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In the summer of 2002, discussions occured at Club B5 regarding various options that could be enabled on Tiptronic transmissions: an undocumented sport mode and a semi-documented modification of how the transmission behaves in Tiptronic mode. Original contributors included club members Rusty, Pass-Variant and vw18t.

5 or 6 months ago, I activated both the sport mode, and the improved (in my opinion) Tiptronic behavior. I found both to be highly enjoyable, and worth using. Because of the change in forum software that occurred over the last year, these discussions became buried and difficult to find; consequently, I decided to publish my own review of the options, and instructions for enabling.

Please note: The data I have is for US market vehicles. I don't know how well this relates to other markets.

Tell Me About the Options
First a word on the Tiptronic behavior options. The Bentley Factory Manual refers to these as the "old" vs "new" shift strategies.

"Old Strategy" shift mode - The "new strategy" shifting has an annoying habit of downshifting for you when you don't particularly expect it. Here is what the Bentley has to say about the two strategies:

Bentley Manual said:
1) Tiptronic strategy "old" means: when the selector lever is shifted into the Tiptronic gate, the transmission shifts up and down when the selector lever is shifter forward (+) or rearward (-). If the vehicle is braked to a standstill, first gear is automatically engaged.

Tiptronic strategy "new" means: when the selector lever is shifted into the Tiptronic gate, the transmission automatically shifts up or down before the RPM limit is reached. It also downshifts automatically when the accelerator pedal is depressed to kick down.
The Bentley also mentions being able to engage the old strategy shifting for "test purposes", and advises technicians to be sure to re-engage the "new strategy" before returning vehicle to customers. I chose not.

Did you notice the New Strategy "improvements"? If shifts up or down BEFORE the RPM limit is reached, and it downshifts when you fully depress the accelerator.

I found the "old strategy" much more suitable for the purpose of Tip-shifting. The whole point of Tip-shifting is to select the gear yourself, right? Okay, I buy the concept of shifting automatically at redline, and I buy the concept of automatically down-shifting when the car creeps to a crawl. Unfortunately, the "new strategy" goes much further, including downshifting when you hit the gas. Usually, I've already downshifted in Tip-mode before hitting the gas; I definitely don't need any further assistance here, okay?

The "new strategy" was most annoying when coming in to corners; I would down-shift, then hit the gas the in the corner, and bang now I'm in yet a lower gear. Like, too low.

The "old strategy" was what I expected the Tip to be. I still have redline protection, and it will still downshift to 1st, if I come to a stop and forget to downshift. But, that's about all the "assistance" it gives me, which is just the way I like it.

Sport mode - Now for the good stuff: The Audi A4 Tiptronic has a "sport mode" setting that can be engaged with the shift stick. This was not surfaced in the Passat's controls. (Why would you want that in a "family car"? :wink: ) This mode does appear to exist in B5.5's. I've only tested it on my own car (April 2002 build), and it does work. Not sure what other years are applicable. (See below for details on engaging it.)

Once engaged with the VAG-COM, the setting is there to stay, until you hook back up with a VAG-COM and disengage it. Note: This is not something you can change while driving. You can only change it while the engine is stopped. Sorry, no switching back and forth while you are headed down the road.

After engaging it and going for a test drive, I noticed a definite and pleasant improvement in shifting behavior. The car would downshift more easily (for instance, accelerating on a freeway entrance ramp), and overall the car was much more enjoyable to drive in a sporting mode.

My gas mileage didn't seem to suffer. (I've got a 1.8t.) When you start driving aggressively, you are already going to do serious damage to your mileage from turbo boost, so earlier shifting doesn't particularly make a big difference from what I saw. Highway driving at a consistent speed still brought in good mileage.

As a sanity check, yesterday I decided to disengage "sport mode", and return to "regular".

Took a test drive and Whoa! :shock: :???: :shock: What happened to the car I was driving before? I was back to the sluggish response and conservative manners of the stock mode. It was quite distinct and boring. Back to "sport mode" for me. :thumbup:

If you are a conservative driver, who bought the Passat as a family car, and you think Tip-shifting is an interesting concept, but not really for you, then leave your car as-is. On the other hand, if you bought the Passat as a bargain-priced sport vehicle, then I can highly recommend both the "new strategy" shifting, and the "sport mode".

Neither of these made my transmission throw any diagnostic codes, and both settings are easily returned to stock if you think your dealer might care when you bring your car in for service.

One Caution:These mods are for the stock Tiptronic controller. If you have put in a Tip Chip, then you should first consult your transmission tuner before messing around. (Or be willing to throw caution to the winds.)

Disclaimer - Any mods you make are on your own responsibility. In my opinion, these are both highly-safe mods. But, you need to decide for yourself and take your own responsibility.

The Good Stuff: How to Enable!
Both mods are both done through "coding" of your transmission with a VAG-COM. If you are not familiar with the use of a VAG-COM, then please refer to Ross Tech for further information. Basically, if you don't already know how to code controllers with a VAG-COM, then you should research it further at Ross Tech or get a friend to help.

You do not have to "log on" to make these changes.

