The Mark 7 VW Golf GTI is the most potent GTI in years, this new generation marks a step forward in the evolution of the GTI and the latest iteration of the potent 2.0 TSI engine.
From the factory, it’s a good car, but it’s not really performing at its best. However, getting the full potential out of your GTI is a lot easier than you’d think with a few simple modifications.
In the next few paragraphs, we’ll be going over the best mods for VW Golf GTI Mk 7 in a way that both beginner and experienced enthusiast can understand. With every car there are nuances to making it its best, so we’ll be aiming for laying out a plan to build you a GTI that looks better, handles better, sounds better and goes faster.
So, let’s get started.
VMR V810 Wheels
A set of wheels is the easiest and most dramatic way to make a change in the appearance and performance of your car. Well, not a huge performance change, but certainly a noticeable one. A set of aftermarket wheels sexes up the look of your Golf and lets you express your personality.
A set of Forgestar F14 Wheels (seen above in Titanium) is a great way option. Forgestar Wheels are lightweight flow-formed alloy wheels that are lighter than your stock wheels. Forgestar Wheels are built to order, meaning regardless of whatever you’ve done to your suspension or brakes, they’ll account for that to ensure you get the perfect fitment you’re after.
Another handsome and classically Euro wheel option is a set of HRE FF01 Flow Form Wheels for VW Golf GTI. HRE Flow Form wheels have all the style of HRE’s gorgeous forged wheels and also offer strength and light weight, but their flow form construction makes them much less expensive than forged, making this bit of Caviar-taste motorsports style available on a Golf’s budget.
Another handsome flow form option comes from VMR Wheels, VMR V810 Flow Form Wheels for VW Golf. Offering a motorsport inspired look, the V810 is probably the single most popular wheel on the market for the Mk 7 Golf GTI, and it’s easy to see why – it just “fits” the car, and being from VMR Wheels, it’s affordably priced as well.
You can google it for yourself or take our word for it – you will see more Mk 7’s on the V810 than any other wheel. Here’s a closer look at the V810 – the fitment is great.
If Flow Form is still a bit out of range, a great budget option is a set of VMR V710 Wheels for VW Golf / Audi – with classic euro styling and a strong split 7-spoke design, the V710 offers a lot of style for minimal scratch, and can be had in your choice of Matte Black, Gunmetal or Hyper Silver to suit your tastes and in both 18 and 19in fitments. Check out the Matte Black V710s on the Golf above, and the hyper silver V710s on the Golf below.
Even on the same color car, the wheels really tie together the accents. Notice how the car with matte black wheels blacked out the chrome trim to match, whereas the Hyper Silver finished car retains all of its chrome.
VMR V710FF Matte Graphite 19×8.5
VMR Wheels now also offers the V710 in flow form, the V710FF, available in Matte Graphite.
As we said, wheels make a huge difference in the appearance of your GTI.
If you want something a bit different, check out Avant Garde wheels line of highly customizable, stylish and surprisingly afforable wheels. The above GTI is rocking a set Avant Garde M510 wheels for VW Golf GTI in a 19×8.5 square fitment, finished in dolphin gray, which looks awesome on the car.
When it comes to lowering your Golf, there’s a few ways to do it. Springs, Coilovers or Airbags. Since the Mk7 is still fairly new to the market, the selection of Suspension for VW Golf GTI Mk7 is somewhat limited, but that’ll change as more time passes.
A set of Vogtland Sport Springs for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI is a great way to drop your Golf without ruining the supple ride that makes the Mk 7 GTI both refined and fun, and the Vogtland Springs won’t take away from that spirit at all.
The H&R Sport Springs for Mk 7 VW Golf R drops the car by 1in front and rear, eliminating the wheelgap while keeping the car streetable.
If you want control over how much you’re dropping your VW Golf GTI Mk 7 or want to get REALLY low, a set of coilovers like RS-R Coilovers for VW Golf GTI will do just that. A set of coilovers replaces both the shock and the spring and integrates them into one unit, with a threaded perch for the spring that can be adjusted to raise or lower the car. A set of coilovers takes the same amount of effort to install as a set of springs – and when you consider that when you lower a car, if you have shocks still meant to be used at the factory ride height, those shocks are going to wear out much more quickly, meaning you’re going to take everything apart again unless you get shock absorbers when you do the springs – making coilovers a more economical option than you’d think.
Coilovers, contrary to popular belief, won’t ruin your ride quality – on the other hand, many people find coilovers make the car ride better than it did stock. Let me give you a personal example – with our Fiesta ST, the OEM ride of the car failed the “girlfriend” test – it was harsh and overly bouncy, yet once we fitted it with a set of coilovers, the bounciness was gone, the ride was smooth and it passed the “girlfriend” test with flying colors. While your experience is going to vary depending on the setup, if you do it right, more than likely, you can replicate my results.
