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Driving Evonne in Modified Condition!

I show how Evonne turned into a snarling performance machine and share how the control units were reprogrammed.

18 July 2023 Update: Heads Up!

I’m not going to go into detail on it, but I’m working with another tuner right now. I blew a LOT of time troubleshooting the tune I got from ECU Tuning Kaunas and wasn’t satisfied with the replies I received from my enquiries about what the causes might be. I’m admitting a mistake on my part and moving on. So, for your information, I cannot recommend ECU Tuning Kaunas for parts or tuning.

With that said, I’m leaving the rest of the article in its original condition, other than the mentioned edits below.

(Edited 4/16/2023, with corrections on transmission modes.)


Back in December when I bought Evonne the Turbodiesel, my 2005 E320 CDI, I hunted around for where I could get a performance tune and the parts needed to upgrade the machine to higher performance and higher efficiency.

I looked at recipes for performance including one of the best by Black Smoke Racing. They share a lot of useful information on their website and they also sell some of the parts needed to do the job.

Finding a Tuner

I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I recently re-joined for involvement in my political party, and I chose to look for tuners on there including Marcin Hoski who did tuning for Legit Street Cars on some of their E320 CDI work. It turns out that he’s not doing much tuning, these days. In my search I stumbled across Tautvydas Lukosevicius (Mr. T) of ECU Tuning Kaunas (ETK), who has worked with Marcin on some custom tuning efforts.

ECU Tuning Kaunas builds their own hybrid turbos and modifies injectors for higher flow. They have a recipe for performance that is very similar to what I found at Black Smoke Racing, but their hybrid turbos are quite a mild build that would be less laggy than what I’ve seen elsewhere. Of course, as their name implies, they create tuning files to flash the engine and transmission control units.

Tautvydas tells me that the OM648 can be tuned to 400 hp and nearly 700 lb-ft using his turbo, injectors, and tunes, with the addition of an appropriate intercooler and the V-8 injection pump that many have used to increase fuel flow. However, it was clear that this “stage 3” 400 hp tune would take a hit on fuel economy because of the larger injectors. I didn’t want to take that hit.

The Path I Chose

I wanted to gain an increase in efficiency, in addition to better horsepower and torque numbers. Removing obstructions from the intake and exhaust flows, adding a more efficient turbo, and adding the right tuning can actually get these cars to 40+ mpg highway, as they were already in the upper 30s in stock condition (mine saw 37 mpg on my drive from Florida to Ohio when I bought it). So, I chose to skip the upgraded injectors and fuel pump, going with a Stage 2 setup tuned for “only” around 340 hp (and, I believe, over 500 lb-ft).

ECU Tuning Kaunas was putting parts and tunes on sale during the Christmas season, so I chose to reach out, sort out exactly what I needed, and purchase a package from them. Their prices were already very reasonable, and the sale made it a no-brainer to take the leap and give them a try.

What Did I Do?

My performance modifications include the following (items with an asterisk * were purchased from ECU Tuning Kaunas):

  • *Hybrid turbo (dissection video coming soon!)

  • Mishimoto J-line intercooler

  • Resonator deleted with a plug brazed in place (see my intake video for more)

  • EGR deleted, again with a plug brazed in place (again see the intake video for more)

  • Swirl vanes deleted (one more time: see the intake video for details)

  • *4-bar MAP

  • Exhaust catalyst deleted

  • Magnaflow mufflers (video coming soon!)

  • *ECU Tuning Kaunas Stage 2 ECU tune

  • *ECU Tuning Kaunas TCU tune

In this video I give a tour of the engine compartment showing the modifications and walk around the back to show off the new mufflers. I show how smooth the engine is running, although some transmitted vibrations indicate that I need new engine mounts.

After that, I show how to flash ECU Tuning Kaunas’ ROMs onto the ECU and TCU.

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ECU Flashing

For the ECU, using a Kess 2 to pull the stock ROM and sending it to Tautvydas was very simple. The file was actually quite small and I simply emailed it to him. He then sent back the modified ROM, which I put onto the PC I was using and followed the instructions in the Kess’ software. In order to avoid losing power during the flashing process (which took around ten minutes), I connected a charger to the battery and I pulled the plug on the radiator fan. I used my SD Connect to check and clear codes, and it was complete.

I tried driving it and wondered why the car was in limp mode, but realized that I hadn’t swapped from the stock to the 4-bar MAP. The ECU was getting improperly-calibrated boost data, which was confusing it. After installing the 4-bar MAP, the car instantly came to life and was showing itself to be noticeably peppier than stock.

However, I could tell right away that the stock transmission tune wasn’t really allowing the full use of the engine’s capabilities, and so the TCU tune was next.

TCU Flashing

The TCU requires a bit more work than the ECU. The floormat in front of the passenger seat needs to be peeled back and then some plastic nuts are removed. Then I pulled back the plate that it’s attached to. Then (after remembering to disconnect the battery), I pulled the plugs and unbolted it from the plate.

Back at the workbench, I had to find the four tabs that hold the board and connectors inside the plastic housing. When I popped everything loose, I could see the printed circuit board and used the guide here to solder a boot jumper wire to a point on the board and connect the color-coded wires from the KTAG.

