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Audi TT MK1 Best Performance Upgrades

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Table of Contents


The Audi TT MK1 is a modern classic that features a timeless sleek design that has paved the way for the newer generations of the TT and influenced many other cars.

Although they offer good performance for the money, there is more fun to be had by investing in some performance mods for your TT. This could be as simple as a remap, or it could be turning your TT into a track monster. 

The TT MK1 shares the same platform as the MK4 Golf and as such has a huge aftermarket support for parts and upgrades. In this article we’ll take a look at the various performance mods available for the TT MK1 to help you decide which options are best for your car.

For this guide, we will be focusing on the turbo versions of the Audi TT MK1 including the 180bhp variant and the 225bhp variant. Some of the power upgrades mentioned in this guide won’t be suitable for the 3.2 V6 NA engines. If you are looking to extract some more power out of your TT MK1 3.2, check out this article we wrote which covers power upgrades to the Golf R32 which shares the same engine

Air Intake/Turbo Intake Pipe

An aftermarket air intake and turbo intake pipe can help increase the flow of air going into your engine and provide power gains.

You will also get some nice turbo noises which are very addictive!

For the air filter, look at a cone filter from RamAir. These are a great piece of kit and some of them come with a heat shield too to shield the intake from heat coming from the turbo and engine.

RamAir have made a couple of different options for the TT MK1 when it comes to air intakes that improve performance and sound brilliant.

Audi TT MK1 225 RamAir Intake

RamAir Intake

Audi TT MK1 225bhp

RamAir Intake

Audi TT MK1 150/180bhp

The turbo intake pipe attaches to the air filter and is another popular component to upgrade for performance. An oversized 3 inch turbo intake pipe can boost performance and give you more torque and power higher in the rev range under boost.

In addition, the aftermarket options are usually made of stronger silicone material which are more durable and less likely to collapse under boost like the OEM plastic pipe.

Badger5 make a 3 inch turbo intake pipe for the TT MK1 that is a fantastic option and is used by many MK1 enthusiasts who modify their car for performance.

Due to the age of these cars, its quite common for the standard intake pipe to crack over time, especially when the car is running more power. This leads to boost leaks and loss of power under boost so aside from the performance benefits, a silicone turbo intake pipe is great for reducing the chance of future boost leaks.

Exhaust Upgrades

The Best Exhaust Systems For the Audi TT MK1

You have a variety of exhaust upgrade options for the TT MK1 to boost your performance and give you a sportier exhaust note.

If performance is your main focus, then look at investing in a 3 inch downpipe and a sports cat which you can purchase from eBay. The OEM downpipe and sports cats are quite restrictive and you can benefit from a more free flowing exhaust to help the turbo breathe easier. A decat pipe is another option to a sports cat but most likely won’t be legal for road use in most places.

You will also get a bit of a throatier sound by adding a 3 inch downpipe and more free flowing catalytic converter. If sound is your main focus on the exhaust, there are various backbox/cat-back options on the market from Milltek and Scorpion among others. 

Many manufacturers offer a resonated version or a non resonated version of the backbox. If you already have a downpipe and sports cat, you may want to opt for a resonated cat-back to prevent the exhaust from being overly loud and potentially introducing drone at motorway speeds.

Milltek Catback

Audi TT MK1

Scorpion Catback

Audi TT MK1

Front Mount Intercooler (FMIC)

Depending on the model of your Audi TT MK1 and the type of turbo it has, it will either have one or two side mounted intercoolers. The 180 variant has one intercooler and the 225 version has 2 side mounted intercoolers.

An intercooler upgrade is typically done when when you are upgrading other components of the car for more power like the intake and exhaust system. To get the maximum performance from upgrading your intercooler, consider having your TT remapped with a bespoke tune.  

When upgrading the intercooler on the TT, the side mounted intercoolers are typically replaced with a large front mounted intercooler with a larger surface area and better cooling capacity.

There are also options for uprated side mounted intercoolers that slot in place of the OEM ones, however for optimal performance you should opt for a front mounted intercooler.

There are various options for different budgets.

AIRTEC are a reputable manufacturer of aftermarket intercoolers who have designed a great intercooler for the TT MK1. This is a great performance upgrade that fits nicely and can produce nice power gains.

You can also opt for a more universal styled kit where you can buy the core for the intercooler and then the cut the universal piping to fit. This obviously requires a little more custom work to make it fit together nicely but often works out a bit cheaper.

Audi TT MK1 225 Airtec Intercooler

AIREC Intercooler

For the Audi TT MK1 225bhp

Bespoke Remap

A remap can really bring the TT to life.

With a remap alone on a healthy engine and turbo, you can expect to see a 25hp gain and a 75lb/ft+ torque increase.

Avoid going with the “flash tunes” and instead opt for a bespoke remap on a dyno as you will get more impressive and reliable results this way.

If you are adding other mods to your car like an exhaust, intercooler, air intake etc then a remap is a must to bring it all together nicely and maximise the potential of all the components. 

Take your car to a reputable tuner who knows these cars and the 1.8T engines well. The 1.8T engines respond well to tuning, however you will find that a remap will expose the weak points in your car so ensure your car is in heathy working order. Boost leaks are the biggest culprits after a remap so it can be worthwhile to replace any old cracked or worn vacuum piping with stronger silicone replacements for longevity.  

Take a look below at the expected power gains on a healthy TT from a remap alone on the most popular models.

Audi TT MK1 225

Standard BHP: 225bhp  Remapped BHP: 250bhp

Audi TT MK1 180

Standard BHP: 180bhp  Remapped BHP: 210bhp

Turbo Upgrade

The TT comes with 3 different turbos from factory depending on the variant. These are the K03, K03S and the K04.

