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.


MotoIQ Project TDI Golf VW Suspension Exterior
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. 


MotoIQ Project TDI Golf VW Suspension
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.


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Friday, September 30, 2011 1:23 AM
Does the front suspension gain positive camber on compression now?
Friday, September 30, 2011 3:20 AM
Wow, pretty comprehensive upgrade to the cars suspension! Now thats going to be one hell of a daily driver and fuel miser!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Friday, September 30, 2011 4:36 AM
"Why are you going so fast on this on-ramp?!"

"I'm trying to conserve fuel!"
Friday, September 30, 2011 7:00 AM
Das Rabbit mit new parts...ist gut, ja?!
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, September 30, 2011 9:51 AM
You guys owe Howard BIG time! Project Car usually indicates continual upgrades? If I were a betting man, I'd say your TDI, Steve, will rock this one HP wise, but I'd think the MKVI was designed to handle better. If I were a betting man :)
Friday, September 30, 2011 11:33 AM
@ Daewoo: While I'm sure it does gain camber on compression, I don't think that it gains faster than body roll. VW generally designs its cars to lose camber under body roll to make the limit approachable and predictable. From previous experience in other cars, driving a front camber neutral car on the street isn't the best thing in the world, as there are times when you'll HAVE to jam on the brakes and wrench the wheel.

@ Dusty: LOL, yeah, I think that's admissible in court... ;-p

@ Marillionado: Undt Rabbit wiz ze Whiteline and ST bits ist undt gut bunny...

@ Der: Yes, yes we do. I'll sign Jeff up to "fix his desk", since it's his car... ;-p

Well, his car stock vs. my car tuned, yes, I'll rock him. However, adding power in a CR diesel is stupid easy.

And yeah, log rear and front McStrut with horrible geometry (hey, basically a Diesel B14 Sentra that's hard to work on!) vs. McStrut with decent geometry and Multi-link rear, not fair. :(
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Friday, September 30, 2011 12:11 PM
Steve, we should see how much power it takes you to make up the 17 seconds at Auto Club Speedway :)
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, September 30, 2011 12:37 PM
Ouch, those are racing words!

Steve - I know Revo recently cracked the 2.0 (I was undewhelmed with results) but comparing the 1.9 and the 2.0 is like comparing a 5.9 to a 6.7. The 1.9 has more potential (tuned vs. tuned) and a proven record of better MPGs :) Now let's see some Diesel on Diesel action (on video please) !
Friday, September 30, 2011 1:27 PM
I know it's pessimistic but I think this is the least interesting project car I have ever seen - a yaris gets better mileage is alot cheaper and fun to drive this thing looks like children's scissors on wheels - like if you ever crashed it they would treat it as a suicide attempt rather than an accident.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Friday, September 30, 2011 2:03 PM
Bruce, i have some "baseline" video of both of us at Auto Club I've yet to cut.. it's extraordinarily boring but we were hoping to use it for comparison on down the road.

The 2.0 is limited to about 200hp with the stock injectors and turbo if you ditch the particulate filter and egr (i'll do another pic of me with soot all over my face like Al Jolson).. but that's for off-road use only of course. After that though, we'll just have to see what the limits are, i don't think a lot of people have pushed them yet.

on another note, i'm going to also add a snapshot of my Fuelly report since improving fuel economy is also a goal of this project... It sounds a little too good to be true but it looks like I actually gained about 1.5-2mpg following the suspension install! I wonder if giving it a little rake and lowering the overall frontal area actually did something measurable? also note i started running B5 biodiesel on my 8th tank of fuel which brought me down about 3mpg..

Oh and yes, circuitsports, you are being pessimistic. the yaris get's worse mpg, is lame and has a ton less upgrade potential than the tdi (performance and mpg wise). Adding diesel, Euro AND mpg weenie content to our site also makes good business sense :) Hopefully, until this project gets more appealing the 35+ other projects we have will be able to hold your interest.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, September 30, 2011 2:41 PM
236 lb/ft of torque is boring? 4 star crash rating suicide attempt?
Friday, September 30, 2011 2:58 PM
@ Jeff: My guess, after I've modified the mega-cush suspension, is about 50. ;-p

@ Circuitsports: I think you'll be surprised what kind of mileage it gets after Jeff stops running hippie fuel and removes the puppy and kitten emitters from the tailpipe.

