Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week its REVO’s 500bhp Golf R demo car from 2019, which at the time was hot off its pilgrimage to Wörthersee…
Feature taken from Fast Car. Words Emma Woodcock Photos Daniel Edwards
Soul isn’t stored in the spec list. It’s the driving, the events, the people and the experiences along the way. That’s why – despite the hunkered stance, upscale electronics and 503bhp that define the REVO VW Golf R demo car – this story starts with a thousand miles of open road. “A lot of people might have preferred to be in our support van,” laughs Dan Edwards, the company’s marketing manager, “given that most builds with this kind of power aren’t designed to drive that far. But it was really cool for me to be able to experience it, to further testify what this Volkswagen can do.”
The destination was every bit as exciting as the journey: Wörthersee Treffen, the largest VW festival in the world. REVO had visited before – flying over to meet and greet with clients – but the 2019 roadtrip was the start of something much bigger. “We turned up,” laughs Dan, “and we took over! It’s incredible to meet our German and Austrian customers and hear how much the love our brand, and the show itself is so much fun. I’d never been before but it’s always been on my list.”
Dan’s international interactions didn’t stop at the EU borders. In an antipodean twist, the REVO team also found themselves chatting with Marty and Moog from Mighty Car Mods. “They had a Mark 4 Golf GTi with them which really should have been in a scrapyard, so we ECU flashed that,” he explains, “but – back in Australia – they’ve got a Golf 7 R with exactly the same packs as our demo.” That’s what happens when tuning goes global.
Dig into the engine bay and the worldwide appeal isn’t hard to parse. REVO has created this Golf by combining two distinct parts collections – the Performance Pack and the Power Pack – to throw down 503bhp and 405lb-ft of torque. “We’re moving away from the Stage 1, 2 and 3 concept,” Dan clarifies, “and these packages take the guesswork out of tuning. They’re items you can add together and know the car will run like it should.” Those peak power figures are dyno-proven, by the way, and are achieved with entirely standard engine internals.
The Performance Pack comes first and focuses on getting air through the engine with maximum efficiency. Hardware changes start with a three part, carbon fibre air intake system, using a finned air scoop and computer-designed airbox lid to get intake air flowing more quickly and more smoothly than standard. On the other side of the turbocharger, incoming oxygen then meets a REVO intercooler. A bar and plate design that’s equipped with an upsized core, redesigned end tanks and silicone hoses, it keeps air cool so that performance won’t drop off in even the hardest use. A larger diameter, stainless steel downpipe – designed with help from experts Scorpion Exhausts – completes this stage of the physical transformation. Stir in revised software and 394bhp.
It’s a great intermediate package but the team wasn’t going to stop there. “We know the MQB platform inside and out,” says Dan, “we’ve become experts in it and it’s really robust.” To prove its point, REVO has fitted the Golf with an IS38ETR turbocharger for even more go. Retaining the original Volkswagen housing, albeit in reworked form, the uprated turbo boasts a billet compressor wheel, larger turbine shaft and a strong thrust bearing to ensure it can withstand very high power outputs. Improved high and low pressure fuel pumps, a 76mm Milltek stainless steel exhaust system and firmed up REVO engine mounts appear in support.
A Stage 3 engine control unit reflash unlocks the Golf’s ultimate potential. Uploaded via the OBD port, the pre-built tune pushes the car past 500bhp, increase the rev limit and unlocks left-foot braking. A similarly extreme Stage 3 DSG transmission map also features. That means a raised rev limit, the removal of automatic kickdown and variable launch control that lets the Golf R rip at anything up to 4500rpm.
Running gear changes are just as radical. The original springs are gone, replaced with Bilstein height-adjustable suspension, while the stock tyres have been replaced by a set of Nankang AS-2+ performance tyres. The go-fast rubber is mounted on a set of RVO19 19 inch cast alloys. An uncluttered, ten spoke design, these rims are an in-house design that weigh just ten kilos per corner. That’s just for road use. On track, where every second really counts, the Golf runs with a similar set of 18-inchers and AR-1 rubber, a Nankang design which is used in a range of circuit racing championships.
“I really do rate those tyres,” says Alex Bones, a Time Attack hotshoe and the man most often asked to take the REVO Golf on track, “they’re basically semi-slicks and very predictable.” It’s not the only thing he likes about the Volkswagen. “Passengers are often quite shocked! A wolf in sheep’s clothing is the best way to describe it and people don’t expect that level of performance from what is essentially a family-look car!”
Scorching hot laps are only possible thanks to Alex’s faith in the braking system. The discs and calipers are still standard at the rear but up front, where the action really goes down, every component has been touched by REVO and stopping specialists Alcon components. Where once 340mm rotors stood, the red Golf now boasts two-piece, fully floating, C hook discs which measure a full 380mm. The calipers have seen improvement too, moving from stock items to REVO by Alcon six-pot, all-aluminium pieces. Ferodo Racing pads and braided brake lines complete the transformation.
Whether it’s Wörthersee or Aussie YouTubers, the REVO development programme doesn’t end at the firm’s Daventry headquarters. Thanks to a global selection of dealers and distributors, the modification package has landed on Golfs everywhere from the Midlands to Malaysia. It’s a key strategy that ensures the Performance and Power Packs will hold up anywhere in the world. “We don’t want software that just works in Britain, on British fuel, in the British climate,” Dan explains. “In Russia it’s really cold and they’ve got poor quality fuel, while in South Africa the petrol is okay but it’s hot, it’s humid and Johannesburg customers are living at altitude. We have to take these factors into consideration.”
The community approach is reinforced by the matte wrap, REVO and its subsidiaries all using the same look on their demonstration machines. “We designed it in house,” says Dan, “the Golf used to be matte black and it was mean but so subtle that people used to walk past it. Now it looks as fast as it is and gets noticed!” Up on the roof, the pair of large numbers are to signal each machine’s nationality and place in the REVO community. Germany has 03; Russia has 02; South Africa has 01. And Daventry? A double zero for patient zero.
Five years after the build began, the Golf is still dropping jaws at every opportunity. “It’s crazy behind the wheel,” Dan smiles, “but it all depends on how you drive it. Rolling around sensibly, you could put your mum in the car and she wouldn’t notice the difference over something standard… but plant your foot and it opens up a whole new world. It keeps pulling; it’s an insane package.” With few mechanical opportunities left to explore, REVO are considering a Clubsport transformation with bucket seats, harnesses and a half rollcage but the Golf’s future is all about the driving. After all, no car sets the heart racing when it’s standing still.
TECH SPEC: VW GOLF R
REVO custom full car matte wrap in red and black with double zero roof decal, black VW roundels, front numberplate delete, Mission Wörthersee rear window decal.
VW Golf R 2.0 TSI EA888 turbocharged inline-four with REVO Carbon Series air intake system, uprated high and low pressure fuel pumps, REVO IS38ETR uprated turbocharger, REVO turbo muffler delete, REVO bar and plate intercooler with REVO silicone pipes, REVO downpipe with sports catalytic converter, Milltek 76mm stainless steel cat back exhaust.
19-inch REVO RVO 19-inch alloys with Nankang AS-2+ tyres (road), 18-inch REVO RVO 18-inch alloys with Nankang AR-1 semi-slick tyres (track), REVO by Alcon 380mm C hook front brake discs with REVO by Alcon six-pot front calipers, Bilstein B16 height adjustable suspension, REVO MQB chassis and engine mounts.
VW Golf R interior with Alpine 9-inch touch screen central display.