This article explores the best chip tuning box kits (also known as “piggyback tuners”) to unleash the hidden potential of your Porsche. Because if there’s one thing we know about that famous German engineering, it’s that they’re always pushing the limits of what’s possible on the track.
Figure 1: A RaceChip GTS Black Tuning Box Kit. This kit will give your 2020 Carrera a serious power boost. Source: Vivid Racing.
Performance Chip Tuning Box Kits vs. ECU Tuning and Reflashing
Tuning box kits are not to be confused with ECU tuners. While both serve similar functions, there are some crucial differences that every Porsche owner should understand.
Tuning boxes are plug-and-play kits that fit between the sensors in your car and the ECU and trick the ECU into creating higher output by manipulating the feedback signals from the sensors.
The gist of it is that tuning box kits let you retune your car without actually affecting the ECU and accidentally voiding the warranty. Reflashing your ECU will change the programming of your ECU from its factory settings. While it’s not impossible to return to factory settings, this can potentially make it much harder for you to get trade in your car at a later date.
Moreover, manufacturers these days have gotten very picky about how their new vehicles should be tuned. Many manufacturers—Porsche included—have developed anti-tuning measures that prevent the ECU from being read and overwritten. Any tampering with the ECU will void your power train warranty.
Advantages of a Performance Chip Tuning Box Kit
That’s why tuning box kits are so great: they let you tune the car without ever touching the ECU. Instead, a tuning box works as a kind of middleman in between the ECU and the engine. By catching and modifying signals sent from the engine’s sensors, a tuning box can trick the ECU into thinking that the engine has not yet reached its maximum settings, even when it has.
As such, the ECU will send a signal back to the engine to boost power output or torque. The result is that the engine is pushed beyond its normal factory-set limits.
Figure 2: A Carrera can see its power and torque boosted significantly with a tuning box kit. Source: Autocar.
In this way, a tuning box can achieve similar results to an ECU reflashing, but without reprogramming the ECU at all. It allows for ‘zero detection’ tuning; simply remove the tuning box when you don’t need it anymore and dealers and mechanics will be none the wiser.
“A piggyback tuner is generally a more budget friendly item,” an expert from Flat 6 Motorsports told us, “and it’s easier to remove it off of the car.”
“If you have a new car and you have a flash on it, it’s inconvenient to pull the flash off,” they added. “Realistically, the big difference in performance is that you’ll have more power out of an ECU flash, but with a piggyback tune you can get a boost without messing with the warranty.”
However, it’s also important to note that tuning box kits “produce more latency and lag” than a direct ECU flash. This is because they have to send signals between the engine and the ECU. At higher speeds and power outputs, some experienced drivers may begin to notice a lag.
We’ve talked previously about the essential differences between tuning box kits and reflashing in our previous article on the best ECU tuning box kits.
Sources: Vivid Racing; interview conducted with representative from Flat 6 Motorsports (09/24/2020).
The Top 4 Best Porsche Performance Chip Tuning Box Kits
We’ve selected these tuning box kits based on their capabilities and popularity with Porsche owners.
If you don’t see your particular Porsche model covered here, not to worry! There are tons of tuning box kits out there any many can be ordered special for your vehicle.
The entries on the list below are meant to exemplify the best that Porsche tuning box kits have to offer. They’ll give you some idea about what to look for when choosing a tuning box kit for your own vehicle.
RaceChip RS Performance Chip Tuning Box Kit (2012–2014 Cayenne, Panamera)
Figure 3: This RaceChip RS tuning box will reveal a side of your Cayenne or Panamera that you’ve never seen before. We promise you’ll like it. Source: Vivid Racing.
This tuning box is manufactured in Germany and tested on the Autobahn itself. Made for 4.8L engines (550 HP), it is ideally suited for Cayenne and Panamera models made for the 2012–2014 model years.
This kit will boost your Porsche’s torque, mid-range punch, acceleration, and response time. In fact, RaceChip promises that these tuning box kits can even outperform an ECU remapping when applied to the same vehicles. It promises to get you up to 82 HP and 89 lb-ft of torque.
