The Hot Hatch. A term that was born with the introduction of the original VW Golf GTI wayyy back in the day. The sporting heritage and spirit of the original is present in today’s VW Golf GTI Mk 6 – the outgoing Mk 6 GTI responds rather well to modifications, but given the complexity of “ze German Autoz”, it can feel a bit overwhelming for a newcomer to the car scene to figure out where to start.
In these next few paragraphs, we’ll go over some of the best mods for VW Golf GTI Mk 6 and explain in layman’s terms how you can make your GTI look better, corner harder, sound gnarlier and most importantly, make it faster.
DO YOU WANT TO KEEP ROLLIN ON GARBAGE CAN WHEELS?
Seriously. That’s really all we need to say. The factory wheels on the GTI are really close to the wheels on this garbage can. Fixing that however, is simple- and with a GTI, you have an incredibly wide assortment of different looks to choose from depending on your personal style – there’s trackday, euro tuner, flush/fitment and then there’s dub flush/fitment (the style of wheels you’d choose for that distinctly VW style is different than what you’d use on any other “stanced” car). Really, your only limit’s your imagination.
One of our favorite wheels for Mk 6 VW Golf GTI are from VMR Wheels. Inspired by Audi RS4 wheels, VMR V708 Wheels for VW Golf is a handsome option for virtually every color GTI and looks good on both 2-door and 5-door models.
Available in Gunmetal or Matte black, the V708 is a solid choice.
VMR Wheels V706 are also another unique option you’re not likely to see on too many other GTIs that somehow “just works” with the MK VI’s bodylines.
The above wheels were cast, however, so if you’re looking for a flow form wheel, check out VMR Wheels Flow Form V810, seen here in Hyper Silver on a Golf R. Affordably priced and lightweight, these are a great performance option that’s damn good looking too.
Avant Garde Wheels are another favorite of the VW community, offered in a variety of styles and levels of production to suit every taste and budget. One of the classics are Avant Garde M310s, seen here in Machine Gunmetal finish, which look outstanding.
Avant Garde M220 Machine Silver
One last option we’d like to mention that’s popular with VW are Klutch Wheels. The GTI above is rolling on a set of Klutch Wheels SLC1 for GTI – the classic mesh look and deep dish works as well today as it did when the mesh modular style wheel first appeared back in what, the 70s?
If you’re not into the mesh look, the Klutch SL14 Wheels for VW Golf GTI offer a more modern look but still have a beautiful polished stepped lip.
Of course, these are only a few suggestions- there are simply too many wheels for VW Golf GTI Mk6 to choose from to mention them all here. If you have questions, we invite you to seek the advice of our Mod Experts – give em a call at 714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com
#2 GET LOW WITH SPRINGS OR COILOVERS
After a set of aftermarket wheels, the next thing on the list should be lowering the car – hell, getting low is the national pastime of the Dubnation. However, if you want to lower your VW Golf GTI Mk 6 suspension, there’s a few things you should know before getting into it to both do it properly and be happy with your set up the first time.
When most people think about lowering a car, most of the time they’re thinking of Lowering Springs. There are some great options available, but the best one will be the one that’s the best match for your driving style.
If you’re looking for a lowering spring that will preserve your ride quality as much as possible while also improving the car’s handling with a drop, Vogtland Sport Springs for VW Golf GTI are a great choice for you. While not really well known stateside, Vogtland Suspension is TUV approved and has been making springs back in Europe since the 1910s. If you’re looking for something sort of in-the-middle in terms of ride quality and sportiness of its handling characteristics, Eibach Pro-Kit Lowering Springs are another great option.
And of course at the sportier end of the spectrum, there’s the old standby, H&R Sport Springs for VW Golf GTI. H&R tends to be the firmest and most responsive in terms of lowering springs, so if you want a sportier ride, H&Rs are for you. The VW Golf GTI above is fitted with an H&R Cup Kit, which includes H&R Shocks that are matched to go with the springs. This is the ideal way to install lowering springs, as leaving the OEM shocks in place is only putting off replacing the factory shock absorbers when they fail in another few thousand miles.
