MK6 GTI Wavetrac LSD Upgrade

Are you struggling with wheel spin? Let’s fix that with a Wavetrac LSD!

With big power possible from the EA888 Gen 1 TSi engine and the front wheels having the job to steer and put power to the ground its easy to overwhelm the front tyres and get wheel spin or torque steer. 

But doesn’t the MK6 GTI have a differential?

As you may well already know, the MK6 GTI already comes equipped from the factory with VW’s “Electric Differential Lock” or “XDS” for short, is a form of “Torque Vectoring”. The idea is to solve a problem that cars with open differentials have, this is that when one wheel begins to slip, all torque (commonly called power) is sent to this wheel and you experience a “loss of drive”. If you’ve ever experianced “one wheel peel”, this is it. 

The XDS system is an electronic system which begins to work when it notices that one wheel is slipping, when this happens it begins to use the brakes on this spinning wheel to slow it down. When this happens it allows torque to be sent to the other wheel, helping the car to continue to acellerate and corner better. 

This is a great bandaid for a stock car, with stock power with an open differential however however, once the car is driven in a high performance manor and power is increased it really begins to struggle. Major downsides of this system include lag time, introducing unnecessary heat into the brake system as well as using the brakes rather than actively sending power to the other wheel with the most grip, this is what Limited Slip Differentials can acheive. 

What LSD upgrades are available for the MK6 GTI?

There are a few different solutions on the market from motorport oriented plate style locking differentials to automatic torque biasing limited-slip differentials. They all have their benefits and negatives.

What you can do once a performance LSD is installed is turn off the XDS system and allow the performance LSD work as intended. 

Plate Style Locking Differentials

Plate style locking differentials are the pure motorsport choice, although, there is a BIG difference in performance, driveability, longevity and quality between the low-end £500-£1600 price bracket plate style differentials and the £2500 + price point of a Drexlar or Holinger differential.

The benefits of the plate style locking differential are that the axles can achieve a range of torque transfer or “locking”. This can generally be between 25-100%. With 25% meaning that 25% of the torque can be sent to the slower wheel (wheel with most grip) and 100% meaning that 100% can be sent to the slower whee.

The drawbacks of the plate style locking differential are many, on a front wheel drive application the locked front axle can induce severe push-on understeer and you will need to run a comparatively high spring rate rear end to get the same/similar turn-in performance, due to the use of clutches and the axle locking the NVH is noticeably higher, performance reduces with time due to the clutch wear, they require maintenance to maintain performance and also mostly never come with warranties. This is why plate style locking differentials are suited to pure motorsport use where the vehicle is continuously checked over for maintained as required to ensure reliability and performance.

The plate-style locking differentials are especially incompatible with DSG transmissions, as they wear they deposit particles into the oil which can cause issues with the mechatronic unit. 

Automatic Torque Biasing Limited Slip Differentials (ATB LSD)

There are two main types of ATB LSDs. One is the typical Quaife design, which most ATB LSDs are similarly designed after in that they use pinions and gears to transfer torque across the axles with a spring washer pack in the centre to provide preload. The other is the Wavetrac design which is a more “modern” ATB LSD with patented features that solve some ATB LSD problems. 

The benefits of an ATB LSD is that they are smooth in operation and low in NVH and don’t require any servicing. The Wavetrac takes this one step further than the Quaife and similarly designed differentials by including some carbon fibre bias plates which the pinons rotate on, these provide a consistent friction surface throughout the lifetime of the differential and are a patented feature, so are unfortunately not found in other ATB LSDs.

Other benefits include that they do not lock an axle; their behaviour is very predictable and smooth. Perfect for a novice driver through to motorsport. You can simply get in and enjoy the experience.

The drawbacks of ATB LSDs, or the Quaife and similarly designed ATB LSDs are that when they experience a “loss of axle load” which can happen when a wheel slips, suspension unloads (cornering), or wheel lift the ATB LSD performs like an open differential, sending power to the wheel with the least grip. This reintroduces the problem you are trying to solve.

The Wavetrac ATB LSD design overcomes this with their patented “wave hub”. This solves this problem by sensing the loss of axle load and creates internal load, which then allows the differential to continue to work. For tech junkies, you can read more information on this here: http://www.wavetrac.eu/

Upgrading your MK6 GTI With a Wavetrac LSD

Upgrading your MK6 GTI with a Wavetrac LSD is simple. We keep all of the Wavetrac LSDs in-stock and ready to ship worldwide or install at our Southampton workshop. 

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