VAG 1.6 TDI Best Mods

"A look at the best mods and upgrades for the VW group 1.6 TDi"

This article discusses the best VAG 1.6 TDI engine mods from easy to more expensive and complex upgrades.

The aim is to tune your 1.6TDi and boost your vehicle's performance and thankfully there are some nice easy gains to be had on the 1.6 TDi modified to perfection.

Check our other article if you are interested in the 1.6 TDi weakspot and problems.

So why did the VW Audi Group release the 1.6 TDi?

They tried to produce a relatively tiny diesel efficient engine that could fit in the smaller body car and came up with the 1.6 TDI.

It has a fantastic fan base but there isn't actually that much accurate knowledge out there when it comes to tweaking and modifying them.

In this article and accompanying video, we'll look at the greatest modifications and upgrades you can do to your 1.6 TDI, and we'll basically analyze the merits, pros, and disadvantages of each of these mods to ensure you get the most out of your car tuning project.

We also discuss the common problems encountered by vehicles equipped with this engine. So, let's get started.

The 1.6 TDI Engine typically came with around 110 horsepower with 180 lb-ft torque and it seems like the maximum ceiling limit for the 1.6 TDI engine on stock internals is around about the 220 to 250 horsepower region.

As most of the cars they were fitted to was front-wheel drive you're going to struggle with traction issues if you take the power beyond those levels. I personally think 200 is a sensible upper Target for people that want a fairly aggressive project and most people actually settle and be quite happy with power figures of about 150 160 horsepower on their 1.6 TDI.

Please watch our video which covers the main 1.6 TDi mods and tuning upgrades. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe. This video goes into more detail on the issues mentioned in this article.

Mods For The 1.6 TDI

To improve performance and efficiency, several modifications can be made to the VAG 1.6 TDI engines.

Some popular choices are:

Air Filter Upgrades

A performance air filter is less restrictive in nature and thus it allows the engine to get more air. This enhances the engine’s ability to deliver more power.

An induction kit is one of the most common modifications that people perform to their cars, and it's not necessarily popular because it adds a lot of power; it's just a fairly simple mod to do; simply remove the air filter and replace it with the induction kit.

Now consider the following points: To begin with, it doesn't add much power to the typical stock diesel engine; you're just looking to remove a limitation in the intake with an induction kit. If you've created far more power than the factory-designed intake system can handle, you may now be facing a limitation. You'll be effectively down on your potential power, and a well designed induction kit can fully realize that for you.

Air filters from the following renowned brands can be fitted in the vehicles with VAG 1.6 TDI engines:

  • K&N;
  • Racing Power Company;
  • GrimmSpeed.

Cold Air Intakes

A cold air intake can help increase the amount of cool air reaching the engine, which can improve the power and overall running of the engine.

Some examples of cold air intakes for the VAG 1.6 TDI engines include:

  • K&N 69-9756TFK Performance Air Intake System;
  • RTMG Performance Cold Air Intake System.

Always combine your induction system with a cold air fee drawing fresh air from the outside of the engine if it's located in the engine bay and sucking all that wall engine bay air into the intake.

It is normally pretty simple to quote some quite work simply to vent a little bit of fresh air, but be cautious where you cite since you don't want to be sucking water up off the road into the engine because it can cause a slew of issues.

Intercooler Upgrades

The intercooler is a vital component because when the turbocharger compresses the air, it adds a lot of heat to it, and as we all know, hot air contains less oxygen, and you need that oxygen matched to the diesel fuel in order for it to burn inside the 1.6 TDi.

By using an intercooler, the temperature of the air entering the engine can be reduced.

Cold dense air is more oxygen-rich and thus an intercooler can improve an engine’s ability to deliver higher performance for a longer period.

You're making the car more resistant to heatsoak with the intercooler improvement. Heat soak occurs when the intercooler itself heats up to the point that it becomes less effective at lowering intake temperatures.

Many customers are still hunting inside the Volkswagen Audi group parts bin for components. Those fitted on the somewhat bigger 2.0 TDI, are good options in many cases, and they are reasonably straightforward to adapt to fit most models with the 1.6 TDi engine.

