The Ultimate Commuter

The MKV GTI is a great car.  It is a sophisticated and capable platform, the perfect road warrior.  Naturally there is always more to be eeked out of anything.  After 2 1/2 years of owning my car, it is pretty much modded to my point of contention, bar minor details here and there.  How does it stack up to the stocker?

Keep in mind that my car is definitely not anywhere close to being heavily modded.  I modded it with the intention that it was going to be a daily driver with the power to squirt through traffic and occasionally fly through some canyons.  It has to be comfortable and quiet.

So what have I done?

Lets start off with the engine.  Everyone loves more power.  The 2.0 turbo in the GTI has 200 HP and 207 ft/lbs of torque.  That is plenty for a daily driver, plenty to squirt through traffic with.  But not adding even a little bit more wouldn’t be much fun now would it?

So I added a BSH intake (thanks sis!) and the diverter valve kit.   The powerband gets shifted slightly to the right but nothing drastic.  The intake itself doesn’t really add too much power until you get chipped.  The diverter valve is there as preemptive modding.  Preemptive you say?  Why for chipping of course.  Until the recent revision D diverter valve, even stock GTI’s were ripping through them.  Read the post about the dv for more info.

Now comes the fun part, the chip.  The immense rush of torque from the chip is just too awesome for words.  If you have the cash, this is highly recommended stuff.  It turns the GTI into the ultimate daily commuter.  Need to pass?  No worries!  Downshift and go……………………….

The chip raises the boost limit and adjusts timing to make some awesome power past about 3k rpm.  A lot of what you feel is just the enormous torque swell.  And what a swell it is.  It really is a ton of fun.  Effortless passing is effortless…

How does the GTI respond to power mods you say?  It does very well in fact.  With a relatively sophisticated chassis, the MKV can hold some decent power and still be well balanced.  The extra power doesn’t overwhelm the chassis.  The power mods I have done are very mild.  The intake (BSH) hardly makes any noise.  The chip doesn’t increase noise.  The original, factory character of the GTI stays very much intact, but now it is more fun.

In the next installments, I’ll talk about suspension, and then all the little mods that help tie everything together.

Well, this was a one time installment…Read about why here> -A revised look as suspension modification-

Update! 7-16-2013

I’m mostly back to stock now, barring a few parts. The stock intake has been back on with the addition of a Carbonio scoop. The stock pcv is back on. The stock springs are on with the addition of Koni Sports dampers. I have some under body braces in the mid and rear and I still have APR Stage 1 but that is pretty much it.

I have to restate that this car in stock to near stock form is fantastic as a daily driver. Engine power is not the strongest around but it has plenty of passing power and torque. You always want more (power) but not because of any particular deficiency, just human nature to want more. Objectively, the FSI just does what you ask. Plugs along in traffic, has enough power to get out of the way, and loves to play along if you’re in the mood. DSG is always fun to play with and the manual control is useful. Handling is responsive and smooth. Koni Sports add an extra level of control. It is such a well rounded package that it is hard to really fault it when you take a look at it. Of course, nothing is faultless but the faults tend to melt away. Nonetheless, it would be useless to not list them.

A few nitpicks

I really wish this engine had better gas mileage in the city. In heavy city traffic, I’ve seen mpg numbers in the low teens. Highway mpg is good enough for me but I would love to average a little closer to 30 (I average about 25 now).

The DSG transmission can get noisy/rough when being hustled at lower speeds. It doesn’t affect driving but makes the car feel rougher than it has to be.

Certain interior bits love to creak. The door seals are the biggest offenders. Noises arise from the dash when the road is rougher. Minor rattles also appear and disappear. It’s annoying because the interior has held up so well. On smooth roads, it’s all quiet though. Oh well, what can you do?

I must say that this engine requires more attention to detail than others I’ve seen (all naturally aspirated, Toyota, Hyundai). Little things like the pcv valve and the diverter valve and various sensors need to be watched more. They don’t fail too often but when they do, they can cause all sorts of weird problems, problems that a regular owner will not know to look for. The cam follower needs a little worrying and oil levels can dip below minimum in the span of an oil change. The VAG-COM diagnostics suite is worth the high price of entry if you own one of these cars. You may never have to use it but it has saved me a trip to the dealer’s many times.

My particular example of the FSI has been very reliable. Never left me stranded. If you are a diligent owner, this engine is fantastic. If you prefer to worry less, this engine may cause you more grief than you bargained for. If you purchase a car with this engine, do the maintenance required. If something needs repair, don’t hold it off. This is key to keeping everything running and repair costs low.

Don’t shy away from involvement with your car’s workings. You will detect problems faster and be armed with more knowledge when you do need to seek a shop. If you end up being able to fix it yourself, you’ll even save some money. It’s satisfying to fix a problem and not be at the dealer’s mercy. Plus, you’ll be one with your car. 😉

9 thoughts on “The Ultimate Commuter

  1. Pingback: Check It Out « markFive GTI

  2. Great website! joined the vdub family earlier this year, got the 2006 GLI and this also happens to be my first car. So I am always on the lookout for good DIY sites or anything that gives more info on the MK5 model.
    The GLI is a wonderful car to drive but the maintainence issues sometimes drive me crazy (also the amount of money i have spent till now). So, i am now thinking if i should sell it next summer and get the MK7 GTI………..or maybe just stick with it ,be done with all maintainence a vehicle that has run close to 80,000 miles needs and then chip it, your thoughts?

