VR6's and other car stuff

Well, the '98 GTI-VR6 has finally been supplanted by a new car.

The 2004 .:R32
The old GTI has a 2.8 liter 12 valve VR6 engine making 172hp stock, driving the front wheels.   The R32 has a 3.2 liter 24 valve VR6 making 240-250 hp stock, driving all 4 wheels.    To compliment its power, it has a close ratio 6 speed transmission, absurdly huge 13.1" two piece floating brake rotors up front and 18" wheels to fit over the brakes along with Z-rated sticky tires a new suspension borrowed from the Audi TT or New Beetle Cup race car.   To keep your butt firmly planted while it's wailing through the turns, the interior starts with form fitting race inspired Konig seats with monster side bolsters.    The rest of the interior feels like it's taken straight out of an Audi or BMW.       This car looks fantastic and sounds fantastic.   The engine feeds a free flowing exhaust system with dual tips and makes sounds that people have compared to those eminating from Porsches and Ferarris. 


Here's a quick history of the R32 in the US and mine in particular.   Mid 2002, VW announced the Golf R32 in Europe and stated there were no plans to bring it to the US.   A group of US journalists were invited to Germany to test drive the also newly announced VW Touareg SUV about that time, and when they asked boardmember Dr. Bernd Pischetsrider about the R32, he picked up the phone and had one brought out to play with.   Following enthusiastic test drives by the journalists, a large poll was started on VWVortex to get a feel for what the US enthusiasts would be willing to pay for such a car.  They settled on a $30k pricepoint which makes puts it in pretty heady company in terms of performance and near luxury cars.   Funny thing is, that in most of the rest of the world they pay the equivalent of  $35k to$45k USD for this car, and US buyers still complain that $30k is too much.  *sigh*   The US buying public has had a hard time seeing a hatchback as anything other than well.. a Honda Civic.    

Initially VW had planned to manufacture only 5000 R32s worldwide, and with the plans for the US firming up we expected to see only about 1700-2000 of them here.   But by late 2002 the R32 was selling like hotcakes in Europe and inside of 2-3 months they'd pretty much sold out the entire first run of 5000.   Rumors ran rampant then that we weren't going to get it in the US at all or that it'd only be offered with a DSG tranny (type of automatic shifting manual tranny) and so forth.    January 2003, VWoA announced that it was coming, and would arrive late summer 2003 as they embarked on the effort to certify the car for the US market (means crash testing, revised bumpers, lights etc..).    In the end they realized the only way they were going to get a return on their investment at their *low* $30k pricepoint, so they decided to make 5000 of em just for the US market.     They didn't start production until late 2003, and the first ones rolled off the boat into US ports in December 2003, and the first one was on sale on a dealer lot at the end of January 2004.     I had put a deposit down on mine at a local dealer (with a guarantee of paying no more than sticker price) way back in January of 2003, and finally took delivery mid February 2004.   

You may be asking at this point.  So what?  There's plenty of all wheel drive cars out there from Audi, BMW, Subaru, Mitsubishi etc.    End of 2003  Mitsubishi and Subaru  brought their rally inspired big boys to the US.  Mitsu EVO 8 with 270hp (*wink* *wink*) and Subbie WRX Sti 300 hp all wheel drive.. 4 doors.   But stripped to the bone.   They're street legal race cars.    The STi doesn't even come with a radio, stock.   They both have huge functional spoilers on the back and look every bit the part of race cars.   Not low profile at all.     The R32 however is unique in the US.   It's the only all wheel drive hatchback.  It's the highest horsepower hatchback.  The interior is fully loaded.    The enthusiast crowd recognizes it instantly, while the rest of the public and Johnny law still see it as an just another econobox.   Perfect for me.   It has 2 doors and seating for 4.   A hatchback or wagon has always been my favorite in terms of useable cargo space.   It's cheap given the standard features.      Looks great, goes fast, stops fast, turns hard, hauls all my crap, and will carry me in comfort across the western states on my annual travels.     

