Test Mule: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Engine: EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
Cobb AccessPort V3 Key Features:
- Larger, full color, high-resolution screen
- Full text help menus and full map descriptions
- Customizable multi-gauge display
- In-car mount, on/off switch, and removable faceplates
- New processor flashes over 50% faster and boots up over 30% faster
- More storage space for maps and up to 10 hours of datalogging
- Fully compatible with earlier version maps and software
Cobb Tuning’s AccessPort has got to be one of the most tried-and-true ECU reprogramming tools in the history of import tuning. First releases back in 2004, the hand-held AccessPort took the turbocharged Subaru world by storm, allowing its end users and professional tuners to design custom maps for optimized power, drivability, and efficiency while retaining OEM tuning logic and safety checks. It’s also worth noting that the AccessPort uses technology developed in-house by Cobb Tuning and was the first ECU tuning tool made for any vehicle that allowed users to update via the Internet as well as being the first with real-time map technology.
A huge part of the appeal of the AccessPort has always been its simplicity, both in terms of installation (plugs into the OBD2 diagnostic port) and its intuitive and simple controls and interface. But time marches on and the V2 screen and text interface was starting to look pretty old school, something the new V3 addresses very nicely with a much larger, full color and high-resolution screen (approximately 3x the size of the V2 screen). As a result, the V3 has grown in overall size, but it’s still no larger than an iPhone and looks totally at-home mounted on the dash.
The logic behind the move to a larger screen and the included dash mount becomes entirely clear once you install the V3 and start to play around with the customizable gauge display. But even before firing it up, we were very impressed by the magnetic holster that not only holds the AccessPort securely in place but also makes it quick and easy to remove. The dash mount is also cleverly designed using an adjustable ball-head that lets you angle the display however you’d like, while it’s 3M adhesive backing means you can mount it just about anywhere on the dash without having to drill any holes. But before you can start to play around with the gauges, you need to install the unit by loading the Stage 1 map, or you can opt to install the “Installed Stock Mode” map if you want to use the gauges with the stock map in place. Once you’ve done so, it becomes immediately apparent what the benefits of the larger high-resolution screen really are. Suddenly the AccessPort isn’t just a powerful ECU reprogramming device and diagnostics tool, it’s now also a gauge cluster capable of displaying any of the engine’s parameters including boost pressure, air/fuel ratio, throttle position, and any other data signals the ECU sees.
You can opt to display between one and six gauges, so you have a huge amount of flexibility in terms of information displayed, and you can quickly and easily change the setup so that you can, for example, switch back and forth between a street-oriented setup and a track-day setup. The configurable (you set the RPM limit) Shift Light feature is handy, too, and takes full advantage of the screen’s ambient light sensor, so it’s easy to read and doesn’t blind you as light conditions change.
The V3 AccessPort still has all the other features their customers have come to expect, including a Troubleshooting mode that allows you to quickly and easily read any CEL codes and then go through the full text descriptions and diagnostic steps in order to narrow down the problem. And the V3 also has the usual Performance mode as well, allowing you to do some fun testing of 0-60 MPH times, ¼-mile times, as well as estimate wheel horsepower using the built-in dyno function. We haven’t had a chance to test the dyno function yet, but hopefully it’s been refined, since we found it to be grossly optimistic on the V2 we tuned Project RX-8 with.
And of course the AccessPort’s core function, as an ECU recalibration tool, is still very much at the heart of the V3, since it comes loaded with all available off-the-shelf (OTS) maps for Cobb’s heavily tested Staged upgrade paths. It’s also completely compatible with both the end user tuning software Accesstuner Race and the professional tuning software Accesstuner Pro, so you or your pro tuner can customize the mapping for optimized engine performance for whatever set of modifications you’ve made to turbocharged Subaru, Mazda, BMW, Evo X or Ralliart, Ford Focus ST or Nissan GT-R.
Within Tune mode there’s also a new menu item that allows you to separately adjust the idle speed, retarding ignition timing (as a response to a tank of bad gas, for example), change the launch control and flat-foot shift RPM, or reset back to the factory defaults for launch control and flat-foot shifting, all without having to change the main map itself.
Version 3 of Cobb Tuning’s AccessPort looks to be a big step up from earlier versions.
All in all, Version 3 of Cobb Tuning’s AccessPort looks to be a big step up from earlier versions, thanks to its much larger screen allowing it to be used as both a gauge display and a tuning tool. And hey, if you don’t want to dash-mount your V3, it also comes with a nice carrying case so that it won’t get all scratched up in the glovebox like our V2 did.
Stay tuned for a thorough test of the V3’s capabilities including dyno testing of the OTS maps and a full custom tune to go along with a few bolt-on upgrades to our 2011 Subaru Impreza STI wagon.
Version 3 AccessPort