Some other common concerns with coilovers: No, you don’t necessarily need camber caster plates, and no, you don’t need to corner balance the car unless you’re serious about tracking, but setting up the coilovers to ride in a way that you’d like once and leaving it that way is generally what happens for most of us. They’re great for track use, sure, and they handle much better than stock, but they also allow you to control how much you’re dropping the car and enhancing the quality of its shock dampers.
If you want to REALLY get low, like, sit the bumper on the tarmac low, then you’ve gotta go air suspension – if you hope to have a driveable car anyways. An air suspension setup like Airrex Air Suspension for Volkswagen is pricey and complex, but gives you the ability to raise and lower your car on the fly, and get the car lower than possible any other way.
For the most up to date offerings, consult our Mod Experts- give us a call at 714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com to see what option is best for you.
#3 Look & Sound Better with an Exhaust
The factory GTI Mk 7 Exhaust is a bit tame – it’s rather quiet and features a plain looking dual tip exhaust configuration. An exhaust system for VW Golf GTI Mk 7 can really change the look of your car as well as the sound – just check out what an exhaust does for the Mk 7 above- it’s fitted with a Carbon Fiber Look Diffuser and Exhaust package from Remus Innovation, which, as a package with the VMR V710 wheels and a drop, really “makes” the car.
This Remus Cat-Back Exhaust for GTI Mk 7 includes a midpipe, quad carbon fiber trimmed tips and a sexy new rear diffuser to accommodate those quad tips, though we see the Remus Axle-Back Quad Exhaust for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI version here.
Replacing the OEM dual tip exhaust with a Remus Axle-Back Quad Exhaust for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI, seen here with the factory system, gives the GTI a whole new look and sound.The Remus Exhaust is lighter than the factory system and the quad tip configuration looks awesome.
But with quad tips, you need a diffuser for quad tips to match – fortunately this kit comes complete with a new diffuser as well!The Remus Exhaust for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI is by no means all that’s out for the Mk 7 VW Golf, as they also offer systems for the Mk 7 VW Golf R as well.
The best exhaust system for you is going to vary based on your personal tastes, but Remus systems deliver a refined and distinctly german tone.
Another great high quality exhaust option for the Mk7 GTI is offered by AWE Tuning. AWE is renowned for the quality of its systems and tests the sound of its systems for hundreds of hours to get precisely the harmonic qualities they want with a solid performance gain, making the AWE Tuning Cat-Back Exhaust for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI an excellent choice.
With an AWE Tuning turboback Exhaust system for Mk 7, your 2.0 TSI will make an additional 21 HP and 24 TQ – and in conjunction with that trick differential of the Mk 7, should make for a potent power increase you’ll feel on the butt dyno.
Available in Track or Touring configurations and as a catback or turbo back with a catted or catless downpipe and your choice of diamond black or chrome polished tips, you literally can tailor your system to get exactly the qualities you want. If you like it loud, get the Track version and go full racecar with a catless downpipe, or be stealthy with a Touring Edition and a Catted Downpipe, or keep it Cali-Legal with a Catback system in either sound level.
For VW Golf R models, check out the AWE Tuning Switchpath Exhaust for Golf R Mk 7. Featuring quad exhaust tips in your choice of black or silver, this system not only delivers a gain of +17hp / +23tq, but also can give you that racecar wail or a subdued burble for cruising on demand.
Whatever you choose, be sure to listen to sound clips so that you know what your system will sound like, rather than deciding on look and power gains or price alone. Remember, it’s you who has to live with the system so be sure you’ll like the sound you’re going to get.
AWE Tuning Switchpath Exhaust for Golf R Mk 7 with Diamond Black Tips
If you have questions, consult our Mod Experts at 714-582-3330, chat live at ModBargains.com or stop by in person and our experts can suggest some options that might be a good fit for you.
#4 Breathe Free With an INTAKE
A performance air intake will enhance the response and sound of your 2.0 TSI engine, and a carbon fiber airbox like the AWE Tuning S-Flo Carbon Fiber Intake for VW Golf GTI Mk 7 really spices up your engine bay.
A sealed airbox intake will yield consistent gains as the car can’t possibly ingest hotter air, but response is slightly dampened, but it makes for a very consistent performer – however the carbon fiber construction makes it kinda expensive (what do you expect of a intake made of CF?).
Injen offers a very responsive and potent intake – the Injen Intake for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI is good for a 13.1p and +17lb/ft torque gains AT THE WHEELS, and its open design means you’ll be able to hear your turbo spool and do its thing loud and clear.