@ Mike: I never thought I'd see the day where you brought up crash ratings, and I'd actually be interested in it. It seems even gear heads get old... ;-p
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Friday, September 30, 2011 3:09 PM
lol, i'm not running B5 cuz i care about the environment, rather to get that bit of added lubricity bio has over diesel #2.... for the HPFP's sake
Friday, September 30, 2011 3:20 PM
You can get some pretty good lubricity numbers from just running a gallon of Bio-Diesel.

That, and ULSD isn't so harsh anymore, as the refiners have brought the lubricity numbers back up.

But yeah, I hear you. $10k fuel system repairs are always a bummer. Once you get all the puppy and kitten emitters off, you can just throw PS fluid in there... :)
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Friday, September 30, 2011 3:32 PM
I've driven Yarises (Yarii? Yaren?) several times, and anyone who thinks they're "fun to drive" needs to have his medications changed.
b drecksage
b drecksagelink
Friday, September 30, 2011 7:03 PM
@# circuitsports - this is the first article that i've commented on in a while. This is VERY interesting to me because i'm looking for a dd that is okay to drive and good on fuel and such. this fits the bill perfectly and 236ftlbs is gonna be fun.

I think i'm leaning more towards the jetta sport wagon.

ps...i had a rental yaris before...and it was almost as bad as the hhr rental that i had while my cobalt ss was down.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, September 30, 2011 7:56 PM
Haha, between Jeff and Steve's TDIs, Motoiq is doing more diesel project CARS than DieselPower! 236lb/ft is great but you buy TDIs for the fuel economy and then the fun. I am excited to see how much torque the 1.9 and 2.0 will produce respectively when you 2 are done with the mods for off-road use, of course :)

Jeff - Like the photoshop on the fuelly, please hook us up with the boring, soon to be spiced up video!

Steve - see, as soon as you mention those VW parts and repair bills, I'm reminded why I for rid of my MKV GTI!
Friday, September 30, 2011 9:04 PM
Repair bills are for sissies that can't turn a wrench in pure frustration (as is often the case when working on ze Volksvagen).

Parts, meh. I primarily use OEM parts anyway, so it's almost always expensive. Plenty of 'net dealers/suppliers for parts if you've got the patience.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, September 30, 2011 10:47 PM
Let's put it this way Steve, Ze people's car isn't quite so people friendly anymore, even for those who know how to and are willing to turn a wrench!
Saturday, October 01, 2011 11:01 AM
Sissy. ;-p
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Saturday, October 01, 2011 1:23 PM
Steve - 2 things. 1) I went through all the "known" problems on my GTI for this unusual ticking (sounded like the valves) before I HAD to take it to the dealer who, literally, took ALL day to go through their "known" problems before figuring out it was a 1-1.5" timing chain tensioner that was $300 just for the part (probably $50 for most non-european manufacturers). And I was having well known intermitant headlight problems. I was pissed and saw the signs of financial demise by sticking with VW. PEACE, I was out! Don't know if I'll go back. 2) Just read about the new Skyactiv-D! Light weight, 310lb-ft, 2 turbos and looks to have some decent tuning potential :) Only thing I didn't like, objectively, was the new rod design versus the the old 2.2. The new one may weigh 1.5# less and I think the journals look bigger but I'd like to see a thicker one.
Sunday, October 02, 2011 1:22 PM
Well, the timing belt tensioner on my ALH 1.9L TDI is $69.95 from IDParts.com... ;-p

From the dealer, it's well over $100. Dealer prices != reality, unless you have a jobber or better account.

We'll see on the Skyactiv-D. Nice to know there are other sources for diesel cars that aren't $40k+.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, October 05, 2011 8:14 PM
Uh oh Jeff, just read today a recall might be headed your way :(
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Wednesday, October 05, 2011 11:02 PM
Hmmm, bursting fuel injection lines... interesting. bummed it's not the HPFP being recalled. my VIN doesn't say there's any recalls yet for the car and my date of manufacture is not in the range they said was most susceptible to failure. we'll wait and see though! thanks for the heads up :)
Thursday, October 06, 2011 6:57 AM
Maybe a DPF/EGR recall, to be replaced with urea injection? :)
Friday, October 07, 2011 2:28 PM
Cool project and I'm suprised you guys went so crazy on the bushings since it's a new car (I'm used to hearing ab bushing replacements in OLD cars). The suspension geometry improvements seem worth it though. Will be interesting to see what's next!

