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.

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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 1.8 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.

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APR Tune at VW Dealer: $2400 – Declined – Maybe a JB1

Aftermarket tunes available from several vendors are $500-$750, and this APR tune specifically is $599 without the labor of installing it, so when my sales guy told me a dealer-approved/installed APR tune for the Golf Alltrack would be 4X as much, I almost fell out of my chair.

A tune is a product that re-writes some or all of the programming on a car’s computer. The goal is more power.

Factory programming usually leaves a great deal of headroom for engine longevity, so getting more power — especially from a turbocharged engine — isn’t difficult. Getting more power out of a non-turbo (“normally aspirated”) engine is very expensive compared to a turbocharged engine.

So why get the tune at the dealer in the first place? The upside of getting the tune at time of delivery is that it’s a dealer-approved modification that doesn’t void your warranty. I was expecting to pay more at the dealer. Keeping the VW warranty intact while enjoying the extra horsepower of a tune is a win-win. But the “lose” in all this is the price.

$2400 is a steep price to pay for 35 HP.

At $2400 it wasn’t even close. At 1-2X, I’d have gone for it. But two-and-a-half grand is absurd.

Alltrack Tune Plan B

Alltrack tune plan B isn't actually a tune, it's a "piggyback".
Alltrack tune plan B isn’t actually a tune, it’s a “piggyback”.

I’ll probably pick up a $379 “JB1” piggyback module for my new Golf Alltrack [very lengthy forum discussion here]. It’s not a tune in the traditional sense, but runs alongside the factory tune on the car’s ECU.

The JB1 is a true user adjustable plug and play solution for all MQB based models in the VW Audi Group range. Power Gains: Starting at 35whp and 35ft lb with 91 octane with + 4.80psi boost over stock on the default setting. Engine estimates are 50bhp gained and 45ft lb.

It’s a configurable device that boosts boost. I might see more MPG if I can keep my foot out of it. And therein lies the paradox: it gives VW 1.8 and 2.0 liter EA888 engines a nice kick to the midrange power. So it’ll be difficult to keep my right foot light. Let’s be honest. I’m not getting this for fuel economy.

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