Intro: Project SportWagen TDI

Another Golf SportWagen, you’re probably thinking?  Aren’t we already running one of these as a project?  Have we lost our collective mind? Yes, we are, and possibly, we have.  But just like Mad Men once hypothesized that women can either be a “Jackie” or a “Marilyn,” or Beatles fans still argue fifty years later over whether the band’s best studio album was Sergeant Pepper or Rubber Soul, or VW Golf fans can’t agree about whether the Mk1 or Mk2 was the best generation of Golf ever (the correct answer, of course, being Mk2), there’s always room for alternative viewpoints and different preferences.

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It’s not like VW makes the choice easy for us when we’re looking at a Mk7. They can be two- or four-door.  Wagon or hatchback.  Gas or diesel.  Front- or all-wheel drive.  Manual or Auto. This is the car that Jeremy Clarkson once rightly called “all things to all men,” so who are we to be satisfied with just one interpretation of the Golf SportWagen? Since we’re in the year of long-roof love, why not flip the project idea on its head and try again?

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Our Project SportWagen is a 1.8 TSI/Auto combo with Silk Blue metallic paint, so we chose to tack in a different direction for its counterpart. Our friends and Capital Area forum sponsors at Lindsay Volkswagen in Sterling, VA, found an inbound TDI with a six-speed manual in Pure White and put our name on it. We’ve always felt that a stark white VW is a great blank canvas, and while our TSI is a fully-equipped SEL with factory-installed xenon headlamps, we chose a midlevel-trim SE for our TDI, opening up avenues for lighting upgrades and body modifications to go with them.  Since the Auto mated so well with the 1.8T, holding each gear high up in RPMs to reach peak horsepower, the six-speed manual presents a fantastic counterpoint, allowing us to bring the TDI back down low into the meat of its torque band at will.

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Taking it further, we’re bringing two distinct approaches to the modifications on each.  Our TSI is being built to look at home on a show field, so it’s no surprise that it’s running a full pneumatic suspension from Air Lift and finely-bladed Rotiform wheels.  Our TDI is designed to be an everyman’s car that’s still fun to drive, so it will be wearing steel coilovers and OEM+ upgrades straight from VW Accessories. They’re completely different takes on the madness of modifying a VW, and like most forms of madness, they exist on a spectrum.

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The pictures above are of our stone-stock Golf SportWagen after taking delivery, but boxes are already arriving at our Chicago office, OEM pieces are being unbolted, and as the next several weeks unfold, we’ll be rounding out our year of long-roof love by bringing two completely different sides of the same car out to play.