Figure 4: A 2013 Porsche Cayenne. Already known for its impressive power and handling, the RaceChip tuning box kit promises to push the power even further. Source: Autotrader.
Like most tuning box kits, this little guy is all about plug-and-play functionality. With 6 fine-tuning mappings and a handy-dandy rotary control on the front, you can gently and gradually test your engine’s performance and characteristics and find just the right mapping for you.
In terms of hardware, this little black box is packed with features. It includes an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 7 analogue/digital channels, chip electronics with Nano-Protect, a pro-grade connector, ultra-resistant composite housing, and a Pro fixing system. It comes with a 3-year product warranty.
Sources: Vivid Racing.
RaceChip GTS Black Performance Chip Tuning Box Kit (2020 Carrera S)
Figure 5: The “Black” RaceChip tuning box kit is packed full of potential. Source: Vivid Racing.
This “Black” version of the RaceChip tuning box kit (wait, wasn’t the previous one black too?) is a great option for your Carrera. It comes with all the essential features of the other RaceChip tuner on this list.
It is compatible with the 2020 Porsche 992 3.0 Carrera S 443HP and the 2020 Porsche 992 3.0 Carrera 4 S 443HP. With 3 expertly matched tuning stages, It’ll get you up to 55 HP and 69 lb-ft of torque no problem, along with up to a 20% increase in miles per gallon.
VR Tuned ECU Performance Chip Tuning Box Kit (2017–2018 Carrera S)
Figure 6: The VR Tuned ECU tuning box kit. Despite the label indicating that this is an “ECU flash tuning” device, using a box kit is different from “reflashing” your ECU. Source: Flat 6 Motorsports.
This box kit is for the 991.2 Carrera S (2017–2018 model years). Made specially for the S/C4s 3.0L Turbo engine with 3-pin digital sensors, this tuning box is great for improving power, torque, and fuel economy under partial throttle.
The VR Tuned ECU tuning box kit promises to increase power from 420 to 500 HP and torque from 368 to 451 lb-ft. That’s some serious value right there.
Figure 7: Installing this tuning box kit is a snap and won’t take more than 45 minutes. Source: Octane Motorsports.
Be aware that this tuning box kit is designed for turbocharged vehicles only. It does not lock to the vehicle and is installed with OEM-style connectors.
Like all VR Tuned box kits, this is a vehicle-specific plug-and-play kit with several pre-mapped tunings included. It’s been engineered and tested to function in all kinds of extreme environments, temperatures, altitudes, and driving conditions. No matter what driving you’re doing, this kit has a mapping for you.
According to Flat 6 Motorsports, “the VR Tuned boxes are ‘set it and forget it’ and come preloaded with some targets that they want to push. Based off of that, you get a map and it does its best to push the car by forcing more boost. The thing you run into is that, since you’re only pushing the boost function of the car, there’s only do much it can do to create more power.”
In other words, a piggyback can only manipulate one factor, whereas an ECU reflashing can alter all factors of an ECU at once. This, admittedly, does limit the potential of a box tuning kit relative to a full ECU reflash.
Sources: Octane Motorsports; Flat 6 Motorsports; interview conducted with representative from Flat 6 Motorsports (09/24/2020).
Burger Tuning JB4 Tuner (2017+ Carrera S/GTS)
Figure 8: the JD4 from Burger Tuning allows you to adjust settings in the fly with your phone. Source: Burger Motorsports.
Flat 6 also clued us in on this little guy from Burger Tuning.
According to them, the “JD4 piggyback is the best of both worlds. It has maps and Bluetooth compatibility with your phone. You can adjust boost tables and fueling tables on that unit.” If that weren’t enough, “you can do live datalogging, see in real time how much boost you’re running.” In short, this tuning box kit gives you a lot of information at a very reasonable price.
This box kit will give your Carrera up to 40 HP and 60 lb-ft. It does so in a way that minimizes lag and optimizes boost, timing, and fueling. It includes the super-cool SENT sensor tech that allows tuning on the latest Porsche platforms. It can incorporate all engine data in the tuning process and is fully compatible with JB4 mobile for ‘on the fly’ mapping.
Sources: Vivid Racing.