If you have a VW MK7 R, you’re sitting on a goldmine of potential. But you knew that. It’s probably why you bought one or are looking at one to purchase right now. Whether you already have one or are about to buy one, there are probably a few upgrades you already have in mind. The question is: where to begin? With a few improvements, the MK7 R can go from extremely good to exceptionally awesome, but it becomes expensive quickly as your parts list grows. These are the first five upgrades you absolutely should make for the fastest and most rewarding route to improve your MK7 R.
Build Your Own Intake
The first upgrade your MK7 R deserves is an intake. Honestly, whichever you pick isn’t going to make too much of a difference. You can go with a basic intake that has an open filter element, but the best bet is one that actually separates your filter from the engine bay. This is the best way to prevent heat soak and experience the most efficient intake performance. Our build your own MK7 R intake kit lets you pick what aftermarket manufacturer you want from our selection of the best versions available, open or closed.
With that intake upgrade, you’ll also want to replace your turbo inlet pipe and turbo inlet hose. Our ‘build your own’ kit allows you to choose from several options, like the ECS Carbon Fiber inlet hose or Racingline Silicone Turbo Inlet hoses. Finally, a ‘big bore’ inlet pipe, like the ECS Big Bore Turbo Inlet or the APR Turbo Inlet is the last piece to the intake puzzle for the absolute best performance.
What these three intake upgrades do is work together to provide the smoothest airflow, the largest volume of air, at the lowest temperature possible, to your turbo for maximized efficiency. On their own, you can expect a bump in horsepower and certainly better throttle response, quicker turbo spool time, and more enjoyable whistley noises. However, it’s with the next two upgrades that the induction improvements see their potential realized.
Along the same lines as the intake, your MK7 R exhaust is restrictive from the factory and can be a choke point that robs you of power potential. The intake upgrades mentioned above take care of that front end restriction, while a high-flow catted downpipe handles restriction on the exhaust side. The real power gains are going to be from a downpipe kit, like our MQB 4Motion High Flow Catted Downpipe or the IE catted cast downpipe, but there are several options to pick, it just comes down to your budget.
Whatever you pick, upgrading your downpipe is a critical part of the equation for big power. A performance downpipe is absolutely required for the software upgrades we’ll talk about shortly. However, while you’re replacing your downpipe, it is also a good idea to replace your cat-back section and mufflers.
While most of the restriction in your MK7 R exhaust comes from the downpipe, most of the tone and volume will come from the cat-back and muffler sections. Fortunately, these are basically just exhaust pipe sections and your choice will depend largely on your budget and preference for how each exhaust sounds. If you want something extreme, APR’s valved CBE system is an excellent option that allows you to completely open your exhaust to bypass any muffler baffling and create the loudest possible exhaust sound from your MK7 R. If you just want something quality, shiny, and pleasing to the ears, Milltek Sport has one of the most popular options on a doable budget.
The intake and exhaust upgrades in this list by themselves do add some performance and enjoyment benefits, but to truly take advantage of their improved functionality, your software needs to know what they can do. The factory software in your MK7 R will not be able to fully accommodate the increased efficiency of your upgraded intake and exhaust, so you’ll need a software tune to realize that power potential you now have. Think of it a bit like how four walls, a roof, and a foundation make a house, but without people to live there and their furnishings inside it, you don’t have a home. Performance software, like Integrated Engineering software or a Cobb Accessport, will let you tune on the fly with off the shelf maps that account for your upgrades and maximize their potential. However, for the best results, a professional software tune is the way to go.
With more power, you’ll want to be sure you can effectively stop your MK7 R and handle that extra performance ability safely. The MK7 R has competent brakes, so you don’t need to just go big brake kit out of the box unless you want to flex on kids, but a set of upgraded pads and rotors with better brake fluid is certainly beneficial. You can achieve some incredible results with better pads and rotors that give you the pedal feel and stopping power you need to pair with additional horsepower. The better your brakes are, the longer you can stay on the throttle. Again, this isn’t going to make your car faster, but it will allow you to use what you have more effectively.
Great pad/rotor options are EBC, HAWK, Pagid, and StopTech. For fluid, something that has consistent performance and high wet/dry boiling point that isn’t too aggressive for the street is fine. StopTech STR600 is a highly popular choice. Lastly, if you’re going to replace the fluid, you have no reason not to replace your brake hoses with braided steel brake lines, like ECS Exact-Fit or StopTech lines for a more responsive pedal feel and less fluid expansion in the lines.
It’s probably bugging some of you that we didn’t mention wheels, tires, or suspension. If you want to improve your driving experience, those upgrades paired with good pads, rotors, and a set of sway bars are a way to maximize the potential of your MK7 R’s stock power capabilities. For improving overall power, this list is second-to-none and should have you sitting around 80hp higher than stock, which is no small leap in performance. There are hundreds of ways you can improve the capabilities of your MK7 R, but we think this is a good start if you just want to slap on a few parts for a major change in power and feel from the driver’s seat.