I bought a Mk7 GTI because I knew it could be far more than advertised. It started with a reportedly under-rated 220 hp and 258 lb-ft. Dynamometer testing by tuners and enthusiasts indicates that the actual stock output is closer to 235 hp and 270 lb-ft, figures which rival that of tuned engines of earlier generations. I had watched APR for a LONG time and decided that they are the only tuner for my GTI. APR’s basic tune bumped my Mk7 GTI’s already-healthy peak output by 81 hp and 111 lb-ft, for a total of 316 hp and 381 lb-ft, even with a factory air filter and exhaust system. Believe it or not, improved fuel economy could also be had with a little self-control… OKAY… A LOT of self-control! 😉
A Stage 1 tune alone transformed my GTI into a different car. It was quite amazing! In 2018, I added APR’s intercooler and Stage 2 software update. That added a small bump in horsepower and torque. In 2020, I upgraded the exhaust to a stainless steel cat-back by Baun Performance, LLC (top). Much to my surprise, that exhaust gave me a little more pull up top. I tested Baun’s new “stealth” options in 2022 and quickly chose his “Stealth Suitcase” (bottom). I had grown tired of louder exhausts and wanted the quietest option that still provided performance gains. Click this link to read about Baun’s exhaust options for the GTI. I also have a Baun Performance playlist on my YouTube channel. It covers four of his exhaust options.
In 2021, I upgraded to an IS38 turbocharger and APR’s Stage 3 program. Coincidentally, two cross-country road trips compelled me to switch to a program that supports 91 AKI fuel. APR advertises its 91 AKI IS38 file to produce 395 hp and 371 lb-ft. This dynograph composite shows the difference between Stage 2 and Stage 3 at the wheels while running on 91 AKI fuel. Combined with my 3-inch exhaust, I’m very likely just beyond the 400-hp mark (360 whp). The car is very eager to get me into trouble by quickly propelling me to Virginia’s “automatic-reckless-ticket” speed of 85 mph, which comes VERY quickly during a spirited pass on a two-lane highway, even with a trailer in tow!
Naturally, the endurance of my stock clutch concerned me since I had added over 100 lb-ft to the mix. Plenty of towing putting it through its paces, too. I upgraded to an RSR Clutch Kit by HS Tuning at around 34,000 miles. The RSR clutch uses a factory dual-mass flywheel and will hold 380 lb-ft, which is 100 lb-ft less than what was advertised when I bought it. My RSR clutch has over 140,000 miles and slips from time to time. My next clutch will be South Bend’s Stage 2 Endurance clutch. I think my driving style will remain relatively unchanged, except for a few on-ramp blasts and the occasional authoritative pass. 😉 If I’m wrong, then I may need some bail money and a good attorney!
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Next, learn about the electronics upgrades that I’ve done…