If I got a Rand for each time I heard a turbocharged hot hatch drive past me and out of the exhaust bellowed a noise that sounded like a mini super car, I would be rich. Yes, many GTI’s, ST’s and RS’s in South Africa are not standard, as much as their owners might claim them to be. The car culture in the country is strong, young men and women, even older folks too, like to make their vehicles faster. It’s relatively easy to do that now seeing as that most manufacturers have turned to turbocharging their quick cars, so with the right software changes, you can turn a quick car into a fast one. Back in the day, to modify a car was much more difficult, more work was required. As a kid I remember every car featured on Speed and Sound Magazine had a gas flowed head, bigger pistons, strengthened this and upgraded that. Now guys talk about two things mostly, software and downpipe.
Car tuners have made packages available ranging from “mild” stage 1’s to ridiculous stage 3’s. One of these tuners is a company called Unitronic and they are known for bringing out the “hot” in many hot hatches. Volkswagen’s Golf 7 R is a hot hatch in the true sense, with a 0-100 time of 5 seconds, I think it’s earned the right to be called a hot hatch. What happens when you do a software change, intake change, as well as an increase in the diameter of the downpipe? A lot. Well for starters you car will go from 206kw to around 240kw and your torque will be just under 500NM. That’s enough to annoy many fast saloons and sports cars on the road trust me.
This Golf 7 R is not childsplay, it is very quick but in a very civilised manner. It feels simply like a faster Golf 7 R, the mods aren’t neck snapping and uncomfortable but are rather linear and controllable. This is good because as much as you would like to have more power, you need to live with the car every day. The downpipe also makes the car much louder, so your neighbours will probably hate you. The car has had a slight suspension upgrade which makes for a lower yet stiffer ride. The owner has not only focused on speed and handling only, he has made some entertainment upgrades too. The car is fitted with a nifty factory sound system upgrade which packs a punch. The system is available from Volkswagen but the drawback is that it is fitted where the spare wheel sits underneath the boot. I guess you can always play some tunes whilst waiting for someone to bring you your spare tyre that you had to leave at home. If that’s the case, pray you’re alone and not with your wife or husband, as the number of “I told you so’s” you will hear, will be louder than your sound system.
You would think the owner of this car is an irresponsible man who trolls the streets looking for races at night, you would be surprised. His daily driver is a Polo 1.2 TSI which he uses to commute to work, the car only comes out on weekends for some track work and events. There is a catch to this whole modifying game, especially on a new car. The issue has to do with factory warranties, which will be voided by the manufacturer if the car has been modified. Recently companies like Oettinger have made a presence in the country as a way to bridge that gap. Their modifications allow a customer to still keep their warranty whilst having had modifications done to their cars. This is wonderful but the only drawback is the cost, which is very high. I guess if you can afford a Golf 7 R in the first place, you’re not exactly strapped for cash though. Happy Modded Monday Motorists.