For those paying attention to our social media you will know that we’ve essentially wrapped up the build on our Golf R, but are behind in keeping you plugged in with what we’ve done to it. Simply put: We wanted to make sure that every part we fitted to the R worked as advertised and that we could provide comprehensive feedback to you. This latest chapter will cover a big chunk of the fun, with two more chapters coming shortly. Without further adieu:
Chapter 2: Braking and Drive train Upgrades
This latest round of upgrades for Project Golf R are equal parts making the most of the vehicle as it sits, and planning for future upgrades. Upgrades from Tarox, SuperPro, APR, Southbend, and USP Motorsports will set the stage to maximize the performance already available in our Golf R while making sure any future power increases are properly supported. Follow along as we walk you through installation and share our thoughts on how this round of upgrades has transformed our Golf R.
One of the hallmarks of the Tarox BBK kits are to provide significantly improved performance but without some of the “on / off” feeling that other aftermarket performance brake kits have. Make no mistake, the Tarox 360mm 8-piston kit (exclusive to the Golf R, S3 and Performance Pack GTI models) has excellent pedal feel with good modulation and release characteristics. The benefit is that the onset of braking is progressive and it’s a lot easier to stand on the brakes without accidentally throwing yourself and your passengers into the dash, or ending up the hood ornament of the 18-wheeler that’s tailgating you. Ultimately you get a huge increase in braking performance, better pedal feel and it’s friendly to drive in all situations and conditions. Part of this is the sizing of the caliper piston area versus the master cylinder volume, but it is also the default pad compound which Tarox typically equips their big brake kits with. These Strada (street) and Corsa (street/race) offer more compressibility than pure racing pads so offer a little more ‘give’ and smooth pedal feel. if a harder pedal and sharper response is what you want, all you need to do is specify one of the more aggressive pad compounds and you’re good; problem sorted.
The R has pretty solid brakes from the factory, so it means a lot to say that the Tarox kit offers an immediate and noticeable improvement over the stock stoppers. After bedding in the new brakes we took the NGP Golf R out for some exploratory limit finding runs and we were immediately impressed. When cold the new Tarox parts offered assuring, solid stopping power without any drama or any sort of an extreme feeling. Very ‘OEM+’ as many would call it. Once we built some heat into the pads and rotors it was clear where these picked up and just dug in compared to the stock brakes. Although we haven’t had the kit on the track yet, the limits on the street are as good as any other brakes we’ve had the pleasure of using up to now. We have yet to experience fade or a soft pedal as of yet, so we’re really keen to get them onto the track where the Tarox kit should really come into its own. ”
Much like you saw in chapter one of this build, if SuperPro makes it odds are it will end up fitted to our car and our engine mount choice was no exception. Knowing what our goal is with this project, using drive train mounts made to handle anything we can throw at it while still offering a civilized feel in-cabin was a must. Luckily, SuperPro’s engine mount kit offers that exact combination of performance and comfort. Installation is no different than any other aftermarket or stock engine mount kit (for the sub frame, you will need to press out the old mounts and press in the SuperPro mounts). The most impressive aspect of the Superpro Polylast engine and transmission mount kit is seemingly no additional vibration over the OEM mounts, despite their increase in control and performance. While Superpro also specifies no additional noise with their hybrid polyurethane mounts, we did notice an increase in noise coming from the transmission with this set. This is most likely due to the single mass flywheel of our Southbend Clutch Stage 3 clutch kit. The factory dual mass flywheel does a lot to dampen the sound and audibility of drive train lash inside the transmission, so combining the single mass flywheel with the increase in control from the Superpro mounts this noise will come through more than normal. Customers retaining a dual mass flywheel based clutch kit or DSG customers will not see this kind of increase in audible transmission noise.
Ultimately we have never seen such a significant increase in control, without the addition of noticeable vibration or harshness, as we have with the SuperPro engine mount set for the MQB chassis. Even with near 500hp from the APR Stage 3+ kit, they do a beautiful job of maintaining control of the drivetrain and keeping movement to a minimum, allowing the entire car to remain stable and feel planted, no matter what the situation.
Southbend Stage 3 Endurance clutch kit w/USP stainless clutch line.
There is a reason we stock and install Southbend clutch upgrades in our customer’s car- they flat out work without giving your left leg a work out. Typically, increased power handling comes at the expense of drivability and clutch pedal civility. Not so with Southbend’s systems, as they offer minimal changes in pedal feel while increasing their torque-handling capabilities. Simply put: We need a clutch upgrade that will take abuse at the track and still allow for a reasonably comfortable ride home. To round out our clutch upgrade, we also installed a stainless clutch line from USP to ensure consistent and smooth shifts on the street or at the track.
The DXD Racing Stage 3 Endurance clutch kit does have a notable increase in pedal effort over the OEM clutch, but to our eyes this is not a bad thing. The excessively soft pedal feel of the stock set up leaves the driver with very little feedback or idea of engagement and disengagement points. This might be fine for a family sedan but not for a sports hatch of the R’s nature. With the single mass flywheel and durable hybrid-material Endurance clutch disc, engagement is both smooth and predictable, allowing for consistent shifts and launches. Driving around town the clutch is easy to live with and given the power handling and capacity, offers very little in the way of downsides. The engagement is certainly sharper than stock as you would expect it, but it is nothing like a segmented or multi-puck racing clutch with their tendency to chatter and judder when you pull away from a stop light.
As mentioned in the SuperPro section, combining this kit with uprated engine and transmission mounts may result in some audible transmission noise and gear lash, but it is a small price to pay given the capacity, durability and ‘livability’ of the Stage 3 Endurance kit.
For those of you that follow our social media accounts, you know how much we love APR’s 6-speed adjustable short shifter kit. In being able to customize shifter weight and both side-to-side and front-to-back shift throw, APR has produced a product that allows for a nearly-infinitely customizable shifter upgrade. For a car we plan to ring every ounce of performance out of, being able to dial in the shift action is key.
The shifting performance and feel from the factory on the Mk7 Golf R and GTI variants is one of the biggest let-downs for us, on an otherwise stellar performance platform. The throws are long and easy, but have a rubbery and soft feel. It really dulls the experience and in our minds, is a must-upgrade area of the car to make it truly fun to drive. Plus if you’re really driving quickly, vague gear selection can be frustrating and slow at best.
The APR short-throw shift kit takes care of the row-boat length shifts from both front to back and side to side, but it is the addition of the 42 Draft Designs shifter bushing kit and solid aluminum APR shift cable bracket that really round out the experience. Both do their part to remove slop and movement from your hand to the selection of the next gear in the transmission. Feel is improved immensely, shifting is more direct and effective, akin to a proper sports car like a Porsche GT3. At the end of the day, it’s just more FUN to drive with these changes.
Whether your Golf R is stock or Stage 3, the combination of parts detailed above will transform the car for you every time you drive it, and are a must-have for any owner.
With all of the supporting systems now upgraded we’re ready to move onto the final piece of the puzzle, the new APR Stage 3+ turbocharger system. Thanks to our partners at Tarox, South Bend Clutch, Tyrolsport, Superpro, APR and 42 Draft Designs our Golf R has been transformed from the capable factory specifications to what will be a true wolf in sheep’s clothing supercar-killer. It’s fast and fun as it is, but should be an absolute beast once we’ve pumped it up to 500 horsepower and beyond.