The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Multiple Maps in the Same ECU


When Volvo produced cars like the 2004-2007 R models, there was an added feature of chassis mode setting buttons on the dash. Typically they offered comfort, sport and advanced settings. There has always been a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about these modes. For instance, there are many people that say there are three different maps in the car but  this isn't really the case.                            

Selecting the different mode buttons activates setting changes in the throttle control and the suspension units. The three different modes operate various combinations of the two different throttle response and the three different suspension settings.  There are not different fuel, boost or ignition maps.  The only change to engine control is a simple amplifying of the pedal to throttle plate ratio.  Your car isn't actually faster, it's just giving you more throttle with less pedal. 

In an old carbureted car sometimes tuners would put a larger spool on the side of the carb to change the ratio/speed of throttle response. This didn’t actually produce more power, but simply meant the carb could reach wide open throttle with less movement at the throttle pedal. The throttle body maps connected to the mode settings are the same in that they do not increase the amount of available throttle, but your foot reaches maximum throttle sooner. Once the throttle is wide open the remaining pedal movement makes no change to performance. This falls in the range of “performance parlor tricks” used by the manufacturers to give a feeling of additional performance where there was none. It is also a common method used by deflection style tuners to give you the illusion of more power.

The shock absorbers used in 4C cars have a solenoid valve in them that shunts the damping through an alternate routing. With this alternate valve routing you can make the stiffness of the hydraulic portion of your suspension change a bit. This doesn’t really fall under “parlor tricks” since it actually changes the damping of the hydraulics to a degree. While there is no change to spring rate, ride height or attitude there is a change to the compression damping rate.

Some people are under the impression that they can install several different complete maps or tunes in their car and select between them with the mode buttons. This is simply not possible since there is not enough memory in the ECU to store multiple torque request maps. It would certainly be possible to regulate different throttle response ratios but this is of questionable value for actual performance. The actual result is simply the reduced boost and ignition positions for the regulated/reduced throttle position but actual wide open throttle will still produce the same output. A proper torque request map responds so well to driver input that performance changes are easily accomplished with the throttle pedal.

Torque request tuning has really changed the game.