Top Performance Upgrades for Daily-Driven Volkswagen MK7/MK7.5 GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a highly sought-after vehicle for those looking for a balance of comfort and performance. The Mk7 and Mk7.5 models are known for their reliable drivetrain, spacious interior, and handling capabilities that put even M3 owners to the test. But the GTI is more than just a great performance car, it is also a popular platform for modifications.
There are many ways to enhance the performance of a Mk7 GTI, but it can be difficult to know where to start. To help, West End Service Centre & Genesis Autoworks West End – Brisbane’s leading Volkswagen Group Specialist have compiled a list of the best ways to modify your Mk7 GTI while still maintaining its daily-driver qualities.
Mk7 GTI Intake
One of the first and most simple modifications that can be done is to replace the intake with a better unit. This has been a basic performance modification for any car for decades. By improving the airflow, more fuel can be added, resulting in more power. The stock Mk7 GTI intake can be restrictive, but aftermarket options offer better airflow at a relatively low cost.
When it comes to purchasing an aftermarket intake, there are many options to choose from. Revo, Integrated Engineering, 034Motorsports, and aFe are popular choices. It’s important to remember that cheaper options may not offer the same level of performance or protection for the filter. West End Service Centre are authorised Revo Tuning agents and can assist you with the supply and install of your Revo Air Intake for your MK7 Golf.
Upgrading the intake on a Mk7 GTI is a popular modification for those looking to improve performance and appearance. While plastic and aluminium construction options are available at a lower price point, a full-carbon intake is a more expensive option that offers both a visual improvement and performance gain. It is important to pair any intake upgrade with a tune to maximize the engine’s potential.
Mk7 GTI Exhaust
Another popular modification for the Mk7 GTI is an aftermarket exhaust. A cat-back exhaust can improve power by reducing pressure behind the turbocharger, reduce weight with stainless-steel construction, and enhance sound quality by reducing muffler baffling. Major exhaust manufacturers and VW-focused companies such as AWE Tuning, IPE Engineering, Borla, Supersprint, Varex, and Cobb Tuning all offer cat-back exhaust options for the Mk7 GTI. It is recommended to hear these systems in person before purchasing to experience the differences in look, sound, and weight.
Mk7 Golf GTI ECU Tune/DSG Tune
Once intake and exhaust modifications have been made, it is important to maximize the gains with an ECU tune. Volkswagen sets up the GTIs with conservative fuel and ignition curves to prevent potential engine damage, but a new tune can be tailored to specific fuel availability and mod upgrades. West End Service Centre / Genesis Autoworks West End are Brisbane’s only Revo authorised tuning dealer. Contact us today for assistance.
Mk7 GTI Rear Sway Bar
Another modification that can be made to the GTI is a larger rear sway bar. The Mk7 GTI’s MQB-derived chassis is the best to have ever come from Volkswagen, but it isn’t without its areas of improvement. The easiest way to help dial out some understeer for better cornering balance is with a larger rear sway bar. This will reduce the roll at the rear especially and prevent the weight loss from the front inner tire, allowing it to grip the road better and pull the GTI around the corner. 034Motorsports, Eibach, and H&R all offer bars within that size range and carry a name you can trust.
For those with a DSG transmission, it is recommended to eliminate clutch slip with some extra software fiddling. 034Motorsports, Integrated Engineering, United Motorsports, APR, and Unitronic offer their takes on revised DSG mapping with the same benefits. This will remove the factory “torque limiter” from the gearbox and increase clutch pressure to handle the increased torque provided by performance mods. It’s a great pairing for any modified GTI and also addresses the sometimes-clunky DSG to smooth out gear changes, reduce gear hunting, and improve the response when moving off from a standstill.
Involved Bolt-On Mods
One of the most important modifications for performance is a new intercooler. The intercooler’s job is to cool the hot air from the turbocharger so that it’s more oxygen-dense when entering the combustion chamber. Aftermarket intercoolers are designed specifically for power with CFD-tested end-tanks to eliminate bottlenecks, and larger cores improve flow volume and cooling capacity. The colder the air enters the engine, the more power it’ll make. Choosing an intercooler leaves you with plenty of options with varying pricing due to size differences. APR, Wagner, Revo Tuning, AWE Tuning, 034Motorsports, and Unitronic are popular options.
The most exciting modifications for your Mk7 GTI may increase its horsepower, but the most beneficial mods are those that guarantee reliable and problem-free performance. When upgrading engine components to boost power output, it’s important to also consider the original equipment supporting components. These parts may be pushed beyond their typical operating range, leading to accelerated wear or even causing issues that prevent you from driving. As you make other upgrades, remember to include reliability modifications, as they can be just as important as those that increase power.
Mk7 GTI Coil/Plugs
As you increase power in the Volkswagen EA888 engine, the ignition system’s main components, the spark plug and ignition coil, may not be able to handle the added stress. Upgrading to a stronger coil and colder spark plug is recommended for those past the “stage 1” phase. A colder spark plug will improve heat transfer to the cylinder head and provide a quicker spark. Some owners opt for Audi RS7 plugs, which are in the proper heat range. Upgraded coils, such as those offered by APR, are debated, with some claiming they are necessary only for race cars or engines with significant power increases. If unsure, contact us today 07 3844 7494.
MK7 GTI Engine / Transmission Mounts
The Mk7 GTI, like many other models in Volkswagen’s MQB line-up, is equipped with engine and transmission mounts that can fail prematurely under heavy use and increased power. To prevent this, many owners opt for aftermarket engine and transmission mounts from companies like 034Motorsport, Revo, and CTS Turbo. These mounts are designed to handle the added stress and provide a 25% increase in damping compared to the factory mounts. Another popular option is bushing inserts, which can be inserted into the factory bushings to reduce movement and improve power transfer. Finally, torque arm or dogbone mounts can also be replaced with aftermarket options to complete the upgrade. Overall, these aftermarket mounts will provide a more reliable and smoother ride.
Mk7 GTI Steel Oil Pan/Skid Plate
Modern plastic components have become popular in the automotive industry for their light and strong properties, and Volkswagen (VW) is no exception. However, one area where plastic is not ideal is in the oil pan, which is a vulnerable spot on an engine, especially on a modified GTI. The Mk7 GTI uses a plastic oil pan, which is a potential failure point. To address this issue, a steel oil pan from an older VW product using the EA888 engine can be used as an upgrade. This swap eliminates the risk of cracking and provides added durability. Additionally, skid plates, such as the OE Golf Alltrack or an aftermarket aluminium plate, can provide extra protection for the oil pan.