Announcing our latest project car: 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Tom
Update by Tom Suddard to the Volkswagen Golf GTI project car
Nov 16, 2022 | Volkswagen, VW, GTI, Golf, Mk. 7, Golf GTI

It’s no secret that the used car market is a mess right now, and we’ll admit that the past few years have affected our purchasing decisions just like they’ve affected everybody else’s. You may have noticed our retreat towards older cars, more-involved builds, and trailering to the track. What can we say, when the world doesn’t make sense, it’s tempting to shut the garage door and focus on our projects.

But not everyone has that luxury, including those who have to do it all with one car–maybe that car lives in an apartment parking lot, maybe they have a busy life without free time for a giant project, or maybe they just want the simplicity of driving the same car to work during the week and to the track during the weekend.

Is it still possible to have a fun, trackable daily driver without paying the average new car price of $48,000? We believe the answer is yes, because depreciation does still exist on dealer lots–you just have to know where to look. 

So here’s our hypothesis: We believe the Mk. 7 Volkswagen Golf GTI presents an unsurpassed value as both a used car and a trackable street car, and we believe the rumors about reliability are overblown. With excellent driving manners, plenty of power, and a great aftermarket, there’s no reason not to daily drive one. 

True or false? To test our hypothesis, we bought one: Say hello to our newest project car. $26,500 bought us this

Announcing our latest project car, a 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport with 19,000 miles and a DSG transmission. And like so many other buyers, we didn’t buy it from a traditional dealership: We bought it from Carvana. In future updates we’ll dive into the details of why we chose this car, what the buying process was like, and why we crossed so many others off our list.

What’s next? Track time, of course! We’ll be at our official test track, the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park, with the car first thing Friday morning. Yes, we’re going to take our new car on track less than 48 hours after purchase. Wish us luck!

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Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/16/22 6:35 p.m.

Go car go!  Er, dog...  No, I am not calling the car a dog.   

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/16/22 7:30 p.m.

One thing I've wondered about these cars is what you have to do to the DSG (if anything) when you increase the power. Traditional manuals get a new clutch, so what's the analogue here?

10001110101
10001110101 Reader
11/16/22 9:49 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

Nothing immediately required, although a trans tune will up the line pressure a bit for more holding power on the clutches as well as completely change the behavior for the better. I'll be following along as I'm ready to ditch my TDI for the same spec. 

rattfink81
rattfink81 Reader
11/16/22 9:51 p.m.

I'll be watching closely as I picked up a 17 Gti as a daily earlier this year. I have the 6 speed base S with the only mods being a cat back exhaust and a light weight flywheel and uprated clutch.

My future mod list is some lighter wheels, aftermarket shift linkage and if gas ever comes down a down pipe and tune.

Opti
Opti Dork
11/16/22 10:16 p.m.

I'll be following closely because I've always liked them but am too scared because I've just seen too many costly repairs with pretty much every iteration of the 2.0.

The handful of people I know with them have either had literally no problems or nothing but problems

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 UltraDork
11/16/22 11:23 p.m.

Wild. We bought our 2015 GTI manual SEL for 27k new. It has been a brilliant car. Only issue was the water pump failing (plastic and subject to a class action suit that I believe is finished). So much (carb legal) power available with a software tune. 

kevlarcorolla
kevlarcorolla Dork
11/17/22 8:59 a.m.

Our 2017 golf alltrack dsg has been reliable but did have the water pump and t-stat housing replaced under warranty.Also on its 3rd set of rotors in 75k miles,must be a euro car thing.

 Its stock except for a neuspeed piggyback tuner,if you want to donate the IS20 when you upgrade yours that would great. :)

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
11/17/22 9:07 a.m.

Liked my '19 R, responded really well to tune+downpipe+intercooler.  Got rid of it before I had any issues but the water pump and clutches (MT cars) are known to be weak spots.  Bigger issue on the MT cars is crank walk, which totally lunches the motor.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/17/22 9:07 a.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

In theory, that's why traditional manuals are bad. :) I had one expert tell me that this DSG will hold 550 hp with just a tune. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/17/22 9:09 a.m.
Teh E36 M3 said:

Wild. We bought our 2015 GTI manual SEL for 27k new. It has been a brilliant car. Only issue was the water pump failing (plastic and subject to a class action suit that I believe is finished). So much (carb legal) power available with a software tune. 

Yeah, prices are still insane. I was finding cars with 80,000 miles, parking lot dings, gross interiors and minor mechanical issues for $22,000ish, and even then they would sell within 1-2 days. 

rsaviciunas
rsaviciunas New Reader
11/17/22 3:22 p.m.

In reply to rattfink81 :

I own a 17 S. First get an Eibach larger rear sway bar. Just do it. You will smile. Second, track days tend to overheat the stock brakes eat pads and ruin disks. The S model comes with 312mm disks up front, smaller than what the higher trim models had that year. I removed the splash plates and got some genuine Audi air deflectors that zip tie to the lower control arms with a little Dremel tool trim here and there. Add rally pads from Ferodo (about the only real alternative) and you have a chance. Otherwise you can retrofit the larger VW parts (I believe there's an aftermarket kit to that effect out there) if you want to get spendy. I don't.  Besides I need to stay in autocross GS class.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
11/17/22 7:16 p.m.

Enjoy! I hope it treats you well. I'll be tuned in because of it doesn't cause you all a bunch of problems, I may want one. That or a GLI. 

rattfink81
rattfink81 Reader
11/17/22 7:42 p.m.

