Chiptuning "Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrafoglio 8AT"
This article is not only about more torque and power for the Giulia Quadrifoglio. This article is much more about a better driving Giulia Quadrifoglio. Is that possible? Yes it is!
Interested? Click on “Toon meer informatie” and take your time to read.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio (without Verde!) is etched in many petrolheads 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 really do it wrong in terms of a real driver’s car.
And yet we didn’t really like it…… What? We hear everyone shouting. 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 riding machine, almost uncontrollable as a wild horse. At the slightest incitement, she flies away. Personally we look for more in a real driver’s car. Absolute speed (= power) and willingness to make speed (= torque) has a Q enough. The magnificent Ferrari V6 will take care of that. Nothing but praise for that engine. Full power up to the rev limiter!
What’s wrong with the Q is its manners. It’s a little bad mannered. As a result, you don’t feel like a driver of the Q but more of a rodeo driver who has his hands full to keep the Crazy Horses on the road. 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. Not everyone also understood that the standard supplied Pirelli Corsa tyres are not intended to drive during cold weather conditions. When there is heat in the tyres, the grip (and wear) is superb. But until then, it’s paying attention.
In short, it’s time to give this beast some manners.
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 tuner went straight to work with it. 510 hp and 600 Nm did not seem to be sufficient. More, more, more….. What was a bit disappointing was the accessibility of the engine control units and thus the practicality to carry out a chiptuning. There are even two engine control unit. 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 the 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 tuning is a bit of a problem. Every modification takes 4 hours at least. To develop a really good tuning programs tens of modification steps have to be done. For the finishing touches on a tuning program there may have been not that much of 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. We go a lot further than that. In order to make a Squadra worthy tuning, we have to do a lot of testing. 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.
Time passes and around the end of 2018 the possibility (new ECU communication strategy) of reading and writing the ECU is suddenly offered. With a hugh advantage thet ECU’s no longer have to be removed and opened. Now the connectors have to be taken from the ECU. This significantly shortens the programming time. With some experience it’s now takes about only 15 minutes. A slightly cooled engine is still desirable.
Yet we didn’t start it right then. To develop really good software you need a car for a long time. And the Q is not of the caliber that you can borrow from a dealer for a long time. Certainly not for a few weeks to months. At the beginning of 2020 we came to our own Giulia Q. Which means as much as “we bought ourselves a Giulia Q”.
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……
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.
Pretty soon after the first kilometers 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.
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 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.
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.
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 have 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 profit 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 up to 30 hp can come out less.
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 bench. In the past, intercoolers were cooled by driving wind. Nowadays, this is done through an intermediate step. Coolant is cooled by driving wind via 2 radiators. This cool liquid flows through the two intercooler to cool the sucked (pressurized) air.
But what a sketch our surprise. Through the engine management, the intake temperature is kept at about 40 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, 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 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 weather (> 25 degrees) the influence is small. At temperatures around freezing, the effect is relatively large.
For the Giulia Q have developed two great option.
Enjoying a Q has many forms. That can start even before you get in. Remote Start allows the Q to be started remotely. To activate this, we need the car in our workshop. Unfortunately, there is one major restriction. The Q must not be equipped with a retrofitted alarm and/or tracking system. An original factory alarm is not a problem. Read all about it here.
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. Read all about it here.
- RPM limiter unchanged
- Improved after cold start running
- Cylinder deactivation switched off
- Start/stop disabled
- Increased torque in A mode
- Torque limitation removed in D mode
- Throttle response much better dosable
- Modified exhaust valve opening logic
Price and request
Squadra Chiptuning Giulia Q Medio
€ 590 ,-
Squadra Chiptuning Giulia Q Massimo
€ 790 ,-
I was happy with my Giulia Q as he was.
But there were some points that could be done differently (read: better).
It already starts with the cold start. By default, the V6 is kicked to life and everyone knows, don't scare a wild beast. You have to wake them up calmly.
Just to convince yourself that the Squadra Tuning update is necessary: ??at the cold start much less gasoline is injected and the V6 is quietly brought to life and warmed up.
