Volvo GEP3 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Volvo GEP3 engine!"

In this article we look into GEP3 tuning and provide tips on the ultimate upgrades. Volvo GEP3 provide a fun base for your project and with the right performance upgrades like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will substantially enhance your driving enjoyment.

History, Power & Specs of the GEP3 Engine

The Global petrol engine 3 cylinder was sold under Drive-E and G-power names and can be supplemented with electric motors.

1.5-liter Drive-E

104 and 178 horsepower depending on turbo offering 265Nm or 132kw

175 bhp (177 PS/130 kW) at 5500 rpm and 255 Nm (188 lbft/26 kgm) at 1500-4000

Tuning the Volvo GEP3 and best GEP3 performance parts.

Best GEP3 modifications

When talking about the top modifications for your GEP3 engine, we are going to focus on the parts that give the biggest return for your cash.

Altering your GEP3 cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine engines power. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the engines power accordingly.

Fast road cams normally increase the power throughout the rpm band, you may sacrifice a little low end bhp but the higher rpm power will improve.

Competition cams, increase the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a car used daily you need to optimize your bhp range to your driving style.

I'd be gobsmacked if you have found a GEP3 Motorsport and race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Some GEP3 engines respond better to less aggressive camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also have an effect on the power gains you'll hit.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the power band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - 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. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Intake manifolds, Remaps/piggy back ECU, drilled & smoothed airbox, Panel air filters, Fast road camshaft, Sports exhaust header/manifold.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:
    Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injectors, induction kit, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, fuel pump upgrades.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include:
    Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Twin charging conversions.

    The GEP3 engines respond well to upgrades and we're finding that there are quite a few choices of mods and performance parts around.

    ECU mapping allows a tuner to unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your GEP3.

    (In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

    It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but the outcome will vary depending on the upgrades you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

    It is vital to any car tuning job to shove more fuel and air into your GEP3

    Air Intake manifolds carry the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    Shape and rate of flow of the Air Intake manifolds can make a large effect on to fuel atomisation on the GEP3.

    Commonly we find the air intake manifolds are crying out for an upgrade, although a few car makers provide reasonably well designed air intake manifolds.

    Fitting big valve kits, carrying out 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also raise torque, and importantly will afford you an improved torque increase on other tuning mods.

    GEP3 Turbo upgrades

    NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your GEP3

    The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

    If an engine has a turbo already fitted mods are simpler to install and turbo engines use strengthened components.

    However you'll find engines will have power limits.It is important to find these restrictions and install better pistons and crank to utilize the power.

    We see many tuners spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the GEP3 only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the car catastrophically fail just after it's used on the roads.

    Larger upgraded turbochargers commonly suffer no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbochargers spool up really quickly but won't have the peak rpm torque gains.

    In recent times the range of turbo units is always evolving and we now see variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

    You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the GEP3 when a lot more air is being sucked into the engine.

    You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more complex to setup. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.


    Don't overlook the need to look at the fuel delivery when you are increasing the bhp - it makes the car more thirsty. We strongly recommend you to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

    The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and gives some spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

    We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

    GEP3 Performance Exhausts

    You should look to boost your exhaust if the current exhaust is creating a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

    Sports exhausts can usually air flow through the engine but do not go too wide 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.

    Usual exhaust restrictions are in the filters installed, so adding a freer flowing race alternative such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the GEP3

    The GEP3 engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

    Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

    Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the GEP3, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your GEP3 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss GEP3 tuning options in more detail with our GEP3 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

    Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

    We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which upgrades work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these GEP3 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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