It was the classic automotive showdown, a tricked-out Honda versus a minimalist Volkswagen. Both cars were making well over 220 bhp, and both drivers were hell-bent on beating the other through the dangerously tight road course at EVOC in San Bernardino, Calif. The flag dropped and both rigs screamed off the line in a light haze of tire smoke. Three hundred yards down the back straight and into the first sweeping left, both cars were nose to nose-until the huge binders of the Jetta came into play as its driver prepared for the first turn. The Honda was attempting the same thing, but its dropped suspension had it bouncing off the bump stops and the brakes cooked after a few 100 ft.
It's a scenario I've seen dozens of times, cars built to do one thing-go fast in a straight line-squaring off against decathletes like Volkswagen's Jetta, a car that can do pretty much everything.
The crew at Greedspeed modified this 1.8t Jetta with masterful results, massaging the suspension, motor, body and cabin for optimum performance. Situated within a stone's throw from uber-tuner Neuspeed, Greedspeed wisely relies on the aforementioned's superior suspension bits.
The underpinnings feature Neuspeed's race springs and specially tuned Bilstein TC dampers. Neuspeed's large, 28mm rear swaybar helps dial out speed-scrubbing understeer, while its upper and lower tie bars enhance chassis rigidity. Running gear is made up of gigantic AZEV wheels measuring 8x19 in., shod with Toyo FZ24 tires in a staggered configuration: 225/35ZR-19, front and 235/35ZR-19, behind. Visible between the spokes is Greedspeed's custom binder system based on Porsche Boxster calipers and Audi TT rotors. Those big brakes are necessary, as the motor produces substantially more power than a stock car.
The engine features Neuspeed's silicon wizardry in the form of a 1.1-bar chip, Neuspeed's 3-in. MAF kit and P-Flow intake. On the exhaust side resides Neuspeed's 60mm downpipe and its stainless-steel, cat-back exhaust. An ATP front-mounted intercooler helps keep the charge air cold and compressed. Similarly tuned cars from Neuspeed have produced more than 230 hp at the wheels-and this car felt like it had even more.
The fourth generation of the Jetta is clearly the most handsome and looks even better in sportswear. The Greedspeed car wears a Projektzwo aerodynamic package, which includes a front air dam, side skirts, rear valance and wing, and sport mirrors. Grillcraft's front upper grille also augments the styling, as do Hella's smoked taillamps.
The cabin features an ass-kicking stereo with a Sony CDX-M750 head unit, Alpine MRD-F752 amps and Boston Acoustics drivers.
Having narrowly avoided contact with Mr. Wall, the Honda parked in the infield and watched as the Jetta slashed through traffic. Hopefully, the Honda was learning something. During high-speed runs, the aerodynamics offered a marked improvement over the stock car and lent the Jetta a distinctive, nose-down feel. Like everything Neuspeed does, the Jetta performed like something that escaped from VW's test facility near Wolfsburg. Neuspeed's programming expertise meant nearly instantaneous spool-up-no waiting.
Although there were more powerful cars at EVOC during our session, none were more refined, well bred nor better educated than this Jetta.