Published on January 14th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Teaching an old dog new tricks: REVO Technik Stage 3 GTI
It seems that hot hatches are on the rise again. Well, the Renault Megane RS265 has been pretty dominant in this category, but with the introduction of the Mercedes A45 AMG the game has been thoroughly redefined. Manufacturers are scrambling to up their hot-hatchback game in order to match the competition, and the A45 AMG has set a surprisingly high benchmark to beat. With a 2.0-turbo mill pushing out a staggering 360 bhp, a dual-clutch gearbox, and an all-wheel drive system, it certainly proves difficult for anything to match.
But it also comes at an incredibly steep price, no doubt heavily attributed to that AMG badge. A run-of-the-mill A45 AMG will set you back a hefty RM 348,888, before you factor in insurance. You’d expect to be paying for road superiority, and if were limited to the realm of stock cars you would be safely out of reach of most other cars.
Times have changed. While tuning and modification used to be more focused on Japanese performance models, a number of tuning houses in Europe and the UK are becoming quickly popular among continental car owners. One such tuning house is REVO Technik, which specialises in Volkswagen and Audi products among other brands. Their development and testing programs are extensive in order to ensure that the packages they develop can handle the rigours of spirited driving without compromising everyday driveability.
These packages usually come in stages. Stage 1 normally involves a software upgrade with some intake modification to improve airflow, usually pushing power outputs up by 40-50 horses. This is adequate for owners looking for a little more punch over a stock car, and it doesn’t require a lot of work to install. Stage 2 targets the exhaust system with a larger down-pipe and a more free flowing exhaust, as well as the removal of the catalytic converter. Noise levels vary depending on whether an owner chooses to keep a silencer or remove it, but effectively the power outputs go up once again.
But what happens when you push that turbo 2.0-litre that little bit furthers? Stage 3 ups the game once again, with the installation of a Borg Warner K04 turbocharger, replacing the standard K03 turbocharger that the GTI comes equipped with. The result is a powerhouse that puts down a staggering 300 horses to the wheels, and a wide torque band 380 Nm strong that pulls from around 3000 rpm to redline. These figures are at the wheels, so if we do a little guesstimation the crank power and torque outputs stand at about 350 bhp and 440 Nm of torque.
A large part of the improved performance comes from the larger turbocharger and improved flow characteristics of the aftermarket exhaust system. It is important to understand that when it comes to mass-manufactured cars, a lot of aspects are balanced or compromised in order to produce a product that appeals to a larger range of people.
While the stock Golf 6 GTI was already surprisingly quick, it was not without performance drawbacks as a result of this compromise. The stock turbocharger, a K03 unit, was adequate for producing mid-range boost, developing strong torque figures before the turbocharger started to choke beyond 5,200 rpm. This is great for a balance of efficiency and power, under the assumption that most drivers will be using the boost for quick overtaking maneuvers. The inadequacy begins to show when really pushing through the higher rpm range, as the GTI feels slightly sluggish, a little out of breath- although in relative terms a stock GTI is still impressively quick compared to most other cars.
The installation of the larger K04 turbocharger compromises some of the low end pull. That is the nature of turbochargers: the larger the turbocharger, the more air is required to spool it up to operational speed. More air means a higher boost threshold rpm (or rpm at which the turbo spools up), and in the case of the K04 it only begins pushing hard at 3000 rpm. This is a fair bit higher than the standard K03, which develops boost from 1,700 rpm onward; the result is compromised low end torque and poorer fuel efficiency. The benefit is that K04 delivers more boost, and for far longer, only beginning to choke just before redline. This means higher torque figures from 3000 rpm and up, with none of the drastic torque falloff associated with the stock engine.
And of course, the question that really matters is whether a Stage 3 GTI can best an A45 AMG on the performance front. Since more people are concerned with straight line performance and top speeds, we’ll focus on that first. In a standing start at a traffic light, the GTI is likely to lose out due to a lack of traction. But rolling down a highway the GTI can most definitely pull away from an A45 AMG, by virtue of similar power outputs and less power losses (simply by being front-wheel drive as opposed to all-wheel drive).
In the corners, things become a little trickier to understand. The standard Golf Mk.6 GTI does not come equipped with a mechanical limited slip differential, which is one of the few weapons in a front-wheel drive car’s bag of tricks. While not as evident on a stock car with standard power outputs, the increased power output of the Stage 3 GTI makes it a bit of a handful when trying to accelerate out of a corner. These improvements have made the GTI more of a point-and-shoot machine, rather than something that carves a path down a mountain road. Installing a limited-slip differential may be the help it needs to put the power down effectively, and should close the gap between the GTI and cars like the Renault Megane RS265.
Most important of all is that the REVO Technik kit doesn’t compromise any of the daily driveability that you would expect from a passenger car- continental or otherwise. In addition to the REVO Technik kit, there are a few other components installed by local Volkswagen specialist MYF (Mod Your Fast)- a set of Unibrace bars help to stiffen up key portions of the chassis, while a KW Clubsport 2-way adjustable kit improves body control over the stock Dynamic Chassis Control system by a fair margin. Stopping power is also improved with a GTI Performance Brake Kit, helping to scrub off speed when coming up on a corner. These are smaller modifications designed to complement the GTI’s natural characteristics, but they don’t compromise comfort and usability beyond acceptable limits.
So if you’re in the market for a quick little hatchback but don’t feel like dropping large money on a brand new model, consider the humble Mk6 GTI as a build platform (a good example can be had for just north of RM 100,000). Granted these cars will need an overhaul and replacement of various parts to get them up to good running condition, but from there the performance options are pretty endless. Owners can build their cars progressively if they’re on a budget, or go straight for the full REVO Technik Stage 3 kit- the flexibility is available.
Mod list pricing:
– S3 Intercooler RM 1850
– 42 Draft Design RM 1800
– Milltek Turbo Back RM 8500
– REVO Technik KO4 Turbo RM 11,000
– REVO Technik Software RM 4,000
Total RM 27,150
Handling and brake mods:
– Unibrace XB, UB, RB RM 4600
– KW Clubsport 2-way Kit RM 13,000
– GTI Performance Brake Kit RM5,500
Total RM 23,100
Total Spent: RM 50,250