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Volkswagen Mk4 GTI 1.8T - Budget Suspension Upgrade - Part 1

Improving A Car's Looks And Handling Doesn't Always Have To Involve Expensive Coilovers.

Justin Fivella
Oct 18, 2010

Enough already, we get it; the economy is in the crapper and our wallets are empty. But that doesn't mean modding your car is out of the question. While we'd all love remote-reservoir, adjustable coilovers on the street, sadly most of us just don't have the money, Daniel Sinosky included...

Eurp_1011_01_o+volkswagen_mk4_gti+left_side_view Photo 2/23   |   Volkswagen Mk4 GTI 1.8T - Budget Suspension Upgrade - Part 1

He's the owner of this Mk4 GTI 1.8T since new, and over the years it's received upgrades as his budget allowed. It currently sports a CAI, aftermarket DV, cat-back exhaust and some aesthetic upgrades, for example. And having rolled past 90k miles, the factory suspension was in need of some love - the stock struts are leaking and one of the ball-joints is weeping grease.

Like all of us, Daniel wished for coilovers but his monthly bills quashed his dreams of a SCCA front-runner. So he approached the dealer for OEM replacement parts, only to find the sticker shock equally alarming. So with very little dough, but in need of more go, Daniel turned to the aftermarket for a performance replacement.

PRICE
After shopping online, he found a product with a competitive price and a name he could trust: Neuspeed's new Koni Cup Kit.

The killer combo pairs Neuspeed's trusty Sport springs with Koni STR.T dampers for the ultimate in performance and ride quality as a friendly price.

The Neuspeed Sport springs lower the car 1.5'' on both ends and are made in Germany by ISO 9002 certified spring-winding specialists. In addition to the sensible drop, the increased spring rates cut both brake dive and body roll while preserving comfort. The new Koni dampers are like an OEM unit on steroids, perfect for moderate drops that work outside the operating range of the OEM shock.

It all sounds great, right? And it gets better thanks to the bargain basement price of $499.99 with a lifetime warranty on the entire kit.

With the new parts in-hand, the wrenches started flying and in a few hours the car was sitting pretty. Installation was straightforward thanks to the quality components. Since the GTI was nearing 100K miles, a closer inspection of the suspension necessitated new ball-joints and front upper strut bearings (USB).

When installing the new USBs you'll notice they're significantly taller than the older counterparts. In fact, the front of the car will sit roughly 0.5'' higher than the rear until the new USBs settle - in our case, this took roughly 200 miles.

Also remember that whenever you replace suspension components, you'll need to get an alignment.

When the rubber hit the road the GTI went from a wallowing whale to a proper hot hatch. Brake dive was noticeably decreased, as was body roll. The ride quality was firm without being harsh and the lowered stance gave this GTI a new lease on life.

TESTED
To measure the performance gains we converted an abandoned parking lot into our "top secret testing grounds" for some slalom action.

After a handful of runs through the cones, we discovered the new components had increased our speed in the 700ft slalom by almost 4.2mph, reaching a speed of 69.4mph, from the stock best of 65.2mph. Lateral grip also jumped from a stock best of 0.82g to 0.88g.

More than just solid numbers, the car is now composed in transitions and the turn-in is crisper. The car takes a set and digs through the turn. Unlike the blown-out stock system that magnified user error into uncontrollable slides, the Cup Kit boosts confidence with more control and increased feedback. And this was despite running all our tests on 50% worn 225/45-17 Ohtsu Ziex 912 (AKA not the best rubber).

In the end, a few hours work and a small price for admission turned the GTI into a more composed corner-carver without compromising civility. So for now we'll hit the canyons and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Check back next month for the second installment of our Budget Suspension Upgrades.

Note: Changing suspension is a complex task that may require specialist tools. There is also a danger of injury from the compressed coil springs. Suspension will need realigning after the installation to avoid steering and tire wear problems. If you're unsure, consult a suspension specialist or give the job to a local shop

Parts Price Supplier
Neuspeed Koni Cup Kit $499.99 neuspeed.com

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By Justin Fivella
63 Articles

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