Project GTI: The Game Changer
Taking It All In

It’s taken just two years, but Project GTI is almost exactly the car I always wanted it to be.

If you caught the last update, you’ll know that the car was just about to go under the knife at Regal Autosport, and would probably expect the work to have long been finished. Of course, you would be correct. Sitting down to write this, I’ve been back on the road with the car for around 10 days, having already completed some long distance and a variety of driving with the freshly installed Integrated Engineering parts.

2017 Project GTI Integrated Engineering Install Regal Autosport Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-1

However, I’m going to go back to where we left off previously and go through the whole build process. Before I travelled to Regal’s workshop in Southampton, England, we had already fitted the new Integrated Engineering cold air intake and breather plate. This left four considerable jobs still to be carried out: installation of the intake manifold, K04 turbocharger system, uprated front-mount intercooler and tuning.

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Before we got underway, Regal spent the time to check the car over to ensure they were working with a healthy example. Some baseline power readings were made on the previous setup so we could accurately assess what gains would ultimately be made. With its stage two software, the car put down 247bhp and 250lbs/ft on Regal’s Mustang dyno with 95RON fuel (US 91 octane equivalent, but more on that later). In my experience, Mustangs are very consistent dynos and exactly what we would need when the time came to tune the car. The most important part was that we were going to be comparing like for like on the same system.

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The first part of the process to be tackled after the health check was the intake manifold. The factory intake manifolds on the 2.0-litre TSI engines are renowned for being a little bit fragile; made of plastic, they’re known to crack, leak and the runner flap system inside them to completely fail. Plus, they’re ugly as hell, so there’s that.

With it removed, we – mostly Ben at Regal – were able to inspect the condition of the valves on the intake side of the engine. TSI engines are direct injection, so no fuel is sprayed over the valves during the combustion process unlike port injection. Instead, the fuel is sprayed directly into the cylinder.

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Because the factory PCV system mists unburnt fuel and oil vapours back into the intake manifold, it means that the valves can get covered in carbon deposits. We’ve removed this PCV system and is the main reason behind running the IE breather plate and catch can setup, which prevents this from happening. Still, there was around 40,000 miles worth of build-up from the previous owner.

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Luckily, they weren’t that badly coked up, but it made sense for them to be cleaned with the manifold off. Soaking them in petrol overnight made the job infinitely easier when Ben got in the next morning.

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So much so in fact, that he already had them cleaned by the time I arrived. The carbon deposits are drawn out of the valve chamber during this process.

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With the valves cleaned, he was already at the end of the process of transferring parts over from the old manifold to the new one. Because of the difference in the runners, the fuel rail mounting bracket needs to be trimmed for it to fit on the new intake. Integrated Engineering supply a diagram of this bracket, with a guide of where to trim and how much material to remove so there’s no guess work involved.

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For some reason, this part of the installation was the bit that worried me the most. I guess it’s just because you don’t (or at least I don’t) see the intake manifolds on these getting changed very often. Still, it was just another day in the office and the process was as smooth as you could hope for.

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The reinstallation of the new manifold was as expected – no issues with fitment or fouling lines and no modifications required (save for the fuel rail bracket detailed above); it was like installing a factory part.

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With everything put back together, Ben started the car and was able to ascertain that everything was fitted properly and running correctly. This is an important part of the process during a series of upgrades, as it makes troubleshooting much easier. With everything running as it should, the engine didn’t even throw a CEL; we were now able to move onto the next phase of the upgrade..

Would Sir Like Some Boost?

With the intake installed and operating correctly, focus moved to the other side of the engine. The Mk6 GTI is factory-equipped with an IHI K03 turbocharger, which is a small but efficient unit. However, we had reached the limit of what it could achieve (at least without sending it into the stratosphere).

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Red was in good company at Regal over the course of its week-long visit, which also happened to be the run-up to Players Classic. So it was a particular busy week for the team.

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The original turbocharger came out with little fuss, asides from two very tight exhaust-side bolts. With both units on the bench beside each other, it made it much easier to see the difference between the K03 and K04.

With the K03 on the left and K04 on the right, you should notice a difference, despite my apparent inability to photograph them at the same distance. What I can tell you is that the K04 is just that little bit bigger in the places that count, allowing it to move a considerable amount of air more than the K03.

