Tech Tips: 2010-'14 VW GTI

By Ed Higginbotham
Mar 13, 2018 | Volkswagen | Posted in Buyer's Guides | From the Oct. 2015 issue | Never miss an article

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Meet Our Expert: ARIN AHNELL
4800 U.S. Highway 280 West
Opelika, AL 36801
(334) 502-5181

APR has been serving Volkswagen enthusiasts since 1997, but they don’t stop there. They provide high-quality aftermarket parts for Volkswagens, Audis and Porsches. Arin Ahnell from APR took some time to share a few tips for MK6 GTI owners:

When MK6 GTI owners decide to start modifying their cars, most start with the engine. The engine control unit, or ECU, is the first item on the list because it’s a very good dollarper- horsepower improvement.

APR’s ECU upgrade easily puts the GTI over 300 lb.-ft. of torque and 250 horsepower. That’s about 50 horsepower more than it had on the showroom floor.

From there, popular bolt-ons such as APR’s carbon-fiber intake system and APR cast downpipe exhaust system can be installed, effectively maxing out the power potential of the factory turbocharger system. To combat the heat generated by these modifications, the APR Intercooler System is the next logical step and is typically followed by one of APR’s K04 turbocharger or larger Stage III GTX turbocharger systems for power goals reaching beyond 400 horsepower.

To handle all of this extra power, APR recommends a good set of brakes and tires. We typically use APR by Brembo brakes for our on-track applications. They offer fantastic stopping power that simply does not fade, lap after lap. To help combat wheel spin, better tires are an absolute must. We recommend a set of Michelin Pilot Sports or something from the BFGoodrich g-Force lineup for both street and track use.

Upgrading the suspension is inevitable. However, we caution using cheap components or lowering the system too far to the ground, as it can negatively impact performance. Upgraded springs are typically the first modification and are very budget friendly. Front and rear antiroll bars, such as the APR Motorsport Swaybars, are the next logical step. If you want to seriously track your GTI, we recommend swapping in a full coil-over system from a performance- oriented manufacturer.

For DSG owners, APR’s TCU upgrade offers many improvements to make the dual-clutch transmission more fluid and enjoyable. The improvement is especially noticeable once power is substantially increased over the factory setup.

For manual owners, if the car is driven hard or higher power is in your sights, you may start to notice the factory shifter tends to be a little sloppy. Be on the lookout for an upgrade that suits your driving style and consider APR’s Shifter Cable Bracket.

If you’re just starting to modify your GTI, or just want the best bang for your buck, we recommend starting off with the aforementioned ECU upgrade.

Since the engine is turbocharged from the factory, typical components like diverter valve and PCV systems can leak over time. Thankfully, the OEM does a good job of updating these troublesome parts. As such, we typically use all-new revision OEM parts on our own vehicles. The same can be said about coil packs: The early revision parts tend to have issues and die over time. Upgrading them with the latest revision part seems to do the trick and keeps the car running healthy much longer.

We highly recommend preventive maintenance to keep the engine running strong. Before and after track days, we suggest an oil change. Likewise, we don’t suggest long oil change intervals and recommend 5000 miles or less with high-quality oils such as Motul’s Specific 505.01 oil. It’s simple things like oil changes that help keep this engine running strong.

When tracking a MK6 GTI, one must be cautious of high cornering loads and elevation changes, as the TSI engine can suffer from oil starvation. APR Motorsport’s team inspired our OPS, or Oil Protection System. It was a necessity in order to prevent oil starvation, and thus engine failure, while on the track under very demanding situations.

Don’t own a GTI, but want to get started on the right foot? While shopping for a car, we’d suggest checking over the vehicle’s history to make sure proper maintenance has been taken care of. A basic compression and leakdown test can help spot problems early, and a quick scan with a diagnostic tool can uncover any potential running issues stored within the ECU.

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