This month, I will have owned Project GTI two years.
It doesn’t feel that long, and it’s only when I go through old photos that I appreciate how far it has come in that time. I’m happy that I’ve stayed true to the original plan of making it better, but without compromising its ability as a daily driver. But, there is one, major, final part to this plan, and it’s already underway as I write.
You might remember last year when I wrote about solving the issue of FWD and the associated Wavetrac differential install that took place at Regal Autosport, in Southampton, UK. The Wavetrac LSD released an unexpected level of performance from the car, and it completely changed my idea of what a front-wheel drive car could be capable of.
At the same time, during the same visit, I discovered the products of Integrated Engineering and in particular, their cast intake manifolds. Being involved in the aftermarket world, I was aware of the company, but I hadn’t realised just how good their products were. If you think I’m just trying to shill, take a look at any of their products in person and I’m sure you’ll agree.
Around the time of last year’s SEMA Show, a conversation was started where IE offered their support to Project GTI, in whatever way they could help. What followed was a considerable amount of discussion with regards to what direction we could go in. Seeing as IE have been involved in building some of the world’s fastest GTI and R street cars, including Iroz Motorsport’s brutally fast MK7 R, and their own 11-second Mk6 GTI, the sky was the limit.
The 2.0-litre TSI (EA888) engine that is fitted from factory to the Mk6 GTI, is an absolute peach. The standard connecting rods, pistons and crank are all forged (but various standards of forging), and are considered to be reliable to around 450hp with standard fuelling. The rods are considered the weakest point of the setup, and it’s only when you venture beyond the 450hp figure that you start playing in the danger zone.
We talked about doing a custom hybrid turbocharger for my car, but I would have needed to do rods at this point for safety and I just didn’t want to have to pull the engine apart. Instead, I wanted to focus on taking what was there and just improving it to its full potential.
The first piece of the puzzle is IE’s K04 turbocharger kit. Typically found in the Mk6 platform on the Golf R (AWD 2.0-litre TFSI) and the limited run ED35 GTI (FWD 2.0-litre TFSI), the turbocharger is an OEM BorgWarner unit which is modified in-house by Integrated Engineering.
They machine the compressor housing and fit an adapter plate to allow the diverter valve to fit the in the factory position on a TSI engine. If one was to buy a stock BorgWarner K04, they would have to relocate and rewire the diverter valve into a new position. This does away with that issue and makes the installation much more straightforward. You can see on the turbo’s ID plate that it reads ‘TFSI’ and uses genuine VW lines, proving that it’s a genuine OEM turbocharger.
The K04 is a perfect fit for what I want from the car. It provides a significant bump in horsepower, adds more power at the top end where the current smaller K03 starts to fall away, but still keeps the car drivable. There’s relatively little to no turbo lag, so day-to-day driving remains unaffected as torque still arrives early in the rev range.
The part that first really attracted me to Integrated Engineering, is maybe my favorite part of this whole development – their 2.0T intake manifold.
I mean, just look at it.
Assisting the K04 in its duties, this cast intake manifold will replace the plastic factory item and provide a power increase across the entire RPM range, without contributing any turbo lag. Part of this is due to the increased plenum size and design, ensuring a steady flow of air is equally distributed to all four cylinders.
The runners and velocity stacks are another area where they’ve found more performance. By fine tuning the length, diameter and resonance tuning, they’ve developed the ability for the engine to make more horsepower and torque. Even on a small turbocharger, like a K04, they’ve used CFD to optimise the airflow and power range.
There’s also ports above each runner should I ever want to run a water-methanol setup or even a second set of injectors. For the meantime, they’ll be plugged, however. It’s nice to have the option, all the same.
The intake manifold also does away with the brittle factory runner flaps, which have been known to break. This particular part of the setup needs to be mapped into the car, to prevent it throwing a CEL and from having rough cold starts. As everything will be going onto the car almost at once, this will be covered under a full new engine tune which will replace the previous Stage 2 software.
