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My Golf has an option under the dashboard MFI in the settings menu to reset to factory defaults. If you select this, I think it does some kind of reset on the ECU -- would explain the sporadic reports of people having success by flashing it multiple times, starting/shutting off the engine, etc.

Edit: also, yes, it works on my car, I'm the guy who found that solution :) Wondering if it works for everyone who was having trouble, so I crossposted here. This site has been a huge help for me -- chitty you've done an awesome job collecting all this information in your 1000q's, and it's been an invaluable resource for me, a new VW owner!
So you DO need the cable? Resetting the factory settings just lets the cable do the magic? Or does resetting the factory settings open up a menu? This sounds like a very interesting mod.
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