Cobb Accessport and VersaTuner – Damond Motorsports
If you decide to modify your Mazdaspeed3 or Mazdaspeed6, you’ll have lots of decisions to make on what parts to buy. Thousands of parts from dozens of brands exist and are still being developed for this platform, even a decade after they stopped making the Mazdaspeed3. Whether you get just an aftermarket intake, full turbo-back exhaust, or decide to go big turbo with auxiliary fuel, two things are pretty much certain: you’ll need HPFP (High Pressure Fuel Pump) internals, and you’ll need a tuning solution.
We won’t go into the HPFP internals in this, but they are a critical early step for adding power to a Mazdaspeed 3 or 6. You can get Autotech internals by clicking here.
What we do want to talk about are the two most common tuning options available for the platform, the Cobb Accessport, and VersaTuner. For basically doing the same thing, these two tuning solutions couldn’t be any more different. We’ll break down what similarities there are and the differences to help you decide what option to go with.
Both of these are flash tuners, meaning you (or your tuner) make a tune file/map that then gets flashed to the car’s existing Engine Control Unit, or ECU for short. Being flash tuners, they are both limited by the stock ECU on what they can do and offer. You can manipulate mostly the same parameters in both. Whether you have a BNR turbo or other big turbo Mazdaspeed 3, or are looking for a remote dyno tune for your Mazdaspeed 6, there are no big performance advantages going with one over the other. They both also have a library of pre-made tunes that you can download to use on your own car, called Off-The-Shelf (OTS) tunes. That’s about where the similarities stop.
The AccessPort, or AP, is a handheld device made by Cobb Tuning. It uses AccesTuner software to make tunes, and Accessport Manager to put tunes/maps onto the AP. The AP then can be used to flash the map onto the car’s ECU. The AP is by far the most common and popular tuning option for the Mazdaspeed3 or Mazdaspeed6, and it’s not hard to understand why. The Cobb Accessport V3 (current generation) is a sleek handheld device that not only works as a flash tuner, but also works as a digital gauge, logging device, and alert system. You can display anything you can log, and can log or change maps at any time without your computer. You can even buy different faceplates and mounts to customize it to your liking.
Everything you need comes in the box for one price. You do need your computer to put the maps on the handheld, and to take a log off the handheld to send to your tuner. The AP also can be unmarried from one car and put on another car.
The downside to the AP is that you can’t make your own custom tunes, they must be made by a licensed Pro Tuner, like us. Some options like launch control are configurable with the AP so you can make adjustments at the track, but you can’t change much besides that.
VeraTuner is essentially just a software made by VersaTune, there is no handheld device. This software was made by a couple of Mazdaspeed6 owners somewhere around a decade ago, and has spread to many other Mazda vehicles.
It has multiple versions you can choose from, Free, Lite, and Full VersaTuner. All three versions require connecting your car to a computer to flash a map or take a log. To connect your car, you can get any 3rd party wired SX cable or bluetooth LX OBD2 adapter (click the links to see the ones VT recommends). The SX and LX options are both good choices. The Bluetooth adapter can also connect to your phone so you can use other gauge and logging apps, such as Torque. You can spend extra and get a VersaLink cable, but this is generally more than you need.
A downside of Versatune is that it is locked to the VIN of the car you bought the license for. It being nothing more than software, VT has no way of proving that you unmarried it from a car to put it onto another one. You can transfer the license to a new owner if you sell the car. They will also let you transfer to another car if you prove your car is totaled or stolen.
What you can do with the three versions of VT varies.
VersaTuner Free basically lets you take and view data logs, as well as check and clear codes. You can also use your computer to see live gauges, but we don’t recommend that while driving.
VersaTuner Lite adds the ability to flash maps created by a licensed tuner, as well as maps from Versatune’s decent library of available tunes. It also allows the user to turn on launch control, no-lift shift (aka flatfoot shifting), and gives you the ability to choose which DTCs are active and inactive.
VersaTuner (Full) is the only option on the whole list that lets you tune yourself, and it still lets you flash OTS maps. Versatune’s library of OTS maps is larger than Cobb’s, but even something like a bigger intake may require you to get a custom tune. Like the Lite version, it also has launch control, no-lift shift, and disabling DTCs available for the user to modify.
The Accessport is one price, all inclusive. Nice and simple. You still need to buy a custom map from your tuner of choice if you want to run something other than an OTS tune.
Versatune will need the Lite or Full version to flash any map, and you’ll need a cable or Bluetooth adapter to connect your car. We recommend the Bluetooth adapter so you can use it with other apps on your phone for logging or as a gauge. Like the Cobb, custom tunes cost extra from your tuner of choice.
Versatune lets you upgrade from Lite to full for $150 within 30 days of purchase, or $179 after 30 days.
But wait, there’s more! Because Versatune isn’t as popular, and because of some hoops pro-tuners have to jump through to use it (I won’t go into the details here), most tuners will charge more to tune with VT. Your tuner may charge as much as $100 extra, so check their site or ask them to avoid surprises.
VT is cheaper, but gets locked to the car's VIN, and tuners may charge more to tune it. VT is the only option to be able to disable DTCs (for off-road vehicles only). VT full version is your only option to self tune.
AP is more common, and more convenient with the included handheld device. It can be transferred from one car to another.
We sell and tune both.
If you have more questions about these options or tuning, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have general questions about other stuff, parts, or anything else racecar, please email us at email@example.com