Mk7 Golf Upgrades Straight From the Parts Bin

Sponsored Article Presented by FCP Euro.

 

It’s the best car since the Mk2.”

Strong statement, but if anyone can authoritatively comment on the relative goodness of the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf, it’s Nate Vincent, FCP Euro’s Director of Motorsport.

Around the shop,” he continues, “we have so many techs and office people that have some MQB variant. There’s just so many flavors, and they’re all great.” 

The MQB he’s referring to is the chassis code shared by the Mk7 VW Golfs as well as nearly 50 other car models worldwide. 

And chassis code is sort of a misnomer as well, as MQB is less of a platform and more of a set of components. MQB, short for Modularer Querbaukasten, which is German for Modular Transversal Toolkit, is a mix-and-match combination of parts that can be easily reconfigured to produce everything from small subcompacts like the Audi TT to family-sized haulers like the Volkswagen Tiguan. 

The MQB arrived in 2012, signaling a philosophical shift for the Volkswagen Group. The company seemed to stray from its once-world-leader status to focus on mastering efficient, large-scale manufacturing. Creating a modular platform allowed it to streamline design and assembly processes at a production level. And on a consumer level, it resulted in some exceptional cars.

It’s easy to assume that this design approach involved serving too many masters and churning out generic, bland cars, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the MQB system produced some of the company’s most driver-centric cars in decades.

In my opinion, the Mk7 GTI with the Performance Package is probably the pinnacle of this platform,” Vincent continues. “Other variations may be faster or more luxurious, but that car just feels like more than the sum of its parts.”

The best part about the MQB’s modular design? All of those parts easily swap over to other MQB cars. 

You can take your base turbo Golf to a competent tuner and walk out with GTI power in a matter of hours,” Vincent explains. “And I mentioned before that a lot of folks around here have GTIs. Well, lots of them also swapped out the shocks and springs and sway bars and stuff. And those are pretty common mods. So there’s a lot of really, really good used parts out there to allow you to upgrade your MQB car with actual OEM stuff. So your base Golf or Jetta can become a GTI clone pretty quickly and inexpensively, and you know everything is factory-spec.”

Want to take things a step further? Look to the Golf R as a target for your GTI. “You can upgrade the turbo to an IS38 unit for under $1000, and that plus a tune will get you at Golf R power levels,” he explains. “But that gets into overkill for a front-wheel-drive chassis. Still, it’s doable and not out of reach costwise, even while using all OEM parts.”

Vincent also uses the GTI as a benchmark when it comes to chassis tuning via the mix-and-match approach. “There’s really no secrets,” he says. “I just keep coming back to the GTI because it’s such a great driver’s car. With a good set of brake pads and a little more relative rear roll stiffness, it’s a fantastic track car with a DSG or a manual. 

For the rear, it’s already got a great bar, so adding roll stiffness means you do need to go aftermarket if you want to go stiffer in the rear. Or, you can go the opposite way and take some roll stiffness out of the front by going to a base-model Golf front bar. Either way, it’s going to dial out some of that inherent understeer that all manufacturers build into their cars for a little wider safety margin.”

For brakes, Vincent beats the GTI drum again: “The GTI Performance Package brakes are the same as the Golf R brakes, so that’s pretty much as far as you can go using OEM bits. And they’re really, really good. With proper track pads, they’re an exceptional track braking system. Our house project GTI here at FCP uses stock Performance Package rotors with Ferodo DS2500 pads. Those are probably the best all-around streetable track pad, in my opinion.”

Since so many of Vincent’s upgrades involve GTI parts, we asked him to outfit his ideal GTI. “Well, the Performance Package gets you a limited-slip and the good brakes, so it’s got to be a Perf Package car,” he explains. “And the Performance Package also came on all the Rabbit Edition cars, which also got you access to some cool colors and some really interesting trim levels. Like, you could get a slick-top, no-sunroof car with cloth sport seats, but also with the LED lights from the more luxurious—and heavier—variants. So a Rabbit Edition is also a good find.” 

