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Project IS38 Wagon by Unitronic - Part Two

Dec 11th, 2020 Technical

Work has begun on the Alltrack and we’re on the way to doubling its horsepower with the help of an IS38 Turbo and Unitronic Hardware and Software. If you haven’t already checked out part one of this series, we’re building up our Alltrack to help #savethewagons and send this one off in style. In part two of this series, we’ll be covering the Hardware upgrades required to support 350+ HP on the 1.8TSI engine. We’ll also give you a few tips along the way to assure trouble free installation and long term reliability.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack


Seeing as the majority of this work will revolve around the upgraded turbo, we’ll need to gain access to it by creating clearance on its exhaust and intake side. Having access to a lift does make the upgrades easier to perform as there is quite a bit of work required above and below the vehicle but it can be done on level surface with secure jack stands or ramps as well.

We opted to remove the downpipe first which starts by disconnecting it from the turbo and in the case of our Alltrack as well as other 4motion vehicles, temporarily disconnecting the driveshaft to help create additional clearance as well.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack driveshaft

Once the driveshaft is moved out of the way, we have access to the hangers keeping the upper section of the downpipe in place. On the opposite end of the downpipe, the middle section will need to be freed up from the resonator in order to begin the process of working the large one piece factory downpipe off the vehicle.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack is12 turbo

On the intake side of the turbo, we disconnected the intake tube, the turbo inlet and turbo discharge pipe in order to gain full access to the factory IS12 turbo. Once done, we removed the airbox and OEM air duct as well. On our 2 year old, 20,000 mile / 32,000 km Alltrack, the turbocharger was in great shape with minimal shaft play even after being tuned for half its life.


Upon initial inspection, you’ll notice the IS38 turbo housing is much larger than the IS12’s which is indicative of the additional air the turbo can move and in turn, ability to generate more power. As you can see, the compressor and turbine wheels are much larger as well. The IS38 features a 45.2mm / 58.0mm compressor wheel and a 47.4mm / 54.7mm turbine wheel.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack is38 is12

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack is38 is12

After installing the new Turbo Inlet on the IS38, we took note of the turbo’s connector positions and proceeded to mount and install it. Once in place, you’ll immediately notice the IS38 fills up quite a bit more room between the back of the engine and firewall.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack is38

Next up, we installed the new Downpipe which slides easily into place due to its narrower high-flow cat and two piece upper and mid section design. As you’d expect, the Downpipe bolts right up to the new turbo with guaranteed, perfect fitment.

Unitronic 1.8 2.0tsi mqb Downpipe

Unitronic 1.8 2.0tsi mqb Downpipe

Included with our Downpipe for 1.8TSI MQB vehicles are high quality V-band sealing clamps which assure leak free connections and a specific reducer which in this case, ties into our vehicle’s 60mm exhaust line. Once done, we reconnected the vehicle’s driveshaft and moved back up to the engine bay.

Unitronic 1.8 2.0tsi mqb Downpipe

Next up was the Intercooler Upgrade which requires the front end to come off as well as the headlights in our case. After removing the bumper, the grille and carefully disconnecting the vehicle’s parking sensors, ACC sensors and multiple temperature sensors, the factory AC condenser, intercooler and radiator will be completely exposed. We have a comprehensive installation guide available for the Intercooler Upgrade here.

Unitronic MQB Intercooler

Once the factory intercooler was removed, we compared it to our MQB Intercooler which is now available with a black finish. Immediately you’ll notice the end tanks are much larger and the unit is much thicker for more overall volume which helps dramatically reduce intake air temperatures. This upgrade is essential given the scope of our Stage 2+ project and new turbo we’re installing. The factory intercooler would be much more susceptible to heat soak resulting in a drastic loss of power when the car is driven hard and in warm climates.

Unitronic MQB Intercooler

In order to maximize the efficiency of the intercooler system, we’ve also installed our Charge Pipe Upgrade Kit which is DQ250, DQ381 and 6MT compatible for 1.8 and 2.0TSI MQB vehicles. This kit includes high strength silicone hoses with a larger diameter turbo discharge pipe and throttle body pipe which eliminates factory baffles and features smooth transitions with a 1/8” NPT Water/Meth Injection port as well.

Unitronic MQB Charge Pipes


Unitronic MQB Charge Pipes

To round out the upgrades and maximize the flow of air entering the turbo, we installed our full Carbon Fiber Intake and Air Duct system. Starting with the Air Duct, this unit opens up both air inlets available in the OEM grille and its smooth transitions provide an alleviation in the restrictions present on the factory unit. This Air Duct helps feed the oversized Intake which contains a proprietary 3” filter and flows into a large five-ply silicone turbo inlet hose.

Unitronic MQB Intake and Air Duct

With this complete Intake and Air Duct system, throttle response is greatly improved for a more lively driving experience with amplified turbo induction sounds as well. The closed intake design helps keep air intake temperatures low so more cool and dense air can be ingested by the engine in order for it to develop more power.

Unitronic MQB Intake and Air Duct


You’ll want to make sure to top your coolant up to the required level and keep an eye on it for the next few days to assure there are no leaks. In our case, we required close to one gallon of coolant after the upgrade.

This is a great opportunity to change your oil as well in order to assure longevity for your engine and new turbo. Unitronic’s proud technical partner, LIQUI MOLY has an extensive VAG-specific lineup of lubricants and additives that meet Audi/VW standards with OEM approval. All of Unitronic’s research and development engines and fleet vehicles exclusively use LIQUI MOLY oil, lubricants, and additives and strongly recommend LIQUI MOLY for your vehicle. You may also want to consider shortening your oil change intervals if you are planning on running the vehicle particularly hard or racing on a semi frequent basis. In the case of our Alltrack, we used 5.7L of LEICHTLAUF HIGH TECH 5W-40 engine oil.

Find the right LIQUI MOLY oil for your specific vehicle on www.liqui-moly.com

Unitronic Liqui Moly

Prior to starting your vehicle, prime your turbo by making sure the spark plug wires and fuel pump are disconnected while cranking the engine for at least 5 seconds. This will allow for oil to circulate throughout the turbo and assure it doesn’t run dry for any period of time.

You’ll also want to make sure to perform a wastegate adaptation before starting your vehicle with the help of VCDS or OBDeleven. Wastegate voltage absolutely needs to read between 3.5-3.9V as values outside this range can cause overboost issues resulting in an EPC light or even limp mode.

Unitronic Mk7.5 Alltrack

Stay tuned as the build continues when we flash the vehicle with our Stage 2+ ECU and Stage 2 TCU Software and get the Alltrack on our dyno to see how much power it puts down. There’s also an exciting new UniConnect+ feature which will be introduced as well so check back on www.getunitronic.com/news and follow @unitronic on social media for more updates. If you've got a similar build project in mind for your car, see what Unitronic products are available for you here.

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