GTI MK 6 Lowered on Solo-Werks Coilovers for VW Golf Mk VI
When you factor in the cost of shock absorbers in your lowering spring purchase, coilovers become a more and more economically practical option.
A bit about coilovers. Contrary to the popular misconception, you don’t have to be going “track only” or slam the hell out of the car necessarily for coilovers to be a good choice for you. If you want to lower the car in a way that you have control over exactly how low or high it rides, and if you don’t like it, have the ability to change it, then coilovers are for you. A coilover combines the spring and shock into one unit, mounting the spring onto an adjustable perch on the shock. Turn the perch a few threads higher, up goes your ride height, and vice versa. Coilovers take exactly the same amount of time and effort to install as a set of lowering springs too. And with the great budget options on the market today, there’s never been a better time to get quality coilovers at reasonable prices.
We’ll start with the most budget-friendly option around for coilovers. As of press-time, a set of Solo-Werks Coilovers for VW Golf Mk VI will set you back just five benjamins. Don’t let the bargain basement pricetag fool you, these are the least expensive, good-quality coilovers you can buy. See, Solo-Werks was founded by two former engineers at a big name suspension manufacturer that were tired of all the bureaucracy and wanted to get back to their enthusiast roots. And so the two of them set out on their own to create a deliberately inexpensive, quality coilover for grassroots enthusiasts on a budget.
Solo-Werks coilovers are what you call Fixed damping, meaning the shock absorber’s stiffness isn’t adjustable, but the specs of each shock are specially matched to each platform they release coilovers for. If you wanna get low for as little money as possible, it’s pretty hard to do it for less than Solo-Werks – anything in this price range from some fly-by-night overseas is likely to be dodgy. Solo-Werks has managed to get their parts priced this low by giving you only what you need and nothing you don’t. There’s no fancy box or snazzy tool kit with case, no marketing crap.
Another great budget option is offered by Vogtland Suspension. Vogtland Coilovers for VW Golf GTI Mk 6, like their springs, are more comfort oriented. Like the Solo-Werks, they’re fixed damping, but the shocks have been spec’d out to keep your ride comfortable.If you’re okay with spending a bit more for a more well known name, check out ST Suspensions XA Coilovers for VW Golf GTI.
ST Coilovers for Mk 6 VW Golf GTI & R drops the car just the right amount to eliminate the wheelgap while still offering a responsive, compliant ride.
Here’s a set of ST Coilovers installed on a Mk VI VW Golf R.
Featuring optional adjustable rebound damping, ST Suspensions Coilovers for VW Golf GTI Mk 6 delivers the adjustable ride height you want and the ability to tailor the ride quality to your liking.
Here’s how the ST Suspension Coilover for Mk 6 Golf + GTI setup looks at the rear of the car.
Of course, if those don’t do it for you there’s always H&R Street Performance Coilovers for VW Golf GTI Mk 6 as well.
But if you want to get REALLY low and scrape pavement, then you need… AIR SUSPENSION. Check out Airrex Air Suspension for Volkswagen and speak to Modification Specialist Kevin who lives and breathes Air-Ride, or talk to Mod Experts Jurrian, Alan or our Co-Founder Ron about their Air suspension setups. Air Ride is the one and only thing that will let you SAFELY get this low and still have a driveable car.
Have more questions about suspension? Ask the experts. Give us a call at 714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com
#3 PIPE UP WITH AN EXHAUST
With most german cars, the factory exhaust system tends to be incredibly quiet – this doesn’t really suit the hot hatch character of the GTI, and so a performance exhaust system is a great way to liven up the sound, performance and appearance of your GTI. We offer a variety of VW Golf GTI Exhaust systems to suit your taste and budget.
This Remus Center-Exit Exhaust for VW Golf GTI MK VI is a perfect example of what we mean. This system delivers a deep, aggressive exhaust note and a sportier center-exit configuration with 84mm carbon-fiber trimmed tips for a clean performance look. An OEM manufacturer of exhaust parts for BMW and Audi, Remus Exhaust systems are engineered to last.