Once you’ve constructed your ultimate parts-bin MQB—or just gone out and bought a Mk7 GTI—Vincent offers some suggestions for track-ready alignment specs. “Alignment is going to be somewhat dependent on how many of the driving nannies you have turned on—and also camber,” he explains. “It’s tough to get enough negative camber in the front on these cars in stock trim. We really like the 034 Motorsports camber plates, and these allow you to dial in as much as you would ever need.

So, with driving aids on, you probably want to start with stock toe specs, which are just slightly toed in in the front and just slightly toed out in the rear. Also, at least a degree of negative camber all around, if you can get it, which can be tricky in the front without going to aftermarket parts.”

Indeed, the OEM values basically state zero toe—a tiny bit of front toe-in combined with a tiny bit of rear toe-out. How little? Just a fraction of a degree front and rear. 

Once you get comfortable there, you can start adjusting the front toe-out slightly based on how you like the steering response,” Vincent continues. “With the nannies off, though, you can be a bit more aggressive with the alignment. Again, you want the negative camber, but you can look at 1 to 2 millimeters of total toe-out in the front and start looking at a similar figure in the rear. 

I should add a disclaimer that as soon as you start running aggressive toe-out in the rear, the car is going to be a handful, but it’s going to be quick, so use your best judgment. We run up to 8mm of total toe-out in the rear of the TCR race cars. I wouldn’t recommend that for anything but a race car, but it makes things exciting.”

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Comments
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docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/19/20 8:22 a.m.

It's not even stuff mentioned in the article but other things like adding the Homelink rear view mirror that literally is a plug in play, then the Audi jack point kit is a plug n play, etc, etc.

TR7 (Forum Supporter)
TR7 (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/19/20 10:23 a.m.

This was the best upgrade/$ that I did to my MK7 (outside of tires). 

https://www.badgeskins.com/store/p213/VW_-_MK7%2F7.5_passenger_air_bag_light_badgeskin_overlay.html

ChrisTropea
ChrisTropea Associate Editor
5/20/20 8:57 a.m.

My Mk6 GTI might have to tun into a MK7 GTI with a DSG if I keep seeing this content and how easy it is to upgrade them. 

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
5/20/20 10:12 a.m.
ChrisTropea said:

My Mk6 GTI might have to tun into a MK7 GTI with a DSG if I keep seeing this content and how easy it is to upgrade them. 

Your mk6 is very much the same way, there are quite a few parts bin upgrades available. Golf R or Audi S3 intercoolers, Audi TT control arm bushings, Audi S3 aluminum knuckles, K04 turbos from higher end models, Golf R brakes, Passat aluminum control arms, and if you're just bored I know of people who've installed AWD systems in their GTIs.

The pre-MQB VW/Audi products were all super modular as well.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/20/20 11:16 a.m.

The base Macan 4 pot front brake calipers bolt right on too.  Use the Mk6 R 345mm rotors and get a new set of brake lines and you have a completely plug n play OEM+ big brake kit.

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
5/20/20 1:04 p.m.
docwyte said:

The base Macan 4 pot front brake calipers bolt right on too.  Use the Mk6 R 345mm rotors and get a new set of brake lines and you have a completely plug n play OEM+ big brake kit.

I hadn't heard that, sounds like a great option that'll get even better after a few more Macan's end up in scrap yards.  I do know that 986 Boxster front calipers work with the stock Mk6 rotors with a carrier adapter.  With almost the exact same internal fluid volume as the stock caliper too.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/20/20 4:36 p.m.

In reply to MrFancypants :

Brand new the Macan calipers are $240 each from Sunset Porsche.  At that point I'm not willing to deal with used parts that may need a rebuild, they're cheap enough to just buy them new.

MrFancypants
MrFancypants Reader
5/20/20 5:52 p.m.
docwyte said:

In reply to MrFancypants :

Brand new the Macan calipers are $240 each from Sunset Porsche.  At that point I'm not willing to deal with used parts that may need a rebuild, they're cheap enough to just buy them new.

I got to poking around after that last post and yeah, I'd just buy new. I just assumed that they'd be prohibitively expensive to purchase new because Porsche.

I'm trying to see if these will also fit the Mk6, I'm pretty sure they should, and if they do they're an option for GTIs as old as 2005, possibly older.

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