There's a popular myth-busting television show with an oft-repeated catch phrase that's if something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing. And while we aren't exactly overdoing the suspension on project 2.slow, we're certainly taking things to the max where we can.
We previously fitted FK Automotive Powertec adjustable coilovers, Drag DR-16 wheels, Falken ZE-512 tires, FK spacers and EBC brakes, but it wasn't enough. So in the interest of extracting maximum handling, we've got a few more treats for the old girl.
As mentioned, we have autocross and track days in mind for the Mk3, and we knew coilovers alone wouldn't give us the corner carving ability we craved. So we contacted Neuspeed, one of the oldest and most respected VW tuners in the US and Euro Sport Accessories for some help.
Parts Measuring 25mm front and 28mm rear, the solid-steel Neuspeed bars are sure to keep her flat in the corners. The rear bar is also adjustable, with three positions allowing you to fine-tune the effective rate as you grow comfortable with the higher limits the bars afford.
Neuspeed undoubtedly has one of the most comprehensive catalogs of VW/Audi performance parts, so although you may not have a Mk3, they're likely to have plenty of options for you. They also include detailed instructions and all necessary hardware, which takes the guesswork out of the install.
With 228000 miles on 2.slow's counter, the increased forces we're asking the chassis to deal with mean any additional reinforcement will go a long way toward making the car handle better.
Euro Sport Accessories is renowned for its chassis technology, with its strut tower bars (AKA stress bars or strut braces) available for most VW models. They provided front upper, rear upper and front lower bars made from heavy-gauge steel and powdercoated black. They're easy to install and the impact on older cars can be eye opening.
Finally, we decided to add a little extra mechanical grip. Our Falken ZE-512 tires did a fantastic job of street performance, rainstorms and even some snow. However, we opted to swap the all-season tires for a summer tire to exploit the chassis mods to the fullest. And Falken recommended its Azenis ST-615 DOT-legal competition tire. You might think it's overkill, but the 200 AA UTQG rating means they should wear well. Besides, overdoing it isn't always a bad thing.
NGP Racing once again took care of all the installations with Jesse James Dalton the man with the spanners. The only tricky part was the front sway bar; the rest can be done in an afternoon.
Results It's difficult to put into words how much better 2.slow handles after this round of changes; it's simply awe-inspiring. The Euro Sport stress bars have noticeably improved chassis rigidity, especially in regards to steering input and initial corner turn-in.
The Neuspeed sway bars have also done a phenomenal job minimizing roll and balancing the car. The natural tendency to understeer has been replaced with sharper responses and good mid-corner rotation. They allow us to carry more speed into and through corners with excellent control. Carrying speed is crucial when you drive a 2.0, believe me!
Adjusting the rear bar to the firmer and softer settings changes the amount of rate it feeds into the rear beam, and therefore the balance of oversteer at the limit.
None of these changes would have been nearly as effective without the Falken ST-615 tires. We had our reservations about running such an aggressive tire on the street and, although the larger size causes occasional rubbing (prompting us to switch to 15mm rear spacers), and the ride is a bit rougher, they're easy to live with. The wear has been minimal, and they've even coped with occasional rainstorms.
It is safe to say the mechanical grip of the car now inspires confidence and has taken 2.slow to a new level.
Incidentally, the tires have since been upgraded to a new ST-615K compound said to maintain grip at higher temps.
So where does this leave Project 2.slow? We're almost done. In our final installment, we'll address some external elements, interior touches, and summarize our conclusions on the project. Stay tuned!
Note You can do these installs with the car on jack stands, but it's much easier on a lift. Never work under a car without proper support; you could be injured or killed if it falls.
Neuspeed 25mm front sway bar - $269.95
Neuspeed 28mm rear sway bar - $399.95
Euro Sport front upper strut bar - $119.95
Euro Sport rear upper strut bar - $79.95
Euro Sport front lower tie bar - $79.95
Falken Azenis ST-615 tires, 205/50 R15 - $119 each (Latest ST-615K model)