Another great exhaust system is offered by AWE Tuning. The AWE Tuning Catback Exhaust for VW Golf GTI MK VI is good for a tidy gain of 17hp and 12tq as well as the outstanding sound that AWE Tuning exhaust systems are known for.
Engineered for maximum power gains, the Billy Boat Exhaust for VW Golf GTI MK VI delivers a gain of 23hp and 24tq – to the wheels, and the exhaust tone has been harmonically tuned to 77db@ 4000 rpm for a comfortable drive with minimal drone.
Of course these are just a few of the exhausts for VW Golf GTI available. Not sure what’s best for you? Ask the Mod Experts! Call 714-582-3330.
A Cold Air Intake will wake up the performance of your 2.0 TFSI – there are several options available, like this Injen Cold Air Intake for 2010-14 VW Golf GTI 2.0 TFSI.
Not only does it look great, but it’s good for +4whp across the entire rev band and offers sharper throttle response and also allows you to better hear your turbocharger doing its thing.
If you’re looking for something more bespoke, check out the AWE Tuning Carbon Fiber Cold Cone Box for VW Golf GTI 2.0 TFSI which offers the additional benefit of a sealed airbox type cold air intake, eliminating the possibility of ingesting hot air from under the hood.
One of the more responsive intakes we’ve seen on the market for the GTI is the RevoTechnik RACE Intake for VW Golf GTI MK VI 2.0 TFSI models.
Designed and manufactured in europe, this race intake looks and sounds different than anything you’d get from other manufacturers.
In addition to the extra power, response will feel sharper and you’ll be able to hear your turbo more clearly. Any way you slice it, an intake upgrade will help your GTI perform and sound its best.
There are many VW Golf GTI Intakes on the market – check out our full selection online, and feel free to ask a Mod Expert if you have questions.
#5 Performance MODS
As with any turbocharged car, your VW 2.0 TFSI responds really well to a larger intercooler. An upgraded intercooler offers cooler charge temps, resulting in more consistent performance and the ability to run more aggressive air/fuel and timing, thereby creating much more power. An intercooler doesn’t make extra power itself, but rather, lets your engine consistently make its peak power, pull after pull by keeping the air charge temperatures consistently cool. The AWE Tuning S3 Front Mount Intercooler for VW Golf GTI (pictured above) is an ideal option, offering a major improvement in intercooler core volume and reduced pressure drop for better performance and improved aircharge cooling.
If you want an intercooler upgrade with perfect, like-factory OEM fitment but with superior cooling capacity, check out the Wagner Tuning Intercooler for VW/Audi 2.0 TFSI, which features 10% more frontal area and 50% more volume than the oem intercooler.
Those figures make for quite an effective heat exchange, as you can see in the chart above. If you live anywhere warm, a larger intercooler is going to be a key upgrade for your GTI’s performance – and its longevity.
The last performance item we want to mention…
Diverter Valve / Blow Off Valve
Since the OEM diverter valves have a tendency to fail, and fail OFTEN, a diverter valve isn’t just a great idea for the performance aspect, but also for reliability. The Forge Motorsport BOV/Diverter Valve for VW/Audi 2.0 TFSI engines is a favorite solution of our experts to solve the problem, ensuring your 2.0TFSI is holding boost like it should.
If Forge isn’t your thing, the Turbosmart Kompact VW Golf GTI Diverter Valve is another solid option to ensure you’re holding the boost you’re making.
These performance mods aren’t the be-all-end-all to performance, but rather some of the most important performance items to consider when building your own GTI.
That wraps it up for our rundown of the 5 best mods for VW Golf GTI – thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed the feature.
If you have questions about modifying any aspect of your VW Golf GTI Mk 6, we invite you to ask our team of Modification Experts. Each member of our team owns and modifies their own personal cars and have years of firsthand experience building modified cars – give them a call at 714-582-3330, chat live at ModBargains.com or just stop by the ModAuto showroom (which is also our install facility) in La Habra, CA on Lambert Rd at Harbor Blvd Monday thru Saturday, 8am – 5pm PST.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!
Story & All Original Photos by Nick Gregson
Select Photos Courtesy Manufacturers