Although the last Mk4 rolled off the assembly line more than five years ago, some consider it the quintessential Golf of our time. Sure, the Mk1 is special for being the first, and many believe the Mk2 to be the defining GTI, but for the modern Dubhead, the fourth generation Golf is where it all began.
Some have called it timeless, while others can’t explain their affinity. Kevin Waters, for example, was irresistibly drawn to the Mk4 chassis even after buying an APR-supercharged B7 RS4.
All this praise for the Mk4 isn’t to discredit its predecessors or subsequent successors like the Mk5 and Mk6. While the interior and exterior improvements are debatable on the new cars, the independent rear suspension and 2.0T motors, however, were not.
This might explain why Waters decided to have the best of both worlds, blending a little bit of this with a little bit of that.
“My ’00 Golf was the first car I really liked,” Waters said. “I’ve owned it since I was 16 and started with simple mods. Eventually I added a turbo kit to the stock 2.0L 8v motor but it never ran right.”
Once he found himself spending more time fixing the project than enjoying it, Kevin considered selling his beloved hatch. But a turn of events saw him take the temperamental hatch to Eurocode Tuning in Torrance, CA for a little help.
“When Kevin brought us the car it was hardly running, but we told him we’d try to get the turbo kit sorted,” said David Sarabi from Eurocode. “But after repeated attempts to get it right, there seemed little point because, even in top condition, the boosted 2.slow never ran well.”
Instead of throwing in the towel, Waters decided to heed Sarabi’s advice and lose the stock ABA motor. And rather than the typical 1.8T or VR6 swap, Sarabi baited Waters with a 2.0T and six-speed swap from a Mk5 GTI.
“It was the ideal combo – the perfect chassis mated to the perfect drivetrain. I mean, you have the timeless Mk4 body powered by the awesome 2.0T: it just doesn’t get any better than that,” Waters exclaimed.
With the owner onboard, Eurocode set about the swap that was considered unthinkable at the time. “The motor and transmission weren’t hard to physically fit into the Mk4,” Sarabi explained. “But figuring out the spindle and axle combo took a little work,” he added. Despite our requests, he wouldn’t divulge the details of the spindle/axle setup.
In a few weeks the new assembly was under the hood, but the fun was only just beginning. “The wiring that took forever!” David recalled. “Kevin wanted the car to be like factory, so we had to mate the Mk4 to the complete Mk5 harness to get all the stock functions working like the interior lights, instrument cluster, alarm, ABS and power steering.”
The operation involved several hundred wires and many hours studying wiring schematics to incorporate the Mk4 and Mk5 fuse panels as well as the harnesses, but even that is oversimplifying the task. “Along with splicing the harnesses, the 2.0T needed its cluster and pedals to work, so that added to the mess. We also needed to delete many of the Mk5’s features because the older car is a lot simpler. Fortunately, APR was a big help when it came to the programming,” Sarabi said.
Other obstacles, like getting the ABS, A/C and power steering to work proved equally as difficult, necessitating some interesting combinations of parts from both platforms.
Speaking of combinations, Eurocode painstakingly incorporated the immobilizer unit and alarm from the Mk5. “We had to install the Mk5’s immobilizer ring into the Mk4 steering column before placing the Mk5 chip into the Mk4 key. This meant the key would start the newer motor but still open the doors,” Sarabi continued.
After countless hours of work, the new motor started without a hitch amid huge sighs of relief. But like any gearhead, even the shoehorned 2.0T wasn’t left stock. Where would the fun be in that?
A bigger K04 snail entered the picture along with APR software plus a high-flow fuel pump and 3" cat-back exhaust. A Neuspeed cold-air intake was added to the mix along with Eurocode’s own front-mount intercooler and 3" downpipe. And since power needs control, Waters specified a clutch kit and Quaife LSD.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, he’s a perfectionist and the transplanted motor was so tidy, it made the rest of the package look more suspicious than left luggage. “Back in high school I added cheap angel-eyes and some spoilers I painted black. It looked good back then, but after the swap I needed to bring the car up to the drivetrain’s level,” Kevin said.
With the wave of a wand (and the cha-ching of a checkbook) the hatch was back at Eurocode for a cosmetic revival. It received proper suspension with KW Clubsport coilovers and matching camber plates held in place by Neuspeed sway- and strut bars.
Lets not forget the 20AE rear brake conversion matched to massive Porsche Cayenne eight-pot front brakes from ECS.
