At the track, the car was fitted with its new track-day wheel and tire setup, 17x8 OZ SLs and oversize 235/40/17 Toyo RA-1 R-compounds. Finally, the chance to see what the completed car could really do. After a couple of progressive warm-up laps, I let loose down the long front straightaway. The new turbo system really did its thing, pulling strongly and smoothly to redline in third, fourth and fifth gears. My terminal speed was nearly 25mph faster than in naturally aspirated form. Then I had to get hard on the brakes for Turn 1. The freshly bedded-in Hawk HP+ pads easily hauled me down from 137mph to 78mph, while I heel-and-toed down to fourth before entering the corner.
Initial turn-in was precise and confident, and the car took a comfortable set through this relatively high-speed left-hand corner. Once past the apex, it was time to get on the brakes again and drop to third before entering the tighter right-hand Turn 2. The car has been known to step out in this turn, however, the combination of R-compound rubber, matching anti-roll bar set and revised alignment kept everything well in check. Braking hard again for the late-apex left-hand Turn 3, the slowest corner on the track, the car turned in well and I was able to easily modulate the throttle and steering to quickly exit without the usual understeer. There is a short straight before Turn 4, allowing you to get back on the throttle again. The turbo does not disappoint here, as the engine is revving at just under 3000rpm at full spool. A quick and satisfying squeeze on the throttle is rewarded with a brief blast of third gear acceleration before braking hard and negotiating the left-hand medium-speed Turn 4.
I continued around the 11-turn track, pleased that all the new parts were now working together in harmony. The steering and suspension provided excellent feedback and I had no trouble dealing with any transition, curve, or bump. The new HPP Haldex controller helped distribute power more effectively to all four wheels. I was also happy with the Toyo RA-1 R-compound tires. Once these tires were brought up to the recommended temperature and pressure (200 degrees F and 42psi), they delivered firm steering feedback and kept me safely glued to every corner, well beyond any street tires I have experienced. The RA-1s also work exceptionally well in the rain, provided they are at near-new tread depth.
The power from the new turbo system is spectacular, coming on smoothly with whatever degree of vigor you care to modulate. And I really enjoy the wild new exhaust note. The new performance clutch provides smooth and easy operation while handling the gobs of upgraded power. Extremely important is the big Porsche front brake kit and Hawk HP+ pads that continued to scrub off the speed lap after lap without fade, even with the greatly elevated speeds this car can now achieve. Pedal feel with the four-piston calipers is excellent.
I have been lucky to have created an extremely solid and driveable performance car. It is a car that can do it all: daily driver, people mover, cargo hauler, winter beater, and track day thriller. Best of all, this all-wheel-drive sleeper puts all of its 403bhp to the pavement with negligible wheelspin, resulting in exotic-level rates of acceleration. Just pick a set of shoes (summer, track or winter) and you're off.
On any custom car project, large or small, the process never really ends until you actually sell the vehicle. New products come out, your tastes change, you change your mind on some things, and end up completely shifting your approach, or you just plain want more. I do have some thoughts for a few minor bits and pieces in the future, but I think I'll just enjoy driving the car for a while. For four seasons of fun, at least.
Complete specifications: R28 Turbo
CHASSIS: 2002.5 VW GTI
ENGINE/TYPE: VR6 2.8L 24V
POWER OUTPUT: 403 bhp/420 ft.lbs
INTERNAL MODIFICATIONS: Compression-reducing spacer (to 8.5:1), race-grade con-rod bearings & ARP hardware.
EXTERNAL MODIFICATIONS: HPA FT410 turbo system including: Garrett/HPG R30 ball bearing turbocharger, proprietary HPG short-runner cast aluminum intake manifold, tuned cast exhaust manifold, dual side-mount intercoolers, custom stainless steel boost piping, high-flow fuel injectors, large diameter mass air flow (MAF) unit, auxiliary inline fuel pump, dual race cats, Blueflame stainless steel catback exhaust system with HPA ECU controlled exhaust bypass at 3100rpm.
ENGINE MANAGEMENT: HPA FT410 ECU program re-flash
DRIVETRAIN/MODIFICATIONS: HPA 4Motion conversion with Euro R32 close-ratio six-speed transmission, HPA/Sachs racing clutch, HPA short shift kit, R32 Haldex driveline, Haldex HPP upgrade, fully integrated electronic stability program (ESP) with complete disable switch.
SUSPENSION: 4Motion factory independent rear multi-link suspension setup, R32 KW Suspension V1 coil-over kit lowered 30mm, KW/HPA V3 Adjustable Launch Shocks, KW Camber plates, Neuspeed 22mm front anti-roll bar, Neuspeed 22mm rear anti-roll bar, Custom Performance Products stainless steel adjustable rear control arms, precision alignment and corner balance.
BRAKES: ECS Tuning Porsche front Big Brake kit: Porsche Boxster four-piston calipers with 13.1-inch drilled and slotted two-piece rotors; slotted stock 10.1-in R32 rear rotors with R32 rear calipers, Hawk HP+ performance pads and stainless steel braided flex lines.
WHEELS/TIRES: Street/show: 18x8 forged Neuspeed RS-10 with Toyo T1-R 225/45ZR18 tires. Track: 17x8 OZ Racing Superleggera with Toyo RA-1 235/40ZR17 R-Compound tires.
INTERIOR: R32 steering wheel, Auto Meter boost and oil temp gauges, dual CG-Locks, Audi TT aluminum pedals and dead pedal, Euro 4Motion leather shift knob and boot, JOM aluminum door pins.
EXTERIOR: VW R-Line front valance spoiler, custom cut rear valance with dual exhaust outlets, PIAA Extreme White 55W headlight bulbs, chopped and sealed OEM antenna.
CURB WEIGHT (full tank): 3205lbs.
PERFORMANCE/TRACK RESULTS: 0-60mph in 4.2 sec, quarter-mile in 12.8 secs with 112mph terminal velocity