The 5 Best Performance Mods for Your MK6 GTI
The Volkswagen Golf MK6 GTI was introduced in 2009 and continued production through 2013. It houses a 2.0-liter TSI engine that puts out an impressive 207hp and 207lb-ft out of the box, but have you ever thought “How can I make my MK6 GTI faster?” Well good, now you’re here, where we are going to tell you just how to do this. The first thing you will find to make your MK6 faster is probably an upgraded turbo, but some of us don’t have $6k – $8k to spend! So, I created this guide to get the most out of your MK6 GTI, without having to spend $6k.
Ignition Coils & Spark Plugs
Before getting into the mods, let’s talk about ignition coils and spark plugs. We highly advise changing both your spark plugs and ignition coils to ensure you get the true sense of power out of your engine and mods. If there is one bad plug or coil, it will cause the engine to not run at optimal levels. When you spend money on mods, you expect to see a difference, so before ordering any of the mods below get some fresh plugs and coils.
How to Make Your MK6 GTI Faster
- Add an Intake
- Upgrade your Exhaust System
- Add an ECU Tune
- Add a Downpipe
- Upgrade your Intercooler
Now with all of these modifications, there are multiple brands of MK6 parts that we will get into.
1. Adding an Intake to Your VW MK6 GTI
An intake is a fairly inexpensive modification that reaps large benefits. It allows your engine to finally breathe properly. Cold air intakes allow cooler (denser) air to be brought into the engine, which in turn means more power. Given the CAI may not give you the most power benefits on its own, but once you start to introduce the modifications listed below, the benefits of a cold air intake add up. Like I said, there are MANY brands out there that make a cold air intake, but these are our favorites.
APR LLC makes a great combination of products for the Volkswagen MKVI GTI, one of those being the APR Stage 1 Cold Air Intake. Although it is on the pricey side of CAI’s, it adds an under the hood aesthetic that a lot of enthusiasts strive for. Not only does it look good, it sounds even better. Some compare the sound to Darth Vader, which in other words you will hear a profound “whoosh” noise. An intake combined with a loud BOV, is what turned me to a GTI in the first place. The perks of adding an APR intake to your MK6 GTI are increased outflow compared to the stock intake, sharpened throttle response, and less strain on your turbocharger. It is advisable to get the rear turbo inlet pipe to further increase the airflow to your engine.
Power Gains: +15hp
Dyno Results: https://www.goapr.com/products/intake_pq35.html#
Price: $354.99 – $604.98 + Shipping
K&N offers a great lower-cost alternative Cold Air Intake. K&N is very well known in the automotive industry for all types of air filters. One thing that makes this intake stand out is the proprietary air-box it uses to fuse to the fresh air ducting on the grill. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as the APR intake, the K&N Cold Air makes up for it in performance and sound. Compared to the APR cold air intake, the K&N pulls harder in lower gears, especially with a tune.
Power Gains: +10-12hp & +8-13lb-ft
Price: $374.99 + Shipping
2. Upgrade the Exhaust System on Your VW MK6 GTI
I think what people like most about upgrading their exhaust system is the sound they get from it. We love the sound upgrade, but they are also performance benefits to upgrading your exhaust. Aftermarket exhaust systems tend to produce more airflow due to the larger diameter in the piping, which in turn makes the air flow faster. When you have faster air flow, it will increase the high-end power of your vehicle’s engine. Like the cold air intake, an upgraded exhaust system helps the engine breathe easier which will produce a slight boost in performance gains. These options are on the pricier end but are the best sounding systems in our opinion.
APR LLC is back with their catback exhaust system. Like the cold air intake above, it is on the pricier side of the exhaust category for your MK6 GTI. The APR Catback in our opinion has the sleekest design for your GTI.
Power Gains: +3hp & +4lb-ft
Price: $999.99 + Shipping
NEUSPEED offers a comparable alternative to the APR catback exhaust system in performance. But what makes the NEUSPEED MK6 GTI exhaust system stand out is the manufactured quality. The fitment, quality, and design are second to none to all the exhaust companies out there for the GTI VI.
Power Gains: +3hp & +4lb-ft
Price: $934.96 + Shipping
3. Add an ECU Tune to Your VW MK6 GTI
This is where you will get the most bang for your buck when it comes to power. A tune can drastically change the way your car runs. Manufacturers normal install a “one-size-fits-all” engine that meets the ever-changing emissions standards. Often times these “one-size-fits-all” engines are not pushing your engines to the max, although it’s not a good idea to push your engine to the max, a tune allows the engine to produce more power, run more efficiently, and get better gas mileage.
APR 2.0 TSI / TFSI Gen 1 ECU Upgrade (Stage 1)
The APR tune is the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to MK6 GTI tunes. Now I know I have featured an APR product all the way through, but that is because with all of the products (Intake + Exhaust + Tune), you will get the most power out of it. Only reason I say this is because APR designed all their products in house and tested them together on the MK6 GTI. But as proven, the APR Stage 1 tune works well with any brand of intake + exhaust.