Here is a good intercooler upgrade option for your vehicle with the VAG 1.6 TDI engine:

  • WAGNER TUNING Comp. Gen.2 Intercooler Kit.

don't think about intercoolers as adding power but as something that will enable you to hit the power figures that your engine is capable of producing for longer periods of time resisting the heatsoak.

Exhaust System Upgrades

A high-quality aftermarket exhaust system can help reduce back pressure and enhance the engine's ability to breathe.

Ensure that your exhaust allows those exhaust gases to depart the engine as cleanly as possible, and that the higher the velocity, the greater the Scavenging effect.

It will assist in emptying the cylinders and creating a partial vacuum in the cylinder. An exhaust system will simply eliminate a limitation, which most people will not have on a typical engine.

If you simply add a sports exhaust from a regular 1.6 TDI, you will notice very little extra power on the dyno and may even notice a little less low end power simply because the velocity of the exhaust gases is somewhat lower than it would be at those lower RPM levels, but it's not a big deal.

This can lead to better performance and a sportier exhaust note (although this is debatable on the 1.6 TDi).

Here are a few examples of exhaust system upgrades for your vehicle with the 1.6 TDI engine:

  • Darkside Developments Custom Exhaust Systems;
  • aFe® - Mach Force XP™ 304 SS Exhaust Muffler;
  • Borla® - Stainless Steel Round Gray Exhaust Muffler.

Headers and pre turbo exhaust designs can improve the spool up of your turbo, and catalysts and Dpf are areas to focus on with performance alternatives if legal in your area.

Software Remapping

Software Remapping is done to improve the performance of the engine. The vehicle’s ECU is reprogrammed during the process.

This may entail increasing the engine's boost pressure, changing the fuel and timing maps, and disabling the speed limiter.

A tune/remap is where you take the engine's control unit the ECU and you change the program in it.

This program is controlling the fuel delivery and the timing of that and it's also controlling the turbo and the way the air gets into the engine in some cases controlling the turbo wastegate and variable vane postions.

The ECU is making a lot of calculations based on the load, the conditions you're driving in the air temperature the intake temperature.

VAG group have focussed on creating a performance profile which is set this up to work in a variety of climates on a variety of different grades of fuel.

By getting the ECU changed during tuning you can set your 1.6 TDI to maximize it's performance.

I really do recommend, if you can, get your 1.6 TDI set up on a Rolling Road.

That way they can take into account all the other mods you've done and the exact nuances and idiosyncrasies of your specific engine and specific setup.

What sort of gains can you expect from a tune/remap on your 1.6 TDI?

Most companies have got a couple of options one is an economy map that is optimized to improve the fuel efficiency of the engine and you will still see about 25 to 30 horsepower more power on the economy map.

That will make a significant difference to the engine's performance and in most cases you will get better fuel economy and it won't adversely affect the engine's reliability.

I would still recommend with any kind of tuning project you shorten the service intervals.

Make sure you're looking after that engine which is working harder than it would have done when the factory first designed it and set up the service schedule for it.

Make sure you use good quality oils and good quality components in that service.

Another option is the out and out performance map in which you can increase the power in the order of 30hp up to about 50hp.

Software engine tuning/remapping is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to improve the engine's power and efficiency.

For the 1.6 TDI engine, OBD II Tuning provides a software tune/remap and most mappers will offer customers two choices which are:

  • Economy that gives a power increment of 30 bhp and torque is increased by 31 lb-ft;
  • Stage 1 raises the engine’s power by 50 bhp and the torque by 54 lb-ft.

Injector Upgrades

The stock injectors on the VAG 1.6 TDI engine vehicle are capable of flowing enough fuel required till 200 bhp.

To get more diesel fuel into the engine and create a more efficient burn, and the stock fuel system on the 1.6 TDI is pretty good.

It can generally handle power figures up to about 200 horsepower and at that point it's going to start struggling to deliver the fuel that you need.

Bear in mind that some older 1.6 TDI engines may even start struggling below 200 horsepower.