The KO3 variants can be found on the 150/180/190bhp versions of the TT and the K04 turbo can be found on the 225bhp variant. The K04 is the most desired and powerful of the lot.

Its possible to upgrade to a K04 from a K03, however you may be better just buying a TT that comes with the K04 variant as you will need to change various components like the charge pipe, throttle body, intercooler among others.

If you really want to go for big power on your TT, then a hybrid turbo or a big frame turbo is essential.

There are many builds out there currently running 500bhp+ on uprated aftermarket turbos. When you start running bigger power, there are considerations that need to be made from an engine reliability standpoint. 

The rods are a notorious weak point on a 1.8T engine and many tuners recommend keeping the torque under 300lbs/feet to avoid potential damage. If you are running an aftermarket turbo then chances are you will be over these limits so budget for upgraded engine internals too. 

Take a look at our Audi TT MK1 turbo upgrade guide for more info on all of this.

Brake Upgrade Options

It’s all fun and games adding horsepower to your TT, but what about your stopping power?

Whether you are looking for a little more brake pedal feel, increased stopping power or a brake setup for the track – the TT MK1 has options for you. As standard, the TT MK1 comes with 312mm discs and single pot callipers which many don’t feel are suffice for sporty driving. 

If you own a turbo TT (180/225 etc) then a simple and popular upgrade to the brakes is the 3.2 V6 brake upgrade. These brakes came as standard on the MK4 R32 Golf. These brakes have the 2 piston callipers and a larger disc size resulting in better braking. This isn’t an overly expensive upgrade when you compare it to some of the other options out there.

Another good upgrade option is the brakes from the MK1 Cupra R. They have 4 pot brembo callipers and offer superior braking performance to the stock brakes.

If you are looking for as much stopping power as possible, then you can look into a big brake kit. These are the go to choice for many avid track day folk, and although expensive do provide the best and most progressive braking capabilities. Brembo offer some superb big brake kits which you can take a look at here.

If you can’t find anything that fits your budget or are happy enough with the performance of your stock brakes, you could always just paint the callipers red. Everyone knows that increases performance, right…?

Handling Mods

Handling mods are another common way to add an extra level of fun to your TT. Handling upgrades are designed to improve your vehicle’s performance on the road by improving traction, stability, and responsiveness through the turns. 

While the TT’s tend to have good grip out the box (especially the 4WD versions), some owners feel the handling is stiff and not as responsive as they may be used to in other sporty cars. Handling upgrades can also reduce the understeer these cars are known for and promote oversteer a little easier.

The first thing to look at as far a handling goes it to look at your shocks and springs. The MK1 TT’s are getting quite old now, so if you are needing new shocks/springs then it could be a good time to upgrade to some aftermarket options.

If you are looking to lower your car and its centre of gravity, lowering springs are a good budget-friendly option that you should consider. You can find lots of options on eBay from manufacturers such as H&R, Vogtland and Eibach

The TT’s ride height varies depending on the year of the car and whether it is pre or post facelift so keep that in mind when shopping for springs. While lowering springs can make your car look better, if performance is what you are after – coilovers are what you are looking for.

Coilovers replace the stock shocks and springs with a single unit that allows you to adjust the height of the car among other settings.

A good set of coilovers can really transform the performance of your TT! Not only this, but you can get your car sitting much lower on coilovers than you typically can with lowering springs. This makes them ideal for those of you who want your TT sitting low to the ground, without having to invest in an air suspension setup.

You have various options when it comes to coilovers for varying budgets. Regardless of what you go for, don’t skimp on the quality of the coilovers. A cheap poorly made set are going to cause you much more hassle than a quality set from a reputable manufacturer. 

One of the great things about coilovers is that they are adjustable, meaning you can configure them in various settings for your car and driving style. Most coilovers allow you to not only adjust the ride height, but also the rebound and compression which if dialled in right can make your TT a whole new beast!

For a quality set of multi-purpose coilovers, check out the BC Racing set on eBay.

Another great handling modification is fitting upgraded anti-roll bars. This reduces the lean of the car in the corners and stiffens the chassis up leading to tighter handling. A common upgrade is swapping to the R32 anti-roll bars which provide superior performance over the OEM ones. This isn’t an expensive mod when it comes to handling and you may be surprised by how much it improves the feel of your car when you’re carving the corners. 

Another popular alternative to the R32 anti-roll bar is the H&R adjustable anti-roll bars which also provide fantastic performance benefits.

We actually have a dedicated guide to suspension upgrades on the Audi TT MK1 which you can check out below.

Audi TT MK1 Best Suspension Upgrades

Weight Reduction

The TT isn’t a lightweight car, especially compared to other cars of similar size. Audi’s are built well and with the additional comfort features and the all wheel drive system, it adds up to additional weight.

There are weight saving gains to be had, it all depends on how far you want to go and how much money you want to spend.

Some of the most common weight saving mods to make include:

  • lightweight seats like bucket seats
  • lighter battery
  • removing the rear seats
  • lightweight wheels


If you want to go further, you can look at removing interior trim panels, the air conditioning, and a harmonic balancing weight that sits behind the crash bar at the rear of the car.

Finishing Thoughts

As you’ve probably gathered from this article, there are so many options out there for modifying your TT. It is worth remembering that these are older cars now with some of the earliest ones being produced in the late 90’s. As such, you should ensure your TT is in it’s best shape possible before going out and looking for upgrades.

For example, don’t go looking into a remap or adding a front mount intercooler if your car has boost leaks. Or don’t go chucking on a set of coil overs and handling mods while the alignment is already out. A healthy TT will response much better to any performance mods you throw at it.

With this in mind, there is a lot of fun to be had in modifying your TT and extracting extra performance from it. Just be warned if you are new to modding, it can be very addictive. Especially with the countless amount of aftermarket parts out there for the TT.

Happy modding!