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Launching in 2010, the MK6 VW GTI is the sixth generation GTI produced by Volkswagen and currently is one of the best value cars you can buy. They're quick, fun, and practical, making a perfect daily or track toy. Over a decade after launch, these models have seen their share of owners—many of which haven't been kind. Here are a few things you should watch out for when buying, owning, or before you begin repairing a MK6 Volkswagen GTI. 

 

Volkswagen Mk6 GTI Overview

The GTI that Volkswagen offered between 2010 and 2014 is its sixth generation hence the Mk6 designation. It was built around the PQ35 chassis architecture originally used on the Mk5 but with small updates all around. Under the hood of every Mk6 is the EA888 Gen.1 engine, a 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder. Buyers had a choice of two six-speed gearboxes when new, a manual, or a dual-clutch DSG. Both transmissions exclusively drove the front wheels, forming a compact, reliable drivetrain.

As a member of the Golf family, the GTI is extremely practical in everyday usage. It offers five seats and a reasonably spacious boot that grows if the rear seats are folded flat. The five-door models are certainly easier to get people and things in and out of, but the three-door makes up for it in the looks department. Fuel economy is entirely dependent on the driver. Highway mileage around 35mpg is possible if the driver stays out of boost. It'll get worse the more aggressively you drive, but the turbo noises and torquey shove will make up for the lack of gasoline.

Lending the GTI its sporty but civilized ride is the aforementioned PQ35 chassis. It uses a classic MacPherson strut on the front axle and a multi-link design in the rear. Bushings and geometry are slightly different to accommodate the larger GTI wheels, but the strut and springs provide the biggest difference from the Golf. The springs are about .5" shorter than standard Golf pieces and use a firmer compression rate for a stiffer ride. Damper valving is paired to match, and the passive combination makes them perfectly suited for daily usage. The sway bars are thicker, too, helping keep excessive body roll at bay. 

Interior options were dictated by trim level, but even then, every GTI comes very similarly equipped. The lineup included the base GTI, GTI with Sunroof, GTI with Sunroof and Navigation, and the GTI Autobahn. Upholstery is black in every car in either cloth or leather. The former offers the traditional plaid pattern synonymous with the GTI and was fitted to the lower three trims, while the leather is singularly black and is only found on the top-spec Autobahn. The Autobahn was also the only other to receive the Dynaudio sound system, but modern aftermarket speakers and amps can push lower-spec models beyond it in sound quality.

 

Mk6 GTI Specs:

Engine (CCTA/CBFA) 

Type: Turbocharged Inline 4
Displacement: 2.0L (1984cc)
Horsepower: 200 hp @ 5100 RPM
Torque: 207 lb/ft @ 1700 RPM
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1
Max RPM: 7000
Induction: Turbocharged
Turbocharger: KKK K03
Boost Pressure: 8.7 PSI (0.6 Bar)

Transmissions
  • Manual: 6-speed, MQ350 (02Q), H-pattern
    • Ratios: 3.36/2.09/1.47/1.10/1.11/0.93
    • Final Drive: 3.94:1 (1st-4th), 3.09:1 (5th+6th)
  • DSG: 6-speed, DQ250, Dual-clutch Auto/Manual
    • Ratios: 3.46/2.15/1.46/1.08/1.09/0.81
    • Final Drive: 4.06:1 (1st-4th), 3.14:1 (5th+6th)
Weight:

3100lbs / 1410kg

Performance:

Manual 0-60 MPH: 6.3 Seconds
DSG 0-60 MPH: 6.1 Seconds
Top Speed: 124mph (Electronically Limited)

 

Five Most Common Maintenance Items:

While the Mk6 GTI can be very reliable, a few common spots will need attention. 

VW MK6 GTI Timing Chain Tensioner

The EA888 uses a single timing chain to ensure the valves and pistons work together harmoniously. The tensioner keeps the chain taut around the various sprockets so that proper time is kept. Unfortunately, the original tensioner fitted to the EA888 Gen.1 engines, designated the "06H," is notorious for failing. When it fails, the chain can jump teeth, allowing pistons to hit valves and necessitating a major rebuild. VW updated the tensioner to the current "06K" variant eliminating the issue, but not every GTI has received the updated tensioner. Perform the tensioner update immediately after purchase if it hasn't been updated previously.  

VW EA888 06K Timing Chain Tensioner



VW MK6 GTI Waterpump

It's a well know fact that plastic doesn't work well will heat cycling. Consistent heating and cooling cycles weaken the chemical makeup until the plastic cracks. Likely because of weight and cost, Euro manufacturers like VW make a majority of their cooling system components from plastic when possible. Oil leaks can also negatively affect how o-rings seal and plastic handles the heat. The EA888's water pump uses a plastic housing and is known to leak oil from the cam cradle directly above the pump, so the GTI isn't immune from coolant leaks due to cracking or failed seals.

Replacing the water pump with a fresh OE unit is a great way to solve a leaking pump, but doesn't do anything to prevent those same issues going forward. Aftermarket companies Graf and Rein both offer a pump with complete aluminum housings. While heavier, they remove the biggest source of pump troubles from the engine. The Rein piece goies even further, using o-rings designed to swell less when exposed to oil.

VW Mk6 GTI Water Pump



VW MK6 GTI Intake Manifold

More plastic, yay! Plastic intake manifolds are everywhere today, and they do make more sense that plastic cooling system components. Although the risk of becoming brittle is still there, their weight, cost, and low thermal conductivity make them ideal. However, the EA888 doesn't have the best PCV system in the world, so oil regularly finds its way into the manifold, causing havoc.

Inside the manifold are a set of flaps that mostly work to improve emissions at idle. They provide little performance benefit and are a common source of trouble. Failures can occur inside the manifold as the flaps get jammed in a specific position, or outside the manifold with broken actuators. You're going to see a P2015 engine code appear when a failure occurs, no matter what the cause was. Replacing the intake or deleting the flaps are your only options. Neither are inexpensive, so do some research and find what fits you best.

Volkswagen Mk6 GTI Intake Manifold

 

VW MK6 GTI PCV Oil Separator

VW's PCV design wasn't amazing on the EA888 Gen.1. They fail in number of different ways from ripped diaphragm to cracked vacuum lines, and so on. Luckily, replacement is easy as its bolted to the top of the cylinder head. If left for too long, a failed PCV will cause oil leaks from the crank seal and the rear main seal. Replacing those seal is enormous work and incredibly expensive, so don't waste time replacing a failed PCV.

VW MK6 GTI Guide PCV Oil Separator

 

VW MK6 GTI Coil Packs

Ignition trouble is common on any modern engine. Ignition coil packs are put through incredible stress under normal driving conditions, so their lifespan isn't a very long time, relatively speaking. It get worse as you begin to add performance. More horsepower requires a more powerful spark, and that will reduce the life of coil. A great upgrade for a stock or modified GTI is the coil from the Audi R8. The red units provide a stronger spark and add a bit of style to the engine; it's really a win-win.

 

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Written by :
Evan Madore

Writer/Editor at FCP Euro and owner of a daily R53 MINI Cooper, a track-built R53 MINI, and a 1997 Dakar Yellow E36 M3 Sedan. ••• Instagram: @evan.madore


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