Power Gains w/ just APR tune: +67hp & +93ft-lt
Power Gains w/ APR Intake: +75hp & +95ft-lb
Dyno Results w/ just APR tune: https://www.goapr.com/includes/img/products/dyno/20_tsi_ea888_gen1/20_tsi_ea888_gen1_s0_vs_s1_91_cc.png
Dyno Results w/ intake: https://www.goapr.com/includes/img/products/dyno/20_tsi_ea888_gen1/20_tsi_ea888_gen1_s0_vs_s1_in_91_cc.png
Price: $599.99 + Shipping
COBB specializes in the “plug-and-play” functionality of their tunes, which is why we like this tune so much. Simply put, once this tune is installed, the AccessPort allows you to store different tuning maps to be used in specific driving conditions. Not only is it easy to use, but COBB offers FREE firmware updates + updated maps for your vehicle. Although it doesn’t provide the best power out of the box, the customization the AccessPort allows you to do is second to none in the tuning industry.
Power Gains w/ just COBB tune: +33hp & +37ft-lb
Dyno Results w/ just COBB tune: http://media.cobbtuning.com/catalog/dyno/dyno-vw-mk6.jpg
Learn more about MK6 GTI/R/GLI Tuners: https://vwtuning.co/vw-mk6-golf-gti-r-jetta-gli-tuning-guide/
Price: $700 + Shipping
4. Add a Downpipe to Your VW MK6 GTI
After installing a tune, a downpipe is the next modification you’ll want to invest in. An upgraded downpipe will improve exhaust flow from the exhaust side of the turbo, which in turn will produce more hp and torque by allowing the turbo to spool quicker/stronger. You’ll feel your car hitting boost sooner and pulling harder at higher RPMs. When looking at a downpipe, there are two options you can go with: catless vs high-flow catted. When looking for power gains, you’ll want to go with the catless version, but that comes with emission problems when it comes to your inspection.
ARM Motorsports offers a high quality full 3″ stainless steel downpipe at a reasonable price. Something that is good with ARM is they give you the option to purchase a catless or include a catalytic converter. Something to be careful when purchasing a catless is that your O2 sensor WILL go off and more than likely you will not pass your emissions test depending on where you live. So, if you don’t want to bother with welding your own catalytic converter, then the add on is worth it. You can expect a bump up to +20whp and +30wtq or higher depending on what tune you are running.
Price without Catalytic Converter: $327 + Shipping
Price with Catalytic Converter: $367 + Shipping
Raceland offers a cheaper, but comparable, 3″ stainless steel downpipe. Like the ARM downpipe above, the Raceland also directly fits on a stock catback exhaust, but only for CCTA engine. We don’t have exact figures for hp or tq increases, but we can assume they are around the same as ARM. One thing to note with the Raceland, is that it is catless with no option to add in a catalytic converter. So, if you are wanting to send it for a reasonably priced downpipe to get to Stage 2, we would recommend Raceland.
Price without Catalytic Converter: $179 + Shipping
Sound (Not the best picture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbYQmPCZGJM
Learn more about MK6 GTI Downpipes: https://vwtuning.co/vw-mk6-golf-gti-upgraded-downpipe-guide/
5. Upgrade your Intercooler on your VW MK6 GTI
Much like the intake, the intercooler brings in cooler (denser) air to your engine, which in turn means more power, but don’t hope to gain very much horsepower with just adding an aftermarket intercooler. The main reasons you would want an aftermarket intercooler is for cooling efficiency and preventing heat soak. What is heat soak? Essentially heat soak occurs when your engine gets hot enough that it overwhelms your cooling system. When this occurs, power tends to drop off substantially.
The APR intercooler is different than competing FMIC because of its Easy-Flow silicone hose design. In other words, some competitive intercoolers don’t have a smooth transition from one pipe to another in the housing, which causes restrictive airflow. But since APR engineered their intercooler specifically to connect to the factory charge pipes. It is definitely one of the most expensive option for FMIC, but it is proven to be the most efficient in the industry.
Intake Charge Temperature Curve
Price: $999 + Shipping
A very common cheaper alternative is the OEM S3 Intercooler. We will say, it definitely is not as efficient as the APR FMIC above, but it can get the job done. In fact, it improves your intercooler efficiency by about 30%. If you don’t have the money to pony up for the APR Front Mount Intercooler System, the OEM intercooler will suffice.
Price: $407.52 + Shipping
In our opinion, these are the 5 best performance mods for your Volkswagen MK6 GTI. With all of the above mods installed, you should be near a 300hp MK6 GTI, which makes this an all around gem for the price you will pay. Once you have the downpipe and intercooler installed, look into a Stage 2 tune to up the power a little more, you won’t be upset about it. Add a comment if you disagree or found this helpful!