I have finally switched over to Evolve Stage 1 on the weekend. As I am about to go FBO, I would like a tune that will take advantage of the new components that is coming in. I have been very happy with the ESS tune, but the lack of information on any Stage 2 development means that I have to look elsewhere. You can read about my mods here:
After careful consideration, I went with Evolve because of the ease of install. Living in regional Australia means that getting your car flash is not as easy. I like to have the luxury to flash at home at my convenience. Need to take my car to a workshop just to have a flash is just a bit too inconvenient.
The installation of the flash is extremely easy with the Evolve-R and much better than the handheld option from ESS. Evolve-R installation involves clicking a link to download the latest software and installing on a Windows Computer. I know a lot of people will cringe, but I have mine installed in a Windows 7 environment, on VM Fusion 4.13. After the installation, all you have to do is plugged the supplied cable to the OBDII port in the car and USB to your computer.
The ESS on the other hand involves installing the software from the USB drive. You will then need to connect the handheld to the computer for any firmware updates. As I had to flash my car back to stock with ESS, I need to pull out the menu to figure out what command is what. Instruction from the handheld was not that clear, and there is always a bit of element of doubt when using the ESS handheld.
Once you plugged the cable to the computer and start the Evolve-R program, all you have to do is to select read ECU to get the process going. I highly recommend having a charger and make sure you turned off non-necessary power drainers (more about this later). Reading the ECU took just over an hour and in the mean time I switched between os X and windows without any issues. The instructions was nice and clear and the software always tell you what it is doing.
Imran from Evolve has been very good, and was able to sent the file to me after about an hour! Loading the new file only takes about 10 minutes. However, my battery was drained from a full charge down to less than 80%! That's why it is a very good idea to make sure your car is fully charged whilst the ECU is being written.
Overall, with installation, a definite win to Evolve-R.
It is very difficult to compare the two tune simply because it relies on so many other factors. Comparing the two is almost unfair without a datalogger on track and a dyno on a rolling road. So, my review is very subjective in nature. Here are my thoughts after test driving the car some of the best Australian backroads:
The surprised was that the tune was very different. I feel that I have to relearn driving the Evolve-R, how much modulation I need etc.
The first and second gear is more manic on the Evolve-R. Since I have switched to PSS and BBS Ri-D second gear rarely produce wheel spin. With the evolve-R, Forget about WOT in first as you will need to modulate your right foot. Second now highlights the limits of the stock suspension - it might have a great compromised for a DD and track with stock or ESS power, but once you put more power in like the Evolve, the rear of the car drops much more than stock. 2nd gear now produces wheel spin again, hopefully Ohlins is not too far to present us with some of their options!
3rd gear was very different. With the ESS it was the money gear. The Evolve-R almost feels slow compare to its 1st and 2nd. It might not be actually slower than the ESS, but with such strong 2nd gear, the 3rd always pales in comparison. The difference between ESS and Evolve is probably best highlighted here. ESS would rapidly surge through the revs between about 5000 revs. The Evolve R seems to be much flatter in its delivery. This allows much better modulation in those mid-corners where you can finely balanced the car.
I haven't got a chance to really look into the other gears yet, but at a stage, I was wondering why 3rd wasn't very fast and then I realised I was actually in 5th! Pulling that hard in 5th was impressive but that's when it becomes very difficult to compare the different tunes.
Temperature hits around 115 with an ambient of 16 that day. This is slightly higher than my recent drive day with ESS. However, I did do many back to back 2-3-4 pulls so that might have raised the temperature more.
Compare to stock the Evolve R makes the car much more drivable in DD form especially in the lower rev range, without the peaky overboost kick around the 3.5k mark like stock. The delivery was flat and smooth and very predictable in nature. Some tunes are too agressive and Evolve-R certainly isn't one of them, especially in 3rd gear where you would spend most of your time in on a track. This is a very good tune, and I would expect it will settles in better after some more milage. Now, I just need to wait for my parts to come in and see what Stage 3 Evolve can do!