These are just a few options for Intakes for Mk 7 VW Golf GTI- check out our full selection here.
#5 POWER UP YOUR PERFORMANCE
A. An Intercooler
The Front Mount Intercooler plays a critical role in the performance of your 2.0 TSI engine – it keeps the incoming air cool, making sure your GTI’s charge air temp stays cool and rich in o2, thereby making maximum power. The cooler the incoming air charge is, the denser it is, and the more dense the air is, the more oxygen-rich it is. The more oxygen-rich the air charge is, the better the fuel burns, resulting in optimal power output and a happy engine. On the other hand, if the intercooler gets overwhelmed (which can happen on 2.0 TSI models, unfortunately), the intercooler can’t keep up and will no longer cool the air at the same rate the air is coming in. What happens then is the motor gets fed a hot air charge, resulting in the motor feeling sluggish and gutless and running hot isn’t good for any engine.
We’ve discussed before exactly what it is that an intercooler does, but for the sake of keeping things short we’ll explain it again. An intercooler doesn’t make “extra” power, it keeps the air charge from getting hot, allowing your car to make its full HP potential consistently, pull after pull. Consistency is the name of the game. Generally speaking, the bigger the FMIC is, the better, but that has a few caveats.
Forge Motorsports Twincooler Front Mount Intercooler offers a huge reduction in intake air temps without causing a massive pressure drop and offers a straightforward install as well as superior performance.
Another great option is the Performance Front Mount Intercooler for Golf GTI 2.0 TSI from Wagner Tuning. One of the things we really like is that Wagner Tuning backs up each of its intercoolers with hard data (How German).
As we said before, these are only a few of the ways you can get more power out of your Golf GTI– you don’t necessarily need to use the brands specified as long as you’re installing the same type of upgrade, you can expect similar benefits to the parts we described. Power output is limited by your imagination and the size of your wallet. As the saying goes, “Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?”
B. A Diverter Valve / Blow Off Valve
Since the OEM VW diverter valves have a tendency to fail, and fail OFTEN, a diverter valve isn’t just a great idea for performance, but it’s a good idea simply for reliability. The Forge Motorsport Atmospheric Recirc Valve for VW/Audi 2.0 TSI engines is a favorite solution of our experts to solve the problem, ensuring your 2.0TSI is holding boost like it should.
C. A Downpipe: “Because Racecar”
The next big power part for any turbo car – Mk 7 GTI included – is a high flow downpipe. This is the part of the exhaust system immediately after the turbocharger, and in most factory systems there’s a bloated, restrictive catalytic converter – which wastes all sorts of horsepower and torque. Available in catted or catless, a high flow downpipe will yield in the neighborhood of 20whp/20wtq (about the average for a downpipe on a Turbocharged 4 banger of this displacement).
Soooo… What’s the catch? Well, there’s a few caveats to note here.
While a cat-back exhaust will never change the emissions status of a car or its warranty, a downpipe does put you into a different bracket and makes life a bit harder. First, if you live in California, you’re out of luck no downpipe on the market is CARB approved, meaning we can’t legally install them on a street-driven car. While we can still do it on a straight-up racecar that’s towed out, most shops in CA have to stay away from parts that alter the smog control systems themselves or risk big scary fines that can really hurt a small business. A catless downpipe will yield the most power, but will be louder and when idling at a stop, your exhaust is gonna smell like gas. Which is fine, as long as you don’t mind possibly tripping a check engine light for the O2 sensor and the smell of gas when your windows are down – we’d make a “Volkswagen Check Engine Light” joke here but when you’ve got a nearly new car, a check engine light isn’t as funny as it is on a 200k+ Mk III or something where you can just laugh and be like “DUB LYFE YO”.
A catted downpipe differs in that it incorporates a sports catalytic converter instead of the OEM one, for example, swapping an 800-cells-per-inch factory catalyst with a free-flowing 300-cells-per-inch catalyst will give you a major improvement in flow (and of course horsepower/torque) and a milder sound than a catless downpipe. You’re still not going to pass smog in California either way, but when you go catted, you won’t stink up the place driving around town. After all, it sucks to be out on a date or something in your car only to have your date sniff the air with disgust and ask, “is that smell coming from YOUR car?”.
For those reasons, personally, we tend to prefer a catted downpipe for a car that’s going to see street use. While you can’t technically do that in CA, the rest of the USA mostly doesn’t care if you have a downpipe, just CA and a couple other places so be sure to check your local regulations.
That wraps it up for the 5 Best Mods for the Mk 7 VW Golf GTI – we’ll be updating this piece as more parts hit the aftermarket, but this should give you a good idea of how to get started modding and what you can expect from the different types of mods on the market out there.
Give the Mod Experts 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