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Old 10-13-2017, 11:27 AM   #1
Rally Car Champion
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Drives: Slow
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Iowa City
Posts: 353
MK6 GTI Ownership Review: Six Years and 110,000 Miles

Sup homies. My GTI just turned over 110,000 miles today and I’ve owned her for six years this month. The car and I have done a lot and thought I would share my experiences. I selected and purchased every mod in this post with my own money. I liked pretty much all of them, but I have critiques on some. I'm not claiming to be an authority on car modifications, just sharing my personal opinions. *edit: this post turned into a totally different monster but I hope you take the time to read it*

Preface Before I bought my GTI I had a 350z. The Z was the car I wanted since high school. And as soon as I graduated college and got a job; I bought a 350z and it ended up being such a disappointment. It was the car I waited six years to buy and there was no way that car, or any car really, could live up to the hype I created. I sold it after owning it for six months and took like a $2k loss just to get rid of it. After the Z I was super dejected from cars and thought I was done with the hobby all together.

I wasn't.

October 2011 Bought my 2011 GTI from Bommarito Volkswagen in St Louis, MO for $24,500. She’s a Tornado Red two door GTI with a sunroof. Also purchased a five year, 100,000 mile extended warranty for about $1,000. Was the warranty worth it? Maybe. More on that later. I named her Emma.

This is the earliest photo I can remember of Emma:

Spring 2012 Bought the S3 short shifter. Legit mod. Cheap part that makes a noticeable change in the driving experience. Lost the retaining clip that ensures the cable doesn’t pop off during the install. Couldn’t get a replacement clip but was supposed to drive up to Iowa City to visit my long-distance girlfriend. Ended up making a hoodrat solution with a bolt and locking nut from Lowe’s and drove it that way for about a thousand miles. Ain’t nothing stopping me from seeing my giiiiirl.

Installed an Alpine mono amp, Alpine Type R 10” subwoofer, and an uber-stealthbox. Also a legit mod, not sure if uber-stealth is still around.

Fall 2012 Got a better paying job and moved from Kansas City back to Iowa. The mods start picking up steam.

Got a bubble on the sidewall of the stock Pirellis. Replaced them with Continental DWS on my stock wheels. The DWS was an ok all-season tire for me. These ended up being my winter setup for two seasons.

December 2012 Got into a car accident! 100% my fault, approached a stop sign too quickly in icy conditions and slid into an SUV. (Ok maybe I partially blame the DWSs).

Got a new bumper though and got a sick side mount plate setup from

January 2013 Neuspeed P-Flo. The sound of this intake was awesome and I’m sure it increased airflow to the engine. Years later I bought a OBD-Link MX and noticed my intake temps with an 85 ambient would hit 115 easily. The P-Flo was a good intake at its price but if I did it again, I’d probably get an intake with a closed airbox.

Spring 2013 Huge update.
• H&R front and rear sway bars
• Bilstein HD shocks
• DG Springs
• Tyrol Subframe collar kit
• S3 control arm bushings

Overall, this suspension setup has been solid for me. I still have this entire setup on the car to this day. It’s a really firm ride and now that I own two cars, probably too firm for my daily driver. But at the time I tried to build one car that could do it all and I really feel like I nailed it. I experimented with the sway bars a bit but ultimately set them to full stiff front and rear.

Cool side story, I had the suspension components installed in Kansas City. After the install, I met with a few VW friends and went for a cruise on KS-5. It doesn’t seem like much on the map, but it’s a good time. That cruise was the very beginning of KC Dubs. Since the cruise, KC Dubs has grown into a VAG enthusiast group with over 800 members. I wished I could’ve stayed in KC to be a part of that group’s growth

Pic from before KC Dubs was KC Dubs and just a bunch of jerk-offs. Check out that sweet side mount plate:

More Spring 2013
• Neuspeed RSE12s
• Michelin Pilot Super Sports (MPSS)
• APR Stage 1

The Neuspeeds are a beautiful wheel. They’re 18x8s and I’ve always run 225/40/18s on them. The offset is perfect for the fronts and I always planned on getting 10mm spacers for the rear but never did. Love these friggen wheels. Especially at the price point. MPSSs: Best. Street. Tire. Period. Excellent wear, good dry grip, best wet weather tire in my opinion. The internet also agrees with me.

APR Stage 1: I’ve owned Emma for about 1.5 years now and waiting to get stage 1 really let me appreciate the additional horsepower and torque. Never had any issues with my tune. Needless to say, I love the power. If I got another VAG product, I’d get another APR tune.

EVEN MOAR Spring 2013
Totally redid the entire sound system. Won’t go into huge detail but all Alpine stuff. Headunit, front component speakers, rear coaxial speakers, and a new five channel amp to run the whole thing. Sounds great.

