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MK7 GTI Tuning Guide – Big Turbo, Coilovers & more

This MK7 GTI tuning guide highlights what parts are available, who makes them and tells you where you can get them. There are also links to videos for each part. This MK7 GTI tuning guide is focused on 5 main areas, suspension, turbo, engine, interior and exterior.


MK7 GTI Stock Setup

From the factory the MK7 GTI is very well sorted. With suspension and turbo especially and even remaps, it is very easy to end up with a car that performs worse and is unreliable. Choosing the right brands is important because VW did such a good job already.


MK7 GTI Big Turbo

There are off the shelf MK7 big turbo kits from the likes of Unitronic and IE.

Garrett have also started making big turbo kits for the MK7 in different stages. This is a stage 1 kit and this is a stage 2 kit.

Alternatively making a custom big turbo kit is always an option. ATP make turbo manifolds. You can find a (probably) optimum turbo size using our turbo size calculator.

Here are a few big turbo MK7 GTI videos


Downpipe

Lots of variety for the standard turbo position and outlet flange, with cat and without cat. Generally speaking the bigger the diameter the better, the less bends the better and the further away the cat the better (and the less cells the better).

Videos

The only exhaust mod you need (for stock turbo)?

Selection of MK7 GTI downpipe videos


Exhaust System

You can find a plethora of options, brands and prices on ebay. Available as cat back, turbo back, cat deleted, with sports cat, resonated and non resonated. If you are fitting a larger downpipe or different sized turbo, check with the manufacturer of the exhaust system to make sure the exhaust fits with your setup. As a rule exhaust systems are designed to be used with the factory exhaust or with components from the same exhaust manufacturer. Again, if in doubt, check with the seller/manufacturer of the exhaust for fitment.

Generally bigger is better with exhausts however the bigger we go the louder the exhaust tends to get. You can use the StrikeEngine exhaust size calculator to get an idea of the exhaust diameter you can get away with

Here is a selection of MK7 GTI exhaust videos


MK7 GTI ECU Tune/Remap

MK7 GTI stage 2 and stage 3 tunes are available from the usual players like Unitronic, Revo, IE, Cobb, 034, APR, EcuTek. Local tuners like MRC who work as agents of the big tuners will have the same/similar maps. Contact the names mentioned above directly and they should be able to point you in the direction of a local dealer.

Stage 3 MK7 GTI remap videos


MK7 GTI Turbo Muffler Delete

Used to be a rare part, now many companies have got in on the act. Allegedly the downside of turbo mufflers is flow restriction, deleting the turbo muffler is claimed to result in more flow and more power. Available from RacingLine, Revo, APR and more. You can find all these muffler deletes on ebay along with a host of other brands with a whole range of different prices.

Videos

MK7 GTI muffler delete install


Styling

From the factory these cars look great. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an avalanche of styling parts available. Here, are MK7 GTI front lips, rear diffusers & side skirts on ebay. Hard to argue with the range of prices and designs on ebay.

Front Lip install videos

Rear diffuser install videos

Side skirt install videos


Suspension

Like the styling, VW pretty much nailed the suspension from the factory. Good ride comfort and excellent body control even at the extreme. I would be wary of using cheap “performance” suspension parts, they have the potential to make the car worse not better.

Lowering Springs

Having said that, lowering springs from the big manufacturers will at the least improve the looks of the car while maintaining the ride comfort and not causing any issues with the vehicle systems. If you have been reading StrikeEngine for a while, you know our favourite manufacturer is H&R for MK7 GTI lowering springs (and for any car for that matter).

MK7 GTI lowering spring videos

Coilovers

For a road car I don’t think coilovers are necessary or better than a good set of sport dampers with springs but if you must there are plentry of companies making MK7 GTI coilovers.

MK7 GTI coilovers video selection


MK7 GTI Boost Gauge

Always a nice thing to have. Lets you know how your engine is performing specifically is the turbo working properly and can also be a good diagnostic for engine problems when the engine is under vacuum (but this is more for the analog needle type boost gauges). Of course there are hundreds of generic gauges out there but there are also gauges that integrate into the dashboard for an OEM+ look. You can find some of these gauges on ebay here.

There are plenty of MK7 GTI boost gauge videos


Cold Air Intake

And last but not least, MK7 GTI cold air intakes. Probably not massive power increases to be had here but there should be some improvement in response and at the very least the make the car sound faster.

All the usual brands will have a MK7 GTI cold air intake and well as brands you probably haven’t heard off. Personally I like to stick with the factory airbox if it is not a restriction because that way I get to keep the stock paper air filter which I think is probably the best for flow and filtration for the standard filter size.

Having said that if the standard air box is a restriction then we have no choice but to fit a cold air intake and in that case I want an intake with the best quality air filter. Apexi is the best filter I know of going from this air filter test. But I also think the heavy duty filters from AEM (grey colour) are also probably good.

This doesn’t mean you have to choose a cold air intake from these manufacturers solely because of the filter they use. You can always use a filter from a different manufacturer assuming they make a size that will fit on the end of the MK7 cold air intake you are using.

You can even use a stock type paper filter on a cold air intake (as long as the filter is not getting wet) and this, in my opinion would give the best of all worlds, OEM filtration with maximum flow. MANN Filter allows you to search for filters by size. The only downside of using stock type paper filters is they aren’t cleanable and need to be replaced. But they are usually much cheaper than the “washable” filters anyway so I don’t think this is a factor.

Yet another benefit of using OEM type filters is that you can use cheap Chinese cold air intakes because you will be throwing away the cheap “filter” that is supplied with the kit.

Some MK7 GTI cold air intake videos

MK7 GTI Tuning – Conclusion

No shortage of performance parts for MK7 GTI tuning. Because the level of performance is so high from the factory it’s important to choose reputable parts especially for ECU programming, turbo upgrades and suspension. For the parts that are not so important like front lips and diffusers the more important factor in my opinion is how they are installed on the car, is the mounting method secure and how much drilling/modifications do I have to make to the car. If I am looking to return the car to stock at some point I want there to be next to no evidence the parts were ever fitted.

Parts for the MK7 GTI are plentiful and can be found from the usual retailers out specialists.

Forums

As well as the information given by the manufacturers and the videos on this page, seek out forums like golfmk7, they can be a gold mine of experiences and knowledge from people far down the MK7 GTI tuning road.

Find performance parts on ebay




This page was last modified Mar 22, 2023 @ 8:44 pm

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