Surrounding the super-sized stoppers were a set of 19x8.5" flat-black HRE P43 wheels – to say these were classy would be an understatement.
“I wanted the exterior to be similarly clean and classy,” said Waters. So an OEM R32 front bumper, 20AE headlights, skirts and rear bumper were grafted on. Other touches include shaved markers, rub strips and a classic Kamei grille.
The cockpit was also brought up to pace with a double-stitched, leather-wrapped dash that accommodates the Mk5 cluster. “We worked really hard on melding the newer cluster into the Mk4 dash. It took many tries to make it look factory, but it came out great eventually,” said Sarabi.
Using smoke and mirrors, you could easily overlook the dash when there are Recaro Sportster CS seats to grab your attention. The observant might also spot modified GLI door cards on the Golf’s stubby rear doors to match the GLI front panels that popped into place. Then there’s a Mk5 GTI shift knob, R32 steering wheel, mats and E-brake lever plus a New South Performance gauge panel above the console.
“It’s a wonderful car that looks great, handles well and burns the tires through third gear. But I’m not done with it yet,” Waters proclaimed. “I’d like to add a stereo system, build the motor and maybe run a slightly larger turbo,” he laughed.
At this point, you can’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t have been better off simply cutting his losses and investing the money in a Mk5 GTI to begin with... However, Kevin is adamant; he loves his Mk4 and has vowed never to part with it.
Many people would kill for a Mk4 Golf 2.0T like Kevin’s has, but he also owns an insane ’08 Audi RS4. Inevitably, a stock car wasn’t enough, so Waters raised the bar with engine, suspension and stereo tweaks.
"I told myself I'd keep it stock, but that didn't last when I saw the size of the RS4 aftermarket; there were so many quality parts!" he said.
Since the 4.2-liter V8 is nasty from the factory, Waters let the motor breathe by way of Milltek downpipes and cat-back exhaust. The inlet side was in turn relieved with a GruppeM carbon cold-air intake and fortified by APR software.
But once the bolt-on motor mods weren’t enough, Kevin stepped up to an APR supercharger kit. “When APR dropped the price on their blower kit I jumped on it and am glad I did: it completely transformed the car,” he explained. With the blower onboard and a prototype APR clutch harnessing the power, the RS4 spun the dyno to 404hp and 331 lb-ft at the wheels. How’s that for serious thrust?
A stock RS4 is no slouch on a twisty road, but this beauty kicks it up a few notches with Bilstein PSS10 coilovers supporting 19x9.5" HRE P47 wheels.
And since 400hp at the wheels can get you in trouble quickly, a six-piston Brembo GT brake kit was added up front. “The brakes, suspension and power delivery are amazing. I can’t explain how great this car drives; and I can drive it 500 miles without a problem,” Waters said.
And since it’s capable of long journeys, the experience is sweetened by Hertz High Energy component speakers and a hidden box stocked with 10" JL Audio W3 subs hooked to the factory deck.
While we’re all automotive connoisseurs, Waters is lucky enough to own not one, but two crazy Euros. And although we might be green with envy, at least we’re not forced to choose between these two everyday! Then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all?
et Tech Spec
2000 VW Golf 2.0
Owner: Kevin Waters
Location: Westlake Village, CA
Engine: 2.0T FSI BPY motor swap, Eurocode front-mount intercooler, 3" downpipe, A/C and power-steering mount, APR K04 turbo kit, fuel pump, S3 injectors, software and 3" 20AE cat-back exhaust, Mk5 lowside fuel pump/module retrofit, immobilizer, Forge diverter valve, Neuspeed cold-air intake, Odyssey PC680 dry-cell battery
Drivetrain: SGVT six-speed transmission swap, Eurocode Mk5 clutch kit and shift box, custom axles, Quaife LSD
Brakes: ECS Porsche Cayenne eight-piston front brake kit, 20AE rear disc conversion
Suspension: KW Clubsport coilovers and camber plates, Neuspeed sway bars and strut tower bar
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" HRE P43 flat-black wheels, 225/35 R19 Yokohama Neova tires
Exterior: R32 front bumper, 20AE headlights, side skirts and rear bumper, Kamei grille, shaved rub strips and markers
Interior: leather-wrapped, double-stitched Mk4 dash with Mk5 cluster, Mk4 key with Mk5 chip, Recaro Sporster CS leather seats, OEM GLI door panels, brushed aluminum trim, Mk5 shift knob, R32 steering wheel, mats and E-brake handle, New South Performance boost, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges