Project MKVI Golf TDI: Introduction and Suspension Upgrades
By: Steve Rockwood
Diesels aren’t for everyone. It takes a special breed to sacrifice comfort and performance for efficiency. They’re noisier than their gas counterparts, they make less power, you can’t find fuel for them everywhere, and they’re dirtier. Anyone who has been behind a diesel Chevy Celebrity wagon, breathing in noxious clouds of diesel stink while crawling up the onramp at 23mph will attest to these sentiments. Fortunately, VW didn’t give up on improving the quirkiness of Rudolph Diesel’s sparkless engine. The TDI Clean Diesel engine found in our Project MKVI Golf TDI has none of these vices. It is the everyman diesel.
Sure, if you’re still a little batty, you could put up with reasonable power and “something doesn’t sound right with that engine” noise levels with a 1.9 ALH TDI as found in our Project Jetta TDI. But, if you want slap in the face torque and excellent efficiency, but don’t want to explain why your engine sounds like shit to every 1st date who hops in your car, then the common rail diesel found in the MKVI Golf and Jetta TDI is the only way to go. 236 lb-ft of torque in a small hatchback is more than entertaining, especially if it doesn't sound like a delivery truck from India.
|Right hand on the Bible, Jeff swears that's all the “soot” our TDI has made in its 8,878 mile life!|
The important features our Golf TDI came well optioned with were bi-xenon headlamps with Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), uprated stereo, Bluetooth, and, most importantly, a 6-speed manual transmission. Real men row their own.
Although a competent machine out of the box, no car can stay stock for long in the hands of a MotoIQ staffer. While we have many things planned to tailor our Golf to our liking, we decided the suspension needed upgrading before anything else. The underpinnings of the car, with struts up front and a multi-link setup out back, were certainly capable and handled relatively well stock. However, we couldn’t help but get the same feeling after flogging the car on mountain roads that you’d get when shaking the hand of your favorite athlete, only to get the limp hand treatment. Body roll wasn’t horrible, but definitely noticeable, turn-in was a little dull, and damping was definitely on the flaccid side. We intend to fix these issues with components from Whiteline and Suspension Techniques.
|Diesel power for the everyman: the TDI Golf.|
One of the primary contributors to our car’s recalcitrant turn-in were the stock Volkswagen suspension bushings. As with many other vehicles destined for the general public, our stock bushings featured a lot of road-isolating void areas. These voids, while excellent for a quiet and smooth ride, work as a sort of buffer zone for steering feedback, and allow an unnecessary amount of flex when loaded. Luckily for us, the folks at Whiteline feel the same as we do, and they just happen to have the tooling and experience to make things better without going overboard.
|Stock vs. Whiteline rear bushing for the front control arm. The void areas in the stock unit, while good for NVH isolation, lead to vague steering and inconsistent behavior over bumps due to bushing deflection.|