What you do is:
  1. Hook up Vag-Com
  2. Turn on car, without starting engine.
  3. Access the Tiptronic controller.
  4. Change code.
  5. Exit controller.
  6. Turn car off.
  7. Disconnect Vag-Com.
  8. Test Drive! 8)
IMPORTANT:When you first access the transmission controller, check the coding to see what is "stock" for your vehicle, and record the information somewhere, so you can return it to "stock" if so desired.

New vs. Old strategy shifting
These first codes are for B5 generation vehicles, i.e. earlier than 2001.5. (Keep reading if you have a B5.5.)

All engine/transmission codes without EPC AND ALSO for 6 cylinder TDI engines, EU-II (2.5 L/110 kW V6 TDI) with EPC. (EPC = 'Electronic Power Control' and is Volkswagen's term for "Drive By Wire")

Transmission Code 00000
Old Strategy or vehicles without Tiptronic

Transmission Code 00010
New Strategy

IMPORTANT As reported by Rusty the code 00000 vs 00010 codings on B5s, i.e. earlier than 2001.5, doesn't change old vs. new Tip Strategy. The B5.5s are supposed to already have "Old Strategy". Instead, this mod appears to turn on Sport Mode.
Rusty said:
I have a '98 B5. On my tranny, this coding (00010) turns on "sport mode", not "old strategy". My tranny is supposed to already have the "old strategy" (it's a '98 - it's OLD) but it doesn't. In TIP mode, the *&%#! thing downshifts to 3rd and to 2nd when slowing to a stop. And the only way I could keep it from downshifting automatically under acceleration was to disconnect the kickdown switch.

"Sport Mode" (in Automatic mode) is great.
The next codes are for B5.5 generation vehicles, 2001.5 and on.

All engine/transmission codes with EPC

Transmission Code 00000
unpermitted code

Transmission Code 00102
(New Strategy) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

Transmission Code 00104
(New Strategy) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

NOTE: My car (April 2002 build, 1.8T) has a different coding, and will not accept the 00104 stock coding. My coding is:
Transmission Code 01104
(New Strategy) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

I suspect this is true of the 2003 models as well.

Here's how to engage "Old Strategy" (from the Bentley):

Bentley Manual said:
For test purposes, control modules with "new" strategy can be recoded to "old" strategy.

To do this, set the 4th position from the left of the code number to -2- (e.g. 00021).

After completing the test, ALWAYS recode to "new". To do this, set the 4th position from the left of the code number to -0- again.
This appears to be ONLY for the B5.5 cars, since the table above already shows the difference between Old and New strategy coding for the B5.

So, from the table above for B5.5 one derives:
Transmission Code 00122
(Old Strategy) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

Transmission Code 00124
(Old Strategy) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

Very late model Transmission Code 01124
(OldStrategy) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

I I've never tested this on anything but my FWD 1.8t April 2002 build. Presumably, it would work on all others, as per the Bentley. You may need to code to 01122 for very late model 4Motion.

Sport Mode

sport mode on a B5.5 is engaged by setting a different bit in the same place (4th digit from the left). The bit to set is the '1' bit.

Since the B5 is already using this bit for "new" vs "old" strategy, it doesn't appear to apply there. You will have to experiment on a B5 to figure out what is what, if anything.

From the table above for B5.5 one derives:
Transmission Code 00112
(New Strategy + Sport Mode) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

Transmission Code 00114
(New Strategy + Sport Mode) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

Very late model Transmission Code 01114
(New Strategy + Sport Mode) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

POSSIBLE CODING Very late model Transmission Code 01112
(New Strategy + Sport Mode) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

Note: By "very late model" I mean Passats built after sometime in the spring of 2002. Mine (built April 2002) falls in this category. You will know if yours is in the category when you check the stock transmission code. If there is a '1' in the 4th digit from the right, then you just leave it there. Basically it's the same, except for that '1' in the 4th digit from the right.

I don't know if this works on other years besides my own, or on 4Motion. I know it does work on an April 2002 FWD 1.8t

Putting it All Together
Finally, you can engage both, like I did. (At least on a B5.5.)

From the table above for B5.5 one derives:
Transmission Code 00132
(Old Strategy + Sport Mode) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

Transmission Code 00134
(Old Strategy + Sport Mode) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

Very late model Transmission Code 01134
(Old Strategy + Sport Mode) USA Front Wheel Drive (FWD)

POSSIBLE CODING Very late model Transmission Code 01132
(Old Strategy + Sport Mode) USA All Wheel Drive (4Motion)

I don't know if this works on other years besides my own, or on 4Motion. I know it does work on an April 2002 FWD 1.8t

Last Note: There's not much else I can tell you. I've tried to explain this as best I can and as completely as possible. Have fun!

Other Links

FAQ and Other Notes

Sport Mode applies to Automatic shifting
Sport mode applies to the conventional automatic shifting, not Tiptronic shifting; i.e. when your shifter is shoved over to the left.

New/Old Strategy Applies to Tiptronic Shifting
The New/Old Strategy applies to Tiptronic shifting; i.e. when your shifter is shoved over to the right.

