Project 24V GLI: Part II

Alright… we know it’s been a painfully long amount of time since we launched Project 24V GLI. We wanted to run Part II much sooner, but you know how it goes: we had shows to attend, advertisers to schmooze, readers to ban… Rather than run and hide with our collective tails between our legs, we’re bravely returning to Project GLI and are ready to get things back on track.

In Part I of this series we outlined why we felt the 24V VR6 GLI was a good candidate for a VWvortex project series and what our objectives were. We mentioned that suspension improvements topped our list of changes and Part II will illustrate how and why we went about addressing these issues.

The stock suspension, while comfortable to a large degree, was not what we thought a Jetta wearing the GLI badge should feel like. We wanted it to feel more stable in the corners and to have less body roll. The stance was also an issue with that unsightly wheel gap or as some refer to it, “the 4×4 look”. What it comes down to in any context is that it just wasn’t sporty enough.

Before the shopping could begin the question of whether to go with a shock and springs combination or an adjustable coil over setup came up. Both have positives and negatives that had to be weighed, but in the end a coil over setup was what we decided on. The adjustability of the stance to suit our preference and the performance the setup would provide at the track on the weekends were the main deciding factors.

With the idea of what we were after now decided we went to talk to Mike Potter at Virtual World Parts, also known as Being a long time enthusiast, parts dealer and instructor at local race tracks, Mike was the perfect person to help us. Based on his recommendations, we went with the basic H&R coil over suspension kit which allows for up to a 2.8 inch drop in the front and up to a 2.5 inch drop in the rear. The spring rates are 400-lbs in the front and 280-lbs in the rear. In addition to the coil over kit we went with H&R front and rear anti-roll bars. We chose the 26mm front bar to help compensate for the heavy VR6 engine, and for the rear we chose the 28mm adjustable bar to give us some flexibility at the track.

Now that we had our parts we were on our way to Ron Wood at VW Specialties in Huntington Beach, CA to have them installed and the alignment done. The car was lowered approximately 2 inches in the front and the same in the rear. Since lowering the car significantly changes the suspension geometry, we needed to have an alignment performed. Caster and camber are not adjustable on a MkIV Golf or Jetta without additional aftermarket parts (we hope to look into adding these later in the series), so that left us with the toe, which was set to 1/16″ out. This was a compromise for the street versus track driving. Had the car spent more time on the track it could have been set to 1/8″ to improve turn in, but if the car was strictly for commuting then it would have been set closer to zero for improved tire wear. The rear 28mm adjustable bar was set to the front most setting for daily driving, but can be adjusted at the track for more or less oversteer as desired.

One detail that should also be noted is a change in tires. From Part I of the series the first visit to the track was on the stock 17-inch wheels and tires as delivered from the factory. The tires now have been replaced with Kumho Ecsta 712s from The Tire Rack.

Now it was time for the fun part, driving it! The ride is firm and responsive, but still comfortable for daily driving on less than perfect southern California roads. Our GLI could now carve its way through the corners in a whole new way. Next stop was a weekend at the track to really test our results. The changes were immediately apparent as the car could be pushed harder through the corners and there was far less dive under aggressive braking. The H&R 26mm front anti-roll bar has quickened turn-in noticeably and without increasing understeer much. The 28mm rear adjustable anti-roll bar has proved to be a good complement to the front bar, offering quite a bit more fun by allowing the car to oversteer when lifting off the throttle and helping the nose to find its way back towards the corner apex. The final results? We are extremely happy with our choices.

Stay tuned, as next time we’ll be looking to give the car a little more grunt and smooth out some throttle issues – Part III coming soon! (Quit laughing – we know, we know…)

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Project 24V GLI: Part1

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For more photos of the car in this story, click on the link to our gallery at the right.