As many of you that have been in the VW scene for the past several years might know, the stock shifter has steadily improved over the past few generations. Gear changes in the current 02Q 6 speed transmission are smooth, direct, and reasonably quick. So, (as I already expressed in part 1) since my car is daily driven, I wanted to retain that smooth factory feel without any of the unwanted “notchiness” that installing a short shifter can produce.
This lead me to choosing the VW Racing short shifter. Used in the UK Volkswagen Racing Cup, the VW Racing short shifter has been tested and proven to remain smooth and reliable under the hard driving conditions that only real circuit racing can produce. The shifter reduces both the front to back and side to side movements by about 25%, which is more than enough to make a difference without negatively affecting the synchros in your transmission.
Installation of the short shifter was simple and the only other part that needs to be removed is the stock airbox, or in my case, the Stage I Carbonio intake. Before doing anything in the engine bay, I highly recommend removing your shifter boot and inserting a small rod (or even a nail) into the factory alignment holes. This will guarantee that your cables remain in the correct positions during the installation and will save you from having to re-align everything later. Once this is done and the airbox/intake is removed, simply disconnect the shifter cables from the stock shifter, then remove the 13mm nut that holds the front to back shifter arm to the transmission. Next you simply need to pull the arm from the shift tower and set it aside. After that is done, unclip the pin on the side to side arm and slide it out. Installation of the new parts happens exactly the same in reverse.
In addition to the new shifter, I decided to install 42 Draft Designs shifter cable bushings as well. These replace the stock rubber bushings that come on the car and the VW Racing short shifter and will make your shifts feel more solid and direct. Installing the bushings simply requires pushing out the rubber bushings and putting in the new ones.
The last items I installed along with the short shifter were the Integrated Engineering shifter bracket bushings. These install into the bracket that holds the shifter cables to the transmission and remove the final rubber parts from the shifter assembly. To install, simply unbolt the bracket, remove the rubber bushings, and install the new metal ones.
The combination of these items results in a shifter feel that I consider to be perfect. Shifts are now completely solid without any loose rubbery feel whatsoever. Movements are noticeably shorter (and quicker), without any of the “rowing a boat” feel that the long throws of the stock shifter produce. The installation was simple and straight forward, with no special tools needed (always a plus for any diy guy).
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Links to the upgrades installed:
- VW Racing Short Shifter Kit
- 42 Draft Designs Shifter Bushings
- Integrated Engineering Shifter Bracket Bushings