Golf tuning and performance parts

Tuning guide "VW Golf tuning"

VW Golf tuning Guide

The VW Golf was the original hot hatch. It has now had a number of revisions and the latest puts it fairly and squarely into the realms of a fun hot hatch again.

It is one of the most popular models of car around and there is a thriving aftermarket parts supply with a full spread of options from a stage 1 fast road car setup to a stage 3 track day and motorsport model.

So onto the Golf tuning tips:-

Before we detail your best tuning upgrade options as stages of tune, let's list the most effective tuning upgrades for you.

  1. Tunes & remaps - remapping, piggyback ECU's and aftermarket ECU's can all make decent gains
  2. Fuelling (injectors & pump) - when you've increased power you'll need to match this with more fuel
  3. Turbo upgrades - Improving the intake with a large turbo and better flowing intercooler will be the biggest power gain you'll see (but one of the most complex).
  4. Suspension Upgrades - always improve your cars handling
  5. Brake Upgrades - Even before adding power improve those brakes
  6. Intake - make sure your cars intake isn't restricted, use performance filters and intake upgrades to improve this
  7. Exhaust - as with 3 ensure there is not restriction in the exhaust, cats are the usual bottleneck

This video guide to tuning cars is a great starting point to work from in your project.

Stage 1 mods: 

Alloy wheels, Remap, Suspension upgrade (drop 24mm - 40 mm.), Sports exhaust, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel.

Stage 2 mods: 

Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head.

Stage 3 mods: 

Engine balancing, Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

The 1.6 and lower engines are really a waste of time from a tuning point of view. (With the exception of the one in the Golf Mk1 as these seem to loosen up and improve with age!)

You can still perform the modifications we recommend to the 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 engines but you should only expect a modest power gain of 10-20%, for the same amount of money you could do an engine swap and get a 150% power hike.

Car Tuning Tips would focus on improving the handling and braking of these smaller engined models.  This will create a fun car that is good in the corners.

The 2.0 will need some major work doing to it if you are after a good power gain.

You will need to fit larger valves, get the head ported and polished and have a 3 angle valve job done. Increasing the compression of this engine will further maximise the power gains.

Tuning tips and articles Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Blueprinting and balancing the engine will allow you to fully exploit the top end power of this engine and this will help to raise the rev limit.

The 1.8 Turbo engines were quite good, a favourite of car tuning tips, and a simple remap is all you need to raise the power from 150bhp to around 225 bhp.

Fitting a larger turbo, either the KO4 or KO3s will really raise the potential as the standard KO3 runs out of puff quite early on.

See our guide to 1.8T tuning on TorqueCars.

On these engines it also pays to get a recirculating diverter valve and we would also uprate the intercooler.

The 1.8 Turbo engine has been used in a number of powerful applications and can cope with power figures of upto 300bhp on standard internals.

The VR6 is a real performer and with some head work, fast road cams and a remap you can extract another 20-30% of power from the engine.

Other modifications you should consider for your Golf engine. Fast road cams, air intake and sports exhaust & port matching.

For the power mad you always have the option of fitting a supercharger or turbo. Another option you may consider is adding nitrous injection kits, this alone can add 50bhp more power to your engine.

What other modifications?
Brake upgrades are popular. We have seen some Golf owners using the larger brakes from the VR6 models along with a few Porsche brake conversions.

We suggest you check the offset and clearance behind your alloys before purchasing a much larger brake kit.

The 1.6 will probably have the 256 or 288mm disc. The 2.8 uses 312mm and the R32 334mm.

Unfortunately the smaller engines (everything other than the 1.8t and V5 and 6) comes with different hub carriers and wont allow you fit the larger discs.

If this is your situation then you should look for the hubs from the later 1.8t, Octavia VRS, or Seat Leon Cupra. You can usually pick these up from a breakers yard quite cheaply.

If you get them off the earlier 1.8 (<2002) then they will have the same hubs but only the 288mm disc you will need the bigger discs and find the carriers for these. another option is to fit porsche 996 calipers on

Handling mods are also worth considering for your Golf, we would recommend that you go with a fully adjustable suspension kits so you can set this up to suit your driving style.

If you are lowering the car then stick with a drop of 20-35mm depending on the standard drop already on your Golf. You will find that the sporty models have a 20mm drop already on them.

Further reading.
We suggest that if you want a bit more information on Golf Tuning you consult the following sources. TorqueCars have a comprehensive  Golf tuning article and also a very active, friendly and helpful Golf forum.

If you have any tips to pass on please use our comments box below and we will update this article, after all we are all here to share knowledge. Please also let us know if we've missed out an engine or performance mod that you feel should be included in here.

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Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

5 Responses to “VW Golf tuning”

  1. faeez says:

    Hi I hav a 1.3golf need to upgrade da camshaft wats da best n how need idears

  2. Bertus says:

    I have the same problem could you find a solution?

  3. Steve Lategan says:

    How do I turn a 1993 Golf CTi 1800 back into a standard carburettor configuration?
    Thanks, Steve Lategan

  4. reggie says:

    Hi I hve a citi golf life and would like to upgrade my camshaft and head any ideas as I doubt have enough experience in mods ?would just like my car to be a bit faster

  5. thapelo says:

    Can i put a polo gti DSG engine, suspension, steering column, gear leaver, foot pedals in a mark 1 body. Is it compartible