Integrated Engineering also pre-machine the housing to accept the GTI’s diverter valve in the same location as the K03, so it doesn’t have to be relocated elsewhere in the engine bay.

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It’s not a very photogenic install, as so much happens out of sight, but the installation was once again perfectly straight forward. If I remember right, Ben did mention that there’s much more room to work around the Mk6 TSI bay versus the Mk5 TFSI. They are similar chassis and engines, but I guess the packaging has improved between the evolutions. A new exhaust manifold gasket was used during the process.

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Either way, everything was buttoned up and reconnected in a surprisingly short amount of time.

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We (read: Ben) then refilled the engine with fresh 5W40 Mobil Super 3000 (I’m keen to stick with 5W40 for a while, having recently changed from 5W30) and installed a new oil filter.

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Once more, the car was started – but not before being cranked a few times to move oil through the engine and into the upright filter – and run up to temperature whilst its vitals were monitored. Every connection was double checked to ensure no leaks, and once Ben was happy the car was shut down for the night.

Another good day’s work done.

Staying Cool In Southampton

The by-product of producing more power is heat, which is the biggest killer of engines. While I might live in a very mild climate, it seemed that Mother Nature was keen to remind us that it can, on occasion, get hot on our side of the world.

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With outside temperatures of 30°C/86°F, it felt somewhat appropriate that the last item to be tackled was the intercooler.

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While not particularly difficult, it is a comprehensive installation with the whole front of the car needing to be stripped. Even at this stage, with the bumpers and lights removed, you’re still only about half way there.

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Mounted between the air-conditioning condenser and the water radiator, the factory intercooler is usually recommended to be upgraded once going beyond stage two levels of performance.

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Again, it’s only really when you see the new and old side-by-side that you can appreciate the differences.

The Integrated Engineering intercooler was designed to use every inch of space allowed in the factory mounting position, without having to modify or trim anything. It’s a perfect fit. Despite this, you can see the extra overall thickness in the intercooler compared to the stock item, which allows for 54% more core volume than factory.

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Maybe the most dramatic difference is in the end-tanks, especially with consideration for the materials used and the size. The end-tanks play their own role in helping to dissipate heat, with alloy being more effective at cooling than plastic.

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There’s also a considerable size difference on the inlet and outlet side of the intercoolers.

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But the biggest difference is the IE FDS (Flow Distribution System) setup, which distributes charge air uniformly across the inlet side of the intercooler, in comparison with others which just rely on natural air flow. As a result, IE claim that their FDS increases heat dissipation by 65% versus other intercoolers.

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Installation being the opposite of removal, Ben set about piecing the car back together for the final time.

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It’s a shame that this is about as much you can see of the new intercooler when all is said and done.

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With the provided silicon hoses attached and tightened, it was almost the end of the hardware installation.

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Working directly with Integrated Engineering in Salt Lake City, Utah, IE advised us to fit the car with a new MAP sensor prior to them remote tuning the car. From several thousand miles away.

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With this final piece installed, it was finally time to see just how much of a difference there was. Happiness, nervousness and excitement were all at the fore of my emotions at this point. This was what I was waiting for.

Gains
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The thing about living in the future, is that you don’t really realise it until it surprises you from time to time. IE had shipped over their PowerLINK which would communicate with my car – in fact, it’s now locked to my car – and play a pivotal role in the tuning process.

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The OBD2 device allows the software to be quickly and easily uploaded to the car. Some weeks before, I provided IE with my ECU details, with which they set about creating a base map for my new setup on 95RON fuel. While UK enthusiasts can avail of up to 99RON at the pump, Irish drivers can only acquire 95RON. Basically, my choice at a service station is either 95 or diesel. Nothing else.

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This obviously puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to making peak power, as 95RON is approximately equivalent to 91 Octane in the United States. However, as the car would be tuned for 95RON from the get-go, it would ensure that I’m getting the most from it while still protecting the engine at the same time.

At the end of the day, this is still my daily driver and only car, so there’s no point in making 400whp if it only lasts a week. Reliability and drivability were going to be key to this tuning session.

