10 Ways to Make Your GTI Faster

You just picked up a new Volkswagen GTI and while you like what Volkswagen gave you from the factory, you don’t love it.  Faster = Funner after all, and we understand that at Alex’s Autohaus better than  most.  So, here is a list of the top 10 ways to make your GTI Faster

The top 10 ways to make your GTI faster are:

1. ECU Tune
2. Exhaust
3. Fueling
4. Intake
5. Intercooler
6. Transmission Tune
7. Suspension
8. Brakes
9. Turbo Upgrade
10. Improve Your Driving Skills

ECU Tune


Tuning your ECU is by far one of the most popular upgrades out there.  It is going to remap your ECU with an emphasis on performance.  Volkswagen tuned your car with a lot of compromises due to conflicting goals of fuel economy, neglect from owners, emissions, etc.  Well, you are an enthusiast and you are going to put good fuel in your car and keep it maintained so we can tune it for maximum safe power.  We can do a flash tune from a provider like APR or we can get you on the dyno and perform a custom tune.  Bang for your buck this is one of the best power upgrades out there.


APR Downpipe

After an ECU tune upgraded exhaust is the next most popular upgrade.  The biggest power increase will come from upgrading the downpipe (exhaust pipe right after the turbo exhaust outlet).  This will free up your exhaust and restrictions on the back side of the turbo allowing your turbo to spin up faster and build power quicker.

APR Catback

You can also upgrade the cat-back exhaust.  However, this is generally done more for aesthetic reasons.  While there may be some power increases; they will be minimal.  However, an upgraded exhaust can personalize your car’s sound and look with the wide assortment of tips.


Fueling upgrades will generally depend on what generation of GTI you have and how far along the upgrade path you plan to go.  Older MKIV’s need injector’s almost immediately at higher power levels.  Newer MKVII’s generally don’t need anything until turbo upgrade in time.  The fuel upgrades you need will be application specific however you have upgraded injectors, high pressure fuel pumps, low pressure fuel pumps, fuel pressure regulators and so on.  Give us a call and we can point you in the right direction without you spending money on parts that are beyond what your goals are.


APR Intake

Upgraded intakes are another upgrade that do provide some benefit, but don’t expect earth shattering gains.  However, they do look great and really amplify the turbo noises if that is your thing.  An upgraded intake will allow more air into the engine when properly designed and that is our goal with power upgrades is to get more air in the engine to add more fuel to make a bigger boom so we get more power.


APR MQB Intercooler

Intercooler upgrades are a great thing to handle the excess heat.  If you remember your high school Physics class you will remember the combination law (Boyle’s and Charles Laws) which tells us that when air is compressed, say from a turbocharger, the pressure and temperature of the air increases, as the volume of the space containing air decreases when a gas is compressed it heats up and loses density.  What this really means to you is that by increasing boost pressure we are also increasing heat and getting higher intake air temperatures.  Your stock intercooler does its best, but if you are modifying your engine and are seeking optimum output you want a larger heat exchanger (also known as your intercooler) to keep those temperatures down so you have a nice cold and dense charge to add fuel to and make the bigger boom for more power.  The trick is to use an intercooler that is efficient and has a minimal pressure drop from inlet to outlet.  So, just don’t go out there and put the biggest thing you can find unless you don’t like making the most power.

Transmission Tune

With the introduction of the DSG transmission this is becoming a very popular upgrade.  You factory software has a shift strategy that is not built for performance, but built for all the compromises that a mass market needs, just like the ECU.  An upgraded transmission, or TCU, tune can help you go faster by improving shift speeds, having higher clutch pressure to handle more power, and give you quicker acceleration.  Your transmission has a lot of impact on your driving experience and having a software strategy programmed that is geared towards performance makes for a more exciting and sporting ride.

For the non-DSG cars a clutch upgrade is also very wise.  The power upgrades on your GTI can push the stock clutch past its limits and result in slipping.  We have a wide variety of options depending on the power level and use of the car.  We can help you navigate the array of options to make sure we have a clutch that matches up with your needs.


Big Brake Kit

Now you have added all that power but sill rolling around on stock brakes.  This may not be a good idea.  There are a lot of options from simple pad and rotor upgrades, to full big brake systems with larger calipers.  You will want to be careful in picking your upgrades as some pad/rotor combinations are not appropriate for the street due to their effective heat range, but there are some really great upgrades that will keep you safe and make you look good at the same time.  Remember, slow is fast so braking is important.  You want to be able to brake as quickly as possible so you can mash that right pedal as quickly as possible.


Suspension is another area that you can upgrade to make you faster.  Items such as coilovers, swaybars and mounts will help keep your car planted allowing you to corner and brake faster.  Just like brakes the upgrades you will want to consider are dependent on vehicle use.  If this is a daily driver a lower ride height may not be for you.  The options for suspension can be overwhelming at times, but give us a call at the shop and we can walk through all of your options and what will work best for your driving style and habits.

Turbo Upgrades

Stage 3 EFR Turbo

The big daddy…turbo upgrades.  If you want big power, then a larger turbo is your friend.  In simplest terms a larger turbocharger will allow us to create larger charge of air for the engine.  If you go significantly larger internal upgrades will likely be necessary for longevity and reliability.  Another consideration is that a larger turbo will take longer to spool up so your power band will shift higher in the RPM range.  This may not matter for a track car, but can be less fun on the street.  Appropriate sizing can give us a good compromise between power and turbo lag.  However, if you want to go fast at any costs a big turbo build is your way to get there.

Improve Your Driving Skills

This one should really be first, but we are saving it for the last because it is really the most important and we want to leave that lasting impression.  Often we see guys at the track in 600+ horsepower cars getting schooled by old men in stock 200 horsepower cars.  This happens when the driver thinks that power is the only answer to going faster.  However, the cliché slow is fast exists for a reason.  A smooth consistent driver taking the right line and braking at the right points is key.  You can improve your skill cheaply by joining the SCCA and doing autocross in a parking lot.  There are also various driving schools and open track days to explore.  These off-road driving options will allow you to truly test you and your vehicles limits in a safe environment.

While this list has lots of goodies it is by no means comprehensive.  We would recommend that you give us a call and we can help you find the most efficient upgrade path.  Hopefully your budget and goals align, but we will do our best to get you the most for every dollar you spend with us.  We are enthusiasts and we know how a bad combination of upgrades can ruin the fun of a car.  We can help you avoid that and actually enjoy the finished project.  Call us at (801) 566-6115 and the team at Alex’s Autohaus would be delighted to talk about your project and all of the VW Repair and tuning services that we offer.

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