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Project MKVI Golf TDI Handling Upgrades Cover

Project MKVI Golf TDI: Handling Upgrades Part Deux

By Steve Rockwood

 

Here's the thing: the nutjobs that make up MotoIQ are never happy.  Give us an improvement, and we'll look at improving the improvement.  Put a pea under a thousand race buckets and we'll still feel it.  Such was the case with our Project MKVI Golf TDI: we were definitely impressed with our first round of suspension mods by ST and Whiteline, we also felt the handling improvement package wasn't complete.  That pea started feeling like a boulder. 

 

Project MKVI Golf TDI Handling Upgrades Finished Part 1
When we left off last time, we had installed a whole slew of Whiteline bushings and geometry parts, as well as ST Suspension's coilover kit.

 

The first, and most prominent source of frustration came from our Golf's OEM Continental ContiPro Contact tires, sized 225/45-17, and 17x7.5" "Salamanca" wheels. Dubbed as "performance all season tires" and with a product slick sheet boasting of how quiet they are, how soft they ride, how low their rolling resistance, and how they've got nearly a thousand ridges (read: lots of tiny tread blocks), we weren't surprised that the Continentals were apt to squirm under the most un-grueling of conditions: onramp charging and mountain road cruising brought whimpers, flogging on the track brought porcine-level squeals of protest.

We'd had enough, so the call went out to Falken for a set of their Azenis FK-453, sized 225/40-18.  Falken, and the Azenis line in particular, is a tire company that is definitely familiar to MotoIQ staffers, as every single one of us has had a set of their near R-compound Azenis on at least one vehicle at some time in the past.  The latest installment to the Azenis line, the FK-453 features an asymmetric tread design, a strong nylon-reinforced carcass, silica rubber compound for grip and resistance to hardening over heat cycles, and has a more reasonable 300 treadwear rating for longer life.  Instead of ridges and efficiency, the FK-453's product slick sheet boasts of grip and a firm sidewall. 

 

Project MKVI Golf TDI Handling Upgrades Falken Azenis FK-453
Rather than brag about ride comfort, noise, and other sillyness, Falken's FK-453 focuses on things that matter: road holding and steering feel. 
 
Project MKVI Golf TDI Handling Upgrades Falken Azenis FK-453
Properly reinforced tread shoulders and sidewalls, with designated inside and outside shoulders result in firm response while cornering, and reasonable compliance while just ho-humming along.

 

At first glance, the difference in intentions is immediately apparent.  The Continentals are a busy mishmash of tiny little treadblocks, whereas the Falkens show a tread pattern that those of us who don't think of an automobile as an appliance are familiar with: beefy treadblocks, but good void areas for wet weather performance.  Two continuous ribs around the circumference of the tire should help with tire noise and expansion joint impacts, and the large outside shoulders and firm sidewalls should improve ultimate cornering grip and steering feel greatly.  Overall, the FK-453 measures half an inch wider, despite having the same 225mm width rating.  The reduced sidewall height should hopefully reduce tire squirm without being overly harsh.  Obviously, the FK-453s were not going to be very capable in the snow, but this is SoCal: snow is a voluntary event and we've still got our stockers with over 800 ridges.

 

Project MKVI Golf TDI Handling Upgrades Continental OEM tires
Even mostly worn, the large number of ridges that Continental boasts for the ContiPro Contact tire shows the all-season slant towards winter performance, something we will likely never be concerned about in Southern California.

 

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Comments
Wrecked
Wreckedlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 12:25 PM
What's the cost difference between the ST and KW suspensions?
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 12:43 PM
About $1400.
Protodad
Protodadlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 1:58 PM
The tires each weighed 25 lbs apeice? Apparently its been a while since I picked one up.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 2:07 PM
yep
Burninator
Burninatorlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 2:54 PM
The Continental ExtremeContact DWS is their real high performance all-season tire. They still have plenty of groves and sipes, but not as many as the ContiPro. I just put a set on my Outback XT. They do pretty well in the snow, and I haven't reached their limit on dry roads. They might not be as responsive as some, or have as much dry (warm weather) grip as the Azenis, but they do pretty damn good for something you can drive in the cold winters and snow.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 3:36 PM
The ExtremeContact is most definitely a better tire. The ContiPro Contact is a LRR tire that really doesn't have sporting intentions. Not so much a continental knock as it was a ContiPro knock. All tires have their place.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 12:53 AM
Well, my little puddle jumper would give Projekt Golf TDI a run for its money in the MPG department so far but I'm waiting for power adders for this diesel....... Not as easy as your Cummins Steve! Anyone else see that Skyactiv-D 6 that Mazda put out for Grand-am? Killa!
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 9:37 AM
What is your puddle jumper anyway?

And Hypemiler pwns all! 50mpg tank averages without even trying!
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 12:26 PM
Hyper miler does "pwn" all, LOL! My puddle jumper is one black Honda CR-Z. I get 35-36 in town and 40-42 on the 5 if I don't push too far past 70. I was underneath it changing the oil this weekend and thinking, it's about time for a project CR-Z in Motoiq! I probably need to start on some pictures, mods and then put it to the clock.
speedball3
speedball3link
Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:06 PM
Old article, but it's definitely gotten me to give the GTI/GTD a second look. Has the stability control nannies been annoying or do they allow you to have some fun? Love the idea of having loads of torque while still getting stellar gas mileage. VW reliability beyond the warranty still concerns me though... too many horror stories from early 2000 VW Jettas/Passats for me to be confident it'd last 10+ yrs.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Friday, February 22, 2013 8:38 AM
Not sure on stability control (not my car), but I believe you can turn them completely off.

As for reliability, Project Hypermiler just rolled over 200k miles, still running strong, consuming little oil, and getting 50+mpg.

The biggest thing with older VWs is working on them. Either your knuckles and sanity will pay, or your pocket book will. Don't forget you always need to buy a new set of hardware for the part you're R&Ring, as chances are pretty good they're TTY bolts.
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