Consider the efficiency of those injectors when planning your tuning job, and always select a fuel pump and injector system that exceeds the engine's requirements by around 20%, just to allow yourself some leeway.

However, if you are looking for power figures beyond that then there are several injector upgrade options available. Some popular options include:

Upgraded Stock Injectors

These are factory injectors that have been modified to flow more fuel and provide a noticeable increase in power and torque.

High-Performance Aftermarket Injectors

These injectors are designed to flow more fuel than the stock injectors and provide a significant increase in power and torque. They are generally more expensive than upgraded stock injectors.

Bosio Or Pierburg Nozzles

These nozzles are designed to increase the flow of fuel to the engine and provide a noticeable increase in power and torque. They are generally less expensive than aftermarket injectors and can be a good option for those on a budget.

If you are looking for a high-performance aftermarket upgrade for your VAG 1.6 TDI, the following is a good option:

  • Darkside Developments Custom Race +50% Common Rail CR Injectors for VW 1.6 TDI Engines - 03L 130 277 B / 03L 130 277 S

It's important to note that injector upgrades may require additional engine modifications and tuning to achieve optimal performance and reliability.

It's also best to use high-quality parts and have the work done by a reputable professional. the injectors are the critical component that creates the mist and allows an efficient burn of the diesel fuel.

The more effective they are at creating a mist of diesel fuel the more power you'll make the more efficient the engine will actually work.

You can now get upgrades to the standard Factory injectors which have basically just been remanufactured and redesigned to create more preferable flow characteristics.

Obviously manufacturers have pushed the car out at a price point and they're not going to use the highest quality components or the absolute top-notch performance designs.

Additionally, you'll need to match the injectors with the right chip-tuning and software to get the best results.

Turbo Upgrades For VAG 1.6 TDI engines

There are several turbo upgrade options for VAG group 1.6 TDI engines. Some popular options include:

  • 1.6 TDI Common Rail Garrett Turbo Upgrade;
  • 1.6 TDI Common Rail Borg-Warner / KKK Turbo Upgrade.

These upgrades are likely to take the power figure of your VAG 1.6 TDI up to the 170 bhp mark.

You can also choose to get a turbo kit installed in your vehicle like:

  • Darkside GTD1752VRK Ball Bearing Turbo Kit for 1.6 TDI Common Rail Engines

However, to install such a turbo kit, the EGR cooler must be removed, which demands the use of an EGR removal kit.

To achieve optimal performance and reliability, turbo upgrades may necessitate additional engine modifications and tuning.

While these modifications are simple to apply, they may require professional installation, particularly when it comes to software remapping.

It's also a good idea to use high-quality parts and hire a reputable professional to do the work.

To get the best results, you'll also need to match the hardware with the appropriate chip-tuning and software.

Additional Stress On Parts

It's worth noting that increasing an engine's power output can put additional stress on the engine and other components, as well as reduce the engine's reliability and lifespan if done incorrectly.

It's also important to understand that some mods can void the vehicle's warranty. Furthermore, it is critical to follow your country's laws regarding performance modifications.

Power Limit On The VAG 1.6 TDI Engines

The 1.6 TDI engines have a standard factory output of around 110 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque.

However, it is possible to increase the power output of these engines with performance upgrades.

A UK company called Darkside Developments has illustrated on its YouTube channel that the 1.6 TDI can’t handle power figures higher than 250 bhp. We have heard great things about them so be sure to check them out for parts and upgrades on your 1.6 TDi engine.

But we would love to hear your experiences with this engine and how far you've managed to push it, and what mods you've done in our comments section below.

Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

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2 Responses to “1.6 TDi Mods”

  1. Darko Mitic says:

    What about clutch? What kind of power is too much for stock clutch? I’m currently running cone intake, stage 1 and full custom exhaust. It makes about 150hp.

  2. yosef habeeb says:

    Recently bought a Skoda Octavia 1.6 and knew about some upgrades you could do to a vehicle but not what you can do t a 1.6 vag engine. and just from this page I have gained a lot of knowledge about these engines and has me considering these upgrades.
    thankyou Waynne for this good piece of information

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