I had bought and paid for this car, before I'd even laid eyes on an R32 in person.   I knew I wanted one the first time I saw a photo of it, and heard the specs.    I have not been disappointed.      This car makes more torque at 3000 rpms than my supercharged GTI-VR6 does at 6000 rpms.    The GTI might still have the edge at the top end, but the R32 will leave it for dead launching from a stand still.  The R32 pulls through hairpin turns in 3rd or 4th gear that other cars have to downshift to 1st for.     It's supremely easy to drive fast on a twisty road.   It inspires great confidence and has no bad habits as far as I can tell.      It'll pull straight up the mountains west of Denver with 3 passengers in 6th gear without breaking a sweat.    And I haven't even modified the engine.. yet.  


My Current Mods

  • HPS SHS coilovers at stock ride height
  • Neuspeed 22mm rear sway bar
  • HPA Short Shift kit with 20% throw reduction
  • The Exhaust flap mod . Takes 20 seconds to do.. worth 10 lb-ft of torque between 2400 and 4000 rpms and truly unleashes the sound of the exhaust giving us what the VW engineers clearly intended from the start.
  • GIAC firmware
  • OEM HIDs
  • Euro headlight switch
  • 30% tint and clear-bra
  • Various reprogramming (disabled seatbelt warning chime (yes I always wear my seatbelt), and set it to open both door locks with one press on the remote.
  • Future mods include fog lights (have wished for them twice) and I'm eyeing various forced induction options from VF-engineering, EIP and HPA.

R32 stuff

General Technical Links and other people pages

  • My page on how to replace the handbrake/e-brake cables on a GTI-VR6
  • My page on how to adjust your VR6 cable shift linkage for perfect operation
  • A page I created describing various limited slip differential systems and differentials in general
  • My way to describe the relationship between Torque and Horsepower using simple examples.
  • My description of how Sway bars work, and how they affect handling
  • A post of mine on the Vortex on how lowering a MacPherson strut equipped car adversely affects the suspension complete with diagrams.
  • Check out the Car Stuff section my Web/Usenet Posts page for lots more technical posts.
  • The GTI-VR6 mailing list technical library
  • VWVortex Lots of info on VW/Audi products and discussion groups.
  • Another site with a great collection of links to technical articles.
  • Eurotuned - A great collection of VW and other performance car movies
  • Gavin Dennis's writeup on replacing the ABS module.
  • Inline versus Vee.. What is the VR6?

    • On the GTI-VR6 list we hack on the the inline versus vee thread now and again. I threw together an interesting little diagram showing the actual geometry of the VR6 and a blown up version of what it might possibly imply about crank geometry. Here's the diagram. The bits of interest are that not only is the vee extremely narrow (as shown on the left) but the vee also meets below the center of the crank, as shown on the left and expanded upon on the right. The VR6 has the firing order of a straight six but is barely longer than an inline four.   The drawing on the right shows an exaggerated version of what's on the left, and what I was investigating was the fact that the piston acceleration profiles for the left and right banks are different. The right bank moves slower through the middle part of the stroke than the left bank because of the angles of the connecting rod relative to the center axis of the pistons. An interesting trick, and yet the engine is supremely smooth. More on this topic in the above list archives (user: driver password: hired).
      Here's a couple diagram showing the firing order of the VR6 first with the cylinders arranged in  firing order and then in physical order.    Note how two cylinders always move together and they're balancing each other.

      And here's a really cool AutoZine article on the history and design of VW's VR and W engines.
    • And I thought I'd just throw this little bit in. Here is the absolute best spot to install the Panasonic CX-DP601 CD changer (for 98.5 model head units).
    • Info on Projektzwo Dual Round Headlights
      My install of the Projektzwo dual round headlights, entailed almost a week of painting and some moderate cramming to get onto the car. I love the look though. Check it out:
      Projektzwo headlights and some painting .
    • A page detailing the Installation of my Philips H1 4100K HID conversion kit.

    To Do

    • Write an article about the evils of ABS.   How it's both saved my life, and almost killed me.
    • Finish my Z-engineering supercharger install page.  Currently just photos.
    • Create a  water pump installation page with some photos. 
    • Maybe some day write a page about the lost art of passing on two lane roads.
    • A description of the Shine "Lite" suspension and how to install the rear bar.

    Where now?

  • Back to my home page for various other esoteric nonsense.
  • Or straight to my motorcycle page or the somewhat more interesting Montana Motorcycle trip page I put together some years ago.