After 3 Months: My JB4 Review

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

This is a non-scientific review. I don’t have drag strip run data, it’s only about my thoughts and impressions.

I removed the JB4 last night. I’ve driven just 20 miles without it today, and here is my review of the Burger Tuning JB4.

I think getting a read on the JB4 is made easy by removing it, just as much as it is installing it. The absence of the unit — after using it for 3.5 months — makes a difference felt just as strongly as adding it.

Without the JB4…

  • The midrange kick is gone – 2500 to 3500 RPM, of course
  • But the kick made the throttle touchy right where I set higher-than-stock boost levels (2k-3k RPM)
  • You know what? The stock VW 1.8 is pretty good the way it is!

I ran the JB4 with its stock settings for a month before increasing the boost at certain RPM levels… custom map.

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT
JB4 logged data – 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

See my brief comment about life with the JB4 here.

I’m going to leave it off for a few weeks to get even more of a gauge on how much power is missing and how fuel economy is affected. While I had the JB4 installed, I didn’t notice a significant loss or gain in my Alltrack’s fuel economy.

After a few runs to Castle Rock to get some data on MPG, I’ll make another JB4 post, this one specifically MPG apples – apples with actual numbers.

My Pretty Blue over Brown 2017 Alltrack

2017 Alltrack Night Blue Metallic w/ Marrakesh

She’s a Night Blue Metallic over Marrakesh V-tex leatherette (brown) interior. Manual transmission with a JB4 tune. Photograph 2 days ago in Denver. I never park where she’ll get door dings.

2017 Alltrack Exterior Paint Colors

Deep Black Pearl
Night Blue Metallic
Pure White
Reflex Silver Metallic
Silk Blue Metallic
Tornado Red
Platinum Gray Metallic

Tracking Engine Oil in Photos on a 2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8

Alltrack engine oil — I’m tracking its condition over the months. I missed the first few days… so this oil progression photo log starts at the 30-day mark.

I’m drawing no conclusions from this. I’ll have August up soon, and I’ll take a better photo then.

All dates are in 2017. Oil samples taken from a 2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8 bought new in April… This is engine oil. The paper is photo mat board touched by dipstick.

Tire Pressure Low, Right Rear (message)

Dreading taking the Alltrack back to the dealer 3 months after buying it new, I lived with this message and low tire pressure idiot light for a week. Naturally I checked the pressure with a gauge when it was triggered, and finding it to be within spec, I decided the car’s right rear tire pressure sensor was bad.

Then yesterday I remembered something in the menus: tire pressure calibration. I did it, and the message is of course gone. Whew.

Ok, I Love My Golf Alltrack’s Backup Camera

What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.

It took me a while, but I’ve begun to love my Alltrack’s backup camera. It’s really good at showing me what’s down the alley — is a car coming? — while reversing out of my garage.

It’s useful for seeing what’s to the sides, not just what’s directly behind, because it uses a wide-angle lens. I’d estimate it’s roughly a 15mm lens viewing angle equivalent in 35mm photography.

Volkswagen calls it a rear view camera.

The Rear View camera helps the driver when he is reversing. The camera image in the display of the radio or radio/navigation system shows the area behind the vehicle.

Rear View helps with parking by superimposing guidelines over the camera image. These show the path the vehicle will take with the current steering wheel setting, and when the steering wheel has to be turned.

This allows the vehicle to be backed up to any obstacle, regardless of whether it is a bumper or a kerbstone. And coupling up a trailer is no longer a problem.

And of course it’s great for simply knowing when you’re close enough to the parked car behind you while you’re parking.

On my Golf Alltrack, I like how the camera is hidden inside the VW logo/liftgate handle. The VW disc flips up automatically when reverse is engaged, and the video from the camera is sent to the infotainment display screen on the dash.

Everything is automatic. I do nothing except put the car in reverse.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What my Alltrack's screen shows behind me -- AND DOWN THE ALLEY.
What my Alltrack’s screen shows behind me — AND DOWN THE ALLEY.

Backup cameras will be required for all new cars sold starting in 11 months, in the United States. Naturally, this is not applicable to cars made before May, 2018, so if you have a car made up to then you do not need to install a backup camera. It’s not retroactive in other words.

How to Install JB4 on a Golf Alltrack

Why Burger Tuning JB4 for a Alltrack?

As promised in my VW forum post, here’s my JB4 install guide…

So I wanted a little more power delivered safely — well within the VW 2.0 4-cylinder’s happy place. And I didn’t want even “bolt-on” level of mods. This Burger Tuning JB4 isn’t even bolt-on level because it’s so easily reversed and removed. And at $429 it’s not cheap but it won’t break the bank either.

Additionally, if I didn’t like it I could remove it and sell it fairly easily.

On a new car, that’s the level of commitment I’m comfortable with.

