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The VW Golf MK7 GTI Project

The seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf has been with us since 2013 and with the same platformed (MQB) Mk8 Golf now on the road the prices of the Mk7 will become more attractive for used car buyers.

Having spent the last 8 years covering 102,000 miles in a diesel Audi A3 coupled with the impending Low emission zones going live in many cities across the UK it was time for a long-overdue upgrade and a return to petrol power.

After going through several options and a lot of man mathematics there were three options for the next car. In no particular order these were a Toyota GT86 for some rear-wheel-drive fun, a Mk2 Audi S3 Sportback for a capable all-rounder and finally a Mk7 Golf. Having test-driven all three, the GT86 felt underwhelming and lacked torque and stability. This coupled with being less practical ruled it out fairly quickly. The S3, even with that almighty powertrain, didn’t offer enough of a change from the same shape A3 to justify the cost.  This left the final option of the three and so the search for a MK7 began.

With diesels not being considered, the GTD and other Mk7 diesel variants were taken out of the equation. This left two options in the Golf GTI vs Golf R. The Mk7 R is an incredibly capable all rounder and shares the same EA888 Gen 3 engine as the GTI. The significant difference comes from the size of the turbo and drivetrain.

The GTI utilises an IS20 and front-wheel drive whereas the R uses an IS38 and all wheel drive to produce 220/230ps and 300/310ps respectively. There are a few GTIs using the IS38, namely the Clubsport (265ps), Clubsport S (310ps) and TCR (290ps).

There are a few other special editions in different regions such as the Golf Rabbit edition in the US market. This being an homage to the Mk1 model that was released as a Rabbit in the US instead of the Golf name used everywhere else around the world.  In the end the choice to go with the Mk7 GTI was focused around cost, the equivalent Mk7 R was £3-4k on top of the cost of the GTI.

What did we Look for In The MK7 GTI?

It didn’t take long to realise that the performance pack was a must. An electronic differential, bigger brakes and an extra 10ps over the standard 220ps vehicle was a very attractive prospect. From the factory this upgrade cost around £1,000 over the standard list price and was ticked quite often by buyers. As such there are many examples available.

There was a lot of debate over the choice between DSG and Manual. On the one hand, you have a dual-clutch system that is very capable of spirited driving and comfortable cruising but with an additional cost to go with it.

On the other is a purist driving experience. Having watched the following video from TheStraightPipes, two points significantly stood out. The manual would undoubtedly be more fun, and the DSG wasn’t THAT much faster in the real world. The debate was settled, 3 pedals and an H pattern please!

A lot of the final must-haves were based on some creature comforts that would help with the residual value. These were heated seats, whether it be cloth or leather, the larger 8” screen navigation system, Adaptive Cruise Control and 5 doors instead of 3.

The MK7 GTI came with 18” wheels as standard with the option for 19”. The 18” offers a balance of comfort and performance whereas the 19 is less comfortable and better performing as well as the improved aesthetics. There was no real preference here but the 19” wheels were less common and as such would be ideal for standing outcome resale time.

Golf MK7 19" Wheels

The last consideration was the Audio system. This came in the form of the base level 8 speaker system or the Optional Dynaudio system. The latter coming with a factory fitted subwoofer that mounted in the spare wheel. This was less of a consideration given the options for aftermarket equipment that was a direct fit to the mark 7 being available.

What MK7 GTI Did We Buy?

The search lasted about 3 months, the examples that were really worth going for seemed to be snapped up rather quickly or were priced high. The search finally ended with a private sale of a car advertised on eBay. A 5 door Manual with performance pack finished in Oryx White Pearl with 57k on the clock!


The car ticked a lot of boxes and came with the 8” Discovery Pro Navigation system, 19” Santiago Wheels wrapped in matching factory spec Pirelli P Zeros all around, heated leathers, adaptive cruise control and an extensive history. No Dynaudio, but pretty much everything else!

What’s To Come For the MK7 GTI?

Over time we will document all you need to know about Mk7 GTI ownership, what to look out for, what and how to upgrade, how to maintain the vehicle and anything else we experience along the way.

The Golf is an incredible all-rounder so we’ll be opting for some choice upgrades that can help improve your experience with the car without any detriment to its “daily driver” characteristics.

MK7 GTI Badge

Planned Upgrades For The MK7 GTI

Articles to follow soon.

  • Tyre Upgrades
  • Brake Upgrades
  • Engine Upgrades (inc. Air filter and Exhaust)
  • Infotainment Upgrades (inc. Head Unit, Speakers)
  • Lighting Upgrades (inc. LED replacements, Xenon update)
  • Chassis Upgrades (inc. Springs, Engine mount insert, Wheel Spacers)
  • VCDS Modifications

Maintenance For The MK7 GTI

Articles to follow soon.

  • Carbon Collective Ceramic Detail
  • Battery Replacement – How to Guide

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