Golf GTI tuning

"The Definitive hot hatch"

Golf Tuning

The early GTi models were a dream, practically carving out their own niche.

They showed that VW were serious about doing a hot hatch.

Later models could only aspire to being a bit warm as market pressures forced VW to be "a bit sensible".

Thankfully there are plenty of tuning parts out there for the Mk2 to Mk4 GTI's to correct this.

The Mark 6 really addressed the complaints leveled at the earlier models and the suspension was extensively revised and improved and more power was added. The MkVII and the 2012 VIII models further build on this progress.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums



For most GTi's you should focus on handling and braking first. Take the brakes off the VR6 or R32 as this uses bigger disks and calipers and pads. Other options from TorqueCars members include fitting Porsche brakes but you might need larger wheels to house them. Always check your PCD and offset when increasing brake disk size.

We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 10-25mm (the GTi is already about 20mm lower than a standard Golf.). Coilovers work really well on the GTi. Be careful to select front suspension to match your cars weight or you risk ruining your new suspension components. Larger drops that 30mm will usually require arch work such as rolling to avoid rubbing especially if you have gone for larger wheels and will make the car hard to live with around town.

Air suspension can provide the dramatic slammed look that many GTi owners seek without compromising the cars ability to drive over speed bumps and on bad roads.

Turning our attention to the Golf Gti's engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end. e like the 1.8Turbo vag unit, this is quite easily tunable and can be pushed to around 350, but for most we'd recommend a 220 bhp limit. The 2.0 TFSi is also a  very good proposition for the tuner if you are game for some extensive head work, larger turbo and sports catalyst. Remaps can push power gains of around 30% on most Turbo engines!

For more power you could also fit bigger valves, gas flowing, increased compression and even go for a mild rebore if your block is strong enough to take it (stress test it first!) This depends on the engine you have, please check out our engine specific tuning guides for more tips on tuning these. 

1.8 Turbo tuning guide & 2.0 TFSi tuning guide.

With our tuning guide your Golf Gti can be a track day fun car and reliable daily run around.

Volkswagen Golf Gti Tuning modifications.

Peak power is all well and good but a drivable and fun car needs a wide power band and lots of low down torque. One of the best mechanical mods you can do on the GTi is to fit a fast road cam. Ignore the softer and more extreme competition cams as these will affect your GTi's reliability.

Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. Improve your cars response to the throttle with a Fuel pressure boost valve. To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Golf Gtis uprated injectors.

Engine conversions for the Golf Gti are many and various. In TorqueCars forums you will find examples of Golfs with the 1.8T conversion and we have even heard of Jap engines being put in the Golf. A VR6 conversion is also a popular modification for the early Golf Gti's, or drop in a modern turbo charged petrol engine for a large power gain.

We should also give a mention to the excellent GTtdi engined Golf. These are one of the most powerful PD engines from the VAG group at 150bhp and can be remapped to almost 200bhp and will still return high 50mpg! One of our members boast around 60mpg in his remapped GTtdi!

Volkswagen Golf GTi Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Our members recommend a washable panel air filter or carbon fiber airbox. Induction kits make a great noise but don't seem to do much for mid range power due to the hot under bonnet temperatures it will suck in. 

Get a full stainless steel  sports exhaust with custom headers and a sports catalyst as this will certainly help air flow through the engine. Please don't add a massive tailpipe, it is just wrong to do this on a GTi.

Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job, with a big valve conversion kit will really help to reach the potential of the engine. When you start tuning your Golf Gti you will find that the standard clutch starts to complain, especially if you go for an engine conversion, so get an uprated clutch.

Turbo engines (notably the 1.8T and even the 2.0T and 1.8 TFSi) are just begging to be remapped. You will see big power gains on most turbo engines with power gains in the order of 40% making a remap one of the most cost effective modifications.

Another option for the NASP Golf GTI are supercharger kits as these are generally easier to add than turbos. Run a modest boost setting for a noticeable and reliable power hike. Superchargers offer boost levels which are proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the compression ratio of the engine.

Volkswagen Golf GTi Wheel modifications.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. The downside to large alloy wheels on your Golf Gti is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance. For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

Mate some grippy low profile tyres, to your rims for best grip and performance. TorqueCars recommended tyres for the Golf GTi include Bridgestone Potenzas, Goodyear Eagle F1 and Pirelli P zero. See our forum for a discussion on types of tires.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Golf Gti options in more detail with our Golf Gti owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volkswagen tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

One Response to “GTI tuning & performance parts”

  1. Dean says:

    Very helpful. Will safe me time and money by not learning the hard way.

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