Girlfriend got me an SCCA membership for Christmas 2012. I start autocrossing (and high-performance driving in general) in the Spring of 2013. I still autocross though not as much as I prefer. Emma classes in STX and I had a good start in my class. Usually finished second behind a Cobalt SS driver who’s since sold his Cobalt and is now a big player in the local Rallycross scene. There’s a couple FRS/BRZs in my class as well that I regularly beat in 2013 and 2014. I’ll come back to these dudes later.

Pic from the first autocross and when I weighed 15 pounds less:

Fall 2013 Did my first trackday at Autobahn Country Club South with the Chicago Chapter of the SCCA. I ended up being the fastest car in the novice group which was a cool feeling. The track bug didn’t really bite me that day. I think it’s mostly because it was structured as an educational event and I didn’t time myself.

Another side story. Before the track day I did my first brake job. And I installed the brake pads inside out. The backing plate against the rotor. The friction material facing away from the rotor. I have a habit of rushing through things and caring more about the big picture than the small details. And I realized that the weaknesses I have in life, bleed into my car hobby. And that the hobby is a reflection of what I do well and what I don't.

I noticed and corrected the issue before the trackday and had no problems. Every now and then I think about that mistake and how important the fine details can be. I've become much more detail oriented since.

Also bought an AWE Turboback exhaust. Thing sounds amazing. It struck me as the ideal balance between civilized and aggressive. Perfect for my one car that could do it all philosophy. Four years later the downpipe completely breaks right at the turbo flange. AWE sends me a replacement under warranty.

Also also went to APR Stage 2. A respectable bump in power. Also also also installed an AWE Boost Gauge. Easy install, always worked well.

At this point I redid the entire suspension, the entire sound system, and went stage 2 in like 9 months. The mods really slow down for a while.

Summer 2014 The girlfriend and I take a road trip to Colorado in Emma. This is easily my favorite vacation of all time. We drove all over Colorado:

Boulder>Steamboat Springs>Aspen>Glenwood Springs>Rifle Falls>Colorado Springs>Denver>Home

Coincidentally, we were in Colorado Springs the same weekend as the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and decided to go watch practice sessions since we couldn’t watch the actual race. We wake up around 4:00 AM and hustle to Pikes Peak. We’re running a little late and when we get there and the toll booth dude says something like “You’re late. I’ll let you in, but you have to hustle to the spectator area.”

I take this as a free pass to drive Pikes Peak as hard as I dare. I channeled my inner Ken Block and hustled up the mountain at a pace I thought was blisteringly fast, but would be more accurately described as almost brisk. Easily the most thrilling drive of my life. More than any track day or backroad blast. More exciting than Tail of the Dragon in my Cayman S last year.

Remember when I questioned if the extended warranty was worth it? This is where it comes into play. After the practice session, we decide to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. Three quarters of the way to the summit, the car loses all power. I put the throttle to the floor and nothing. I managed to turn the car around, put it in third, and coast back down to the spectator area at mid mountain. We call a tow.

Takes three hours to tow her down the mountain and to a VW dealership. Long story short. The fuel filter assembly was damaged, most likely from a gravel road jaunt earlier in the trip, and a great VW employee named Pete gets the whole thing covered under extended warranty including the worst Chrysler 200 rental car.

Oh. One more thing about the Colorado trip. Got a selfie WITH KEN GUSHI IN A TARGET.

Summer 2014 The MPSSs are shot after Colorado. I pick up a set of Hankook R-S3s and FINALLY BEAT the Cobalt SS driver. The R-S3s are my first 200TW tire and were a solid pick.

Fall 2014 The GF that I risked Emma’s transmission for? We bought a house together:

Winter 2014 The DWSs suck ass in Iowa snow and I pick up a set of Blizzaks on steelies. The Blizzaks are beasts in the winter.

Spring and Summer 2015 I buy a Mazdaspeed Miata and Emma gets relegated to daily driver status. The R-S3s are shot and I throw the DWSs on the Neuspeeds and run them as my summer setup. Once I knew what 200TW summer tires were like…the DWSs were kind of miserable. I autocross the Miata for the season.

The day the Miata came home.

Also, the Miata is the second one my cars to be on a flatbed truck (blown radiator hoses).

Spring 2016 I buy my dream car a 2006 Cayman S. It breaks down two days after I buy it.

If you’re keeping score, I’m three for three for sportscars on flatbeds. To shorten another long story: I flew to Seattle to buy the CS. It breaks down like 200 miles east of Seattle and gets towed to a Porsche dealership in Spokane. Broken water pump.

