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ECU Selection For VQ37VHR

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First time poster so hopefully I've got the right area for some guidance and ideas !!


I'm about to start on a project car build (E46 BMW with Nissan VQ37VHR + 6 speed manual). It will be a road car for fun and learning. Currently have the car (318ci) and engine ... trans is on the way from the states.

I have the factory ECU and engine harness (but no VVEL module at the moment) which ideally I can run to get operational. However, I suspect it may be less hassle (and obviously far better ultimately) to go aftermarket from the start.

The budget is unfortunately not unlimited so being cost effective is a must. You can read this as up to maybe the 3-4k range ready to wire in, certainly feels like you *should* be able to run a stock motor for that !?


I'm really struggling to align ECU feature sets with what I need for this engine, specific problem areas are the dual DBW throttles (really just Haltech Elite) and VVEL control. From what I have researched the VVEL is something that needs supporting specifically by the ECU which eliminates Link G4+ Thunder (spoke to their support last week and its not planned to be supported).

Options that could fit the requirements (if not quite the budget) are:

Haltech Elite 2500 - Requires external wide band, supports VVEL by using the OEM control module but only a single DBW throttle body. Could control the second throttle body via this controller which looks quite good and safe ... http://www.torquerush.com/x2.html

Motec M150 - Fairly pricey to start then also needs 2x dual half bridges to control the VVEL plus external lambda wide band. Support for the VVEL not quoted for the VQ37 specifically but is mentioned for the VK50VE so support is assumed. Traction control also an upgrade at cost.

Emtron KV12 - Also pricey and potentially not too well supported here ? Can't find my resources now that it supported VVEL specifically. Dual wide band on board.

Syvecs S7 Plus - Again pricey and may not be super well supported locally ?, software looks very intimidating for an owner / tuner. They have plug in computer for both the 370Z (my engine) and the E46 (my car, albeit the M3 but CAN generation should be the same) so ability to support my combination should (in theory) be very good ... if you can make sense of the software. Dual wide band lambda on board. Supposed to be very good gear.

Stock ECU - Obviously the most cost effective but also the least documented (I have the engine manual and pinouts etc) so potentially the most frustrating. Would need to have the NATS / immobilizer removed from ECU using something like https://carlabimmo.com/julie ... the engine and ECU are from an auto car also which would need addressing. Could potentially try to start the motor 'on the bench' while working on the swap mechanicals etc but my time is limited and this could sink a lot of it. Could also leave me thousands to spend on suspension / brakes etc etc if it goes well ?


1. Cost effective

2. Relatively user friendly ... able to be tuned by myself when comfortable

3. Retain as much OEM car functionality as possible (airbags, ABS etc)

4. Not a complete unicorn if I get somebody local (Auckland, NZ) to tune it.

5. Obviously has to run at least as well as the OEM combo.


1. Has anybody dealt with the Torque Rush Performance x2 throttle body controller ? Looks like a viable solution to me to make the Haltech option viable, thoughts ?

2. Do most companies give a base map for your engine or is this typically chargeable and closely guarded ?

3. Any options I have not considered ?

4. General feedback or views from those more experienced than myself !!!


You made it to the end :D


I have not dealt with the torque rush module so I can’t answer for that.

I have though made in the past a turn key solution harness for running a vq37 in a different car. I am capable of disabling NATS and also can tune the car with UpRev as we are an authorized dealer. The only downsides of running a vq37 in a swap is that anything that was using CAN in your bmw won’t work as you are now using a different ECU.

If you’re looking to get a swap that will have everything working like OE you will need a specific package that supports your oem bmw e46 CAN.

MoTeC had a plug in solution for 370z’s but again this won’t work in your bmw. You can still decide to get a MoTeC dash to have something functionnal but this will be expensize. We also sell MoTeC but considering you are not in the same country as me I would suggest you give your local dealer a call.

just to confirm that the Motec M150 has 10 x half bridge drivers built in so there is no requirement for external half bridge drivers to control twin drive by wire motors. The dual lambda requires an external Lambda to CAN controller.

Thanks for the comments Charles and Richard. Not sure if you realise I have been talking with you via email also Richard, good you can see a little more context here.

Regarding the Motec, I have not seen anything about a plug in 370Z solution ... anybody have a link or has it been discontinued ? Does it control the VVEL directly or over CAN via the factory VVEL controller like the Haltech solution ?

I removed the factory BMW ECU today and tested what worked / didn't work. Looks like there is not too much integration with other systems. Both the airbag and ABS self tests passed at key on, engine cranked still and all usual systems (heater controls, lights, indicators, windows etc) worked. I'm not too concerned with livening up the gauge cluster CAN functions via alternate means later on.

Charles: Any black magic running the VQ37 in a swap ? I am looking into this as an option also of course. From my current logic it would be a matter of removing NATS, plugging together the VQ ECU / harness, picking out the wires to interface with the car and trans (ignition, fuel pump relay etc), ensuring the ECU can talk to the VVEL module (assume over CAN).

I have done the wiring for a few VHR swaps and my preferred method is stock ecu with ECUtek. It can handle the NATS delete and has a huge capability for tuning. Uprev can also handle this, but not as powerful.

Just to add another couple of options into the mix...

have you looked at sourcing a used Cosworth SQ6?should tick all the boxes you need with functionality to spare, has some really good strategies and is infinitely configurable. I know they’re around the £3k new but regularly see them at £12-1500. It could be worth looking into the Cosworth support forum too as I know the guys are pretty active.

Similarly the Life Racing F88 should offer most of what the SQ6 does at a lower price point and is the motorsport arm or parent company of Syvecs who offer a PnP ecu for the 370 so there should be a base map available to kick you off

Thanks for the replies Eric / Scott ... I think my approach for now will be to use the stock ECU until I have a reason not to (can't get it working, needs specific features etc).

I like the idea and simplicity (of install at least) of an aftermarket unit but to be honest the VVEL complexity scares me (first 'real' swap without same make plug and play) and I'm unsure how well its really supported in terms of the way the engine was designed to run with throttles open / valves controlling the flow etc.

I'm working on the Nissan wiring diagram at the moment along with a control board to run the motor before it goes into the car ... learning a lot and loving the challenge !!

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