How to Build a Custom Volkswagen GTI

From out-of-the-box trim options to factory upgrades and aftermarket modifications, this guide will help you build a custom Volkswagen GTI.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a classic hot hatch that’s been redesigned over and over since it was first introduced in 1976. Throughout the years, the GTI became a cult favorite within modding communities. 
The VW Golf is both a versatile, sporty racer and a practical daily driver—and thanks to the 2022 GTI model’s three available trims, it’s as customizable as ever. Even the base
is a fantastic choice for any driving enthusiast, but for those looking for a custom ride, factory upgrades, and other aftermarket modifications will go a long way. 
That’s why we're here with a guide to building a custom Volkswagen GTI. 
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2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI customization options

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a particularly iconic compact
, despite the waning popularity of this vehicle type in the face of increased SUV and crossover sales. That being said, the GTI is still beloved and known for its smooth handling, confident cornering, and thrilling engine performance. 
The GTI comes in three different trims: the S,
, and Autobahn. A base-level GTI S starts at $30,875 and is propelled by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower.
The SE begins at $35,625 and the Autobahn at $39,325. The SE adds a souped-up stereo system, sunroof, illuminated grille, and infotainment features. The Autobahn features upgraded 19-inch wheels with speedy summer tires, which can really enhance the driving experience and sporty aesthetic of this already cool-looking vehicle.
New Golf models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but buyers can pay $800 extra to switch it out for a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic—improving both the torque and fuel economy in the process.

Volkswagen GTI optional packages

Volkswagen offers a few great optional packages to trick out your GTI before you even drive it out of the dealership. Here are some to consider:
Which trims is it available on?
Combination Roadside Kit
First aid kit, booster cables, warning triangle, working gloves, LED flashlight, PVC tape, multi-tool, blanket, poncho, and more
All trims
Black Wheel Package
Upgraded 18” black alloy wheels
All trims
SE Leather Package
Ventilated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with 3-position memory function, and padded door panels with leatherette inserts
All trims
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How to customize your GTI to save money

Naturally, most add-ons and packages will cost you more at the dealership, but some of these upgrades could ultimately save you money in the long run.
While it may be tempting to spring for the Autobahn, you should consider what sorts of upgrades you actually need. You may be better off finding aftermarket support, although these upgrades always lag a bit on newer models—especially since complicated software systems are becoming fairly impenetrable for aftermarket modders.
Also consider that the more you invest in your vehicle, the more you should expect your insurance to go up, as more expensive cars demand more expensive car insurance premiums. 
All that being said, you can still end up saving money with the right customizations. Here are some things that you might want to upgrade on your GTI to save money:
  • Lighter wheels: The stock wheels on some GTIs are quite heavy. Any extra weight can drag you down, decreasing acceleration and adding more stress to the engine. Lighter wheels mean
    saving money on gas
    and wear and tear to your tires.
  • Better tires: Better tires will always be a great early upgrade to your factory car. High-quality tires suited for your particular driving conditions can increase fuel economy and wear and tear, as well.
  • Suspension improvements: Upgraded suspension is something modders are already working on with the new GTIs to improve ride quality, handling, and of course, ride height. Smoother suspension can help improve fuel economy and slow down wear and tear, too.

The best Volkswagen GTI mods

Factory upgrades can take you a long way, but there are some things that a dealership just won’t do to get your GTI up to the level of performance that you want. As the modding community continues to build up aftermarket support for the new generation of Golfs, here are some of the best upgrades you’re likely to see.


If you’re into serious performance driving with your custom GTI, look into an upgraded front brake kit to help your car cope with more intense, prolonged sport driving.

Intake and exhaust

Intake and exhaust modifications will remove restrictions from an engine by increasing airflow to the engine’s turbo and allowing more combustion to occur in the engine.


Giving your suspension a bit of a ride height drop—usually around 30 mm—will really open up the ride comfort and overall fun.

How to find affordable car insurance for your Volkswagen GTI

Hopefully, you’ll have a speedy little GTI of your own soon enough. Prepare by shopping around for great car insurance to protect your new ride. But you don’t need to overpay to find a high-quality policy—just download the
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