Summer 2016 Emma retains her daily driver status as I track, autocross, and modify the CS. I also sell the Miata.

Fall 2016 Girlfriend and I take the CS the Tail of the Dragon. People say it doesn't live up to the hype, I think it did.

Spring 2017 This is where Emma’s story gets interesting again. The DWSs are finally shot and I pick up a set of Continental Extreme Contact Sports. I only put a few thousand miles on these tires but they seem like a good MPSS alternative at 80% the cost.

Shortly after I get the Extreme Contact Sports, my Cayman S engine goes bad. Diagnosed with piston and cylinder wall damage. Another story for another forum.

I weigh my options and decide I’ll park the CS for a year and drive Emma for my HPDEs this season. I unmount the Extreme Contacts and pick a set of Hankook R-S4s. I also get the APR 2.4 update. The update really wakes her up and she’s the fastest she has ever been. I take Emma to my home track: Raceway Park of the Midlands (RPM). And ironically I drive my DD faster than my sportscar.

My best RPM time in the CS: 1:50.68. My best time in Emma: 1:49.89. This is a testament to how good the MK6 can be. With some bolt ons, a moderate suspension upgrade, and some tires; the MK6 can be a quick car. I also discover I have a lot to learn with the CS.

Here’s a video of my fastest lap in Emma at RPM.

July 2017 I take Emma back to Autobahn Country Club South South for a Porsche Club of America event. I have a much different attitude on HPDEs now than I did in 2013. I end up having a great time and put down a 1:43.28.

Here’s a video of my fastest lap of the day:

Here’s another video from the same event of me reeling in 911s, a Cayman GT4, and a few other cars:

At the track, I notice the car isn’t holding boost right and the (stock!) clutch is starting to slip.

I autocross Emma for the first time in three years. And those FRS/BRZ owners I used to beat regularly at autocross in 2014? They whooped my ass by 1.5+ seconds this summer. Goes to show that practice and sticking to a platform is the key to going faster.

September 2017 The boost issue turns out to be a bad wastegate and the stock clutch is giving out after 108,000 HARD miles. I’m at a fork in the road. Do I invest $3k+ on a clutch job and new turbo? Or is it time to sell the car and move onto something new? I test drove an Mk7 GTI Sport, an MK7R, and a Focus RS. I liked all of them and they seemed like good options but ultimately, I decided to repair my car.

First mods in 3.5 years:
• Southbend Stage 2 Daily Clutch Kit
• Brand new IHI turbo
• Wavetrac Differential

The clutch was an excellent call and I’d recommend it to anyone who dailys their stage 2 car. The throttle response is a touch better and the clutch engagement feels crisper and less sloppy. It’s hard to say whether the feeling of increased power is the new turbo or clutch, but I think it’s the clutch. It seems like it transmits power from the engine to the wheels more efficiently.

I considered a K04 upgrade but I never felt like the car needed more power. If I did it again, I’d still go with an OEM spec turbo because…

The Wavetrac is kind of a disappointment. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected a more pronounced “clawing at the ground” or “pulling you through corners” type of feeling. I entered my first time trial at the Iowa Speedway last weekend and spun the tires in third gear in the infield multiple times. The R-S4s still had sufficient tread so I don’t blame the tires. Actually, I blame myself because I’m obviously asking too much of the front tires. I just thought the Wavetrac would find that unused grip and put it to work. I guess I was expecting miracles from the Wavetrac and that’s not fair. Going into the winter, I’ll be working on my throttle application.

Now If I had to do it again, I don’t know if I’d mod much differently. (ok maybe I would’ve gotten a BBK and a different intake). Maybe I would’ve picked up a second car earlier and kept her more DD friendly, but even saying that now I’m not so sure. The MK6 is a great platform and is really flexible in terms of what kind of experience it can provide. This is without a doubt my favorite car I’ve owned and BY FAR the most important.

After I bought my GTI, I slowly (then quickly) fell in love with the hobby. The car was a lot of firsts for me. First new car, first mods, first autocross, first track day, first time trial. Most of the friends I hang out with now are car friends. I’m doing my first wheel to wheel event at Road America next weekend and I'm rebuilding the Cayman engine this winter and planning on a big time attack season in 2018. I don’t even know who I’d be without my car hobby. And I don’t know where my car hobby would be without this GTI.

