Project SportWagen TDI: Interior

When it comes to taking chances, as P.J. O’Rourke tells it, some people like to play poker or shoot dice; other people prefer to parachute jump, go rhino hunting, or climb ice floes, while still others engage in crime or marriage. Me? I like to get on eBay and type in Golf TDI and buy the “upgrades” that my search returns. Name me, if you can, a better set of instructions than ones packed with some overseas-built universal add-on containing the imperative “Be sure that to drill these holes two times!

Generally, about the time we’re in our early twenties and stop waking up in strange new places, we learn that some chances aren’t worth taking. That something designed to accommodate everything – be it top 40 music, Miller Lite, or HYPER BLUE RACING SEATS A+++++ SELLER – doesn’t do any anything well.

oemcaps

Like pedal caps.  eBay is loaded with aluminum pedal caps in day-glo anodized colors.  It’s been a staple offering there since a couple of SR20 engines would pull a premium a week before Race Wars, but none of them compare to the fit, finish, quality, or design of VW Accessories’ Pedal Caps. Not only are these designed for each unique position on the Mk7 (the clutch and brake are different), but they actually replace the factory rubber pads, down to the mounting tabs and locks, ensuring a perfect fit and alignment.

accessorycaps

The only difficulty we encountered is that the accelerator pedal cover is so securely mounted that getting it to fit in place requires a lot of torqueing and twisting, which is ostensibly a good thing since nobody wants it to pop off while driving. It’s designed to snap over the existing solid plastic pedal, and raises it up the proper amount to match its slightly thicker brethren. So if heel-toe shifting is in your skill-set, the overall feel keeps your current technique the same.

Another common accessory profaned by eBay wholesalers is the shift knob: Who knew that Racing-R (the global authority for fine sticker packs and corrugated underhood hose jackets) made billet shift knobs for “VW VOLKSWAGON VOLKSWAGEN GOLF RABBIT JETTA EOS CABBY CADDY QUANTUM”? More importantly, you bought your VW because you liked the thoughtful engineering that went into it; why would you subject it to that?

knobs

You see, the shift knob on the Mk7 (and quite a few others) is not just a fixture on the top of the stalk; it’s a complete assembly with the boot, console trim, and retaining clips. That’s why we turned to VW Accessories for their Gear Shift Knob. It came ready-to-go out of the box, with a new console trim bezel, boot, and mounting clip.  Unlike the TDI’s original piece, the Accessories knob has a half-golfball dimpling on its back and – this is the part that sold us on it – a gray contrast stitching on the boot that matches the gray contrast stitching on our wagon’s seats (the OE piece has just black stitching – go figure).

Installation is a five-minute affair with one arm tied behind your back (we tried it with one of John’s hands zip-tied to his back belt loop; for, you know, science) and a pair of pliers to remove the old retaining clip and install the new one. Overall height remains the same—again, why mess with the ergonomics—but there is a just slightly more heft to it, making shifts feel a tad more solid and precise.

shade

Our last accessory is one available exclusively from VW and it fits our wagon’s dual mission as a family vehicle. I cry a silent, detail-oriented tear every time I see a car with a foot-by-foot square of window tinting pressed, air bubbles and all, on a side window. My OCD is assuaged with VW Accessories’ “Pop In” Sun Shade kit.

VW’s kit requires no holes to be drilled or trim to be removed, and includes all the brackets necessary (and designed explicitly for the Mk7 body) to install the shades.  Once in place, the rear and quarter-window shades act like the sunroof screen: easy to see out of, while providing privacy and cutting down on direct light inside the car. Since they mount to the inside of the window frames, one of the coolest features (I see what you did there – Ed.) is that the rear door shades allow the windows to go up and down with the shade in place, letting airflow through the shades’ net mesh without any extra glare.

shade-external

Our Sportwagen-specific set came in five pieces – one for each rear door (one shade covers both sliding and quarter door windows), one for each rear side window abaft the C-Pillars, and one large piece that spans the entire rear window. Instructions are clear and easy, and the shades can be popped out while the mounting clips remain in place.  Better yet, since the shades have thick cloth edges, they stay in place without any ticks, squeaks, or rattles.

So without taking any chances—either from Mr. O’Rourke’s options, or from shady “US Seller” eBay listings—we’ve managed to increase both the function and the performance & style of our TDI Sportwagen. The Genuine VW Accessories fit perfectly with the overall theme of this particular car. After all, isn’t that the point of a diesel-powered, manual transmission station wagon? We think so.