APR Golf SEMA

Tuned GTI pushes the front-wheel-drive envelope

Evo rating
  • 911-baiting power, tractability
  • It doesn’t come cheap

Remember reading about the Alfa 164 3-litre V6 as a kid. I loved the way that car looked and sounded, so I was always upset when testers moaned about its unruly torque-steer. It was proof positive, we were told, that front-wheel drive had found its horsepower limit. The Alfa had 192bhp.

Today we have 230bhp front-drive hatches that put their power down with consummate ease, tyre technology and advances in suspension design having pushed front-wheel drive’s limitations further and further back. But surely this is pushing a bit too far? I’m settling behind the wheel of tuning firm APR’s most extreme Golf GTI conversion. Built for the SEMA tuning show in the US, it’s a rolling showcase for what APR can achieve, but the ‘stage 3+’ engine upgrade, which replaces turbo, intercooler, intake, exhaust and fuelling components, is available to buy right now – albeit at a substantial £6750 fitted.

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Power is up to 405bhp and peak torque is a mighty 380lb ft, so to help cope with the enormous loads being put through the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cups there’s a Quaife limited-slip diff between the front wheels (another £1400), but even so I don’t hold out much hope for meaningful forward progress.

We’re on a track, which should help, and exiting the pit lane the APR Golf feels amazingly composed. The engine is happy at low revs, and a prod of throttle reveals a smooth build-up of boost and none of the on/off jerkiness you might expect. It’s quick, too. Really quick, hanging on to Porsche GT3s down Road Atlanta’s straightaways (as they say in Georgia) without any problem.

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The diff helps traction (as do the semi-slick tyres) and although there is torque steer, it’s not of the Alfa 164 variety. Amazingly, the conversion feels well-rounded and exploitable in this environment, and offers some very serious firepower. Not sure how it would cope with a streaming wet B-road, though…

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo
Max power405bhp @ n/a rpm
Max torque380lb ft @ n/a rpm
0-605.5sec (est)
Top speed170mph (est)
On saleNow (www.awesomegti.com)
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