Staying on the intake side of things for a moment, we’ve also chose to increase intake volume with a full new cold air intake system. I was previously running an aftermarket filter and air box with the stock piping, but this CAI replaces pretty much all of the previous setup.
The first part is a custom heat shield which features an oversized 5-inch bell-mouth.
The heat shield attaches onto the factory mounts with pressure fit grommets, and draws air in from the factory grill but with the benefit of sealing to the bottom of the bonnet, ensuring that no hot air is drawn in from the engine.
What was key for me was that this kit maintains the factory location for the MAF. Other kits on the market relocate the MAF to the back of the engine bay, which has a derogatory affect on the MAF’s performance as it ends up receiving turbulent air after the bend in the intake piping.
Speaking of which, the intake piping is secured at all the factory locations and required no modification to fit. It was so straightforward, that I actually had it fitted during the last service at Stone Motorsport. I couldn’t help myself.
It’s hard to tell of any power differences over the previous setup just from the driver’s seat, but I can say that it sounds pretty damn amazing. The sound of even the K03 turbocharger is much clearer as its spools and even the distinctive flutter when lifting off the throttle sounds amazing. Yes, I’m a giant man-child who loves turbo noises, but it does make the driving experience more visceral when getting on it.
Another piece of the puzzle was IE’s TSI Recirculating Catch Can kit. I did previously have another catch can kit on the car, but was advised by its manufacturer that there were reports it was drawing oil from the engine and to closely monitor its performance. Sure enough, a couple of months later and mine started to develop the same issue so it was time for a replacement.
The principle remains the same, with the fumes from the valve cover breather being vented into a baffled can, which then separates the oil mist from the escaping gas, preventing it from being recycled through the engine. In turn, this prevents carbon build up on the valves along with oil building up in the turbo and intercooler piping.
As an aside, I love how the hardware is divided in the branded plastic packets.
The final and largest piece of the puzzle is something which is mandatory at the power levels we’re aiming for. With extra power, comes extra heat, which in turn reduces power if it’s not effectively cooled or dissipated.
IE’s intercooler features a 54% larger core than the OEM intercooler, along with their Flow Distribution System which distributes air flow evenly through the intercooler from the inlet side, rather than relying on natural air flow across the core. The ‘cooler will reduce intake temperatures, prevent heat soak and the associated power loss and due to the better flowing core, a decrease in pressure drop will also be achieved.
Into The Night Once More
Now, I sit in the office here at Regal Autosport, following an overnight journey which saw me arrive a couple of hours before they opened their doors. The drive was routine. Following a late night arrival into Pembroke, Wales off an Irish Ferries sailing, it wasn’t long before I was practically alone on the near empty roads, save for the occasional truck or late-night worker.
With just some downloaded Spotify playlists and a couple of podcasts for company, I find this sort of drive incredibly therapeutic. There’s no real work to be done; I can’t be bothered or distracted as everyone I know is asleep. It’s just me, my car and the open road.
Caffeine stops were surprisingly irregular, despite only arriving back from Formula Drift New Jersey a few days before.
After 11 hours practically non-stop travelling on the road and seas, I arrived into the dead quiet trading estate that Regal Autosport call home and grabbed a few minutes of rest before heading for a Speedhunters-style breakfast and awaiting the friendly and familiar faces of Regal to arrive.
I won’t lie, I’m exhausted, but it’s a price worth paying to have avoided the inevitable traffic and queues on England’s motorways that form during the day. At the same time, excitement is proving an effective antidote to the fatigue.
The – considerable – Integrated Engineering shipment has already been unloaded from the car, and Ben has started straight into the task at hand. It’s estimated that it should take around a day and a half to two days to complete the install, along with tuning.
As always, I’ll be on hand to document the install and any issues that may arise. I know that I’m in good hands, though. If all goes to plan, I’ll be back with you again this week to bring you footage of the car on the dyno and to reveal just how significant a power increase there has been. To put my cards on the table, I’m hoping for 300whp.
Am I being optimistic considering I have to run a cat and 95-octane?