2.0L TDI Performance Upgrades

Power upgrades are more difficult to come by for the newer TDIs (2009+). Upgraded injectors are rare, and turbo upgrade options are limited. This article lists some things you can do to give your TDI a little more oomph.

Chip Tunes

If you’re looking for more power, the number one thing you can do is a chip tune, or ECU reflash. There’s no easier or less expensive way to get significant power gains. Chip tunes increase power by doing things like increasing turbo boost, air to fuel ratio, increasing fueling, and advancing the injection timing. The standard tuning from the factory is usually pretty conservative—VW isn’t focused on getting the most power out of your car. Instead, they want the vehicle to be able to run lower-quality fuel and to prevent premature wear of engine parts.

In these cars, you can immediately see at least a 20 HP and 28 lbs/ft of torque increase. A stage 2 chip tune will increase the HP by 40 and the torque by 53 lbs/ft. And there’s even more tuning stages after that, if you want some more serious power.

Some companies that offer chip tunes:


Malone Tuning 

Turbo upgrade: CR140 to CR170

Another way to beef up the power in your CR TDI is to swap the stock turbo, a CR140, for the CR170, a larger turbocharger used in the european diesels.

This upgrade is relatively simple, but it does require deleting the low pressure EGR and blocking off a EGR port on one side of the turbo. The European cars had a different setup for EGR piping, so, unlike the CR140, this turbo doesn’t have a port on the correct side. In order to delete the EGR and still pass emissions, you need to get your ECU reprogrammed as well. It also requires a special hose in order to keep the stock airbox, MAF, and CCV setup.

People have reported a power upgrade of about 25 hp and 20 ft/lbs of torque.

Performance Exhaust 

Upgrades to the exhaust can give you a small power boost (if you’ve already done some upgrades) by decreasing backpressure in the system. Unfortunately, to date, there’s no exhaust upgrades for these cars that won’t delete the DPF or other emissions equipment. And that is illegal under federal law. You also probably won’t pass emissions. A catback exhaust will change the way the car sounds, but won’t do much for power. In other words, unless you want to break the law, you’re out of luck.

S3 Intercooler


The S3 intercooler can be identified by its metal end caps

Another option for the upgraded common rail car is to replace the intercooler. Drivers have discovered that the Audi S3 has a bigger intercooler, that, with some upgraded hoses, can fit into these TDIs. The intercooler drops air temperature coming from the turbo headed to the engine, thereby increasing the richness of the air. More air = more power. A bigger intercooler can lower the temperature more efficiently. Numbers have been difficult to find, but people are reporting significant temperature drops. Again, this type of upgrade is something you’d only want to consider if you’d upgraded your turbo and had increased airflow headed to the engine. Otherwise, the original intercooler would be sufficient.

As time goes on people will figure out more ways to increase power in these cars—maybe someone will come out with custom injectors, or options for a larger intake, or a clever performance exhaust that doesn’t compromise emissions. A kit to make the CR170 install easier could be just around the corner. Right now, though, these are the best options.

  1. The statement about exhausts is incorrect, I have a banks performance exhaust on my 2010 tdi. It is perfectly legal as it is a cat back/filter back exhaust.


    1. We don’t consider that a performance exhaust as it has neglible to zero impact on performance. The DPF is the main point of back pressure, what exhaust you put on after the DPF is more a function of sound and “appearance” than performance.


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