APR Plus vs. Stage 1- Comparison & What’s Better?

A specialized aftermarket tuning firm based in the U.S, APR, offers top upgrades on a range of German vehicles from the Volkswagen family. Most notably Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche, VW, Skoda, and Seat.

APR Plus and Stage 1 and the most common types of upgrades chosen by motorsports enthusiasts for their cars. Which one offers more refined performance, better mechanical and software upgrades, and in the end, an enhanced driving experience? Let’s jump into this discussion in detail and find out which one should you choose in the battle of APR Plus Vs Stage 1.

What are APR Plus and APR Stage 1?

APR, otherwise known as Audi Pro Racing, is an aftermarket tuner of VW family vehicles based in the USA. They offer software and hardware upgrades to boost the performance of your car, without compromising the mechanical integrity, and even offer a limited warranty as well. They have multiple stages of tuning and upgrades based on your requirements, and how much gain in overall performance is achieved. Stage 1 is the basic upgrade package, while APR Plus is a step ahead and a newer offering.

All these stages are developed with careful consideration of factory settings and limits in mind. It is ensured that maximum power is gained through ECU upgrades, and engine calibration, along with minimal alteration of the factory components.

Some additional upgrades are also offered in these packages, such as the addition of left-foot braking, removal of the speed limiter, raising the rev-limiter, and adding a motorsport limiter. Where feasible, the factory exhaust crackle is also adjusted, and these upgrades work well with both AWD and FWD cars.

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APR Stage 1

The APR Stage 1 is the first step toward gaining power via an ECU Upgrade. It is a very simple upgrade and doesn’t require any modification in the engine hardware while offering a massive gain of up to 115 horsepower, and 100 lb-ft of torque, based on the torque and octane level. You can also get a low torque version, that puts less stress on the factory clutch and other hardware.

To get even more power with Stage 1, you can add an upgraded intake, intercooler, turbocharger inlet, cat-back exhaust, and various other bolt-on modifications without requiring any modifications to the ECU.

The engine’s capabilities are unlocked just by tweaking the Electronic Control Unit (ECU), without requiring any end-user adjustment. The ECU Upgrades work with various features and supported octane levels, such as 91 – 108 RON. The software is uploaded and installed on the vehicle’s factory ECU via the OBD-II port, making it a hassle-free process.

APR Plus

APR Plus is an enhanced version of Stage 1 that offers more horsepower and torque gains, without any modifications to the car’s hardware. Similar to Stage 1, it is also a software upgrade that is uploaded to the car’s ECU via the OBD-II inlet and unlocks the true potential of the engine, without causing any harm or potential damage to any component.

The major area where APR Plus wins is the torque gain, which can potentially be more than 200 lb-ft and offers blistering acceleration at lower RPMs.

APR Plus is also compatible with various RON numbers, and additionally, Ethanol E85 as well. Without hurting the fuel economy much, it is the easiest and most user-friendly power upgrade you can get, that too without any hefty bills.

APR Features

  1. Program Switching – This lets you change programs and access different features through cruise control switches.
  2. APR Mobile – Switch programs and get access to features via your smartphone app.
  3. Valet Mode – Lock the true potential of the vehicle, giving the minimal access to the driver
  4. Anti-Theft – Password protected, via an upgraded system in ECU.
  5. Security Lockout – Password prevents any alterations in the system or program changing.
  6. Fault Code Erase – Resets all the detected ECU fault codes and alters on the go.
  7. COD Delete – Option to disable “Cylinder On Demand” to keep the engine working smoothly with enhanced efficiency.
  8. Acceleration – Enhanced acceleration with more power and crisp throttle response with reduced lag
  9. Brake Boosting – Left foot braking – unique to APR upgrades.
  10. Speed Limiter – No restriction on top speed (not regulated).
  11. Standing Limiter – Identical to launch control – lets you rev at higher RPMs for better acceleration.
  12. Motorsport Limiter – Another power booster, to let you enjoy the full potential of the upgrade.
  13. Economy – Normal daily driving remains unharmed unless you decide to unleash the beast.
  14. Free Regular Updates – Regular updates for enhanced performance and bug rectification, free of cost.
  15. Horsepower and Torque – Massive upgrade in both, just with a software tune-up.

