Let's quickly review the complexity of the OEM turbo system in the GTI's 2.0T engine. The turbocharger assembly features an integrated exhaust housing, electronic recirculating valve (DV), crankcase ventilation inlet flange, and wastegate bypass regulator valve (N75). The airbox, mass airflow sensor housing, and engine cover are all in one piece. The FSI injectors are mounted directly into the cylinder head and the high-pressure fuel pump is mounted to the cylinder head and driven by the intake camshaft.
With a system this complex, it might seem like too much trouble to make a turbo upgrade. If anyone could meet the challenge, it would be the team at VF Engineering. With over 12 years experience building supercharger kits, VF has developed the technological know-how. With many automotive manufacturers turning to turbocharging as a means to get greater power while maintaining reasonable fuel economy and emissions, it was just a matter of time before VF decided to jump in.
VF was kind enough to supply us with these GTI triplets, each with its own personality. Normally, when testing aftermarket tuner cars, we are given a vehicle in its most extreme state. This time was different. VF had equipped each with one of its three different power configurations.
First up is a mostly stock GTI with VF/GIAC's 2.0T S upgrade, consisting of GIAC software, plus VF's short ram intake and K&N filter. This intake is a new product, its plumbing designed with CAD/CAM 3D modeling software and optimized using Superflow 1020 bench airflow testing equipment. One nice feature is the air deflector/heatshield. The stock GTI is by no means a slouch, but it's a bit quiet and feels like it's holding back. The chip and intake eliminates this sensation, while giving a good bump in power and torque, and leaves the driver with an unmistakable turbo swoosh.
Next is the GIAC GTI with a VF/GIAC 2.0T RS/S upgrade. The RS/S system is a complete turnkey solution with everything needed for a factory-style installation. VF provides a cast manifold with OEM quality and fit, mated to a Garrett GT28RS ball-bearing turbo producing 24 psi on 91-octane. One unique feature is a custom CNC-machined 304 stainless steel flange that allows you to use any aftermarket downpipe.
A good tuner is one that considers the entire package when putting a vehicle together. VF is well aware that when you put bigger power in the engine, you're bound to stress the limits of other components. The last thing you want to do is to lose the ability to stop-or just plain stay on the road. To address this issue, VF paired up with Stasis Engineering to develop an RS/S chassis package to complement the turbo upgrade. The chassis pack includes a set of three VF engine mounts, Stasis 13.5-inch touring brakes, and Stasis/Koni touring suspension. The stock wheels have been swapped for a set of lightweight (20.4-pound) 19-inch OZ Ultraleggeras wrapped in a set of super-sticky Toyo R888 235/35 tires.
The third vehicle is the fully decked-out VF GTI. This kit runs boost at 27 psi. Read that sentence again. You're probably wondering how to run 27 psi without causing an explosion. Here's how: take the RS/S upgrade, swap the turbo with a GT2871, throw in a set of low-compression pistons and strengthened connecting rods, and you get the VF/GIAC 2.0T RS/R upgrade. The RS/R package contains all the same components as the RS/S, VF race bypass valve, augmented fuel pump and FSI injectors.
This GTI isn't flashy, it's straightforward and to the point. Its VF short shifter, set for a 36-percent throw reduction, was precise and allows the driver to accelerate at breakneck speed. The noise from the short ram intake echo the sounds of building boost, and the exhaust tone from the AWE pipes is like music to a gearhead's ears. The Stasis/Koni suspension offer a fine balance between sport and comfort, and the Toyos make traction problems virtually non-existent.
With the increase in this third GTI's power levels, it was time to revisit the chassis upgrades. VF equipped this GTI with an RS/R chassis package, comprised of a set of three VF engine mounts, Stasis Streetsport adjustable coilover system, and Stasis/Alcon Mono4 front calipers and 14-inch rotors for added stopping power.
When making massive amounts of power and torque, it's always a good idea to ensure the drivetrain is able to handle it. VF installed two necessary items: a Stage Four ceramic clutch with an aluminum flywheel and a Stasis planetary limited-slip differential.
Being the most extreme of the three, this GTI's appearance is altered with a full Caractere appearance package including a European rear bumper with dual exhaust cut-outs. This required a custom exhaust based on AWE's 2.5-inch turbo-back system with a 200-cell HJS catalytic converter. To reduce weight and to add a bit of flair, VF also included a carbon fiber hood and custom painted black roof.
This car gave me one of my craziest Volkswagen experiences to date. The vehicle is nearly perfect, everything about the RS/R turbo upgrade performs as promised. And then some. Power is delivered on request without a hint of lag, producing a smooth linear power curve that's positively thrilling. The Stasis/Alcon brakes also deliver and never had me concerned about stopping ability, even with all that power. However, the clutch is a bit noisy and requires finesse when starting off in first gear. The coilovers are a bit on the firm side, not terrible, but for everyday driving the Stasis touring suspension would be my preferred choice.
Usually a big turbo equals a big intercooler. But after extensive testing, VF determined that the stock intercooler system would be able to support the power levels generated by both the RS/S and RS/R turbo kits. The stock intercooler does not hinder performance, but that doesn't mean the installation of a front-mount intercooler wouldn't be beneficial.
A good way to measure the effectiveness of any product evaluation is its effect on the reviewer. Let's just say I'm number 50 on an ever-increasing list for the RS/S 2.0T upgrade for my 2007 GTI.
VFE GTI RSR*Engine2.0-liter in-line four, dohc, 24-valve, 8.8:1 pistons, reinforced connecting rods, VFE cast manifold, Garrett GT2871 turbo, VFE intake, injectors, rail fuel pump and race bypass valve, Audi A3 front intercooler pipe, AWE turbo-back exhaust with 200 cell HJS cat with modified rear section to match rear bumper, GIAC software*TransmissionSix-speed manual, VFE adjustable short shifter, Stasis/Peloquin LSD, VFE/Clutchmasters stage four ceramic clutch, aluminum flywheel*SuspensionStasis/Koni Streetsport coilovers*BrakesStasis/Alcon Mono4 front calipers, 14-in. rotors*Wheels and TiresOZ Ultraleggera, 8x19Toyo R888, 235/35*ExteriorCaractere front bumper, side skirts, rear valance, sport grille and rear hatch blend,European rear bumper, carbon fiber hood, custom painted roof, tinted taillamps*PerformancePeak Power: 355 whp @ 6775rpmPeak Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 4493 rpm(109 octane, 31 psi: 414 whp @ 6158 rpm/ 355 lb-ft @ 5480 rpm)
VFE GTI RSS*Engine2.0-liter in-line four, dohc, four valves per cylinder, VFE cast manifold, Garrett GT28RS turbo, VFE injectors, VF rail fuel pump, VF air intake system, VF race bypass valve, Audi A3 front intercooler pipe, AWE turbo-back exhaust with 200 cell HJS catalyst,GIAC software*TransmissionSix-speed manual, VFE adjustable short shifter*SuspensionStasis/Koni Touring package*BrakesStasis 13.5-in. front rotors*Wheels and TiresOZ Ultraleggera, 8x19TOYO R888, 235/35*PerformancePeak Power: 300 whp @ 6626 rpmPeak Torque:281 lb-ft @ 4565 rpm
2007 VW GTI*LayoutTransverse front engine, front-wheel drive*Engine2.0-liter in-line four, dohc, 24-valve, VF Short Ram intake, GIAC sport chip*TransmissionSix-speed manual*PerformancePeak Power: 213 whp @ 5650 rpmPeak Torque: 235 lb-ft @ 4105 rpm(100 octane: 229 whp @ 5650rpm/ 252 lb-ft @ 4105 rpm)