As a side note, I don't appreciate the pic w/the Bible... I'm sure you guys are "just having fun" and all, and yes, this is a free site, articles done out of your own time (and Howard's), yes yes, that's all understood... but there's enough to discuss on this site w/out bringing religion into it. To me the pic is a random jest/insult towards Christianity that doesn't belong on a website of this caliber.
Monday, October 10, 2011 7:14 AM
Old, new, doesn't matter here. OEM designs are often 2 standard deviation solutions, which we usually don't like. For a small sacrifice in comfort, the handling gains were well worth it.

As for The Bible and Christianity, I go to church every week, and still LOL when I see the picture. I'm sorry you take it as an insult, but it was not intended that way at all.
Friday, April 06, 2012 5:13 AM
Love this project as I have a 2010 Golf TDI 6 speed and the wife has a '09 JSW DSG. Anyway for a DD these cars are near perfect. But I don't like that 1/2" list that seems to come from the rear end when pitching it hard into a corner. If you had to do one thing to address that would it be the rear trailing arm bushings? I live in CO and the roads here are Horrible and I have another car for track days so I won't be making any comprehensive changes. Famous last words....
Friday, April 06, 2012 5:18 AM
Also, a note on tunes, I had the NA Revo tune installed on my car and then did some comprehensive testing with it. There is ZERO power increase, all it does is change the response to throttle input. Felt a little punchier when testing after the flash but that's because the throttle is just responding as though there were say-40% more than your toe is actually calling for. Malone is next as he is the only one that I think really makes some power. Of course I want to do that with the DPF delete which seems to be worth about 168 whp. Will you guys go first and tell me how it works out?
Friday, April 06, 2012 8:00 AM
My Jetta has all Whiteline bushings on it, and none of them are overly harsh, and the bushings for Jeff's Golf seemed to be almost unnoticeable from a ride standpoint (definitely noticed handling). I don't think there'd be any harm in just doing the rear bushings.

As for deleting the DPF, we as responsible Californians cannot condone that...

In public... ;-p
Friday, September 14, 2012 7:45 PM
@Fritz280 - I've read lots of great feedback about Malone Tuning and would have gone that route on my old man's 09 (CBEA), but his DSG trans necessitates a reflash at the same time. The CR tunes make too much additional torque without it, which makes me wonder about the limit of the stock clutch as well.

I look forward to seeing what direction you decide to take this project as much should be applicable to the MKV's as well.
whiplash willy
whiplash willylink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:11 AM
My biggest complaint about the MK6 TDI Golf is the disconnected feel from the drivetrain you get from the 6MT's DMF. Too bad this one is a DSG, I would have loved to see an article on a SMF swap, and maybe even a LSD while the trannys out.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:24 AM
@ whiplash: I'm 99% sure Jeff's car is a 6MT.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 9:49 AM
yes, it is a manual.. does anyone make a regular flywheel for it yet? I haven't looked :) i'm more bothered by the stability control that kicks in and takes out all throttle for a second or two when you go over uneven pavement at speed.. The suspension upgrades in part 2 though seem to have actually helped improve that though.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 10:01 AM
What's this "stability control" you speak of? Does it have an off switch?

Google is indecisive on MKVI SMF availability...
Saturday, September 06, 2014 7:40 PM
I know this is quite an old post, but did the bushings for the sway bars ever start squeaking? I've read a number of complaints about whiteline's product squeaking. Thank you,
Saturday, September 06, 2014 9:19 PM
The Whiteline bars on the Jetta haven't made a peep in 50k miles...
Saturday, September 06, 2014 9:22 PM
Thanks Rockwood, waiting for my ECU back from Malone and then driving to WA State... I was thinking of just doing the rear sway bar - will that make that big of a difference or do I need to do both? (I need to piece meal this project so my wife doesn't kill me).
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