nice.

D-Mode is fun to drive in now. There are still some quirks about the boost control that get weird at times, but now the DSG wont shift up as fast as it can to reach 6th by 45mph. Now I can put around town while it HOLDS 4th or 5th gear!!!! NEVER has D-Mode HELD a gear for me. Its purely awesome.

S-Mode is insane. Same as stock, but with the low speed optimization and the 7100RPM rev limiter. K04 + Tuned S-Mode = HOLD ON TIGHT! Its scary fast. I lit the tires up constantly when I floored it. Gears still hold a little too long, but its S-Mode……put it in D if you’re not going to have fun with it. I think of it more like a track gear or a backroad blasting gear now. Truely awesome


Overall, I feel this is a GREAT compliment for the K04 if you’re DSG. Manual owners upgrade their clutches, why cant we upgrade our software? Point being, there’s only so far you can take the power outside of the original OEM spec before you realize that the stock DSG software just gets too confused with the new power and shifted rev band. The harmonious balance of car dynamics certainly play their part in this situation.

I 100% back this tune and will keep updating based on experiences. John@Unitronic is a great guy and will go far and wide to help people out

Unitronic’s TSI Tuning Page (Click on Stage 2 DSG):

Clutchmasters FX400 8 Puck with Single Initial Review

Note that this is an INITIAL review. This will be updated every 500 miles until I hit 1,500 miles. I am doing it this way as the first 500 will be break in, the second 500 will be normal driving, then the third 500 will have a few enthusiastic drives in it. I drive about 400 miles a week, so stay tuned here over the next month for updates. This review is done at about 75 miles.

Why the FX400 8 Puck?

Choosing the clutch was the hardest part for me. I wanted something that would reliably hold K04 levels of power that was not a pain in the ass to drive in traffic. Additionally, noise was a bit of a concern as I needed something my wife wouldn’t complain about. In a sense, this isn’t asking a lot, but with the potential issue with SBC, my default “go to” was eliminated. After emailing manufactures, talking to other people, checking out other threads, I came to the conclusion that the FX400 8 puck was the best balance between holding power and driveability. In a sense, it balances it without making a compromise.

So how does it drive?

To put it simply; like a dream. My one complaint is that pedal feel is very similar (identical) to stock. Yes, this is an odd complaint, but I was hoping for a slightly firmer pedal. For many this is going to be perfect. Clutch engagement is significantly lower but is totally predictable. It is a bit of an on/off switch, but I am already accustomed to it. I was in heavy stop and go today and I didn’t have to think about it at all.

How does it sound?

For me there is really only one thing that matters with sound and that is the dreaded wife test. I have two methods of the wife test: 1) is to see if she complains about added noise over bluetooth and 2) is to see if she comments while in the car. The FX400 passes both with flying colors.

This is not to say it has NO added sound, as it has a bit. When coasting and RPMs are dropping you do get a bit of “BECAUSE RACECAR!” sound, but its not over powering at all. In fact, others likely won’t hear it. You have to be listening to it. The other factor to consider is chatter….


I know this is probably the biggest question hanging over your heads right now. Lets be clear. This is a SMF, so there WILL be some chatter. You already knew that. So the question is “how much?”. To really answer this question we need to break it down into segments/situations.

1) In gear or clutch engaged: None. Seriously. None. Doesn’t matter if you are under load or not, if you are in gear or the clutch is engaged, it doesn’t chatter
2) Out of gear, AC off: EXTREMELY slight. If you are having a normal conversation with someone, or the radio is on juuusssstttt a bit, you will not hear it. You have to really listen for it.
3) Out of gear, AC on: Some. Obviously this is the classic shudder situation. You can hear it. You know what it is. It isn’t terrible. If you have the AC on and the fan is on two or above, the fan noise itself will drown most of it out. Radio on and its all gone. Honestly, just like engagement while driving in traffic, it became part of the noise of the world very rapidly.

If you are VERY sensitive to chatter, you might feel differently. That said, for the vast majority of us (and our significant others) this will be a non-issue.

Overall, initial impressions:

This is the perfect set up for me. Keeping the mature nature and refinement of the car has been of critical importance to me as I modified it. The FX400 meets need, perfectly. The slight noise is not nearly enough to impact your daily life. The biggest complaint I have right now is that I have to wait 500 miles to really get on it!