People with their golf GTIs have gone crazy with the modifications. And, it’s understandable. The cute-looking vehicle can become a beast with something as simple as an air intake swap.
Some of the better-known brands come up with higher-performing air intakes. And this is a must. That’s because they need to one-up the already fabulous air intake that comes stock with the MK6 GTI from Volkswagen.
These brands need to give it their own in this case. And when so many brands compete, it’s harder for us to pick winners. But you can choose the best intake for MK6 GTI from this list.
That’s because we tried and tested twenty different air intakes with our own MK6 GTI. And these five managed to squeeze into the podium places.
We even added a couple of tips towards the end, which you might find helpful. So let’s get on with the reviews.
- 1 1. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit 69-1213TS
- 2 2. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit 69-9504TTK
- 3 3. APR CI100035 Intake System
- 4 4. Injen Technology SP3075P Intake System
- 5 5. aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-11892 Intake System
- 6 Things You Should Know
- 7 Is Aftermarket Reliable?
- 8 Cold Air Intakes Vs Short Ram Intakes Vs Stock
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
- 10 Conclusion
1. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit 69-1213TS
At A Glance:
- Brand: K&N
- Type: Cold Air Intake
- Weight: 7.26 lbs.
The first one on the list is from K&N. It’s one of those intakes that took the market by storm. At least, that’s what the majority says. But we had to dissect this one and get to the bottom of it. We’ll share the details with you in a bit.
So, what do you think is the best thing about this one? Well, it’s the class-leading filter in this case. You can say that the filter almost maintains itself.
We tried this one out on our MK6 GTI. The Golf already had a pretty good stock intake. So beating that one is a tough task. I mean, our review will be a thorough one even though we had it with us for four weeks.
It promises ultimate longevity, and we didn’t see anything going wrong during the four weeks of testing. It promises an airflow improvement of up to 50%.
Now, we can’t really test that to the point. But we were able to see a keen improvement in airflow.
We even took the Golf out on an uphill test. It was surprising to see that we got a bit better uphill performance. This should practically translate to a better towing performance too.
When it comes to throttle response, the improvement was subtle. I mean, you’re not going to see a drastic change in performance. But there’s a difference nevertheless.
As far as maintenance is concerned, well, we were impressed. Although we only tested this thing out for around four weeks, we didn’t see anything wrong in the filter.
They claim that you can go over 100,000 miles on the same filter. That’s a bold claim. Things might be quite different in real life. But even a fifth of the claimed number is impressive if you ask me.
As for installation, we needed professional help. We had a couple of friends in the garage nearby who were happy to help. They had a knack for working with K&N intakes. According to them, this one is slightly better than the previous version.
Well, that’s good enough for our Golf unit. It took just a bit longer than half an hour to get this one on completely.
They boast a lot about a better engine sound. Honestly, it felt the same to us. It might actually protect your engine from different contaminants, though.
After thorough testing, we were able to see better airflow. Most of the obstacles are removed if you put this one in place.
In order to keep the filter oiled and clean, you probably have to get a recharge kit. This might allow you to reach the stated performance on the filter. That’s because the small dust particles will get in any way since the oil catches them.
2. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit 69-9504TTK
At A Glance:
- Brand: K&N
- Type: Cold air intake
- Weight: 13.65lbs.
Coming in at second place is another one from K&N. This is another cold air intake. They seem to be dominating the list so far. Well, this one came in short at a couple of places to get the second place.
So, what’s unique about this one? It’s the sound. The engine sound that comes from under the hood is a massive upgrade from the stock intake.
Well, apart from this, it’s got almost all the features that you saw on the previous one on the list. I mean, they claim the same 10-year longevity, but we’re skeptical here too.
Upon testing it for around one month, we were able to note down some important pointers. We did notice a significant boost in the horsepower of our MK6 GTI.
I don’t know whether the airflow was 50% better as they claim, but it was apparent.
We even tried to put our Golf into the towing action. Let’s say that we were pleasantly surprised. There was a slight upgrade in the acceleration.
We even tried to imitate the towing action uphill. Surprisingly, it exceeded our expectations, to say the least.
They hold the same 100000 miles’ filter guarantee on this one. But we don’t think it would last that long. Maybe half of what they claim could bring a more realistic number.
As for the installation, it was simple. I mean, not DIY simple. But it didn’t take the mechanic too long to finalize things. We were able to get out of the garage in just under an hour.
According to the mechanic, you only need to bolt the intake on. As for the fit and finish, well, it seems to have perfectly fit in the space allocated for the stock air intake. So that’s a good thing.
