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The Volkswagen MK6 GLI, or Jetta GLI, was first revealed in 2011, for the 2012 model year, and is still in production today. In its 7 years of production, the MK6 GLI featured two 2.0 TSI engines. The Gen 1 TSI engine (2012-2013.5 model years) put down 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. While the Gen 3 2.0 TSI (2013.5-2019 model years) engine put down 210 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The 2013 model year was a split engine year, meaning half of the GLI’s featured the Gen 1 2.0 TSI engine and the other half featured a Gen 3 2.0 TSI. Sometimes the A6 GLI can be referred to as the MK6 GLI and MK6.5 GLI. This is because the MK6 GLI received a facelift in 2016.
Ignition Coils & Spark Plugs
Before going into the best MK6 GLI mods, let’s cover the importance of fresh ignition components before modifying an engine for more power. Older or more used ignition components, like ignition coils and spark plugs, can dampen an engine’s performance prior to and after modding. OEM ignition coils and spark plugs are created mainly for stock engine performance, or 200-207hp in this case, not 275hp+. For any supporting, or bolt-on mods like an exhaust or an air intake, OEM spark plugs and ignition coils should be more than capable to sustain those power gains. If your vehicle’s ignition components have over 15,000 miles on them, we would advise replacing them before adding any mods to get the full effect. The last thing anyone wants to do is put mods on and not feel an immediate increase in power or experience cylinder misfires.
For any engine running above stock boost levels, we recommend running 1-step colder spark plugs. 1-step spark plugs burn cooler, preventing pre-detonation, misfires, or engine knocking, and keeping engine temps down.
Purchase Here: 1-Step Colder MK6 GLI Spark Plugs
How to Make An MK6 Jetta GLI Faster
- ECU Tune
- Cold Air Intake
- Turbo Outlet Pipe
- Turboback Exhaust
We will specify for the parts listed below for which engine they are for, the Gen1 & Gen3, MK6 GLI. It is worth mentioning that the companies and products listed below are our favorites on the market. But, we highly advise doing more research to ensure you are getting products that meet your vehicle needs and wants.
1. Volkswagen MK6 Jetta GLI ECU Tune
Whenever it comes to modding an engine, tunes should always be the first modification performed. They provide a great foundation to build other supporting mods on top of. Also, they provide the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to dollars spent and power created. The OEM ECU tune is designed for efficiency and reliability, not for max performance. Therefore, an aftermarket ECU tune can not only make an engine run more efficiently but also produce much more power safely. Other benefits that can be seen when adding an aftermarket tune are:
- Increased engine performance and efficiency
- Provides a cleaner engine burn
- Engine or driver customization
- Easy to install, for the most part
Now onto our recommendation. When it comes to our favorite aftermarket tuner on the market, we like the Burger Motorsports JB4 piggyback tuner.
The BMS JB4 tune is proven to be consistent, safe, and reliable. It’s a great tuning option for the stock turbo MK6 Jetta 2.0 TSI engines. It features plug-and-play installation, which makes it a breeze to set up. There are also multiple maps to choose from on the fly (flash tunes take time to load and the engine cannot be on). Other benefits include advanced safety features, superior boost control, and the ability to read and delete fault codes. Surprisingly, it offers E85 compatible maps, water/methanol integration, and data-logging. It’s offered by a very reputable aftermarket company for a fair price of $479.
If you’re interested in reading more about MK6 GLI tuning, we have an in-depth tuning guide for the MK6 Jetta GLI, MK6 GTI, and R.
2. VW MK6 Jetta GLI Cold Air Intake
A heavily debated topic, an aftermarket cold air intake or a high-performance drop-in filter. If you don’t have or plan on getting a tune, then sure, we understand getting a drop-in filter because of cost. However, when paired with a tune, an aftermarket cold air intake has many benefits and is well worth the extra bills. When a tune is put on an engine, more boost is typically produced. When more boost is produced, more air is needed to allow the engine to run reliably and efficiently. Therefore, most aftermarket intakes can bring in 25% or more air than the factory airbox. This may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up in the end.
Our recommended aftermarket cold air intake is ECS’ Luft-Technik Intake System.
