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      01-20-2011, 10:37 PM   #1
biglare
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ESS DirectFlash N54 135i: Review

ESS DirectFlash N54 ECU 135i Performance Software: Review

I purchased a 2009 135i a couple of months ago as my DD and immediately loved how the car performed stock. It has been fun to drive and had some pretty good power, but I wanted more of course.

I contacted ESS Tuning and inquired about their DirectFlash for the 135i. They have a couple of different stages and I decided to with Stage 2. I purchased two Stage 2 files, one for 91 octane and another for higher octane Stage 2+.

The kit comes with everything that you need to Flash the car, including the handheld unit, cable to OBDII port, USB cable to computer and a flash drive. Instructions and software for the PC are on a flash drive. I have a Macbook Pro, but am running parallels for Windows which is needed for the software. Once reading the instructions from the flash drive installation was a snap.

I downloaded my current stock 135i file from the car to the handheld in about 40 minutes. I then transferred it from the handheld to the computer and emailed ESS with my stock 135i file. Within an hour or so I had my two new files back from ESS. I downloaded them to my computer and then loaded them up on the handheld unit. Once on the handheld unit then back to the car to load it up. I selected the Stage 2+ file and loaded it on the car within 15 minutes. Piece of cake!

The great thing about the handheld is that now I have two modified files and my stock file which I can load back on the car whenever I want. There are no wires or additional plugs necessary. I plug the handheld into the OBDII port download the file I want and then unplug and go! It is that simple!

Now for the performance, I was already impressed with the 135is power, however this takes it to a whole other level. I have almost 90hp more on tap over my complete stock 135i!!! The torque at the low rpm is much higher and immediately noticeable. I live in an area with steep hills and the torque was night and day to the stock 135i. The car just pulls and pulls the whole way up the hill like its gonna take off. At redline the car is just an absolute beast! I have driven with the Stage 2+ file for the past couple of days and want to run it to redline every chance I get. I really pegs you into the seat! It feels like a rocket as the car is much smaller than my E90 M3. Around town the car drives completely like stock. No hesitation and complete control, but when you hammer the gas pedal hang on!!!

I will provide an update later when I have more time to drive the car, but I had to get this review out there so that people know about the ESS Direct Flash unit.

Here are a couple of pics of the unit.









Let me know if you have any questions!

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      01-20-2011, 11:05 PM   #2
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Thanks for the review! Looks good, but here is the BIG QUESTION: did you have any error codes/issues like the COBB people are having with their handheld flashing????
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      01-21-2011, 12:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alext View Post
Thanks for the review! Looks good, but here is the BIG QUESTION: did you have any error codes/issues like the COBB people are having with their handheld flashing????
No error codes at all. Just load the file on the car unplug and start up the car and go! It's so easy to add so much power it's nutz! Its such an animal now!

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      01-21-2011, 12:12 AM   #4
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you gonna get a dyno for comparison??
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      01-21-2011, 12:21 AM   #5
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This is very, very promising!! Did you have to pay extra for the Stage 2 because on the website it mentions you can choose either, so I would have thought it's included in the $995 price???

Oh, and does it leave any traces for the dealer to see??
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      01-21-2011, 12:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chancejat View Post
you gonna get a dyno for comparison??
I need to dyno my M3 and 135i so yes it is coming!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alext View Post
This is very, very promising!! Did you have to pay extra for the Stage 2 because on the website it mentions you can choose either, so I would have thought it's included in the $995 price???

Oh, and does it leave any traces for the dealer to see??
I paid $995 for Stage 2 and another $295 for Stage 2+! I'm sure if I had exhaust mods and intake mods they would have taken that into account for my Stage 2+. My car is completely stock other than this ESS tune!

As for the dealer seeing the tune, I'm not sure what your real question is. My stock file is on the ESS DirectFlash so I can put it back on at any time and that is exactly what I would do before taking to the dealer.

I hope this helps.

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      01-21-2011, 12:49 AM   #7
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Thanks very much for the quick responses biglare! What I was getting at with the codes is that I read some flash tunes can leave a trace on the DME that BMW may be able to pick up. I am not sure if this is true or not for the ESS flash tune.
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      01-21-2011, 06:45 AM   #8
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One of the negatives for ESS is that they make you pay for every map that you want to load up on the handheld unit. Cobb does not charge for this.