Which is Better? A Comparison Between APR Plus and APR Stage 1

Although both of these upgrades are software tune-ups, without any essential mechanical modification, and offer superb performance upgrades. The APR Plus offers more horsepower and essentially the torque, for better acceleration, supports more fuel types and comes with a limited warranty as well.

Powertrain Warranty

While APR Plus is an enhanced version and comes with a limited powertrain warranty, APR Stage 1 doesn’t have this option and will void your manufacturer warranty.

APR PlusAPR Stage 1
WarrantyYes (limited)No

Horsepower and Torque

Both the APR Plus and Stage 1 are almost equivalent to each other in terms of power, but APR Plus offers a much better torque upgrade.

APR PlusAPR Stage 1

Long Term Impact on Turbos, Gearboxes, and possible Engine Wear

Both the APR Plus and Stage 1 are basic performance upgrades with just a better software installation in the car’s ECU and don’t necessarily require any mechanical additions. This feature ensures that all other parts are protected, given that the calibration is done right, the correct fuel grade is used, and any mechanical modifications are done according to the guidelines (spark plug gaping).

Even then, Stage 1 is prone to some engine and gearbox wear as it is not compatible with all the fuel types, and doesn’t even come with a warranty. APR Plus fares better in this department as well.

APR PlusAPR Stage 1
Engine/transmission wearVery minimalTo some extent

Fuel Economy

There is not much difference in fuel economy of both the systems, but if APR Plus is used with E85 fuel, it does offer slightly better fuel economy than Stage 1.

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Pros and Cons of APR Plus


  1. A basic performance upgrade without any mechanical parts.
  2. Easy to install and calibrate.
  3. Offers a massive torque and a substantial horsepower upgrade.
  4. Better fuel economy with E85 fuel.
  5. Compatible with Stage 1 performance parts.
  6. Comes with a limited powertrain warranty.


  1. Higher cost upfront as compared to Stage 1.
  2. A software glitch or bug can render the performance useless.
  3. Not driving carefully can drastically affect the fuel economy.
  4. Factory warranty gets voided with this upgrade.

Pros and Cons of Stage 1


  1. Initially costs less than the APR plus.
  2. It is the cheapest, most basic performance upgrade you can get on your VW family vehicle.
  3. Offers a good performance upgrade and comes with optional performance parts as well.
  4. Can be easily upgraded to APR stages 2 and 3 as well.
  5. Can be easily installed via OBD-II port and doesn’t require any complex alterations in the system or engine.


  1. Doesn’t come with any warranty and voids the manufacturer warranty as well.
  2. Not as good as an upgrade as the APR Plus.
  3. Doesn’t work well on all fuel types, and requires specific fuel grades.
  4. Can damage the engine if not maintained properly.

Is the Tune Reliable Enough for Those Who Have Stage 1?

Although the basic APR Stage 1 is only an upgrade in the car’s ECU and doesn’t necessarily require any mechanical parts to be added. Stage 1 doesn’t come with any warranty and requires specific fuels to run, making it vulnerable to problems in the future.

For proper installation of Stage 1, some recalibration is required in the ECU, and spark plugs are also required to be gapped accordingly. If these are not done professionally, the car becomes prone to various problems over time.

Additionally, Stage 1 runs on limited types of fuel, making it hard to keep in any region you like, and using it on an un-recommended kind of fuel can damage the engine.

Keeping it basic, getting installed by a professional, and sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendations can keep an APR Stage 1 car trouble-free for years.

Does APR Plus Only Provides a Limited Powertrain Warranty?

APR Plus comes with a limited powertrain warranty, that remains applicable under certain conditions.

What is covered?

  1. Engine – including engine block, cylinder head, and all other parts of the engine.
  2. Turbo/supercharger – Factory turbo only.
  3. Transmission – All the internal parts of the transmission.
  4. Transfer case – All parts
  5. Drive Axle – Front and rear both with all the parts included.

When is the Warranty Voided?

  1. A breakdown caused by lack of maintenance, or other issues like collision, theft, fire, flood, or any other calamity.
  2. Any unauthorized alternations in the electronics, odometer, and VIN/chassis number of the car.
  3. If the car had been used for rental business, racing competitions, drifting or abused otherwise.