Jeremy Clarkson once claimed that the little 106 GTi is the second best handling he’d ever driven (you can watch the full review here). Whether this still rings true is up for debate, but we at least know that the car is a prime candidate to be turned into a seriously quick track car. You can pick up an old GTi for pocket change these days; there plenty about on sites like AA Cars, but tuning all the way up to what’s generally regarded as stage 5 is going to set you back a fair bit. Not quite as much as a new 208 GTi mind.
Now, the 16-valve 1.6 starts out life with 120bhp. Not at all bad for a car this small, but not enough to be considered properly fast. With several modifications however, it’s entirely possible to get 220bhp. The car only weighs 950kg to begin with, so you’re going to end up with a weight-to-power ratio rivalling some serious sports cars.
The first step in your pursuit of power is not, in fact, under the bonnet. With great power comes great responsibility, and with this in mind, you’re going to need to make sure that you can tame the almost doubling of horsepower. This means fitting some better brakes, and fortunately, the brakes in a 206 GTi will do nicely.
The first couple of stages mainly involve fitting uprated camshafts and altering the ECU’s map. For this work you’re looking at up to around a grand, though there are a variety of different specification parts available. This will see you to around 150bhp, and is where most regular enthusiasts will stop. Throttle bodies can also be improved to push 160-165bhp, but you’re at the limit of the bottom end here.
Serious competitors will then go a lot further. On top of the aforementioned changes, there will also modifications or replacements of the majority of the bottom end, and numerous other parts, including the injectors, water pump, head gasket and more. In other words, a complete re-build of the engine. This is not generally something the average enthusiast can do, and the car will likely need to be in the shop for a couple of weeks. Prices are predictably large, but then embarrassing expensive sports cars in a 15-year-old supermini is also priceless too.
Turning the 106 GTi into a track weapon may neither be cheap or easy, but it is possible nonetheless. So, the only question that remains is whether you will take up the challenge?