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Project TDI, Project Silverstone, Project BMW 135i - Our Cars

An update on our cars and what we've been doing to them

Jan 5, 2009
Eurp_0901_04_z+our_cars+sam Photo 1/6   |   Project TDI, Project Silverstone, Project BMW 135i - Our Cars

Project TDI
Elsewhere in this issue, you've read about our First Drive of the new '09 VW Jetta TDI. But rest assured, it won't be the last time you hear about it. VW has loaned us this Platinum grey metallic, six-speed Jetta for a year making it et's first diesel project.

So now that we've got a TDI to play with, here's what to expect. We'll be trying to push the 140hp 2.0 TDI further by fitting some parts from Techtonics and KermaTDI. These should increase both horsepower and torque while retaining daily drivability and fuel-efficiency.

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For the chassis, the Jetta's braking and suspension will need some tweaking. In fact, we already have KW Variant 3 coilovers en route(

Aesthetically, the TDI resembles a standard Jetta, so we'll be fitting a new set of wheels along with some body enhancements to give the car more personality. We've approached BBS of America ( to get a set of 19x8" BBS CH wheels in silver, although black was an option...

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For the bumpers, we are awaiting the new kit from Osir Design ( Stay tuned for updated photos from importer Zmax Autosport. And we also have plans to cover the chrome front end with perhaps a carbon fiber vinyl wrap from our good friends at Sly Machines. Look out for a future issue with the DIY instructions. But in the meantime. we'll be doing as much as we can with what's available for the new car and saving the earth with our turbo-diesel. It's a tough job but somebody has to do it, etc. Sam

When Sam drove Project TDI, all he could achieve was a paltry 32mpg on the freeway, and he thought it was "sluggish". So Greg tossed me the keys for a several-hundred mile excursion to a track day. Initially, I couldn't help but fall into the usual stigmas attached to driving a diesel. You immediately assume it'll be loud and clattery; but it isn't. You think it will be slower than molasses; this isn't the case. And you assume the car will be sooty and smelly; in fact, this Jetta couldn't run any cleaner.

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The six-speed manual shifts nicely, and while the car isn't a top-end monster, in the land of diesels this thing spins. Power builds smoothly from as low as 1500rpm. And while there's some pull up near the 5500rpm redline, it's best to shift around 4000rpm where the torque peaks.

While high-rpm horsepower is always a treat in any car, if you've never felt the shove of serious mid-range torque, you're missing out. Third, fourth and fifth gear roll-ons in this diesel will have you smiling as all 250 lb-ft pushes you into the seat.

If the torque of this little stump-puller isn't enough, I was pleasantly surprised to average around 43mpg on my rendezvous that included city streets, 80mph cruising and its fair share of on-boost moments.

During my drive, most of my attention was focused on the motor since I'd previously only experienced large displacement truck diesels. But the rest of the car was nice as well. It even handled fairly well, was quiet and had enough creature comforts to make it a perfect daily driver.

If I had to pick a few faults, I'd have to start with the brakes. Under normal driving conditions they're fine, but given a decent push they're a bit mushy. My other observation would be the ultra-low first gear, which takes some getting used to. The lack of a high rev ceiling, paired with the granny first gear, has you finishing some intersections in third gear!

Nonetheless, the gripes are minor and if I were in the market for a new car I'd be hard-pressed to overlook the TDI. I know the GTI's 2.0T motor is a gem, but after seeing how phenomenal and economical the stock TDI is, I might just turn to the darkside. Justin

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Project Silverstone
After a successful installation of Snow Performance's stage 2 BoostCooler water/methanol system( at Evolution Racewerks in Baldwin Park, CA (, we were hoping to bring you the dyno verification of its improvements, but our '03 VW GTI 1.8T had other plans of its own.

Part of owning a tuned VW with 123k miles is the constant attention it requires. The cooling system has given us more headaches than ever with another coolant leak - the third leak this year.

So we limped Project Silverstone to DRS ( in La Habra, CA, where they will fix the problem.

Once we get our 1.8T buckled up, we'll bring you the promised dyno results. Sam

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Project BMW 135i
Last month we admitted to some rubbing on the Conti CSC3 tires on our BMW 135i. The problem wasn't the tire width but slightly wrong offsets on our 19" DCR wheels and very low H&R Street coilovers. The solution? We'd have to raise the coilovers.

So while we were picking our noses at etGP08, we promised 034Motorsport a faster track time if they raised our spring perches. They fell for it and our 135i was jacked up before we knew it.

They raised the front to its highest position. As it transpires, the coilovers really don't give much adjustment. Even at the highest setting, the top of the tires will hit the bottom of the wheel arches when turned. It's not as bad as before, but the problem isn't cured. And rolling the fenders won't solve it, because it's not catching on the inside.

Anyway, that's all we have to report. The 135i Coupe is a truly great car in stock form. I'm embarrassed to admit we've done so little, but it just hasn't seemed necessary yet. Greg



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