Performance Enhancements

Note: Hover your mouse over the “My GTI” link above to reveal a drop-down menu which lists write-ups for various changes to the car.

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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 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. 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.” 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.

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 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!

Tires are the bond between the driveline and the pavement. As a result, anything that improves traction will improve the car’s ability to apply all of its newfound power to the pavement. I’ve tried and like the Firestone Firehawk Indy 500. It’s an excellent tire for the money. I also like Michelin’s Pilot Sport All-Season 4. If you’re curious about the wheels, they are the factory Nogaro, which were standard on the 2013-2016 GTD in the UK and then the “Sport” trim in the US for 2017 only. I decided to powder coat mine is gun metal gray after seeing an example in the UK. See this video for more info about the Nogaro.

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Next, learn about the electronics upgrades that I’ve done…