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2000 volkswagen golf gti vr6 review
There have been aftermarket companies that seem to appear as soon as windshield header stickers can be printed and then disappear mysteriously before shipping an actual part. So by the industry's standards, Neuspeed, which has been in business for 25 years, is venerable. But today, even the tried and true have a tough time making power with simple tweaks.
Little needs fixing on the Volkswagen GTI GLX VR6. The fourth-generation Golf shell is tight and space-efficient, and the 2.8-liter, 174-horsepower VR6 has been called lusty more often than Rita Hayworth and Veronica Lake combined. The suspension is soft and the P205/55VR-16 Michelin MXV4s too modest for autocrossing. The five-speed manual's cable shifter is haphazard. But the stock GTI is always entertaining, and at $22,675 (the 2000 model is $470 more), it's a well-equipped bargain.
The Neuspeed GTI's appeal to young men in oversize pants is astounding. The seven-piece Caractere body kit ($2615), the FRH 18-inch three-piece Porsche Turbo-like wheels ($2680), the smallish Hagus BMW M3-style side mirrors ($380), and clear Hella taillight lenses ($300) exaggerate the GTI's lines without looking cartoony. But it's the car's stance, lowered 1.5 inches (and stiffened) with Neuspeed sport lowering springs ($260), that adds aggression. Surprisingly, during C/D's nine days with the car, the front spoiler never scraped on a driveway or curb.
Lowering is just part of Neuspeed's suspension-enhancement program. Its 25mm-diameter front anti-roll bar ($240) is 4mm up on the stock GTI piece, and an adjustable 28mm rear bar ($320) supplements the 20mm bar VW welds to the beam axle. Stiffer Koni front struts and rear shocks ($732) compensate for the lowering, says Neuspeed, and a strut-tower brace ($120) prevents alignment variances that occur when the car's unibody flexes during hard cornering. Finally, the zoomy wheels are wrapped in P225/40ZR-18 Pirelli P7000s ($1000).
That's a lot of suspension tweaks. The power tricks are limited to a Neuspeed cat-back exhaust ($625), with 2.25-inch T-304 stainless-steel tubes bent for Neuspeed by Borla, and Neuspeed's low-restriction P-Flo air-intake system ($220). The company claims a 7-hp gain for each of those mods, but such power gains are almost never cumulative. Indeed, comparative runs between a stock GTI and the Neuspeed car on a Dynojet chassis dynamometer suggest a bump of eight peak horsepower at the crankshaft. Stirring the tranny is a Neuspeed short shifter ($290), which supposedly reduces shift throw lengths by about 35 percent.
Extra power or not, the exhaust system sounds otherworldly. The stock GTI's subdued voice gives way to a vibrant contralto with the aftermarket pipes, reminding us of an old six-cylinder Honda CBX motorcycle. It's the sort of sound that prompts drivers running on the freeway to select third gear to keep the engine spinning at an aurally satisfying speed. At the other end, the Neuspeed intake adds a slight sucking gasp at each shift. Those shifts are shorter, as promised, but they're no more or less precise than the stock routine.
The dyno suggested a five percent boost in horsepower, but the Neuspeed GTI tipped the scales 80 pounds up on the stocker, eroding the power-to-weight advantage to two percent. Making matters worse is the fact that most of that porkiness is in the wheels and tires. One stock 16-inch wheel, tire, wheel cover, and lug-nut combination weighs in at 41.4 pounds each, whereas the luscious 18-inchers, including a 5.5-pound spacer, come in at 55.9 pounds each. That's 14.5 extra pounds of unsprung weight at each corner, and at the front wheels, it's a bunch of extra rotational inertia for the engine to overcome.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Neuspeed GTI was 0.2 second behind a stock Volkswagen GTI tested the same day from 0 to 60 mph (7.8 seconds to 7.6), 0.1 second swifter in the quarter-mile (16.1 at 89 mph to 16.2 at 89 mph), and 0.2 quicker to 100 mph (21.4 seconds to 21.6). Where the Neuspeed car disappointed was in the rolling-start test from 5 to 60 mph, where it needed 8.4 seconds, compared with the stocker's 7.8 seconds. Top-gear acceleration tests were even more dismal, as the stock GTI ripped from 50 to 70 mph in 9.7 ticks while the Neuspeed needed an agonizing 11.2. Clearly, the power ain't down low.