Background

One important advantage of the 2002-04 Turbo S version of the New Beetle is the performance flexibility of its 1.8T turbocharged engine. The AWP configuration in the Turbo S is essentially the same powerplant installed in a range of other VW models tuned from 125 to 240 horsepower.

VW Brand/ModelModel YearsHP range
Audi A31996-2005150 to 180
Audi A41994-2003125 to 190
Audi A61995-2000125 to 180
Audi S31998-2002209 to 225
Audi TT1998-2006150 to 225
Audi TT Sport2005-2006240
Bora2000-2005150 to 180
Cambrio1997-2000125
Golf1997-2008150 to 180
Jetta1999-2002150 to 180
New Beetle GLS/GLX1999-2001150
New Beetle Turbo S2002-2004180
Passat1996-2002125 to 170
Polo2004-2008150 to 180
Seat Alhambra1997-2000150
Seat Ibiza2004-2008150 to 180
Seat Ibiza Cupra1999-2001150 to 180
Sharan1997-2000150

ECU upgrades

The 1.8T is a popular platform for ECU upgrading given its relative low cost, wide availability, and compact size. Performance enhancements are “staged” with ECU tuning mated to hardware changes to handle the increase in torque, stress, heat, and other environmentals.

For example, APR sells a ECU chip ($450) that boosts stock 1.8T horsepower from 180 to 215 without the need for any additional hardware. Unitronic’s Stage 1 offers a similar performance boost.

Beyond Stage 1, there is a range of more aggressive performance enhancements.

Higher stages

Stage 1+

Billet diverter valve

With an upgraded diverter valve, horsepower can be boosted by 45 up to 225HP. This diverter valve replaces the OE plastic one — a common source of boost leaks due to its fragile rubber diaphragm — with a high-performance spring and piston design capable of handling higher boost pressure.

Stage 2

Tyrolsport side mount intercooler

Stage 2 takes the stock 1.8T up to the performance level of the Audi TT Sport (235HP). In addition to the upgraded diverter valve in Stage 1+, the turbocharger air intake and outflow must be redesigned. For example, Tyrolsport makes a larger capacity side mount intercooler that can handle higher boost temperatures but can still fit into the limited space engine bay without the need to switch to a front mount system.

Neuspeed air intake

The OE plastic intake airbox muffles noise while handling low rpm/low speed engine performance, but becomes restrictive when the engine is operating at higher RPMs.

The NEUSPEED P-Flo draws in more unobstructed fresh air with a washable high-performance oiled multi-layer cotton gauze air filter. The result is higher engine output plus an aggressive, deep throaty engine roar.

Stage 2+

While it is possible go well beyond 260HP, the cost and complexity begin to go up exponentially with the need to upgrade:

  • KO4 turbocharger and new inlet hose ($1300)
  • Audi TT 225HP fuel injectors (386cc)
  • Audi TT 225HP MAF housing (stock sensor retained)
  • Downpipe configuration
  • Engine main bearings, piston rods

Power ratio comparison

Even in its stock form, the Turbo S ute is competitive with late model compact vehicles (under $30k base).

Ute vs. Current Compact Vehicles

Going up to Stage 2 puts the ute on a competitive level with the Ford Mustang and even close to high performance sport cars (under $50k base) like the Chevy SS (9.6 ratio).

The Stage 2 ute even outperforms top-of-the-line pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 Platinum 4WD SuperCrew with the 6.5′ box (395 HP engine pulling a 4,913 lb curb weight).