Also, the handheld unit for ESS is not as robust as the Cobb unit. I am pretty sure that the ESS unit does not offer the ability to view real time data and download it to a laptop.

I used ESS on an E46 M3 and I highly debated using them again. I went with Cobb because I think that they ultimately will have a better overall product. Cobb has been around for a long time, outside of the BMW market, and all of those folks seem to be very happy.

Cobb also has a large team working for them and they are easy to contact. ESS only has 1 person that you can talk to and they are sometimes very difficult to contact. However, ESS has been flash tuning BMW's longer then any other company so expertise and understanding the BMW DME is on their side.

Both companies are very good. Just depends on what you are looking for and if you want to pay for every map or not.

I didn't mean to hijack this thread but I am probably one of the few members on this board that has used ESS in the past.
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      01-21-2011, 09:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biglare View Post
I need to dyno my M3 and 135i so yes it is coming!
your 135i is gonna pwn ur ///M3.
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      01-21-2011, 09:11 AM   #10
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Subscribing to this. really want to see overall results that you get as you move along.
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      01-21-2011, 09:23 AM   #11
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Now I challenge you to make your 135i faster than your m3 as it sits


Remember its supercharged lol


Big turbo time perhaps
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      01-21-2011, 11:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alext View Post
Thanks very much for the quick responses biglare! What I was getting at with the codes is that I read some flash tunes can leave a trace on the DME that BMW may be able to pick up. I am not sure if this is true or not for the ESS flash tune.
To be safe its always best if you clear any codes in the car after you load your stock software and before a trip to the dealer. BMW has many hidden tuner detection triggers in the N54 control system.

This is a before and after dyno of our N54 stage 2 software.

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      01-21-2011, 11:34 AM   #13
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^ Is that with just tune?
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      01-21-2011, 12:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FDfranklin View Post
^ Is that with just tune?
That was a stock car dyno tested on premium quality 93 AKI / 98 RON fuel in 65 deg ambient.

Direct Flash comes with the stage 1 and stage 2 software. This is the same car tested with our stage 1.


Last edited by sales@ESSTuning; 01-31-2011 at 01:20 PM.
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      01-21-2011, 12:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rom3n View Post
That was a stock car dyno tested on premium quality 93 AKI / 98 RON fuel in 65 deg ambient.

Direct Flash comes with the choice of stage 1 or stage 2 software. This is the same car tested with our stage 1.

Right I just meant, from the baseline map to the stage2 map all that was added was the tune? No DCI/exhaust/meth etc?
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      01-21-2011, 12:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FDfranklin View Post
Right I just meant, from the baseline map to the stage2 map all that was added was the tune? No DCI/exhaust/meth etc?
Correct
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      01-21-2011, 03:55 PM   #17
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Any update on the release date and performance for the N55 tune ESS is working on. If I recall it was expected to be out around the end of January 2011
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      01-21-2011, 04:47 PM   #18
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Any update on the release date and performance for the N55 tune ESS is working on. If I recall it was expected to be out around the end of January 2011
Working on it now, shoud be available soon
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      01-21-2011, 05:01 PM   #19
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Congrats Biglare~!

we had this done before the handheld release and out biggest love with it was the fact that it was so driveable and smooth throughout the entire RPM Range.
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      01-21-2011, 05:31 PM   #20
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I talked to a guy with a 335is at this week's west l.a. MFest meet that got the ESS tune at the savini open house and had nothing but great things to say about the tune. I know a lot of e46 m3 guys with ESS and e9x ESS supercharged cars and all of them swear by ESS! I'm probably going to swap out my JB one of these days for the ESS tune.

I finally saw your e90 m3 at the savini open house and I LOVE EVERYTHING about it! Especially all the 4x4 carbon parts

Got any Big plans for the 1? If you do I can't wait to see how it turns out after seeing the m
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      01-21-2011, 05:53 PM   #21
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will it support Gulf spec cars or just USDM?
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      01-21-2011, 06:29 PM   #22
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will it support Gulf spec cars or just USDM?
We can tune cars in any region.
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