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With the base file uploaded to the car from IE’s server, it was time to start. After warming the car up, Ben gently brought it through the rev range, closely monitoring every detail imaginable. Once he was happy that everything was in good order, the first power run was performed.

With that first distinctive pop-pop-pop of its new hard-cut rev limiter, I waited for the car to decelerate before the first power figures popped up on screen. 320bhp with 310lbs/ft on the very first run.

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It just so happened that the ambient temperature wasn’t conductive to huge power numbers, but even at that, I was already ecstatic. I now owned my first 300bhp+ car.

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Another run was performed for logging purposes, before the car was let cool down and both Ben and Chris Stewart (that’s Mr. Regal Autosport) examined the data in front of them. They made some notes, before sending them and the logs across to Integrated Engineering, who in turn sent back a revised file. The speed at which this happened was just incredible.

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With the car having cooled sufficiently, the new software was installed and the data gathering process began once again.

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Another pull was done, followed by another with the car delivering consistently the same results. Temperatures were steady, despite the ferocious ambient heat.

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This time, the numbers increased to 330bhp and 325lbs/ft. The really, really impressive part, however, is the shape of the new power curve in comparison to the previous state of tune. For reference, the dotted lines are before and the solid lines after, with red representing horsepower and blue representing torque. That’s a staggering difference in performance and a complete change in the driving characteristics of the car.

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The tuning continued with both Regal and IE working to develop the perfect map for the car, which would deliver power and reliability. In particular, Regal wanted to allow some overhead in the tuning should I ever pick up bad fuel. A margin of error if you will.

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I got the car back that night, just to put some easy miles on it and see if any issues arose, before returning to Regal the following morning for final data logging and fine tuning.

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The final day was a perfect reflection of my experience since arriving in Southampton at 5:00am that Tuesday morning. With the bulk of the work done, it was just a belts and braces kind of day as every upgrade was pored over once again, the data re-examined time and time again, and the last runs on the dyno performed before the car was fully released to me.

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At the end of the day, the car consistently delivered 321bhp and 312lbs/ft run after run after run, which is a result of +74bhp and +61lbs/ft. More so, there’s a completely different power curve, with the car making in excess of 300bhp from 5,250rpm all the way to its 7,000rpm rev limiter. At the bottom of the rev range, I’m making 250lbs/ft (which was my previous peak torque figure) from 3,000rpm. Where before, there was a good shove at the bottom, but it all fizzled out beyond 4,000rpm. I’m now carrying power all the way to the limiter.

Under normal daily driving circumstances, the car is still as docile as it always was. It’s efficient and refined, averaging 35mpg on a long run and is still the same, nice car that it always was. That hasn’t changed.

What has changed is when I decide to go a little harder on the loud pedal; the rate at which it gathers speed, coupled with the shifts from the DSG and supported with a proper soundtrack from the intake and exhaust, is breathtaking. I cannot believe it’s the same car. There’s virtually no turbo lag, and with the new power band it feels like a completely different car to drive. Previously, there was a hint of turbo-diesel to the car, a big rush at the bottom followed by the power band going off a cliff as the K03 ran out of puff. But no more.

Out of curiosity, I measured its performance – on a private road – from 60-100mph which took 5.9 seconds including a full tank of fuel, a full boot and a full back seat worth of luggage. Going by these figures, it puts it in some serious illustrious company. But at the end of the day, it is still just a Golf.

Just a rather quick one.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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85 comments

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1

Congratulations Paddy, your story has been epic. Thanks for the journey!

2

In the end how much did it all add up to have your car where it is now?

3

ive always found this a very personal question.
Its kind of like asking how long someones dong is...after only just meeting them.

4

About tree fiddy

5

and a six pack

6

Congrats Paddy. What a great package for a daily and thanks for the detailed documentation how to get there.
but what will be next : Recaro seats ? :)

btw: seems i´ve predicted at least your tourqe figure on point last post

7

Easily been my favorite journey on here, well done on the figures!

8

Gotta say, project GTI is one of the most enjoyable features on speedhunters, thnx Paddy:).

9

It's weird to think about someone tuning your car over the internet, from across the globe. It's also pretty cool to see you push your daily so far while still keeping it as pleasant as any normal car.