Luft-Technik is ECS’ in-house aftermarket brand. This intake system has undergone rigorous tests and claims to add 16hp and 15 lb-ft of torque. This is far more than normal but goes to show what an upgraded intake can do when paired with a tune. It is worth noting that this intake system is not a direct fit with GLI’s that have an SAI (secondary air injection) system. If your Jetta has an SAI, this adapter kit is required.
3. Volkswagen MK6 Jetta GLI Turbo Outlet Pipe
The factory turbo outlet pipe, sometimes referred to as the Turbo discharge pipe or simply the TOP, is another bottleneck that restricts airflow from the turbo quite substantially. This pipe connects the turbo to the intercooler. Some enthusiasts go as far as calling the factory TOP the ‘pancake’ pipe. Like the cold air intake, an upgraded turbo outlet pipe increases airflow and supports increased boost levels. Surprisingly, when paired with a proper tune, it can add 10+ hp.
Our recommended turbo outlet pipe is Neuspeed’s Hi-Flo Turbo discharge conversion kit.
Neuspeed is an aftermarket company that has been around since 1975 and is highly rated amongst enthusiasts. This high-flow discharge pipe is designed for easy installation and power. If your engine is tuned, this one pipe could add 8-10hp. Not only does it add some decent power, it also produces less turbo lag and increases air flow.
4. VW MK6 Jetta GLI Upgraded Turboback Exhaust
When it comes to shopping for engine modifications for performance, exhausts aren’t the first things that come to mind. However, if you plan on going Stage 2, most tunes require an upgraded exhaust system. Catback exhausts don’t add much from a performance standpoint, but a turboback exhaust will. As it sounds, a catback exhaust is upgrading the exhaust from the catalytic converter back to the tips. However, a turboback exhaust is upgrading everything from the turbo back. So, the downpipe, axel pipe, and midpipe all get upgraded. Although more expensive, an upgraded turboback exhaust offers weight reduction, increased airflow due to increased piping diameter, and increases turbo spool.
Our recommended turboback exhaust is CTS Turbo’s 3″ Exhaust System.
CTS Turbo is also a company that has been around for a while that has a great reputation for producing exceptional products. This turboback exhaust is no exception. It offers a high-flow catalytic converter which will likely cause a CEL, but will provide a noticeable power increase. The whole system will offer a deeper more aggressive exhaust tone which will surely turn heads when you drive by.
5. Volkswagen MK6 Jetta GLI Intercooler
An often overlooked and underrated mod is an upgraded intercooler. Although it doesn’t provide much of a power increase, it allows for more consistent power and performance. Therefore, an upgraded intercooler is more of a reliability and efficiency mod. Being much larger than the OEM intercooler means there is more surface area to disperse the heat from the engine. When more power is added to an engine, more heat is produced. Then the horsepower killer, heat soak, becomes more of an issue. If you are serious about power gains and engine longevity, an aftermarket intercooler is worth every penny.
Another product from CTS Turbo that we have high confidence in. Put simply from CTS Turbo, “Keep charged air cool for consistent power.” This Front Mount Intercooler (FMIC) is a direct fit for the OEM intercooler, which means that it is a rather simple DIY. It has been rated to support power up to 600hp. Lastly, intercoolers can be quite pricey, which is why we like CTS Turbo, because it is priced well and works like a charm.
Conclusion – Volkswagen MK6 Jetta GLI Mods
The Volkswagen MK6 Jetta has a lot of aftermarket support, so we highly encourage you to do more research to ensure the parts fulfill what you are looking for in your vehicle. With the mods listed above, an MK6 Jetta GLI could be pushing anywhere from 265hp – 300hp depending on what tune map is used and octane level. That’s a huge jump from 207hp or 210hp. Now if you really want to get crazy and push 350+ hp, some MK6 GLI enthusiasts have been getting a bigger turbo. But this is when modding gets extremely pricey because many engine components need upgrades to support such power.
If you want to read up on more VW MK6 Jetta GLI content, here is “The 5 Most Common Volkswagen MK6 Jetta/MK6 GLI Problems”.