They boast a lot about their prevention against contamination. We don’t know how much this works. But we didn’t come across anything too difficult during our testing period.
3. APR CI100035 Intake System
At A Glance:
- Brand: APR
- Material: Carbon Fiber
- Type: TSI Intake system
- Fit type: Universal Fit
- Weight: 4lbs.
Coming in at third place, we have one form APR. You might have expected this one to appear sooner on the list. But we decided to put it in third place.
So, what’s so great about this one? Well, it’s the only one on the list with a carbon-fiber body. The material falls somewhere in the premium category. And it keeps the intake lighter than others.
Since it has a carbon fiber outer, you can expect it to be lighter in overall weight when compared to the others on the list.
So, does it fit well? We tested this out with our MK6 GTI, and guess what? It fits like a puzzle piece. But we didn’t think it would’ve had a fitting issue to begin with.
When it comes to installation, all the instructions seemed to be precise. We still didn’t risk it by trying it out ourselves. We took help from a couple of experts from the local garage.
And they laughed at us. They probably thought we were quite dumb to be struggling with this one. I digress.
The installation was quick. You can attempt to install the intake yourself if you don’t want to get laughed at. And if you’re skeptical like we were, send someone else with your car.
We didn’t drop-test this intake since it was a pretty expensive piece. But we think it’s durable enough to last a while.
We didn’t see the company making any bold claims about how long this would last. But it seemed to me that it would outlast most of the cheaper alternatives.
Eventually, this is a top choice if you only want to reduce the weight of your intake. It’s light and durable. That’s not a usual combination of features, and it’s unique too.
4. Injen Technology SP3075P Intake System
At A Glance:
- Brand: Injen Technology
- Type: Short ram
- Weight: 5lbs.
In fourth place, we have this intake system from Injen. It’s not the best in the world. But it can pull off a couple of neat tricks if you have a keen eye.
So, what’s so special about this one? Well, it’s the price if you ask me. You can’t get the features that this one provides at the same price point. So, if you’re looking for an upgrade and you can’t spend a ton of cash, this is a wise choice.
The Chinese went ham on this one to try and deliver value. Well, as we said, this isn’t the best intake in the world. But it gets the job done decently.
When it comes to installation, we were able to bolt the intake in place directly. I mean, we did need professional help. But it didn’t take too long of a time.
We didn’t even need to make any modifications to our Golf GTI to get this installed.
But after watching the whole process, it seemed like we could’ve done it on our own. Yes, it was that simple!
As for the fit, it fits just like the stock version. During our five weeks of testing, we noticed a newly found whistle sound. Upon further inspection, this was from the Turbo. And, I think the new intake helped to make this happen.
We kind of liked the new sound. But you might have other preferences, so there’s that.
Again, the sounds aren’t ridiculously loud. You shouldn’t be too annoyed. Don’t worry, we tested the noise from the inside. We couldn’t hear anything when the windows were up.
Honestly, this one’s a bargain. Everything makes us go back to the price point. You might not be able to find a better deal.
Now, let’s talk about performance. You will see improvements across multiple aspects. When it comes to the mileage, we saw an improvement of around 4-5MPG.
That’s still pretty decent because it competes with the already great stock air intake.
There was a subtle improvement in the throttle response too. Although we did not notice any difference in HP, things might be different for you.
However, we did see a decent upgrade when it comes to the torque of the vehicle.
For the price, I don’t think you have any scope to complain. They’re a lesser-known brand. And it’s perfectly normal if you’re skeptical. We’re not endorsing it since we don’t know how long the intake or the filter will last.
It might not be the proper long-term option at all. But during our five weeks of testing, we didn’t come across any sudden hiccups. The fact that it outperforms the stock air intake for the MK6 GTI is impressive.
If you’re short on budget and you have absolutely no room to increase it, this is the top choice. But then again, we do not promise a long life for this one.
5. aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-11892 Intake System
At A Glance:
- Brand: aFe
- Type: Performance ram intake
- Weight: 11lbs.
Finally, we have this one from aFe. The power magnum has a nice ring to it. And it did just enough to reach the top five. But it wasn’t enough for it to secure a better spot on the table.
The best thing about this is the heat shield. This heat shield has a powder coating, and it’s relatively thick. So you can expect it to draw in denser air into the intake. Eventually, you will see colder air coming in.
In addition to that, you can expect an increase in torque and HP with this one attached to your Golf GTI. We tried this one out with the MK6 version of the Volkswagen hatch, and it didn’t disappoint, for the most part.
As for installation, it was a bit tricky. I mean, it fits right into the spot dedicated for the stock intake. So you can say that we didn’t need to make any modifications to the engine bay to accommodate this.
