Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Features My 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Unitronic

My 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Unitronic

There was only one thing wrong with the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen. Thanks to Unitronic, it’s now perfect

Update: After three weeks of driving the Golf with its new tune, we’ve noticed a remarkable improvement in fuel consumption. We are still “testing” the performance potential however we’ve so far calculated a 20+% reduction in fuel consumption. This may not apply to all but we are extremely happy with the purchase so far.

  • Unitronic Performance is based in Laval, Quebec, Canada.

  • The MK7 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is peak Volkswagen.

  • And now, it’s peak-er…

I’ve written a few stories on my personal 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Comfortline 4Motion 6-speed manual over the years. In brief, I bought it new in late 2018, got a GREAT price, signed a 0% interest finance agreement (imagine that!), and today it’s worth about $100 less than what I paid for it just over four years ago.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Unitronic | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Volkswagen Sportwagen’s basics make it what some have called the automotive journalist’s wet dream. It’s an AWD, turbocharged, manual-transmission-equipped compact station wagon that drives almost as well as it looks. In fact, on the subject of the drive, the only “real” issue has been power.

The then standard (with AWD) turbocharged 1.8L TSI EA888 4-cylinder engine produced 170hp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque (with the 6M) or all of 199 torques with the DSG. With roughly 3,350 lbs to lug around, without passengers or gear, the power is “enough”, or so I’ve repeatedly said. With the basic warranty now up, I’ve had enough of enough.

More performance in a flash with the Unitronic experience

I’ve been familiar with Unitronic Performance for a very long time. I first got a Stage 1 update on my 2008 Audi A4 Avant and was happy with the enhanced 245hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque (from 200 and 207). Now, the promise of 242hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque in a car that weighs about 350 lbs less than the Audi had me salivating…

And I’m blown away by the result of the 15-minute upload via the OBD-II port. The extra power is instantly noticeable thanks to the perfectly optimized delivery. The trick is that the tune is aligned with the OEM’s strategy with an impressively flat torque curve, which loads up immediately. The result is smooth and linear boost throughout throttle pedal travel. Bottom line is, for 1/2 the amount of throttle input, I get the same level of “speed” as I did before at wide-open-throttle. Anything over the halfway point and my head begins to lean gently against the headrest. Another benefit to the ECU upgrade is an increase in fuel efficiency. Thanks to the enhanced timing and fuel injection under cruising conditions, it is possible to discover, so I’ve been told, a roughly 10% improvement in fuel efficiency.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Unitronic | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

For this tune, Unitronic has maintained all of Volkswagen’s safeguards based on engine operating temperatures and other fail-safe methods use to ensure reliability and durability. Only one element is no longer protected and that’s the clutch assembly. Without some restraint, the disc, flywheel, and other related components make take offense to the extra power and pack it in. I’ve been warned that a worthwhile upgrade to the assembly could set me back roughly $3,000.

I will attempt to be good and not crush GTIs and Civic Sis with my Sportwagen’s newfound power.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Unitronic | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Unitronic | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Unitronic | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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