When "cruising" on the highway, where you sometimes (unfortunately) only 100 km/h, the Q gives an annoying thump/vibration in the exhaust system. As if you are driving in a too low gear. That is no longer the case. This vibration is gone. In fact, it runs on 6 cylinders instead of 3 during partial load. If I had wanted a 3 cylinder I would have bought a Toyota Aygo!
To enjoy the great exhaust sound, the Q was sometimes in the RACE position as standard. All safety systems are thus figuratively put on the street. Also, but literally, 2 black stripes if you are not careful. With the slightest touch of the accelerator you got full power & torque at your disposal. You could compare the accelerator with an old-fashioned light switch: on or off. After the SW update from Stephan, you can now also continuously enjoy the exhaust sound in D mode, but with the safety systems in readiness. This modern device also listens better to the driver's foot. It takes some getting used to. In each position of the DNA / Race button, the accelerator must now be pressed a little further for the same performance. The gas reaction is now much nicer to dose. More gas means more performance. It is difficult to accommodate. Except it all feels much more natural now.
All in all, I am now even happier with my Giulia Q.
In 2017 I had a lot of doubts about what my next car should be. It took me quite a while before I knew what it was going to be. You would think, after driving mainly Alfa Romeos for 20 years, it would be an easy choice. A Giulia Q4 Veloce diesel in Misano blue, a Maserati Ghibli Diesel or a Jeep Grand Cherokee Eco diesel. All cars from the FCA group with a nice, powerful diesel engine.
Of course I was already thinking about a Giulia Q ... it was even at the top of my list, but at the top of my dream list. A new Q was too expensive for me at the time and I actually wanted a diesel because I drove quite a lot of kilometers per year.
In 2017, the 159 Ti 2.0 diesel was therefore exchanged for a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Now, after 3 years, still no regrets at all. Now I can hear everyone thinking, "This would be a review of a Giulia Q?" Yes yes, it will be, don't panic… ..
After a while I noticed that the second hand prices of the Giulia Q fell. Even under the price of an Alfa 4C (also high on the dream list). After some doubts about what to do, I made up my mind. There was going to be a Giulia Q next to the Jeep. The car is actually for my wife to use and on weekends, and other days off, to enjoy together (read for yourself). The Jeep remains the daily commuter traffic car. In no time conceived, in no time!
But… .. after a few weeks of riding I started to notice that some things should have been different about the Q. My wife also had some comments about the handling especially when the engine is cold. There were no complaints about the power or the torque because that is more than sufficient. With 600 NM and 510 HP you naturally expect a slightly naughty driving behavior. My complaints were mostly about the rough idling of the engine after a cold start, the wild throttle response which made maneuvering a bit of a hassle. Especially when you compare that with every car I've ever owned. And I noticed there was more torque in higher gears when accelerating than in lower gears. The latter was actually strange because nobody else complained about it, so what now ?, get used to it…. or I contact Stephan from Squadra tuning.
I did the latter. Friends all thought I was crazy, why change something that's so good. "Because it is possible" is the only correct answer. By coincidence, Stephan told me he was in the middle of developing a so-called Mid-tuning for this car. I had to be a little patient and after a few weeks I got the message that I was welcome. In the first email exchange, he confirmed some of my complaints and said there was a solution.
Saturday February 15 I went to Nunspeet for a SW update for the Q. Not for extra power, but hopefully to solve some problems with the driveability.
As usual, Stephan explained in detail what he had and had not changed. Even without driving it made me curious. In the past I had him tuned all my cars, but always with the Massimo package for full power and torque. So I was curious but also a bit skeptical whether this would be worth the money.
As usual, the first ride together and then behind the wheel yourself …… what a change… .. but also what an improvement! The handling has been greatly improved due to the much smoother throttle response, but it certainly doesn't feel lazy or slower. Strange ... Stephan also explained why ... In the standard SW a torque limiter is active up to 4500 RPM in the first 5 gears and these have now been removed. Only in racing mode this is not the case by default. But race mode is something I don't like to use on public roads. In certain circumstances it is very useful for some electronic helpers to take control. Especially since the driver's talent is limited. And with a Giulia Q you will sooner or later run into that limitation of your talent. I could not test the cold start because the engine was warm. That improvement had to be evident the next day.