10

Thank you for this series. I am using it as an inspiration for my own build. Keep them coming.

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11

Quality Paddy as all ways. Truly setting the standard for how a car should be modified. Improved where and when it needs to be. I tip my hat to you sir.

What boost levels is it running at this power and how is it controlled?

Author12

It's running a peak of around 1.5 bar at the minute.

13

What a cracking read! I'm not a VW guy by any stretch but I've loved following this build. Reading this I found myself willing the car to beat 300bhp and it was weird how pleased I was to read the figures, felt like I was along for the ride. Get out and enjoy it lad!

14

"Just a Golf" - Your Golf is awesome, Paddy! What a transformation in the time you have it. Well done!

15

I've enjoyed this project from start to finish, great reading!

Enjoy it Paddy :)

16

Love the bassy engine note! <3

17

Congratulations, nice car! But its still a FWD. :)

18
Brooke Whiting

As opposed to other RWD hot hatches? Head - remove from a***

19

There's always the clio V6..

20

fwd will NOT be a drivers car, no matter how much money you pour into it. ANY rear driven car will be MUCH fun, even if its a 50hp crapmobile from the 80s. at least you can drop slim tires on that thing, and have some fun in the rain. but what do you do with fwd? go to the mall?

21
Rotary Nissan

fwd will NOT be a drivers car, no matter how much money you pour into it.



Ha HA HA HAAAA ha ha HAAAAA!!!

Oh stop, please! It hurts! I can't... heh heee he he hegh!

22

Your use of "mall" makes me think you may be an American. If so, it's hardly surprising you don't have a high opinion on FWD cars seeing as all the ones you get are, well, shit. Until fairly recently. Go to a Ford dealer, ask them to borrow a Fiesta ST. If you don't think that's a decent drive, you genuinely are as ignoarant as your post makes you sound.

23
Chris Colouryum

Talks about a drivers car... Then goes on to say that involves getting your arse out in the rain... Don't think you understand what the definition of a drivers car is!

24

Adam, have you not been around the car scene for very long? Have you ever been to track days or autocross races? There are plenty of FWD cars that show up that have been built and tuned to be "much fun".

And sorry, but "ANY rear driven car will be much fun" is incorrect. I had a 74 VW bus that I lowered 9 inches and had a 2200cc engine in it. It was RWD, and it was boring as f#ck.

I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but drifting isn't cool to everyone.

Author25

"Fwd will not be a drivers car"

The DC2 Type R, 205 GTI, Megane RS, Clio Trophy, Focus ST and countless others all say hello.

What a stupid, ignorant opinion.

26

Don't forget the 106 Rallye!

27

There is the BMW M140i if you want a red hatch, at least outside North America! Costs a good deal more than a GTi though!

Re the first photo, so you don't have much suspension travel Paddy?

Author28

I've quite a lot, just not much in the way of chassis flex either.

29

Love the build process step by step, shows what goes into a car build. Too many people think its a simple slap parts on in one day, make power. I love that you are showing everyone the proper tuning methods.

30

That's a lot of power to the front wheels, have you experienced any traction loss?

Author31

Yes, but my front tyres need to be changed at the moment, so I'll reserve judgement / won't make a plan until fresh rubber goes on. It still has plenty of forward momentum, though.

32

AD08R time?

Author33

I ran Kumho KU36s for a while before, they gave great traction but day to day, I found them difficult to live with.

I'll try run wider PS4s I think.

34
ThosePeskySkids

The appropriate size Bridgestone Potenzas are a very good tyre, wet and dry. Ran them on my Golf for years, very pleased. I'm on Kumhos too ATM, but only because I had to change 4 at once and there was a good saving, but will be going back to Bridgestone for the next set of fronts!
Recommend them - only downside is a slight increase in noise. But i doubt tyres are the loudest thing on your car ;)

35

Why are the measurements in BHP and not WHP? I can't imagine wanting to estimate flywheel when you can know for certain what it's making at the wheels. Is it just a misunderstanding of terminology that I'm wrong about, or are you genuinely trying to measure flywheel HP on a dyno that takes readings from the wheels?

Not a knock, just genuinely curious.

