Project Mk V GTI: Part 2

For the second installment of our Project GTI, we check in with Frank on the progress. This week he reports back on the new suspension and a minor facelift- Joslin

When it came time to chose my suspension, for me the choice was easy. I went with H&R. Having had H&R coilovers on 3 of my previous VAG cars and never a single problem, I stuck with the old, “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality. I’m definitley happy that I did. The quality of H&R components is apparent the minute you unpack the box. In addition to the suspension, the kit comes with the two required wrenches for adjusting and now a small bottle of Boeing lube that is applied to the threads to prevent siezing. Being that i’m in the desert, we don’t have much of a problem with corrosion, but for you other folks, the lube should come in handy.

Once we got everything unpacked, we disassembled the stock suspension. Everything came out with relative ease; even removing the hub from the front axles was a piece of cake. I had planned ahead and ordered a set of axle bolts for the front end as they are one-time use stretch bolts and should be replaced when you take them out.

Installion of the H&R stuff was just as easy- everything went together perfectly and with ease. The entire process took about 2 hours and that was working at a casual pace. My friend Mike from Emotion Autowerks here in Las Vegas helped out with the install and since he had already done a few Mk V suspensions, it went very smooth. I pre-set the coilovers before I put them on the car. I had some inside knowledge on where I wanted to be since a friend had already had a set installed on his Mk V. Needless to say I was pretty much spot on; we’ll see how they settle before I make anymore adjustments.

The initial impression of the car lowered is that it looks much more aggresive, which I think is a plus for sure. It no longer looks like the little, friendly, economical commuter hatch; it’s much more sporty. Obviously I couldn’t wait to drive it!

Since the stock GTI suspension was fairly stiff from the factory, I had anticipated that the unlike in past models, the switch to coilovers would be as dramatic, with exception of the ride height of course. I was pretty much right and actually, dare I say, in some instances the H&R’s almost seem more compliant?! The ride quality is excellent, which is what I’ve come to rely on from H&R. Body roll is all but eliminated and the ride is very smooth. Even over bumps that I’m familiar with on my daily drive, it’s hard to tell if there’s really that much difference in ride from the stock setup.

To get the full effect, I decdided to take a quick drive up to the Toiyabe National forest about a 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas. It’s a nice relief from the heat of the summer and it has some nice roads too. Once again, the car performed perfectly. The flat cornering and smooth road feel are incredible and the stability of the Mk V chassis combined with the H&R suspension is an absolute pleasure to drive.

Obviously I am very happy with my selection,. I absolutely love this car.

You may have noticed, I converted the front grille setup to the Mk V Jetta version. All the pieces fit directly into the GTI bumper, which is a pretty cool thing. I don’t know why, but the mesh seemed a little excessive on the GTI for my tastes, so I wanted to try something different. While I’m not sure the car will remain as it is in the pics, as I have a couple of other ideas, it will be a variation of this. The nice thing is, if I do decide to switch back to the GTI setup, it only takes about 10 minutes to do so.

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