    • It’s really up to you. Is the car giving you any problems? I don’t think the MK7 will be any different maintenance-wise, but it’s going to a great car. Sometimes I feel the same way. The car can feel like something always needs to be done on it. The drive is worth it though.

      In your case, I’d just do whatever your budget allows. If you’re spending money that would be better spent on a car payment, then go that way. On the other hand, if the car is fully paid and maintenance isn’t costing you too much, I’d be inclined to keep it. I’m at 137,000+ miles now. Minor issues have popped up but it’s still far cheaper to fix than adding a new car payment. Hope this helps!

  3. Its mainly been various maintainence issues till now . Currently it keeps throwing up the P0299 ,turbo underboost code. When it first came on about 4 months back, I could feel the loss of boost, so took it to a shop and they changed the N75 solenoid valve, that seemed to solve the problem, but the CEL and the same engine code have been popping up again at regular intervals ,though I no longer feel any boost problems (the shop first said its to do with some adaptation, the next time they said it might be a problem with the part and changed the N75 valve again, most recently they again couldn’t find any obvious problem and said the oil level is quite low and that could be the reason its throwing up the code- they haven’t charged me anything after the first repair,so they are not ripping me off,but i feel they are also lost) ,In the meanwhile I have gone to the dealer and replaced the pcv valve as it was under recall. Also,there is some oil deposits in the hose coming out of the intercooler. I have been doing some reading on these issues. Could an oil catch pan help? Though I don’t know what could be causing the p0299 code to come up , if it was failure of the n249 valve,i guess the shop should have noticed it…..
    The previous owner had a cold air intake,blow off valve installed (also an aluminium hose out of the intercooler which is where there seems to be a little oil leak). When I bought the car from the used car dealer,they replaced those with the stock air intake. I thought maybe the engine has been chipped and the stock intake was not good enough and hence the CEL, so took it to shop that does APR tuning and they said there is no APR tune in the car, so I am lost again…..
    basically,this is my first car, have had it for 7 months and already taken it to the shop for various issues about 10-12 times, so thats the reason I was considering maybe selling it, and I am not very confident with DIY’s either, my first attempt at it-changing the rear brake pads ended with me putting one of the pads the wrong way and it caused a grove on the rotor and I had to take it to the shop to replace the rotor 😀
    Hope I have not bored you with all that. Would be awesome if you have any insight on my problem .Thanks!

  4. Please correct me if I am wrong: Things that could be causing the p0299
    1) N75 wastegate valve – has already been changed
    2) n249 DV – not changed and currently not sure if I have the updated version (the shop should have noticed if it was shot? though i didn’t pointedly ask them about this valve)
    3) PCV valve – has been changed
    4) minor leak in any of the hoses – maybe the metal intercooler outlet hose where is some oil deposits
    5) MAF or some other sensor is problematic
    6) I guess the oil deposits in the intercooler hose should be related to the positive crankcase system? Since the PCV has been changed, should i maybe do a seafoam treatment to clean any oil deposits in the valves?

    • The DV could easily be the cause of the underboost code. The latest revision is D. You should check it first. If the DV isn’t broken, I’d be inclined to think there was a leak somewhere in the charge system. How long ago was the PCV valve changed? Have you had the cam follower checked by any chance?

      There is nothing that you can really do regarding the oil deposits in the intake system. It just naturally builds up oil there. I ran a catch can for a little while but oil was still in the intake tubes. I just went back to the standard factory arrangement. I’m sure I have build up but nothing has caused any problems yet.

      In any case, I’d check out the diverter valve first. That’s usually the first thing to go (if it’s the older revision) and then the pcv. Hope this helps!

      On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 12:54 PM, markFive GTI

  5. I got the PCV changed 2 months back: I was looking at the invoice of the dealer and they had put in the P revision valve (06F129101P) and a tube,couple of gaskets and clips. I am guessing this is the valve at the intake side. Does the valve that leads to the turbo also need to be changed? They also changed the IRMC motor.

    Yeah,I will get the DV checked out, I am not too confident of going under the car,so will take it to a shop. No ,I have not checked the cam follower (won’t it throw up a different code if it has failed-not the p0299 that i currently have). Will the dealers do a free inspection of the HPFP and cam follower or replace it only if the car throws up a CEL or there is any sign of damage?

    • I don’t think the dealers will do a free inspection of the cam follower. A really awesome dealer might.

      I think you should be ok with the pcv valve. It sounds like they replaced the tube at the rear of the engine as well. Once you get the DV checked out, that should give you more information on where to check next. Hopefully it’s just the DV and you can be done with it.

      On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 11:13 AM, markFive GTI

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