If you’re still with me, I’m completely blown away. This “review” didn’t end up being the post I thought it would be. I expected to talk mostly about the mods, but it’s really more of the journey of my car hobby and how this car has been through it all. Thanks for reading.

tl;dr my GTI changed my life
APR Stage 2 | Neuspeed P-Flo & RSE12 | AWE Turboback Exhaust | Bilstein B6 | DG Springs | H&R 26/24 Sways | TyrolSport Subframe Collar Kit | Michelin PSS

Last edited by Credit; 10-13-2017 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Grammar and stuff. Added stuff.
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:38 AM   #2
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Great thread

Never seen someone talk so badly about dws tires tho
2013 GTI / Black / 2-dr Base / DSG / NGK plugs w/ R8 Coil packs / K&N High-Flow Filter / EBC Red Stuff brake pads / EBC slotted rotors / RCD330
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:46 PM   #3
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*insert slow clap gif*

Cool story, bro.

No seriously, cool story.

Good read and great color choice, BTW.

Originally Posted by Credit View Post
Coincidentally, we were in Colorado Springs the same weekend as the 2014 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb...

tl;dr my GTI changed my life
Yeah, "coincidentally." *smirk* *eye roll* She buy that?
('12 4DR/TR/6MT GTI - MEMBER OF THE 130K+ MILE CLUB) WISHLIST (bolded Performance - Unitronic Stage 1 & CAI // Unibrace UB // DG springs // H&R 26FSB/22RSB // Tyrolsport Subframe Kit ||| Cosmetic - OZ Leggera HLT // Color matched markers/lip/rear emblem insert // OEM Black emblems // Depo Tinted LED tails // Raceseng Ashiko shift knob // 30% tint // Soundaktor delete
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:29 PM   #4
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I truly enjoyed reading this whole post. Everyones got good car stories but this was like "The life of Emma" good shit.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:07 PM   #5
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A very enjoyable read.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:51 PM   #6
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Greatly enjoyed reading about your journey buddy! I remembered most of it but there were some twists and turns that I either forgot about or had not heard. Thanks for the props for KC Dubs, you were there for its infancy! I cannot believe that you have been gone that long from KC!?! Where does the time go?... Cars/bikes are life, less so for me now that the kids are growing are life now. Thanks for sharing your story!
Also: 2012 Tiguan LE 2wd
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:13 PM   #7
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Hmmmmmmmmmm....... if your clutch lasted a while on stage 2, maybe mine will....

Great read though, followed all of it, thank you for taking the time to post it up.
2010 TR GTI APR Stage 1 Fully Loaded, APR Carbonio, R8 coils, Rotiform 19's, Koni Coilovers, CTS subframe reinforcement kit, CTS Billet Torque Arm Insert, CTS rear subframe bushing kit, LED Golf R Tail Lights, Xenon Headlights, VCDS changes (DRL's, windows, gauge sweep, etc) and timing chain tensioner updated!
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Old 10-15-2017, 03:14 AM   #8
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Good story! Also good to know a modded GTI can put down a faster lap time than a caymen s. 😁

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APR stage 1//Carbonio intake//R8 coilpacks//GFB DV+
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Old 10-15-2017, 10:20 AM   #9
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This was a good read. Never thought I would like it this much. Haha.

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Old 10-15-2017, 10:43 AM   #10
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I enjoyed the reading of your thread very much also; introspective, well written, and entertaining. Lol.....Emma. I thought I was the only crazy one naming cars.

Great thread.
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:05 AM   #11
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Truly great read man! You seem to have had bad luck with cars breaking down lol...oh well it's only money right?

Also, if your WG goes, you only have to replace that, and not the turbo. Done it myself. Save that money for blown water pumps and engine rebuilds lol.

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2011 Mk6 GTI DSG SBM Autobahn | HPA K04 | Stratified K04 Protune (Member #1) | APR S1/S2 Carbonio Intake| APR K04 DSG Tune | Forge K04 WGA | Bosch 3 BAR MAP | AWE S3 IC | Neuspeed Throttle Pipe | AWE Turbo Outlet Pipe | Fluidampr Harmonic Balancer | 18" OZ Leggera HLTs | VW DriverGear DSG Springs | GFB DV+ | Continental DWS 06s
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Old 10-15-2017, 01:40 PM   #12
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Excellent post - thank you. Might start a genre of literature going forward as surely a bunch of us have let this car take us places
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Old 10-15-2017, 02:31 PM   #13
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Cool story bro! Good write up!
by the time you've read this, I'd have already done.....this > Mostly stock, APR stage 1 2.4 file, Stoptech rotors, GTS G707 rims, GFB DV
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:49 AM   #14
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Thanks for this thread! You are great at summarizing the experience and detailing events over the years - and I'd say you have really bad luck with "dream cars" lol

I loved my Mk6, but when it began to cost us $$ for repairs, we bailed on it and went for a new mk7. Couldn't be happier, and now I wanna get it on a track next year to explore its limits.
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