It's the simplest formula in the tuning playbook - a drop and wheels. Lowering a car will not only improve its handling thanks to a lower center of gravity, but also give it a sportier appearance. or our '09 VW Jetta TDI, we approached KW Suspension (www.kwautomotive.com) to obtain its latest Variant 3 coilovers because we're suspension snobs and wanted the most advanced setup from the Variant line. The V3s use top-rate stainless steel bodies with three-way adjustability to fine-tune the shocks 14 different ways for the street or track. We'll bring you a more in-depth review in a later issue. If you missed the step-by-step install from last month, visit our tech pages at www.eurotuner.com where you can find Justin's detailed instructions with accompanying photos.
For the second part of the formula, there's almost no better manufacturer for our wheel requirements than BBS (www.bbs-usa.com). The company started in the '70s building three-piece racing wheels. In the following 40 years, BBS became an OE supplier to Audi, BMW and VW, to name a few. It also supplies winning wheels for cars in Formula One, Indy and DTM, among the many. Its street wheels set the standard in the tuning scene, which is why we were giddy when they shipped us a set of 19x8" CH wheels. Available between 17-19", the CH is a one-piece cast wheel painted in Diamond silver, although there's also a new CH in black with polished stainless lip offered in 18-19" but we felt silver would give our Platinum grey TDI a classy look. Thankfully, each wheel wasn't too heavy either, weighing just 24 lb each.
We matched our BBS wheels to a set of four 235/35-19 Continental ContiSportContact3 tires. The high-performance rubber was used as the control tire in etGP '08 (et 1/09) as well as on Project 135i. Already proven to offer excellent stopping distances, increased cornering grip, yet maintain good gas mileage and low noise, the Contis were an obvious choice for our TDI cruiser.
So we loaded the wheels and tires in the trunk (which surprisingly fitted with the rear seats folded down) and headed to our wheel and tire experts at The Wheel Supply in Walnut, CA (909/468-1311). Owner Albert Halim and his staff quickly mounted and balanced the wheels and tires and fitted them on the car.
In a matter of only two modifications, Project TDI is re-born. We must admit after fitting the CHs, the wheel gap in the front is taller than the rear, so we'll be fixing the ride height soon. There's plenty of room to go lower, but the rear looks as if its where we want it to be - and there's no rubbing either!
As for mileage, we finally surpassed the 5000-mile mark thanks to a couple of long road trips to Buttonwillow Raceway, including Super Lap Battle (elsewhere in this issue) as well as some other long test drives. After much criticism about my lead foot, I was able to improve my economy to 38-40mpg, although Justin reported 42+mpg on his adventures in our 2.0 liter TDI.