Performance tuning guide for the VW Up.

"Tune Up your VW UP!"

We take a peek at Up tuning and highlight the best modifications for this popular little town car. For a vehicle of this sort, the advantages include ample interior space and excellent fuel economy. It's difficult to get less than 50 mpg, with most drivers achieving over 60 mpg when driven carefully.

Even though it's little, the basic 60hp engine feels slow so we get asked quite often about power upgrades but with a few suspension mods and power upgrades, it becomes a veritable go-cart. The 114hp engine feels much more powerful and even the 101hp engine guarantees fun.

Volkswagen unveiled the Up GTI in mid-December of last year and this shows what can be done with the UP platform, so let's see how you can turn your Up into a GTi beater for a little outlay.

The car has a three-cylinder engine that makes 114hp from a 1-liter three-cylinder  turbo charged engine. In 8.8 seconds, it can reach 97 km/h (60 mph) from 192 km/h (119 mph), making it one of the fastest cars in its class on the market at this point.

As a cooperative effort to produce a new city vehicle for VW, SEAT, and Skoda, VW's Up incorporates renowned Volkswagen build-quality, as well as clever design, and exceptional space economy given its small. New electronics and a turbocharged 1.0-liter engine were among the changes made to the Up as it neared its four-year anniversary on the market from Volkswagen.

Due to their light weight  design and excellent choice of engines from the VAG group the Up is a good project car and with the right performance mods you can dramatically increase your driving pleasure. Our members have some interesting projects on the go.

With the right mods your Up can be transformed into a stunning project and a real stormer of a hot hatch. Don't waste money, do your homework and follow our unbiased guides to each performance upgrade to avoid wasting money.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Our aim in Up engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

Please watch our video introduction to VW Tuning.

With our tuning pointers your Up can become an awesome performer and still be a reliable daily driver.

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

This list of the stages and mods that are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you begin.

Getting the correct grade of mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road as it makes the car hard to control in slow traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your VW Up

  1. ECU Tunes - A Remapped Up ECU provides the most advantage in terms of cost, replacement ECUs, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road Camshafts are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they are doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Performance Exhausts - Please note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. VW Up Handling Mods (suspension) - Replacing worn bushings and shocks radically improves your Up handling Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.
  5. Braking Mods - Improve your ability to stop ought to be high on your agenda.
  6. Turbo upgrades - A New Turbo is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. Typically one of the most costly upgrades it offers big gains.
  7. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

VW UP Tuning stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include:alloy wheels,Remap,Panel air filter,sports exhaust,lighter flywheel,suspension upgrade (drop 27-40mm).

Typical stage 2 mods often include:Fast road cam,Ported and polished head,power clutch,fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,.

Typical stage 3 mods often include:sports gearbox, competition cam,Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves),Engine balancing,adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).


VW UP remapping

Performance engine tuning/remapping through the OBD port is what Remappers specialize in but why do this?

Are you aware that the engine that came with your car has been deliberately limited in how quickly and how much power it can produce? This is because they have to deal with drivers who don't follow service schedules or use low-quality fuel.

It can also be limited for marketing reasons like to put an engine in a certain power class or achieving emissions standards in every region.

You don't have to keep these restrictive settings in place. If you want to get rid of them, you just need to change your ECU map.

A lot of the time, this can be done through your OBD port. Keep an eye out for power gains and products that come "off the shelf" to suit all cars in your model range, these are generic at best and only give modest power gains.

A lot of companies try to "sell" their products by making the customer think they are getting more from them for their money.

You need a map to provide a good spread of power from low to high rpms. There should be no sudden bursts of power from the turbo, and the engine should be more lively as it goes through the rev range.

When you push the power to the limit, it can cause problems like leaky injectors, hesitation, over boosting, and even a "blown" engine.

Most of the time, the Remap is done through the OBD port with a computer and flash program/tool.

The map is taken from your ECU and a copy is made. Your vehicle can still be used while this is being done. The map is then changed by the mapper to make it fit your vehicle better, for example, if you have added a cat back exhaust or an aftermarket filter. The map is then installed back into your vehicle.

