The Volkswagen Golf 7 R stands above even the venerated and legendary GTI, meaning that it is as extreme as it can be, right? Well, not really. There are actually three more stages of upgrade by GT Kraft that take the car to 266 kW (362 hp) and 483 Nm (327 lb-ft) of torque, 281 kW (382 hp) and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque and 326 kW (443 hp) and 553 Nm (408 lb-ft) of torque, respectively, making the term hot hatch insufficient to describe it, simply because this kind of power removes it from this tier.
VW Golf has been around since 1974. It is one of the most revered and longest lasting models in the world. Just one year after the first one rolled out of the factory, they introduced a sports version dubbed GTI. We still have the Golf, as well as its GTI version, but there’s an even more powerful option – the Golf 7 R. The 2.0 l TSI CJXC engine makes it the most powerful standard Golf, providing 221 kW (300 hp) and 380 Nm (280 lb-ft) of torque. This kind of power is transferred to all four wheels via a DSG automatic transmission, or a manual. The AWD setup allows for almost incredible 0-62 mph acceleration figures for a car of its class and engine size and they stand at 4.9 seconds with the DSG and 5.3 seconds with the manual. The DSG might be faster, but the manual is still considered more fun by some drivers. However, there is a way to make this amazing car even more interesting to drive regardless of the transmission you opt for.
GT Kraft provides us with three upgrade stages for the Volkswagen Golf 7 R. The first one gives serious boost from software modifications alone, while the second one introduces some new parts for a bit more power. The final Stage 3 Volkswagen Golf 7 R tuning provides almost 50% more power than in the stock car. This means that, even though the Audi S3 should sit above the Golf in terms of both class and performance, there’s no way it will ever come close to the Stage 3 tuned Volkswagen Golf 7 R.
The Stage 1 already gives more than 20% more power compared to the stock car and it includes only a bit of OEM ECU SIM18 modifications. The upgrade starts with an increase in turbo pressure which pushes more air into the cylinders. More air also means that the engine needs more fuel, so injection needs some adjustment too. Moving ignition earlier also goes with the previous changes, helping to increase the power and also improve throttle response.
This gives the car a total of 266 kW (362 hp) and 483 Nm (327 lb-ft) of torque. The maximum power of the stock car was available from as low as 1,800 rpm, so it is really difficult to describe how capable and responsive the Golf 7 R becomes after the Stage 1. Figures alone don’t really do it justice, but acceleration to 62 mph of just 4.1 seconds might give you some idea. The extra boost also makes removing the top speed limiter a very good idea, so the car now easily exceeds 155 mph and already, after the Stage 1, obliterates the Audi S3. And it’s all completely safe and including OEM parts. Let’s have a look at the Stage 2.
The Stage 2 goes to adding new parts and further adjusting the OEM ECU. The 2 l turbo engine gets three new parts from revered suppliers. A completely new exhaust system is sourced from Milltek; Wagner provides an intercooler and Volkswagen Racing was chosen for cold air intake. All of these changes make the gases flow to and from the engine a lot easier, which was bound to bring more power, especially having in mind that additional software adjustments ensure that all of the new parts work smoothly with the rest of the car so a power rating boost to 281 kW (382 hp) and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque is achieved. This makes the GT Kraft Stage 2 more powerful than the brand specialist’s ABT Power New Generation Motortuning which has 272 kW (370 hp), but still less powerful than the ABT S version. That needs to be fixed.
This is where even ABT falls behind. Adding a bigger turbo together with a blow off valve and keeping the previous upgrades, while also adjusting the software to deal with the additional forced induction means that the Volkswagen Golf 7 R Stage 3 tuning goes well past any other car in its class and price range, reaching 326 kW (443 hp) and 553 Nm (408 lb-ft) of torque.
What does all this mean? With almost 50% more power and smoking almost any other car on the road and most definitely anything in its price range, the tuned Volkswagen Golf 7 R will put a smile on your face every time you see someone who thinks they can outdo a simple hatchback. However, even when you’re not racing around, you can enjoy the boost which makes every overtake a reason to grin. AWD, more power and improved throttle response make the Volkswagen Golf 7 R a far more interesting car to drive in any of the tuning stages.