Author36

Regal's Mustang Dyno is equipped with specialised software from TAT, which quite accurately calculates drivetrain loss on the run down, which is why we use BHP.

37
Brooke Whiting

This car is great. Still not personally a fan of airbags, but it's not my car !

Author38

I still appreciate that, thank you

39

86degF is a great temperature, enjoy it. That's about how hot it is in the middle of spring here, and usually signals that summer is a month or two away. That's a rainy day temperature here in the summer. I just looked at the weather for the next week here; every day begins with a "9" and it's only June...

Author40

It usually begins with a 9 here, too. Just in Celsius. And no other digits.

41

I must say I'm kind of disappointed. 321 bhp is under 300whp. all those bolt ons and a tune, and that's it?! guess I'm too use to evo and sti whp.

Author42

It's pointless comparing numbers unless they're all on the same dyno. Also, peak numbers are only a small part of what makes a car quick.

43

"But at the end of the day, it is still just a Golf.
Just a rather quick one." - Paddy2017
;)
Haha congrats mate! It's beautiful when a plan comes to fruition as well as this looked.
Enjoy, drive safe.

44

What a great read. I've been looking forward to every update on this car since the beginning. Definitely one of my favourite cars at the moment.
It was nice to meet you, albeit briefly, at Players Classic the other day, and nice to finally see the car in the flesh too, and I have to say, it's a beaut.
A demonstration on how to do things right. A lovely car and a thoroughly nice bloke too. Well done Paddy.

Author45

Thanks, Kieran!

46
Chris Colouryum

What a tasteful build! Not surprised based on 3 series! You must be stoked. Think one of my favourite mods is still those front arches. So subtle but menacing!

Author47

Thanks, Chris. I'm a big fan of those too. Just need to make the most of them...

48

Awesome car Paddy!
Did you also had to tweak the DSG settings for this kind of power? Just curious :-)

Author49

We already had REVO Stage 2 DSG software installed, which has held up fine. Launch control is intense.

50

before its the golf and the suzy ship evo now plus the project nine ^ ^ if I can only have them all hahahah^ ^ really inspiring story paddy best GTI

51

Amazing! Cannot wait to see the future reports of you enjoying the car. :)

52
MPistol HVBullets

any plans to tune the DSG? something like the APR TCU upgrade?

Author53

It's already got REVO Stage 2 DSG software, which has been brilliant to date.

54

Congrats on the gains! Car is beautiful.

-Alex

Author55

Thanks, Alex

56

Great coverage! I'm currently APR stage 2 tuned on 93octane and when I dyno'd my car I was surprised at the numbers. 247hp/360ft-tq.. still on k03 turbo and OEM intercooler. I'm changing my tune to Cobb and hopefully running a e30 stratified tune along side with a K04 and ARM intercooler. I'd love to see what more you do to yours! Cheers!

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57

I have the stock turbo on my Focus ST (Mk3 USDM 2016). I haven't had it on the dyno since I got it, but ET's well (13.14) with very little done to the car. Based on 1/4 mile trap speed and weight = 286 hp, torque spike is likely near 400 lbs.

That is getting tossed very soon.

Author58
Paddy McGrath

That's a mountain of torque, and something I found with my stage two tune, too. There was heaps of boost at the bottom (which gives the torque) but it was boost surging too.

59
Frederik Anlauf

What a seriously nice car. It´s like the Golf 6 GTI Clubsport VW never build. Fast and reliable but with much more go then the R and a really good diff.

Author60
Paddy McGrath

That's where I took a lot of my inspiration from, as it happens. The 7GTI Clubsport is an amazing vehicle.

61

I'm going to say the same as many other people in that I was a never a vw fan. But after the articles and seeing the car once or twice in Mondello, I can honestly say, I think you may have changed my opinion. The car is immaculate Paddy and is an absolute credit to you. Every modification has been done perfectly and it seems like an awesome little car to drive. Thank you, as usual, for the deadly article.

Author62
Paddy McGrath

Cheers!

63

A great write up on an well executed and detailed build, enjoy it Paddy!

Author64
Paddy McGrath

Thank you. Every day I get to drive it is a good one.

65

Beautiful car!!

Do you have to tune through IE to use their intake manifold, or are other tuners compatible with the runner flap changes on the GTI?

