Auto enthusiasts can never get enough of their premium cars and are always looking to upgrade their vehicles. There are so many ways in which a car can be modified and its true potential unlocked, and different companies have been doing it for the customers for years.
APR and Unitronic are two aftermarket tuning firms that modify Volkswagen group vehicles, including VW, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, and Seat. For decades, they have gone head-to-head in technology development and offer their customers the best of both worlds, reliability, and performance.
Which tune offers more horsepower? Which is easier to install? Which one is economical and if given a choice, which one should you opt for? This comprehensive guide has all the answers in detail.
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What are APR and Unitronic?
APR and Unitronic are the U.S and Canadian aftermarket tuning firms that manufacture mechanical upgrades and develop software for VW Audi vehicles. From a simple software upgrade to big massive turbochargers, these companies would upgrade your car for outright performance and track racing.
APR is an Alabama-based aftermarket tuning firm that specializes in only VW Audi Group vehicles. From a simple software upgrade (ECU reflashing) to the development of performance-enhancing mechanical parts, APR does it all. Engine modifications include air intakes, Catback exhausts, Turbochargers, TCU upgrades, and much more.
APR modifies the project cars in different stages, beginning with stage 1 and APR Plus. Both of which are ECU upgrades and unlock the hidden potential of the stock vehicle. The next steps are stages 2 and 3, which involve the addition of mechanical upgrades to boost the performance of the car.
APR is quite popular among VW Audi Group owners as they can enjoy a series of performance modifications, that too with a limited warranty.
This Canadian aftermarket tuning company is identical to APR and deals in VW Audi Group vehicles only. Unitronic also has a similar pattern of business and products, and their modification starts with an ECU upgrade, for people looking for minimal modification.
If enthusiasts are looking for more aggressive performance upgrades, Unitronic offers a range of mechanical mods, such as Turbos, TCUs, pulleys, and intakes. Unitronic also has Stages of modification, namely Stage 1, Stage 1+, Stage 2, and 2+, getting aggressive with each upgrade.
Apart from a few differences in performance and business structure, both APR and Unitronic can be considered identical firms, but are rather the fiercest rivals in the premium car modification industry.
A Comparison Between APR and Unitronic
Both of these mods go head-to-head in competition and offer top performance with reliable upgrades. There are some highlighting differences in power and torque gains, installation and upgrades, aftersales, and warranty between them.
Engine Torque and Power
Both APR and Unitronic upgrades offer a significant gain in horsepower and torque, thanks to the smart Software Upgrade which unlocks the engine’s potential and extra accessories that offer additional gain in power.
It is evident that APR focuses more on torque gain while Unitronic adds more horsepower.
Installation Cost and Mileage
There are different products and upgrades that you can get at both APR and Unitronic but I’d discuss only the flagship product, Stage 3 APR, and Stage 2+ Unitronic.
APR Stage 3: $1,150
Unitronic Stage 2+: $1,100
These prices do not include labor charges and taxes, which obviously differ from dealership to dealership.
There’s no restriction on mileage on installation and software upgrades, but your car needs to be driven at least 10,000 miles before you upgrade to stage 2 or 3. You also ought to get your car serviced regularly at 5,000 miles. These companies also recommend that you use top-quality lubricants, such as Liqui Moly fully synthetic oil.
Effect on Engine Health and Longevity
When the software and mechanical accessories are installed in the APR or Unitronic upgrades, the engine and ECU undergo different changes and it affects the engine’s durability and longevity.
- When ECU is reflashed, the speed limiter and rev limiters are disengaged. Meaning that the car can be revved at higher RPMs than normal and taken to speeds beyond 150 mph.
- COD Delete– disabling cylinder on demand, which keeps all the cylinders firing at all times, increasing emissions and wear.
- Turbo spools and cylinder firing are increased beyond normal.
- Gear ratios are adjusted as per the Stage requirements via TCU upgrades.
- Intake and Exhaust also work at higher rates, usually without removal of the catalytic converter.
All of these factors can increase the wear on the engine and transmission, leading to reduced durability and longevity of your car.
Meanwhile, there are some protective mechanisms as well that protects the engine from damage. These include;
- Valet mode- that reduces the engine output and performance.
- Fault code delete – deleting error codes whenever detected.
Pros and Cons
- APR has been in business for a long time and has a wider network of dealers in the country.
- APR offers an on-demand power increase, with as minimal as a software upgrade, if you do not want hefty modifications.
- Comes with a limited powertrain warranty.
- It offers a better torque gain over a range of RPMs.
- A mobile app to switch programs, whenever you like.
- As per customers, the warranty claim is tricky and is usually not awarded.
- Even a simple upgrade has to be performed at the dealership and costs a lot.
- Mobile app becomes glitchy sometimes.
- Unitronic upgrades offer a reasonable horsepower gain and performance upgrades.
- Excellent customer service with aftersales backup.
- ECU reflashing can be done at home via the laptop, no need to visit the store or dealership.
- Comes with a limited warranty on parts and software.
- Low-end torque gain is not so good and has to be improved.
- The network of dealerships is limited.
Which Tune is More Suitable for Your Use Case?
APR is ideal for those Audi, VW, and Porsche owners who are looking for upgrading the performance for the long term and planning to stick to it. APR Plus is the basic software upgrade that unlocks the hidden potential of the car and offers a substantial performance upgrade.
If the idea is to get a more aggressive modification, Stages 2 and 3 are perfect. One important upgrade that APR offers is the torque gain over a range of RPMs, letting the driver accelerate more confidently and openly. You should also remember that you cannot remap the ECU or get an upgrade at home, and you’d have to drive down to a dealership for any mods or rectifications.
It is suitable for those people who either want to stick to a basic software upgrade or want an all-out performance upgrade with Stage 3 tune-up.
Although there is not much difference in the power gain and features of APR and Unitronic, with the latter, you can reflash your ECU any time anywhere, and upgrades are available over the air. Moreover, the stage 2+ with its 200+ hp gain is aggressive enough to challenge anyone on the track or a drag race.
If you’re an owner of a car that belongs to VW Audi Group, Unitronic is a better overall choice than APR.