In reply to rsaviciunas :

thanks for the input. a bigger rear sway bar is on my list. I don't track or autocross but just did the front brakes at 40k cause the rotors were heavily groved and the pads were pretty low.

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Dork
11/17/22 10:03 p.m.

In reply to kevlarcorolla :

Same on our Alltrack as far as the water pump with 90k on it.  Original rotors and pads still on it.  Primarily an in town vehicle for my wife with a 20 mile round trip commute plus the occasional road trip.  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/18/22 6:09 a.m.

Headed to the track in a few minutes! More to come in next week's update, but apparently Carvana's certification doesn't certify brake fluid. 

kevlarcorolla
kevlarcorolla Dork
11/18/22 7:15 a.m.

In reply to Greg Voth :

We live in Rustville Ontario,rotors pit and chew pads up here.

 1st 2 sets were oem,just put jobbers on to see if they survive any better

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
11/18/22 8:38 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

Headed to the track in a few minutes! More to come in next week's update, but apparently Carvana's certification doesn't certify brake fluid. 

Honest question, what do you think is covered in that certification?  Its largely hands off, I can't imagine much is covered that isn't visual.

flatlander937
flatlander937 HalfDork
11/18/22 4:30 p.m.

 

I absolutely love my 19 GTI. Haven't made a "build" thread here but have been to VIR 3 weekends so far (with one more next month), and Summit on the Jefferson Circuit for Fastivus.

 

I've spent a lot of time logging and analyzing stuff before throwing parts at it and so far I've basically gathered that most of the stuff on Internet forums for these cars are full of crap advice.

 

Be careful of what IC you choose because some block airflow to the radiator a LOT.

 

There is a LOT of logic in the ECU/TCU(on DSG equipped cars). DQ250s have a torque limit that some ECU tuners will "get around" by under reporting torque to the TCU. This makes the micro slip protection kick in and it will feel just fine, until you're replacing all the clutches.

 

I think most aftermarket suspension kits for this car are absolute garbage. I have all the wheel rates and motion ratios etc already modeled. 
 

Stock Performance Pack springs and shocks with just front camber plates, a rear sway bar (I have a front to test out next year to see if that helps or hurts), and 9in wide wheels with 245 wide tires and an intercooler (I went DO88, would recommend APR though instead) and it's insanely good.

 

An engine oil cooler will be needed, though I believe 95% of this cars cooling problems come from poor airflow. A set of racelouvers in the stock hood MAY get done first to see if they help enough alone. The VW TCR cars run a STOCK radiator, no external DSG cooling, and lots of ducting. The DSG tune helps with trans heat due to less clutch slippage.

 

I'll be following this one closely.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/18/22 5:38 p.m.

First track day was a success! Learned some stuff, changed some stuff, learned some more stuff. So far I'm pretty convinced this project was a good idea.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
11/18/22 9:15 p.m.

Following: I really like these cars, and expect one will be in my future. 

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/19/22 12:38 p.m.

I nearly bought one of these to replace my focus ST in 2019.

the DSG works great, better in traffic than working a clutch.. and with the option diff.. fairly competitive autocross cars in street class... or they were back in 2019.. newer and better things... since surpassed.. but not by a ton.

Looking forward to following the project!

Loweguy5
Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/20/22 7:30 a.m.

VW quality is so much better in the last 6-8 years than in years previous and I believe they represent a real bargain in the market.

Looks to be a nice car!  I'm following to see what's next and how it did at the track.

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) Dork
11/20/22 8:51 a.m.

With a proper exhaust, that DSG shifting angrily makes sweet sweet sexxxy music. 

TR7 (Forum Supporter)
TR7 (Forum Supporter) Reader
11/22/22 2:42 p.m.

As a fellow '17 GTI owner, I am very excited about this. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/22/22 8:44 p.m.
Tom Suddard said:

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

In theory, that's why traditional manuals are bad. :) I had one expert tell me that this DSG will hold 550 hp with just a tune. 

That's a delightful upper limit. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/22/22 9:34 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

My jaw hit the floor so hard it threw a CEL on the nearest VW. laugh

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/23/22 10:31 a.m.
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/23/22 10:44 a.m.
kevlarcorolla said:

In reply to Greg Voth :

We live in Rustville Ontario,rotors pit and chew pads up here.

 1st 2 sets were oem,just put jobbers on to see if they survive any better

I had the same experience with my 1999.5 Golf. The thing just ate rotors in Ottawa. Never had the same experience with other cars.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/23/22 10:46 a.m.

From the new article... 

 Volkswagen says a sedan weighs just 48 pounds more than an equivalent coupe

Tom's first tech article: how to drop 48 lbs from a GTI with these awesome lightweight parts!  laugh

Serious question, though - will you be taking emissions compliance into account as you modify this car? It's a real thing for a lot of readers.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
11/23/22 2:33 p.m.

Fun fact about the "weak" clutch in the GTi/R's.  The stock clutch in my R held up to stage 2 power no sweat.  No slippage at all and was fine when I sold the car.  I'm sure it would've slipped eventually but that's any stock clutch holding 50% more power than it's meant to...

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/23/22 4:00 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

From the new article... 

 Volkswagen says a sedan weighs just 48 pounds more than an equivalent coupe

Tom's first tech article: how to drop 48 lbs from a GTI with these awesome lightweight parts!  laugh

Serious question, though - will you be taking emissions compliance into account as you modify this car? It's a real thing for a lot of readers.

Yes, absolutely. 

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