Sale ends todayGet 30% off any course (excluding packages)

Ends in --- --- ---

Idiot who tracks Volvos from the UK

Member Introductions

Forum Posts



Tech Articles

Tell us a little about you. What cars you are interested, where you are from and why you are interested in learning to tune.

= Resolved threads


Hi all,

Decided to join as I've taken the plunge in going for standalone on my main toy, and want to be able to adjust for hardware changes myself. I'm a mechanical fitter by trade so have engine building experience but mainly marine engines ranging from outboards to big stuff that makes thousands of horsepower at very low RPM. I compete in hillclimbing and sprinting mostly with a few trackdays here and there.

I started off competing in a very light Mazda MX5 with the 1.8 engine in a relatively lightweight state of tune running an ME221 ECU which was bought from a competitor.


The MX5 was alright and almost as quick as the other cars in class overall, but suffered greatly in the straights due to the lack of power. Most of the other competitors in the class run TTs or S3s with the 1.8 20 valve engine, at varying power levels, so we again bought out a competitor's car;


With 280bhp and various different handling mods the TT is much more competitive and now does the lion's share of the competitive work.

However, my daily driver for the last 8 years has been a Volvo C30 T5, which is built on the Focus Mk2 chassis and has the same 2.5 litre 5 cylinder turbo lump borrowed by Ford for the Mk2 Focus ST(or XR5 in Aus). It started off with a fairly basic spec, exhaust, intercooler, map, making 316bhp and 384lbft crank. Over the years the 'everything else' spec has got a bit more serious with decent brakes and suspension, wider wheel/tyre setup and so on. I started competing in it, and it's now relegated to being a toy, and have found it to be pretty competitive even though it falls into the fastest road car class alongside 500+bhp cars such as Imprezas and Mk7 Golf Rs which also enjoy a big advantage off the line. Now it corners well, I've considered what the next step was and I've slowly improved the spec to work towards a forged big turbo setup.

At the beginning of the year I span a rod bearing at Thruxton so the project is in full swing, since obviously if you're changing the bearings you may as well change the rods, and if you're going to forge it then you want to change the turbo, and if you're doing that then you need to uprate the fuel system, may as well change the cams, and so on. I have a diff to chuck in the box as well and am looking to make 400lbft across as wide a band as possible, which will likely mean torque limiting a higher peak, but should result in a car which is pretty driveable but revs far better than the stock K04 turbo can manage. Likely that the car will then be set up with more track focused geometry but will still be road legal.

One of the main limiting issues with the engine is the Bosch ME9 ECU that the car runs as standard. Volvo has it very locked down, and tuners all over the world have had a crack at mapping the C30 and whilst often successful, there are some cars which have issues (predominantly boost cut on application of throttle at high RPM, especially gear shifts) and various tuners claim to be able to fix it but generally they can't. I've seen pretty much every major tuner of these cars fail to solve this issue, so the obvious answer is to go standalone. Doing so also allows for all the sorts of fun stuff you can do with standalone ECUs and most obviously is that everything is easily accessible and simple to adjust. I'm going for a MaxxECU Race, and another bonus with that ECU is that it is very well CAN integrated on the P1 Volvos so will allow for all the normal stuff like Cruise, aircon etc (it's still a full interior road car, which is a significant contribution to how fun it is), as well as things like controlling antilag, map switching etc with the stock switchgear.

Whilst I have a fairly decent knowledge of engine theory and what I'm adjusting, it's my first time properly mapping a car from scratch so I'm looking forward to learning it.


Welcome Callum and thank you for sharing!

Hi from wet and cold Hertfordshire

Welcome to the forum Callum. You'll have great fun with that set up

Thanks very much all :)

We usually reply within 12hrs (often sooner)

Need Help?

Need help choosing a course?

Experiencing website difficulties?

Or need to contact us for any other reason?