The IHI IS20, an OEM turbo meant for big power!

If you own a MK7 Golf or Golf Sportwagen you are most likely very familiar with the IS12 turbos from IHI Turbo. Today we are going to breakdown why the IS20 is the best turbo option for your MQB powered vehicle.

IHI is a bit of a new name in the VAG community, some enthusiasts are surprised to discover that a Japanese turbo company is an OEM manufacturer for Volkswagen and Audi. Truth is IHI has been supplying quality turbos to automotive manufactures like Nissan, Volkswagen, Audi, Ferrari and Subaru for decades. IHI Corporation transitioned into aftermarket turbo manufacturing in 2012 and since then has developed a performance line of turbos which are well suited for applications like the MK7 Golf GTI, Audi A3 and S3.

The most common turbo which is swapped for the IS20 are the IS12 turbos.  The IS12 turbo is mounted from the factory on VW and Audi 1.8t MQB engines.  When upgrading any of the following turbos you will need to install new software on your engines computer as well as a downpipe in order to properly run the vehicle. Despite this the IS20 continues to be the VW/Audi enthusiast’s best option for turbos for the following reasons.

IHI Turbo IS20 Features

  • Improved torque output at mid/high RPM range.
  • Quick spooling turbo.
  • Improved efficiency under boost due to compressor housing abrea-dable seal.
  • Capacity for power, the turbo can produce 300hp+ (with supporting mods and software).
  • 100% Bolt-on installation.


OEM Realiability

The IS20 turbo from IHI has a reputation of being a highly reliable turbo. This is likely due to the fact that the IS20 is the turbo outfitted for the VW Golf GTI (MK7) from the factory. It is a proven turbo with a history of making power reliably therefore it’s not surprising the OEM IHI IS20 turbo is a great fit for 1.8t MQB engines.


Another reason to love the IS20 as a turbo option for your 1.8t is the sheer abundance of aftermarket support for this particular turbo swap. The VW tuning giant APR has numerous software stage tune options for 1.8t’s equipped with IS20 turbos, the best part is that they use the factory ECU. This is made possible through APR’s optimization of the factory engine management system to take full advantage of the engine’s capabilities, without needing any end user adjustment. The ECU Upgrades are available with various features they also support octane levels and each stage is compatible with typical bolt-on modifications. The software is installed to the vehicle’s factory ECU through the OBD-II port, resulting in a clean and headache-free install.


In conclusion the IS20 turbo has numerous features that make it appealing to 1.8t owners. The increase in size over the IS12 is not significantly large but it can still pump out huge horsepower numbers while maintain a linear power and torque curve. This makes the IS20 a great power add-on for a street car looking for more boost in a small package. The aftermarket support for the IS20 is what makes it unique since many different tuners have adopted its use. The turbo is also 100% bolt-on and re-uses all the factory oil lines and exhaust components so no need to weld a new downpipe just yet. Add a few supporting mods to the MQB and the IS20 will take full advantage of some impressive power gains; modifications like fuel pumps, intercoolers, downpipes and software tunes will fetch power numbers north of 300hp+.