For many of us, the Volkswagen GTI is the hot hatchback benchmark. If GTI fans have a complaint, it’s often that all the power is reaching the tires through front- or all-wheel-drive.
A North Carolina shop has just the antidote: converting a GTI to rear-wheel drive.
This beast is the work of Deutsche Auto Parts, and the coolest part is that the main components all come from Volkswagen. The team of tuners has all of the fun covered on its YouTube channel:
The GTI used for the conversion is a Mk5 Golf GTI, and the builders decided to keep the 2.0-liter turbo engine intact. The team gutted a wrecked VW R32 for the Haldex all-wheel-drive parts to build this project. Deutsche liberated the donor R32’s subframe, transaxle with transfer case, fuel tank and driveshaft.
If you were wondering whether this all worked together as a direct fit, well, the team hit some snags here and there. Any sheet metal in the way found itself cut out and deleted. The GTI even lost its spare tire well along the way.
Initially, Deutsche wasn’t just planning on using only R32 parts; the shop wanted to use the subframe and differential from a Passat. The builders even went as far as welding the Passat’s differential, only to discover it had the wrong mounting points. The Passat subframe also had parts that got in the way. So they just scrapped the idea of using Passat bits.
But the crew worked through the kinks and all the roadblocks to achieve an epic result. The front-drive axles were removed, as those wheels weren’t going to be pulling anymore. The engine wasn’t left in stock form, either. Deutsche managed to get the 2.0-liter four cranking out an astonishing 500 horsepower, a stellar upgrade over the stock 197 horsepower.
To make everything work, the shop installed a controller on the Haldex all-wheel-drive system to permanently engage the clutch in the rear differential. (On a stock Haldex AWD system, the front wheels drive the car until slippage is detected, then the differential’s clutch engages and the rear wheels help.) Soon, the car was ready to do some donuts.
The car took only seconds to destroy the transfer case. The drivetrain really wasn’t meant to take so much power. But it certainly put on a good show before breaking. Thankfully there was another transmission on hand.
The concept of a rear-drive GTI isn’t as novel as you might think. In 2007, Volkswagen crammed a 650-horsepower W12 engine where the backseat used to be in a GTI. The midengine Frankenstein GTI W12-650 show car was rear-wheel-drive, and Volkswagen even claimed a top speed of 202 mph.
There are a few other rear-drive GTI builds out there as well, but none blew me away as much as the Deutsche Auto Parts build. I hope we get to see more silly adventures with this car. I really want to see someone cram a V10 TDI into something as small as a GTI.
Deutsche Auto Parts’ build series is lengthy, but it’s worth the watch!
Great, now I want to buy a GTI. I’ll take one with plaid seats, please.