The MK6 GTI 2.0T engine with its 200 horsepower and 207 torque is no slouch from the factory. However, Volkswagen left a lot of untapped potential in the 2.0T. Many look to tunes and bolt-on mods to take their GTI to the next level. Towards the top of that list should be an MK6 GTI catless or high-flow catted downpipe. In this guide, we compare catless and catted DP’s, discuss pros and cons of each, and list a few solid options on the market.
MK6 GTI Upgraded Downpipe Performance
Catalytic converters (cats) in the stock MK6 downpipe help minimize emissions. The cats do a great job at that. However, they’re also highly restrictive which hurts power and performance. The pressure drop from pre to post-turbo is an important part of a turbos ability to spool and build boost. Therefore, reducing back-pressure in the downpipe allows the turbo to spool faster and build more boost. No exhaust is actually the best exhaust on a turbo engine, like the 2.0T MK6 GTI. That’s not too realistic for most of us. However, an upgraded downpipe is realistic and provides the most impressive gains out of the whole exhaust system.
MK6 GTI Catless vs Catted Downpipes
Reducing back-pressure is the name of the game when it comes to an upgraded downpipe. A catless DP is less restrictive compared to high-flow catted options. As such, MK6 catless downpipes provide better power, torque, and spool. They’re also generally cheaper since catalytic converters can be pricey. If you’re looking for a MK6 downpipe for ultimate power gains then catless is the way to go. However, catless downpipes do have a major con for some. The MK6 GTI is likely to fail emissions inspections with a catless DP.
This is where high-flow catted DP’s come into play. The bulky, restrictive OEM cat is removed in favor of a higher flowing cat. MK6 high-flow downpipes will also help reduce back-pressure as with the catless options. However, it will be to a lesser degree. Therefore, if you want some performance gains and emissions are a concern then this is a good option. Otherwise, stick with a catless downpipe if emissions are not a concern. This is especially true since MK6 DP’s with high-flow cats are typically more expensive than catless options.
MK6 GTI DP Upgrade Pros
- 10-20whp (5-10whp w/ catted)
- Similar torque gains
- Improved turbo spool
- Exhaust sounds
It’s important to note – some of the power gains from upgraded downpipes aren’t from just the downpipes alone. They’ll allow the MK6 GTI to run a little extra boost which is where the bulk of the gains come from. Horsepower gains with an MK6 catless downpipe come in around 10-20whp. The exact power gains partially depend on other mods and how aggressive the tune is. High-flow catted MK6 GTI DP’s will pick up about half of the power. Some of it depends on the cats in each downpipe. For example, 200 cell vs 400 cell cats. Also, turbo spool will be a little quicker compared to the stock downpipe.
MK6 Upgraded Downpipe Sounds
Lastly, you’ll notice slightly louder sounds with a Volkswagen MK6 catless or high-flow DP. We think it’s a great sound even with the rest of the exhaust remaining stock. The MK6 GTI will gain a louder, more aggressive exhaust note on cold starts and under heavy throttle. However, when cruising normally the catless or high-flow catted DP aren’t intrusive. It’s the best of both worlds, in our opinion. A more aggressive exhaust note when you want it, but OEM-like sounds when you want to relax and cruise.
Best MK6 GTI Downpipe Upgrades
Let’s move on to a few of the popular, quality VW GTI downpipes on the market. We list a couple catless and high-flow downpipe options. However, we should note – this is far from an exhaustive list. There are tons of great options for the MK6 GTI, but the below list are a few of our favorites.
1) ARM Motorsports 3″ GTI Catless Downpipe
We’ve written about ARM Motorsports products on our BMW blogs, too. ARM makes some great products with good pricing for the MK6 GTI. Their 3″ stainless steel catless downpipe is no exception. At $327 with good reviews it’s hard to go wrong with the MK6 GTI downpipe from ARM Motorsports.
They also offer a high-flow downpipe with a 200 cell cat. It comes it at $367, which is tough to beat for an MK6 catted DP. It’s on the higher-flowing side with a 200 cell cat, so power gains should be solid. There’s really nothing bad we have to say about either option. Great pricing, good performance, and pricing that’s tough to beat.
ARM GTI DP Price: $327 catless ($367 high-flow)
2) IE MK6 2.0T High-Flow Catted DP
Integrated Engineering has an excellent option for the VW MK6 GTI. Their 3″ downpipe uses a high-flowing 200 cell cat for performance gains. The IE downpipe is also made from stainless steel and offers excellent fitment. The only downside to this offering is the price compared to the above ARM offering.
The Integrated engineering DP comes in at $549.99. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over-priced as many MK6 catted downpipes can run $600+. Anyways, it’s a solid option for anyone looking for a high-flow catted downpipe who don’t mind spending a bit extra for the brand.
IE MK6 DP Price: $549.99
Buy Here: GTI 2.0T Integrated Engineering Downpipe
3) Raceland MK6 GTI Catless Downpipe (Discontinued in US, but available in UK)
We’re not too familiar with Raceland, but we couldn’t avoid listing this downpipe due to its excellent price. It’s a 3″ catless downpipe made from stainless steel as with the ARM option above. Pricing comes it at $179, which is pretty amazing.
Again, we don’t know much about Raceland. However, their Volkswagen MK6 GTI downpipe has great reviews and the price is tough to beat. Downpipes are also pretty simple. Proper fitment with quality stainless steel construction is about all you need. Otherwise, it can’t hurt to opt for a well-priced product.
Buy Here: GTI 2.0T Raceland Downpipe
Raceland DP Price: $179
MK6 GTI Downpipe Summary
Downpipe upgrades are a great mod for almost any turbo engine, and the GTI 2.0T is no exception. Removing the restrictive OEM cat allows for impressive power gains, quicker spool, and more aggressive exhaust notes. The goal is to reduce as much back-pressure as possible, so catless DP’s offer the best gains. However, high-flow catted options are a great compromise for those with strict emission requirements.
ARM Motorsports and Raceland offer quality 3″ stainless steel catless downpipes for a great price. It’s hard to go wrong with either option, but the Raceland sure is tempting at $179. On the other hand, ARM offers a catted option for $379. It’s tough to beat that price for high-flow downpipes as many run $600+. However, Intergrated Engineering high-flow DP’s are a great choice, too. There are lots of great options out there, and any downpipe upgrade is sure to boost your MK6 GTI to the next level.