Every real man knows that to cook with fire he has to have the right sauce. The best steaks sit overnight in a secret marinade. The cheapest burgers are delicious with the right goo dripping from them. Carnivores stand in line for slabs of vegetables done just so.
I recently drove a GTI with the right sauce. Audi Performance and Racing threw me the keys. I loaded the car up with hungry editors and went in search of lunch. "Shit, this thing's fast," said one. It was still fast in third gear. I played with it for awhile and was impressed. Smooth, driveable, no dips or surges. The best 1.8t I had driven. Then I put it on the dyno. Two back-to-back runs right on top of each other just like a stock, naturally aspirated car. The power peak was 275.5 hp from 5690 to 5740 rpm. It was like this GTI was from another planet called "Octanus." Indeed, the tank was full of 104-octane sauce, and the electrons dancing in the ECU had been instructed to whirl accordingly. It was very, very good.
Nick Kasberger of APR is certainly happy with this GTI. He owns it. With a really good 60-ft time, he tells me, he has run 12.65 sec and 109 mph in the quarter. That's factory-turbo-Porsche quick.
It all starts, of course, with APR's Stage 3 transverse 1.8t upgrade, which includes an investment-cast Inconel 625 exhaust manifold, Garrett/Allied Signal Ballistic Series GT25 ball-bearing turbocharger, high-flow catalytic converter, custom-cast urethane and silicone intake hoses, larger fuel injectors and all required plumbing and hardware. The turbo is a little larger than a T28 and more responsive thanks to the low-drag ball bearings. The GTI had a 3-in. downpipe, 2.5-in. cat-back exhaust and a larger, front-mount intercooler but was stock from the throttle body to the exhaust manifold gasket. With a stock intercooler and pump gas, APR estimates about 280 hp at the flywheel.
The GTI was a test mule for APR and had pre-production software. According to Nick, it made only 17 to 18 psi, while the production race-gas program will deliver about 20 psi. APR-tuned 1.8ts I have driven in the past have not been optimized for the fetid swill that comes out of the premium nozzle in California, but APR took two drums of 91-octane back home with the GTI and is developing West-Coast-friendly software for all its upgrades.
Audi and VW generally use the clutch as a driveline fuse. With Quattro and sticky tires, it's a better choice than harder and more expensive parts. With front-wheel drive, even sticky tires make an adequate fuse, so APR installed an aluminum flywheel and racing clutch in the GTI. Nick admits the sudden engagement makes the clutch a bit of a pain to drive, but it has handled third-gear burnouts and all the other abuse he's ladled out. Another secondary upgrade was a polyurethane dog-bone bushing from Energy Suspension. The stock rubber part wouldn't keep the exhaust from hitting the chassis.
APR also fortified the GTI's braking power and suspension. APR bolted on its brake upgrade for the TT, but the kit will be redeveloped to fit inside a stock 17-in. VW sport wheel before it's sold to customers. The Koni coilovers are a little soft for Nick's taste, but turning the damping all the way up does control wheelspin on the launch. The only other changes to the car were 3-in. TRW Sabelt harnesses and a ProjectZwo spoiler, a present from Nick's wife.
This GTI was still in "science project" form when I drove it but was more than promising. It got me thinking about a dual-purpose car. A mild 1.8t has plenty of power to slice and dice traffic and have fun on the way to the office. At the track, where there's room to use it, I want more. Instead of compromising driveability and reliability by running against the knock sensor on street gas and limiting the maximum output at the track, it would make a lot of sense to just decide which way you're going to go ahead of time and pump in the right sauce. Get the whole car all dialed in, and you could show the POC folks a thing or two.