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Golf R32 Tuning Guide For Power

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Table of Contents


There’s a lot of talk about modifying naturally aspirated engines for additional power.

But is there any point to it?

Well, it depends on your goals and expectations…and budget!

Modifying for more power on a NA engine is never going to yield the same results as modifying a forced induction engine as you may already know.

That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t gains still to be had, although they can be marginal in some cases.

Lets talk about modifying the Golf R32 engine for more power. We’ll explore the options you have for squeezing some more ponies out it, then you can decide if it’s something worth pursuing.

We’ll also touch on adding forced induction to it!

Upgrading The Exhaust

The R32 is renowned for its beautiful exhaust note that comes from the VR6 under the hood. Many owners opt for an aftermarket exhaust to make it sound even better and sportier. Pairing the engine with a nice cat-back from a company like Milltek can really compliment the sound of the car nicely.

If you want to get some additional sound out of it as well as potentially improve the performance slightly, you can look at getting sports cats or a decat for the R32 as well as a less restrictive backbox. While turbo’d car’s generally benefit more from a free flowing exhaust to ease the backpressure, there can be some power gains to be had too on a NA engine. 


A remap is something the majority of car enthusiast will know about, and will probably associate this mod with one often done primarily on cars with forced induction. 

While it’s true that you will get more power from tuning a turbo’d engine than a naturally aspirated one, there are definitely still gains to be had and a remap is probably the most cost effective mod you can do to gain some additional power.

With a remap, it isn’t always about the amount of power gained either. It’s about the delivery of the power too.

A remap can alter the progressiveness of the power through the rev range, which can transform your driving experience.

The gains you will get from a remap will vary depending on the tuner and the health of your engine as with all cars. Some tuning companies claim to get over a 20bhp gain on the R32 engine with just a remap, which is pretty impressive but results will always vary.

Join nearby Facebook groups and forums for R32 owners to get recommendations and ask to see dyno printout comparisons from their cars to pick a good tuner.

Performance Cone Filter

A lot of car’s come with restrictive airboxes as standards, and with the R32 you may be able to squeeze out some additional power from installing an aftermarket air filter.

These kits can also give you a better throttle response, more so when combined with a bespoke remap. 

They also add some more great sound to the car, and who doesn’t want that?

Ramair are one of the most reputable manufacturers of aftermarket air filters and they have designed one specifically for the MK5 R32 which you can check out here.



This is going to be one of the most expensive modifications you can do on this list (aside from the next one).

You can lose low end torque with this mod but will increase your top end power.

Milltek offer a more free flowing exhaust manifold for maximum power on these engines. Again, these aren’t the cheapest but if you are trying to extract as much power as possible without adding a turbo or supercharger then you may want to consider this. 

Upgrading the cams on the R32 engine can really make the engine more lively higher up in the rev range. This will be another costly mod but a great option if you are serious about extracting as much power as possible while keeping it naturally aspirated.


Ever wondered what it would be like to put a turbocharger or a supercharger on your Golf R32?

Extremely fun is the answer of course!

Oh and also expensive.

This is a complex topic that requires a whole article on its own to cover the setup options and the costs.

There are already pre made kits available for the Golf R32 with both turbocharger and supercharger options available. 

The biggest choice here will be deciding between a supercharger or a turbo charger.

If you’re looking for a more progressive and linear power delivery, then a supercharger is a good option. If you want something with a bit more power that comes alive higher in the rev range and don’t mind an initial bit of lag, then a turbocharger may be the better option.

When adding a turbo or supercharger to your R32 to get big power, you will need to consider other costs and work that may need done. For example, upgrades to the fuelling system, purchasing a stronger clutch to cope with the higher power, free flowing intake/exhaust manifolds and more.

When you go for big power, you find that a lot of the standard items on the car are restrictive for power as the car wasn’t build with running XXX bhp more than standard. Have a look at build diaries on forums and on YouTube to get an idea of costs and the work and parts involved to see if this is a path you want to take your R32 down.


Weight Reduction

While it’s true removing weight from your car doesn’t technically increase the power output, it improves your power to weight ratio which will make the car feel faster.

The R32 is quite a heavy car for it’s size, and you can remove some additional weight from it to simulate some power gains and make it handle slightly better. 

You might think that removing weight from your car would require extensive modification—but it doesn’t have to. How far you want to go with the weight reduction will depend on how much comfort you want to sacrifice and how much you are willing to spend.

For example, you could remove the back seats and replace the front seats with more lightweight sport seats options. You could also opt for lightweight wheels and a lighter battery.

As with weight cutting in any car, you have to be mindful of where the weight distribution is on the car and how any changes you make may affect the handling. For example removing the back seats in the R32 can cause the chassis to twist more, and as such you may want to invest in a strong rear brace to counter this.

Final Thoughts

On healthy engines with the above mentioned supporting modifications paired with a remap, its not unheard of for R32’s to peak at 280+bhp as a naturally aspirated engine.

The power to cost gain isn’t that great compared to most other cars that utilise a turbo, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. 

R32’s are special cars, and one of the most characteristic features is the NA 3.2 V6 engine. Adding even more power can certainly make it even more special and while it may not be the fastest car on the road, it will be a blast!

If you aren’t concerned about keeping the R32 naturally aspirated and have deep pockets, then of course you can look at a supercharger or turbo kit for your car.

Obviously this is going to be expensive (and mega fun!).

However if you intend on keeping the car and want to create something truly special and blazingly fast, why not?

Just be sure to do your research and budget accordingly before beginning the build, as costs can rack up surprisingly fast when adding forced induction to these cars.

Whatever route you decide to go down, we hope you found this article useful.

Happy modding!