Author66
Paddy McGrath

I'm not sure if you have to run *their* tune, but the car certainly needs to be tuned for it. I've read lots of people installing it, not tuning and then complaining about no power gains. For me, it made most sense to run with their tune as, well, they designed and built the manifold from scratch, so they know it best.

67

Great update, Paddy. And very detailed story telling as always. Loving the progress you've made with this build.

Author68
Paddy McGrath

Cheers, Ben. And for all your help and advice too.

69

Great read , Best kind of speed hunting !! nice write up ,

Author70
Paddy McGrath

Thanks!

71

Solid numbers Paddy, well-done all-around. Significant gains and a vastly-improved power band across the rev range, but most importantly on a conservative, failsafe tune that accounts for the inconsistencies of pump gas.

Most respect of all for sorting the chassis and suspension items BEFORE swinging for the fences power-wise, certainly the mark of an experienced enthusiast capable of exercising prudent restraint at the right times and places.

Author72
Paddy McGrath

Appreciate that, thank you. The power gains have still highlighted a couple of issues that need re-addressing, but on the whole, I'm very happy at the minute.

73
Bradley Johnson

The urge to fit a Wagner intercooler to add to my Eventuri and cat back an then remap my FK2 has just got a lot stronger now after reading this!

Author74
Paddy McGrath

Do it.

75

Only the K04 won't make 400 whp either. You'll get to about 380-390 whp and hit a wall. That takes at the very least water-methanol injection. You can add 30% ethanol and make it to 400 because of the extra oxygen provided with ethanol.

A few people in the US have upgraded Mk 7 GTI's to the K04 from the Audi S3/Golf R. Many also use the much less expensive Audi S3/Golf R inter-cooler.

Author76
Paddy McGrath

I don't think anything over 350whp is possible on a K04 on Irish fuel, and I'm not really interested in running water-meth as I want to keep things simple. For the kind of roads that I like to drive on, I probably have too much power at the moment, 3rd gear is over 90mph and that's crazy fast when your mirrors are touching either side of the road.

Is there a reason MK7 guys are going K04? They have much more potential in their cars than the MK6.

77

Cause Hot Rodder's are cheap? S3/Golf R upgrade is about $800 US vs APR's Borg-Warner EFR upgrade (7163) for around $5,000.

Stock K04 peters out just below 350 hp, the uprated version to almost 400 hp. Fastest IS38 GTI (Mk 7) in the US just ran 11.1@125 mph in the 1/4 mile.

He ran 11.6@123 on drag radials and yes it's a monster in roll racing. You can find him on Instagram under RjRacing

79

Nice work Paddy, I first came to your build because you are one of the few people I have found that uses the Air Lift Performance 3H system which I want to put on my Focus ST.

I am going to do a intermediate step in the form of Bilstein B14 coil-overs, but the turbo will get upgraded first.

Author80
Paddy McGrath

Sweet, what year ST? My Dad bought one last year (his first ever new car) and it's a great, great car to drive.

81

Awesome upgrade ! Thank you for documenting this. Quite inspirational :)

Author82
Paddy McGrath

Thanks for reading, Ryan.

83

Probably missed an article or two, but what made you switch from 5w30 to 5w40? Was an engine rebuild done? Only asking because going to a thicker oil will mean it will take longer for the oil to reach operating temp and since you daily drive your GTI, I don't see why you need 5w40 oil.

By the way, great looking car and nice build. Your build has actually made me consider installing airbags on my car for daily driving comfort and convenience.

Author84
Paddy McGrath

It was recommended to me by a friend who tunes these for a living, to quieten the engine and to reduce oil consumption. I've not noticed any different in warm up, although I'm pretty good about keeping the revs and load down until it's up to temperature.

So far, so good. I've around 2,500kms done and no oil consumption whatsoever and my catch can is still empty, where it would fill quite quickly before. I definitely won't go back.

85

I wish you could have run it on the dyno with and without the IE manifold. It's consistently said that the manifold does nothing for you on a K03/K04. I know that would have involved a lot more time and potentially money in addition to being impractical. Would have been cool for IE to use it as an opportunity to show results on a customers car though.

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