I notice that a concept "smoother shifting" crept into the discussion surrounding my original post. I didn't notice an improvement in relative smoothness. If anything, the transmission began to shift with a bit more "authority"; i.e. more rapidly.

Could I be more explicit with the perceived difference in Sport Mode?
The specific performance differences I found with sport mode are:
  • The car downshifts more easily. In other words, if I am cruising in automatic and I want to pass someone, by giving a little bit of gas I get a downshift right away, bringing up the RPMs. In "stock mode", the car tended to stay in the same gear; this would then prompt me to give it more gas, or perhaps force a downshift with a kickdown or even switch over to Tip mode and shift down. Sport mode allows more appropriate downshifting under increased load for performance-minded drivers
  • When under acceleration the transmission does hold onto a gear longer before upshifting. When accelerating under a light load, the transmission still shifts fairly early, as one would want an expect. When accelerating under somewhat heavier loads, the transmission holds onto gears longer. This behavior is predictably associated with just how much of a load you are putting on it: more load = longer hold. The stock mode works similarly, however in sport mode, lighter loads induce longer holds.
  • The torque converter appears more willing to unlock when accelerating.
  • The sport mode works so well, in my opinion, that many times where I would have wanted to use Tip shifting, I find letting the transmission do it for me works as well, if not better.
Better? What do I mean by "letting the transmission do it for me" works better?
Part of the fun of performance driving is picking the appropriate shift points; i.e. shifting manually.
However, the Tiptronic transmission is in intimate communication with your Passat's engine, and is very familiar with the car's operating characteristics. In some cases, the automatic shift points might actually be better, performance-wise, than what you pick yourself.
If I am manually picking shift points, then part of my attention is on shifting, rather than on driving.
Allowing the automatic to run automatically frees my attention.

So why use the Tip-shifting at all?
See above: "Part of the fun of performance driving is picking the appropriate shift points; i.e. shifting manually."
Furthermore, there are driving circumstances where the tranmission really can't tell what is appropriate. The most obvious of these is entering a curve. When I enter a curve, I'd rather that the transmission already be geared down (downshifted), so when I am ready to hit the throttle I don't have to wait for the car to downshift. Automatic downshifting during cornering can throw off the car's handling during the manuever, and at bare minimum will delay your application of acceleration.
Under such circumstances, an automatic transmission can't tell "oh, he's going to want to accelerate as soon as he is into the curve". So it just "thinks" you are normally decelerating, and will tend to stay in a higher gear.

Does sport mode do anything to kickdown?
Kickdown occurs when you fully depress your accelerator. By kickdown is meant you can force a downshift by fully depressing the accelerator while driving in 'D'. This is generally desirable behavior.

So then what did I mean when I was talking about kickdown with old/new strategy?
When using Tiptronic shifting (shifter shoved to the right), I do not find it appropriate to have the transmission kickdown. The "New Strategy" tip shifting does do this annoying kickdown.
Presumably, this is because the average manual-shift-inexperienced American-driver while timidly experimenting with Tip-shifting, possibly won't realize that he better downshift before attempting to pass that semi truck on the freeway.
An experienced manual-shift driver does realize it. It is second nature for many.
If you've already downshifted in tip mode, then give full throttle, you probably do not want a kickdown. So the Old Strategy works better for the "manual-experienced" driver, in my opinion.

Will it get rid of the Tiptronic shift lag?
In one word: No.
This mod doesn't appear to affect how long the VW Tiptronic takes to shift when you manually upshift or downshift. If you find the Tip shifting lag unacceptable, you'll need to get a GIAC Tip chip to resolve that.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of "Tiptronic shift lag", what is meant is that VW's Tiptronic implementation takes its sweet time when you intiate a shift. It doesn't shift rapidly. There is a noticable lag. Presumably, this is to make the car more suitable as a family vehicle.
In comparison, when you manually shift a Porsche 911 with Tiptronic, the 911 shifts right now.
I've grown accustomed to the shift lag (even before these mods), and have adapted my shifting habits to somewhat account for it.
Search elsewhere on this website for more information about shift lag, and GIAC's tip chip.

Will these mods work with the GIAC chip?
I don't know. Reports from at least one user who tried indicates inconclusive results. In fact, they might make things worse.
If you like, try it and tell us what you discover.
Perhaps, Garrett Lim of GIAC has already incorporated these mods into his chip, in addition to his shifting improvement. You might even contact GIAC before trying it.

Will enabling Sport Mode make any difference in Tiptronic shifting?
As far as I can tell: No.

I've got a 2003. Which codes should I use?
Use the codes listed for "vey late model" B5.5.

Can I configure the car to switch between sport mode and stock mode while driving?
I can't. I am setting these modes by recoding the transmission. This is not something I would want to try while driving. Or even with the car parked in the driveway, running at idle.
There is one way to activate switching into Sport mode while driving: That's called the Upgrade to an Audi Mod.:)

Will you like these mods?
Beats me. Try them.:wink:
Many club members have tried it with happy results.
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