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I’m never really quite sure what to expect when I drive a car with an upgraded turbocharger for the first time. Power delivery almost never seems to be consistent, and while having that binary on/off switch style performance can be entertaining, it’s not always practical for most driving situations. With that said, when (and often if) a kit comes to market that achieves the right mix of outright power and drivability, there is simply nothing better. So when APTuning offered up their Golf R equipped with APR’s Stage 3 Turbo kit for the afternoon, I jumped at the chance.
Two years ago when Lebanon, Pennsylvania-based APTuning first purchased their Golf R, they decided to make the car a showcase of off-the-shelf parts that anyone with the proper funds could theoretically walk into their shop and purchase. Using this philosophy, APTuning has compiled a laundry list of performance and aesthetic upgrades for their Golf R, resulting in perhaps the ultimate demo vehicle with a very healthy 420hp on tap.
This particular Golf R makes use of APR’s Stage 3 Turbo kit which features a slightly-larger-than-stock Garrett GTX2867R unit, an upgraded High Pressure Fuel Pump, full 3″ APR RSC Exhaust System and APR’s optional Runner Flap Delete kit. Because the kit’s turbocharger is so similar in size to the stock K04, spooling is only delayed by about 400rpm and when it comes into boost, you better have some clear space ahead of you. Power comes on quickly with boost spiking to an indicated 27psi on the vent-mounted New South Performance Boost Gauge, propelling me to extralegal speeds in no time at all.
Luckily for me, the brakes have been upgraded with 6-piston Volkswagen Racing units and 352mm slotted rotors hiding behind relatively light VWR Sport wheels, able to bring the Golf R back to the posted speed limit in a hurry. With that out of my system, I head back into town and put the car to the ultimate test for any big turbo application- normal street driving. My impeccable timing put me back into town right during the 12’o clock lunch rush, which would prove to have a fair amount of stop and go driving.
I quickly found that the car was extremely easy to drive, even with heavy traffic and the air conditioning on full blast. APTuning’s Golf R is still on the stock clutch, which was incredibly light with good modulation, and didn’t even have the slightest hint of slippage during my time behind the wheel. One does wonder how long this will last, but for the time being it was a welcomed treat. Another treat were the VWR Springs, which rode surprisingly well and were not bouncy when paired with the stock dampers.
My time with the Golf R was coming to an end, so I decided it was the perfect time for a bit more immaturity. Once I escaped the stop and go streets of lunchtime Lebanon, I came across a deserted road and gave the throttle one last boot before handing the car back over to its rightful owners.
During the drive home, I reflected on my time with the Stage 3 Golf R. The conclusion that I quickly arrived at was that APTuning did their homework when building this car, and APR did theirs when building the Stage 3 kit. Even with a healthy dose of additional power, it never felt sluggish at lower RPMs and the 3″ RSC exhaust was a perfect cruising volume. The Suspension was tight without being harsh, and the brakes are certainly powerful enough but retained excellent modulation. It drove much like a ‘normal’ car until I decided to not drive like a ‘normal’ motorist. If you’ve got a Golf R and a penchant for immaturity, give APTuning and APR a call- you won’t be disappointed.
More information about this car and the entire APR line of performance products can be had by contacting APTuning or APR directly.