The Mk5 GTI’s chassis is much better than the Mk4, but it still rides pretty high. A set of sports springs and dampers will firm things up nicely and drop it around 30mm. But for full adjustability, (especially if you want to get on a track) look at quality coilover kit from the likes of KW Automotive. These will transform the handling, but also remain forgiving on road. Uprated anti-roll bars and a full geometry set up will make a huge difference.
WHEELS & TYRES
The OEM Teledial alloys really suit the Golf, but they’re not what you’d call light. A set of quality aftermarket rims will reduce the all-important unsprung weight, allow better cooling to the brakes and set your VW apart from the rest. Fitment is 5×112 ET 35-45 and 8x18s are the optimal size – just don’t get carried away with stance unless you want to compromise the handling. Tyres should be a quality brand in a 225/40 size. Track stuff like Toyo R888s or Yokohama Advan A048Rs will also make a big difference to grip and handling.
Stock brakes are pretty effective, but the 1320kg Golf is no lightweight. If you use it hard on track, the build up of heat will soon lead to fade. Harder compound track pads, braided lines and DOT 5.1 fluid will help to deal with the high temps caused by repeated heavy braking. For the ultimate, a big 6-pot brake conversion from the likes of AP Racing, Tarox or Brembo is well worth considering. However, bear in mind that budget tyres will struggle to cope with the extra stopping power.
A quality remap from the likes of Revo Technik will give the 2ltr FSI unit a harder mid-range punch. Power gains can be over 50bhp and 80 lb/ft, but don’t get too bogged down in numbers as it’s how it drives that matters. A full exhaust system, including larger 3-inch downpipe will make a big difference, while a decent cold air induction kit from the likes of iTG can also give a significant increase with the FSI unit. OEM Audi S3 upgrades (K04 turbo, intercooler, injectors) are also popular. With a larger turbo and uprated fuelling, you can get up to about 350bhp before you need to think about uprating internals. The later, Edition 30 model is even easier to tune, with just a remap, uprated fuel pump, exhaust and induction kit potentially taking power to around 360bhp. Again, with anything over 250bhp, we’d highly recommend a diff from the likes of Quaife to harness all that power through the front wheels.
Nothing much wrong as standard, but a few tweaks can make a big difference. Subtle carbon additions such as mirrors, rear spoiler, smoothing and a front splitter look very nice. Other than that, it’s probably best left alone.