The next day it was my wife who went to use the car. She was one of the people who thought I was crazy to have this car tuned. But she was now the first to tell me it had improved sooooo. That it was suddenly smart to have it done. The main complaint she had was that she had to brake quite hard when maneuvering the car with a cold engine. The engine just idles too fast in 1st gear for easy maneuvering. (Probably the high revs in combination with the automatic gearbox.) She also clearly noticed that the car was much smoother to drive.
The next day, when the engine had cooled down, I got to try it myself… .. and yes, she was right. The engine runs much smoother and even in a lower speed range. What a difference, what an improvement!
This Mid-tuning converts the Alfa Giulia Q from a “Bad Boy”, which was difficult to handle, to a “perfect gentleman”, with lots of power and torque at your disposal when needed.
The car is now so much more enjoyable to drive and much more manageable than before. And yes, even if power is not increased, the Q is faster than before due to the removal of the torque limiters in the first 5 gears. Let's just call this a job well done. And to make it even better, it is now finally possible to open the exhaust valves when not in Race mode or to keep them closed. The exhaust also sounds very nice when closed.
The latest improvement made was cylinder deactivation deactivation. This didn't bother me at first. But when Stephan told me it did annoy him because of the exhaust noise and an extra vibration, I didn't understand what he meant. Since it didn't bother me, I didn't really care until I started cruising the Q. When driving in a lower speed range, there is no thumping noise or vibration. Only now do I understand why it was turned off by Stephan.
Thanks Stephan. You turned the best Alfa into an even better one.
Thank you Stephan. You turned the best Alfa into an even better one.
Those were the words with which I ended when I wrote my story about the Alfa Giulia Q Mid tuning.
The Massimo tuning was not yet available at the time and I also did not have the feeling that more torque and power would add a lot to the Alfa. However, when I saw the torque curve of the Massimo tuning on the Squadra-tuning website, the blood started to crawl again where it could go. Actually, when I saw the torque and power increase it was clear, I want that too. Why? Is the question everyone should ask themselves. Well, because it was possible was my answer last time, but now I also know that the Alfa can also handle it easily. Many people think that cars with that much torque and power must have four-wheel drive to transfer all that violence to the asphalt, nothing could be further from the truth with the Alfa Giulia Q. The car is so good that it brings all the power to the asphalt with playful ease. . This is partly due to the active differential that continuously monitors the grip / slip and intervenes if necessary. In most cars this goes through the braking system, but if you want to be fast, you have to stay off the brakes as long as possible. The chosen solution from Alfa is called “Torque Vectoring” and ensures that via the differential all power is distributed over the rear wheels, whereby it is even possible to fully lock the differential if a wheel is inclined to slip.
So again a careful email to Stephan, just once again with the question, is it worth it? I know from the past that he would always answer that honestly and the answer was clear. Oh well, it pushes you a little harder in the seat over a wide rev range…. Top speed, well that's high enough and the 0 to 100 is also quite good without the Massimo tuning. However, there was a comment that 100 to 200 time would be positively influenced. But the comment, “it pushes you a little harder in the seat”, was decisive for me to make another appointment. However, there was one more wish…. In the table of the DNA-R mode I saw that A was squeezed very hard and N was a bit in between. Nothing wrong with that, certainly not with bad weather to slow down a bit in A and N, but still ... I mainly use the DNA-R button to influence the behavior of the machine and the A and N position are fine settings for nice to cruise and occasionally to accelerate. With such a limitation in torque and power, I might regret that. Very carefully asked whether it could be done differently? "Yes, it is possible". was the answer. See, that's the huge advantage if a tuner knows what he's doing. No sooner said than done and this week was the day. That's what it was all about, well it pushes you a little harder in the seat. Well I can assure everyone, it does and not just a little bit. From 2500 rpm it is really enjoyable with a healthy form of tension and a smile from ear to ear. And the really great thing is, it just doesn't stop pressing in the seat. So I can only say one thing, you have already made a great car better, and that better made car you have now made much better. Actually, I secretly hoped this, and you even made it happen again.
So let's just end with your own words, "well, it pushes you a little harder in the seat."