Our time in the long-term 2.0T Jetta ran out. It's been over a year and VW needed the car back. We begged, cried, screamed and begged some more. We needed this car just a little longer, to prove how good it is. Editor Bidrawn finally broke down, cursed profusely and said: "Keep it for another month."
In the last installment, we cured the ride and handling problems with a suspension kit from H&R, light and stealth-looking OZ Wheels from The Tire Rack, and a rather impressive set of Sdrive tires from Yokohama. In stock form, our Jetta felt a bit overpowered, being able to spin the tires at will, and exhibiting the kind of torque steer that causes swelling blood vessels to recreate maps of Lewis and Clark's journeys all over your forearms.
After the suspension swap and stickier rubber, we found ourselves missing some of the wheel spin and the feeling of being able to drive right on the edge of grip while exiting turns.
No, we're never happy.
So, off in search of more power. It didn't take long. Turbo cars, especially VWs, have rejuvenated the aftermarket business. It has never been so easy to get huge results with minimal effort and cost. The beauty of most mods is that there is no real downside to doing them. Well, maybe one, but we won't get into warranty issues involved with software mods.
We went back to Eurosport. When it comes to VWs, these guys are hard to beat. Raffi and Vik suggested we start with GIAC software to really wake the car up. This is the logical first step with most turbo cars, but we didn't want to stop there. The guys had just released their intake for 2.0T applications and had also just finished designing an exhaust system. We wanted to try both, so while the car was there, they did the flash, the intake and the exhaust.
We decided a basic 91-octane performance flash would be the way to go. GIAC offers several different programs-everything from race to stock to valet, switchable with a handheld flashloader. Our flash has changed the whole attitude of the car. Not only is power abundant, but the car runs smoother and responds better than stock. The torque is amazing. On the freeway, you never have to downshift, just dip your foot in a little farther and the thing pulls like a V8. Remind us why anyone makes V6s any more.
The intake comes in two different finishes: polished and wrinkle-black . The Cool Flow Race Intake is 2.75 inch mandrel bent steel tubing with TIG-welds and installs, with no permanent modifications necessary. Eurosport uses ITG oiled three-layer foam filters in all applications. Since the stock airbox is also part of the engine cover, that has to be removed or trimmed to fit.
We chose just to leave it off, since we knew we would be going back to stock down the road. Dyno testing has shown the intake to be worth seven wheel-hp. Along with the added power, the end user also gets to hear his turbo and diverter valve working away. It isn't that loud, but there is a nice aggressive intake sound-a little foosh when the diverter valve opens up.
Eurosport's 100 percent stainless steel exhaust is 2.5inch mandrel-bent T304 tubing that starts at the cat and finishes at the dual three-inch polished tips. The system is lighter than stock, adds six to seven hp, but (perhaps more importantly), looks and sounds great. The stock Jetta isn't much to listen to, but between the rumble of the new exhaust and great intake noises, it actually sounds like a proper performance sedan. There's no annoying resonance in the exhaust, yet it has a nice low rumble that sounds neither fast nor furious, if you get our drift.
Combining the intake and exhaust with the software was just what the doctor ordered. This thing has just about the right amount of power for a car that isn't equipped with a limited-slip diff. We have enough to pull hard out of turns without completely blasting the front end loose. We are once again able to get a little wheel spin when we want, but the huge amount of torque steer is no longer present.
We remarked last time about the silver taillights. We later found that those are VW Driver Gear items someone had ordered. Intentionally. They didn't fit the stealth Jetta profile, so something had to be done. The quickest and easiest fix was to tint the lights with overlays. We went to www.bluebatmobile.net and found a four-piece kit for $42. For about the price of one tank of premium, you can change the look of your car. We would definitely suggest getting these installed by a pro to get the best results. We ended up with a couple of wrinkles and bubbles in ours, but Andy Mercado, maker of the overlays, assures us that just about any tint shop can install overlays with no problems.
Apparently, someone at VW read our minds with the tinted tails. A few days after tinting our lights, we found out that Driver Gear will be selling tinted lights through VW dealers. We're sure the new assemblies will be significantly more than the overlays, but hey, choice is good.
Because our Jetta will be leaving soon, we have to swap everything back to stock. It'll be painful to revert to stock hardware, but we now know what kind of potential the platform has. Nothing we did was really exotic or even that expensive, so anyone could do it. Except for the GIAC flash, the other mods will give the same results on any MkV car.
It's rumored the 2008 Jetta and Rabbit 2.5s will get a 20-hp jump in power. With a few bolt-on mods, they might get close to the magic 200-hp mark which, combined with suspension upgrades and some performance tires, would make a great performance bargain. We're going to need one of those too.
Long Term Wrap
2007 Jetta 2.0T
Adieu, Mon Ami
A Few cars make saying goodbye easy, cars like my 2004 Chevy Astrovan. We had a TGIG (Thank God It's Gone) party in honor of its departure. Our Jetta 2.0T is not one of those cars.
Although a typical magazine loan is one year, tech editor Febbo insisted we retain the car a few months and "explore some options." That turned out to be a good idea. The addition of a few well-placed modifications turned our Jetta into the sports sedan we'd been missing. It's our hope this same type of gear will be available directly from Volkswagen, as its inclusion considerably boosted the fun factor. Ultimately, it made saying goodbye a painful proposition (Febbo is still in a bathroom stall, weeping).
It almost feels as though the Jetta was two separate cars. When asking staffers what they thought of it, one question typically arose: "Before or after the modifications?" In its pre-mod guise, it proved to be a solid steed, not the most exciting car in the world, but competent nonetheless. The potent 2.0T engine was responsible for more than a few sets of front tires, victims of the torque-laden turbo. And while we are not complaining about its prodigious power, it was the way in which the chassis moved under stress, sort of out-of-sorts. To be fair, only a few really complained, the more aggressive drivers among us. The majority of Jetta drivers had little reason to bitch. Just the opposite. A light foot (keeping it out of hard boost) could net up to 29 mpg, an especially nice feature considering the price of petrol. Knobs, buttons, switches and such all held up beautifully.
During its 15 months with ec, we had two issues: a tiny reflector came off the inside of the front door and a rear vent director broke. We received the car this way, so it's possible the dealer was responsible. In that case, our 2007 Jetta received a flawless reliability rating, a first in ec's 20-year history of long-term vehicles. It was a perfect car. While reading over our Jetta's previous reviews, common themes include: solid, fast and functional. The primary complaint was with the suspension-too soft.
If the Jetta did have any shortcomings, they were soundly addressed with Febbo's dip into the aftermarket. The car looked better, went faster and behaved like a genuine sports car. Its last three months here were great fun and a powerful reminder of why we love German cars.
At A Glance
Total Mileage: 22,234 Fuel economy: 27 mpg + solid build quality, smooth ride, gigantic trunk, big aftermarket potential - rubbery suspension, wide-load seat bolstering