GTI Mk6 Project – New Wheels and Tires

Back when we introduced our Golf VI GTI Project, we talked about the need for winter wheels and tires in the harsh winters we get around the VWvortex offices. And when the grey skies parted and spring traded snow for leaves, we could’ve very easily retired the winters and thrown the stock Detroit wheels and Continental SportContact 2s back on the car. But where would the fun be in that?

Instead, we figured we’d take the perfect opportunity of having the wheels off the car to head into warm weather in style. While we do love the optional 18-inch wheels that come on the GTI, we’re never too good for a little plus-one when it comes to wheel sizes. For that job, we gave VMR Wheels a call. With the stock wheels having a bit of a chunky feel to them, we figured we’d go the opposite direction with a set of mesh wheels.

VMR’s V710s seem to fit that bill perfectly. The wheels sport a classic mesh design resembling an evolution of BBS’s RX model, but also feature a very nice concave construction, giving the wheel a little extra something visually when compared to a flatter-faced wheel, more like an HRE Monoblok P40. We opted for the 19 x 8.5-inch versions, which we knew would fill the wheel wells perfectly. After four boxes arrived at our doorstep, we quickly pulled out the wheels and weighed them on our scale. While the new wheels add a bit of unsprung weight, we love the way they look and can’t feel much of a difference in acceleration with them mounted. The steering, however, does feel a bit heavier. If we decide to track the car we’ll get ourselves a dedicated set of lightweight wheels and tires for that duty.

Before we got to mounting them, though, we had to find a good set of tires to match. For that, we turned to Tire Rack, who suggested we go with the Dunlop Direzza DZ101s. Based off of the Direzza racing tires used in racing series around the world, the DZ101s offer a stiff shoulder and directional tread design that provides great performance in the warmer months. In order to give the tires a subtle stretched look, we opted for the 225/35R19 size. While the wheel guard is no longer protecting the VMRs from curbing due to the the stretch, we haven’t had any rubbing and this tire size certainly fulfills the aesthetic we were aiming for while still not looking too much like they were painted on and providing at least some give in the sidewall.

Our GTI has made the rounds a few times at some of the car shows since we mounted the wheels and tires, and it’s safe to say they have gotten quite a few looks from the show-goers. With Volkswagen center caps in place of the VMR ones, many attendees at this year’s Waterfest were quick to ask who makes them and what size they were. The 19-inch size certainly seems to be the right one for attracting attention, and the wheel wells look well filled even on the stock suspension (a problem we look to resolve soon). The wheels have taken some curb and pothole abuse from some of the staffers (who will remain nameless) and staffer’s wives (who will especially remain nameless). But overall the wheels are holding up very well, despite one getting a minor bend in it from Chicago’s infamous summer construction season.

The tires also certainly live up to their Ultra Sport Performance designation with very high levels of performance, easy break-away characteristics and a good solid feel for what’s going on at the road. They also live up to their lack of all-season designation even more so. Especially now that we’ve added a new performance chip (expect to see an update on that soon), the tires seem to be all but defeated by the slightest bit of moisture on the road, which has left us in more than one pucker-inducing situation. Otherwise they don’t seem to wear very quickly at all, with most of the tread left after a summer that saw many miles and many — ahem — tests after our performance upgrades.

Overall, we like the package quite a bit, especially for the aesthetics. When our GTI goes away in the coming months, there may be quite the search for what to put these wheels on next.