The longer tube allows for the air to stay longer inside the tube. This, along with the heat shield, makes the air denser and colder. In practicality, it only works ever so slightly.
I mean, of course, we did not expect air condition-like performance from an intake. But it still underperforms if you compare it to the others on the list.
However, it did have a couple of drawbacks which made it finish further down the table. So let’s talk about them.
One big thing is that it might not be legal in some of the states. For example, you might want to modify your GTI in a state in which this isn’t legal.
You’ll have to end up paying a hefty fine for that. So make sure you abide by the laws before you’re making a modification like this.
Another thing we didn’t like about this is the weight. Since it is made out of solid metal, it’s supposed to be heavy. If you’re an enthusiast, you know that you prioritize performance and speed over other aspects at times.
So if you see that the intake is adding a couple of unnecessary pounds, you might not appreciate that.
As for performance, we think this one did decently. It’s not the best intake in the world, but it performed well. I mean, it could’ve been a better choice if it was a wee bit cheaper. But we don’t set the price tags.
Things You Should Know
Now that you’ve carefully evaluated all the reviews, you should go through a couple of more points. These might help you in making a decision.
Is Aftermarket Reliable?
Your entire buying decision relies on this point. Because if you don’t trust the third-party brands, you can’t expect the best for your Golf GTI. Volkswagen wouldn’t want to cannibalize the sales of its own stock parts.
That’s why they don’t make the more enthusiast-focused air intakes. This is where the other brands come in. Brands like APR and K&N have been in the business for a long while. And they have also made a good name for themselves.
Aftermarket brands are focused on enthusiasts. They take risks when original manufacturers fail to do so. Some of the stock parts usually have air restrictions, intake hotter air, and come with lower quality filtration.
That’s why the aftermarket parts decide to focus on these pain points. You can see some cold air intakes while others focus on solving the filter issues. Third-party intakes also minimize the restrictions.
Cold Air Intakes Vs Short Ram Intakes Vs Stock
Let’s talk in a bit more detail about the three types of air intakes for your Volkswagen Golf. We’ll be telling you the advantages of using the other types of intakes compared to the stock intakes.
Why Cold Air Intakes Are Superior
Firstly, since the cold air intakes are longer, you have to notice that it is further away from the engine. There’s no air box that restricts it in any way either.
On top of that, you will get an increased airflow. If you didn’t know, these intakes draw in denser air which is, in fact, cooler.
And if you want aesthetics, well, the look of the engine bay sees a good upgrade too.
After our trials with the cold air intakes, we saw a couple of slight improvements in the mileage. We’re not too sure whether the engine power actually increases, but it’s possible.
Why Short Rams Are Better Than Stock
Let’s move on to the other part now. If you pick the higher-quality short ram intakes, well, you will get the advantage of the lack of a restrictive box.
These intakes come with thicker heat shields. So you can guess that these components make the cold air suction easier.
Just like the others, these intakes also improve the mileage, throttle response, airflow, and horsepower. And these intakes also look decent.
For those of you who like the neater aesthetics of the engine bay, these intakes are good choices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Should I invest in pricier air intakes?
Answer: Most of the air intakes are in a similar price range. Take a look at our list. We have intakes that are similarly priced, offering similar values. So if you see an intake that’s ridiculously priced, it might be best for you to avoid it.
Question: Will my K&N filter improve my horsepower?
Answer: Some of the intakes may improve the HP of your Golf GTI. While the difference might not be hugely different, you will notice it.
Question: Will any air intake fit my Golf GTI?
Answer: The simple answer is yes. But there’s more to it. You’re supposed to look for all the viable options. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of your hard-earned money.
Question: Can I increase my horsepower a lot with an intake?
Answer: It depends on what “a lot” is to you. Typically, aftermarket intakes are capable of adding up to 15 HP to your vehicle. And that’s us being optimistic. We don’t consider that a lot in any way.
Question: Will a failed intake cost me a ton of money?
Answer: Yes, if your intake fails, you will see a massive reduction in the performance of the engine. Eventually, the hot air will take over.
That’s it on our part. We tried to be neutral regarding all the different intakes here. All the air takes that you see on the list were tried and tested with the compatible vehicle.
So we only selected the ones that met the particular criteria.
You can compare them and check which one of them meets your requirements. Don’t blow your budget just because you like one particular feature. But if you think it’s something you must have, who’re we to stop you.
Pick out the best intake for MK6 GTI for you after carefully evaluating the options. Go through the tips towards the end too. I bet those will help. Good luck and drive safely.