Up Engine tuning mods.

You really need to keep as much low end power as possible and aim for a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power spike. The point of this article is to give a starting base of car tuning upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your project and all aspects of modding cars.It improves the intake and exhaust durations and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip.

Engine swaps are quite popular mods for this model, here are engine guides to all the VAG engines we've covered. (Although we'd love to see a 3.0 V6 conversion, but fear that this would not be possible!!)

TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motorsport cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.When pushing up the power you will need to pay attention to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you experience flat spots and power surges after your modifications you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. When increasing your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Up Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Induction kits only help to add performance if your air intake is restricted!

Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Derestricting the airflow into the engine is a primary goal of tuning so get a better flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound great but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not add noticeable power and actually rob you of power.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow out of the engine but do not go too large or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. A good fast road performance clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never skimp or expect a standard OEM clutch to cope. NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Turbos are usually harder to add than a supercharger.

Turbos give boost in exponential proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

The nice steady boost to rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Up Suspension Upgrades

Improving the handling for car owners first priority in your Up tuning project.

Good suspension tweaks that substantially improve handling for the Up include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels. Toe in for stability, or Toe out to improve cornering. It would also pay to improve the brakes, by adding larger discs and or higher friction pads..

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 27mm - 40 mm. and fit motorsport grade stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with sports suspension.

Most versions would need a drop at the maximum of 35 millimetres. Tires may scrape against the arches if you lower the vehicle further than this.
We see the same errors repeated over and over again when it comes to Up owners' automobile modifying projects.
What considerations do you have to make when setting up and choosing your suspension if your car is also used as a daily driver?

Upgrades to the bushings

The Up suspension components connect to and revolve around the car's frame thanks to a rubber attachment called a bush. With time, the rubber ones will deteriorate.
New OEM rubber bushings can improve your vehicle's performance significantly.
It's possible that the ride will be a little bumpier since the polyurethane bushes are harder, but they'll last longer and keep the handling tighter.
The increased vibration and play may further expedite the degeneration of other suspension components but TorqueCars consider this a small price to pay for better handling.
By reducing the excessive play associated with rubber bushes, a new set of poly bushes will enhance your car's handling.
For the most part, aftermarket bushing kits come with a full set of suspension bushes, although rarer types and older models may only have the primary bushes available in polyurethane. Custom bushes may be made to meet your specific requirements.
A widespread misunderstanding is that a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the car by 40mm from a national component store would be the optimal arrangement.
Suspension vendors may state that their Up suspension kits may be used on any or all of a car's models, which is true for the majority of the time but it's better to have a kit that is setup for your engines weight and your handling requirement so adjustable kits reign supreme.
A lowered car's front skirt and engine bottom will be ripped off by speed bumps. Better handling isn't usually associated with a lower ride height, there is a balance to be made here.
According to TorqueCars, the maximum amount of suspension drop that should be applied to an Up road car is around 30mm.
If you changed the diameter of the wheels, these tolerances would be much less. Even with 16" wheels and standard suspension, lowering the car might cause a host of problems.
Because the car is lower, less air passes under it, which may help with stability, the ultimate objective should always be to improve handling. When using lower springs, it is crucial to utilize the correct shocks and not expect your standard ones to cope with different spec springs.

Consider Your VW UP's Suspension  Alignment.

TorqueCars research and testing indicate that the maximum suspension drop for most road vehicles is 25 - 43 millimetres, whereas the maximum suspension drop for hot hatchbacks with lower OEM suspension is 18 millimetres.

These tolerances may be drastically lowered if the wheel size is changed. Even with 17"wheels and stock suspension, lowering the vehicle might result in a slew of complications.

While the fact that the VW UP being lower allows for less air to travel underneath it may aid in stability, the ultimate goal should always be to enhance handling. When lowering the springs, it is critical to use the proper shocks that match all round.

Good suspension tweaks that usually improve handling for the VW UP include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe (set out to improve cornering or in for better stability) on the front wheels.

Alloy Wheel Upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. The downside to large alloy wheels on your Up is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance.

For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 16 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss Up options in more detail with our Up owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volkswagen tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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