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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.

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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.

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.

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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