 

JB4 Install on a 2017 Golf Alltrack – Overview

  • The install took about 2 hours. It’s one of those where the next time you do it it takes 1/2 the time.
  • I removed the battery to get the OBDII wire through the firewall. It makes it so much easier with the battery gone.
  • Some people say they can get the lowest connector done without jacking the car or using ramps. I have no idea how. I didn’t even try without jacking and removing the belly pan/splash guard. Wrong! I tried this last night, a week after the install, and I could get my hand down there. Undid the clip even.
  • Some of the connection clips are difficult to undo. A very small flat blade screwdriver helps, and IMHO is the best tool.
  • Battery terminals: 10mm socket.
  • Belly pan torx: T25.
  • Belly pan bolts: 13mm socket.

I used these sources for reference

  1. Burger Tuning’s JB4 install PDF
  2. JB4 install video
  3. For jacking points, I found this, but it’s really the same as any modern car: use the strong points on the subframe, when raising the front of the car.

JB4 Install Notes and Tips

Plugs B, C and D are pass-throughs. That means they go in-between the female and male connection that are already there. Unplug what’s there, insert the JB4 connector, then put what’s left into the JB4 connector. Of course, the blue AFR wire and OBDII connections you don’t do this with.

JB4 driving and power impressions coming soon in a post here. Also look for a post about the effect of the JB4 on my Alltrack’s MPG.

Spotted VW: Scirocco

In the States, we only got the first generation Scirocco, up to 1981. My friend had a 1979 the same color as this one. I rode in it a million times back in the late 1980s. It was fun and reliable. Not fast compared to cars today with its eye-watering 78 HP, but decent power for what it was back then.  Plus it weighed a fairly-light 2800 lbs, so it didn’t have a lot of mass to move.

Anyway, on this pictured Scirocco, the body looks straight and the paint looks good. Good job, first generation Scirocco owner in the University of Denver area.

My Alltrack Got 41.3 MPG Highway

Measuring Alltrack Highway MPG – Background

This may be overdoing a simple Alltrack highway MPG report, but here it is anyway. This route I’ve driven well over a hundred times. The outbound (from Denver) leg is always worse on fuel economy than the inbound leg.

Summary: my new Golf Alltrack got 41.3 MPG on a 54-mile highway run.

It’s almost certainly the elevation change: Denver is 5280 feet above sea level, Castle Rock is 6224 feet above sea level. That’s a 147:1 ratio when computing the angle, given distance (28 miles on I-25) and height (1000 feet) = .34° incline.

There might be prevailing winds working on this also, I don’t know. It’s routine to get worse economy going to Castle Rock, whatever the case. In my Volvo 850 T5, I’d typically get 27 mpg going out, and 34 mpg coming back.

Golf Alltrack Highway MPG – Route and Distance

Here’s the Denver-Castle Rock route in Google Maps. It’s 57 miles round trip.

Alltrack Highway Economy – Methodology

  • I press the MPG reset button after my Alltrack has gotten up to speed on the highway, after the entrance ramp. This cuts out variables.
  • I don’t hypermile – no drafting, no turning the engine off (which to me has always seemed incredibly dangerous). Just normal driving. I kept the Alltrack in 6th gear the entire trip.
  • My average speed is a few ticks over the posted limit… which ranges from 60 to 75 MPH. I didn’t do a speed run, nor was I a right-lane squatter.
  • The weather was mild. There was no precipitation or strong winds.
  • The load was just me, plus around 20 pounds of miscellaneous stuff in the car. Zero passengers.
  • Fuel octane was premium, 91 octane.

I’m very pleased! I thought I could flirt with 40 MPG before I bought my Alltrack. Then the first week brought fairly dismal fuel economy numbers, and my 40 MPG dream faded. But it turns out those early numbers were engine break-in numbers, and now that I’ve crossed 1000 miles, fuel economy is rising.

Alltrack Ownership Impressions & MPG – One Month Into It

After exactly four weeks of 2017 Golf Alltrack ownership,  here are my fuel economy metrics and overall Alltrack ownership impressions

  • 23 MPG
  • 772 miles driven
  • 43 hours 13 minutes of driving
  • 18 MPH average speed

As you can see, it’s 99% city driving in my manual 6-speed Alltrack. Eighteen MPH average is painful, yes, but it is what it is. I drive often in rush hour city traffic to get my son to and from school, and to take him to various team sports practices and games.

Twenty-three miles per gallon is one MPG better than the EPA city rating, so there’s that. And it’s not off Fuelly’s broad, combined MPG 25.2 average for Alltracks. Therefore I suspect my highway fuel economy will be pretty damn good when I get to see it.

Alltrack Ownership, Alltrack Comfort, Alltrack Impressions

The driver’s seat comfort has improved, or rather, my body has adapted to the car. The first few days my right leg and ankle would feel uncomfortable — the angle of my foot vs. my leg using the gas pedal was greater than that of my prior car, so that initially was a problem. Now my muscles have adapted to the angle and nothing is fatigued any longer.

The seat is fine, and I’ve settled in to my driving position — medium seat bottom height, nearly all the way back on fore-aft track, upright-ish seatback angle.

I’ve washed her once and filled up on 87 octane (US measure) twice.

My Alltrack’s fuel economy is steadily improving.

I ordered a JB4 piggyback tune after declining the VW dealer APR tune at a wallet-crushing $2400.