Don’t be an 1D10T like me, though!

Watch your pins carefully. Get a light in there to look at the actual pin numbers. Don’t use the pins’ orientation to connect the cables or you will do like I did when I was flashing and do it upside-down. I connected it to power this way, and this fed 12 volts to some pins that aren’t supposed to see that voltage. I fried the thing and had to get another one off eBay! When I got the new (used) one, I started over.

When everything was properly connected, I was able to go to Protocols => Bootloader ST10Fxxx => Siemens EGS52 and backup the stock files on the device. Though the tuner will only modify one of the files and return it to you, it’s important to back everything up by checking the square box next to “Backup” on the display, which will read all three files. Then, be sure to have it save to separate files when it gives the option. Otherwise you won’t have a full backup if things don’t go right or you have to return the unit to stock condition for any reason.

Then, I sent the TCU files to the tuner to be modified.

On my first attempt at flashing I didn’t understand how to work through the menu. On the same screen where I selected the files to back up, I had to uncheck the square box next to “Restore” and select only the radio button on the line starting with “EXTFLASH.” Then, when I hit the “Write” button I selected the TCU upgrade from ECU Tuning Kaunas. At that point, I simply followed the instructions and it flashed the TCU.

After reinstalling the unit, I used my SD Connect to check and remove any errors, but I found out that an error would persist. It was code P200A, stating “Component N15/3 (ETC [EGS] control unit) is defective.” It turns out that the car runs great and this error has no effect on how things work. Perhaps some checksum is mismatched after the modifications, but this error doesn’t give a check engine light and is only seen when I fire up SD Connect and check the transmission for codes.

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Four Transmission Modes

The new transmission tune has four settings that can be accessed by pressing the mode button next to the shifter in the console. I remember the order as “CAMS” so that I know how many times to press the button to go from the current mode to the one I want. I’ll discuss the modes in a different order here, starting with the least aggressive mode:

  • (Updated) C is Comfort mode. This is one of the two stock modes. When used, the transmission upshifts early and delivers the sloppiest shifts. It starts in second gear and I’ve read that it actually replaces W (winter) mode from the older models. It’s about being super-smooth, so it slips the torque convertor more and all that slippage is likely to increase heat and wear in the transmission, compared to the other modes. You do NOT want to be in this mode, unless you are performing chauffeur duties or driving on ice.

  • (Updated) S is what everybody calls Sport mode, but Tautvydas insists is Standard mode. That means standard as in “everyday driving” rather than standard as in “manual,” which is another mode. There is a stock S mode for the transmission, but ETK has modified it for firmer shifts. It delivers sharper shifts and waits longer to upshift. It’s definitely more aggressive than Comfort mode, but still doesn’t fully utilize my modified engine’s capabilities. This mode is a good compromise, though, for day-to-day driving and where I’ll keep it most of the time.

  • A is the slot for Agility mode, but ETK has tuned it to be Super Sport mode. This mode shifts at higher RPMs than Sport mode, and allows the engine to reach maximum horsepower before each upshift. It delivers the firmest shifts, too. If you are just casually driving around and laying off the accelerator, though, you’ll find that these shifts are disturbingly late, so S is still a better choice when you aren’t wringing it out. When you want the performance, however, this mode will get the most out of the engine!

  • M is Manual mode. This mode shifts when you tell it to. This is done by putting the shift lever in Drive and bumping it left (to downshift) and right (to upshift). Because you are manually shifting an automatic transmission, you have to anticipate the shift points a bit, as there’s some delay between your command and the actual shift. If you are going for maximum acceleration, then you’ll have to practice to know when to shift for the desired effect, and I believe that Agility mode would generally deliver more consistency for maximum acceleration. This mode is especially useful for situations like mountain driving, where you can anticipate a steep uphill climb or upcoming curve, rather than waiting for the transmission to react when you’ve already reached that position on the road. However, you can do this from the other modes, too, so I’m not sure I’ll use Manual mode much. I’ll experiment and it might actually be really good for highway use to keep the car in 5th gear for economy purposes. Of course it’s easy to forget that you are in Manual mode when you’ve been on the highway for an hour or two and need a burst of acceleration. Hitting the accelerator and realizing that you have to manually downshift in a situation where you need some oomph to safely merge or some other situation could be an issue.

What’s Next?

As I’ve implied above, I have recorded quite a bit of technical material that I’ll edit and release in the coming weeks:

  • I dissected the stock and hybrid turbos to take measurements and compare the differences.

  • I drilled and tapped the exhaust manifold for an EGT sensor that I will shortly connect to a combination Boost / EGT gauge.

  • I cut off the overly-restrictive Mercedes mufflers and installed Magniflow straight-through mufflers.

  • I’m going to relocate the intercooler and put it in a position that doesn’t interfere with the bumper cover.

  • And other things that I’m likely forgetting, or haven’t done, yet. I expect to be doing a lot to improve this car’s cosmetics…though I’ll certainly stick to the look of a sleeper to avoid unnecessary attention.

Please come back soon for more! Please comment, as I’d like to hear from readers and viewers of my materials. I learn a lot from comments, too!

Thanks for reading!


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The Art of Diesel
The Art of Diesel