Power Enhancements

I bought a Mk7 GTI because it houses VW’s most potent North American four-cylinder engine (as of this writing in 2017 and aside from the Golf R). It starts with a reportedly under-rated 220 hp and 258 lb-ft. Dynamometer testing by tuners and enthusiasts indicates that the actual output is closer to 235 hp and 270 lb-ft, figures which rival that of tuned engines of earlier generations and already more than my bought-back Stage 2 Jetta TDI. A tune alone transforms the GTI into a different car. It’s quite amazing! APR was having a sale and my work schedule allowed me to visit a tuner during the week. I decided to take the plunge…

I had my eye on APR for a LONG time although I used other tuners for my TDIs. APR is the only company I considered seriously when it was time to amp-up a 2.0T. I was accustomed to being quite pleased with a 30-hp bump in power from my TDIs. APR’s basic “Stage 1” tune bumps the 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 can also be had with a little self-control… OKAY… A LOT of self-control!  😉

There was a time when an ECU had to be removed from the car to complete a tune (see photo). These days, most tuners flash the ECU through the OBD2 port. Watching the work is fairly anti-climatic. The only reason to open the hood is to connect a battery charger so that the ECU has optimal voltage during the long flash process. I snapped a few photos, but there’s really nothing that jumps out and says, “This is how my car was tuned.” That doesn’t make the results any less dramatic! Even with easy driving, I could feel an immediate difference in how the accelerator felt. I had forgotten about how much more responsive a car is after a tune. My first acceleration test was on a freeway entrance ramp. WOW! I did a few more pulls, thinking I wouldn’t drive more than ten-over the speed limit, only to quickly find myself at 80 mph. First gear is worthless because the tires just scald, even with traction control enabled. Second gear is a little better… the wheels still spin, but not as bad. Third gear is where jail time is had!  😉

Naturally, I was concerned about the longevity of my stock clutch since I’ve added 111 lb-ft to the mix. Mine lasted 15,000 miles with Stage 1 and plenty of towing putting it through its paces (34,000 miles total). I upgraded to an RSR clutch, by HS Tuning, which uses a factory dual-mass flywheel and will hold 480 lb-ft, a limit that I don’t ever expect to exceed. It feels about the same as a Southbend Stage 2 clutch, but is quiet as stock. My car still sounds like a sewing machine.  😉  I’ll pursue an APR Stage 2 upgrade now that the new clutch is broken-in.  🙂  I think my driving 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! Fuel efficiency testing is forthcoming.

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