In initial performance testing, this 1996 Jetta, "Project Black Dog," required 167 ft to stop from 60 mph. That was a record: We had never tested a car that approached that distance. Right after the ability to turn, I desperately needed to help this car stop. The Corrado G60's 280mm front disc brakes are among the largest ever installed on a compact platform. They are a natural upgrade for any Volkswagen with lesser brakes from the factory, and are also the basis for aftermarket upgrades for many other marques.
Autotech Sport Tuning provides brake upgrade conversion kits for virtually any watercooled Volkswagen, using all-new parts exclusively from O.E. suppliers to ensure the highest quality. Autotech's options range from vented-rotor conversions for MkIs to a 334mm upgrade for MkIVs. For Project Black Dog, we used Autotech's MkIII kit that upgrades four-cylinder models to Corrado-spec front brakes. It includes 280mm vented rotors, calipers, carriers and Mintex pads. I chose Autotech's SportTuned cross-drilled rotor option, as well as Autotech's braided stainless-steel brake lines, which further improve pedal feel and the driver's ability to modulate effort. The lines were a simple addition and little extra work was required once the system was opened and bleeding was made necessary.
Autotech's 280mm upgrade kit requires the use of at least 15-in. wheels that are compatible with a Corrado G60. Black Dog's 16-in. Kosei K1s provided more than enough clearance. The Jetta came equipped with rear drum brakes. They are far from ideal and easily swapped out for the factory disc setup, but I focused on the front brakes, which do most of the work, for the first round of improvements.
Installation was completely straightforward, consisting simply of removing the stock parts and reinstalling different stock Volkswagen parts. Be sure the fasteners you use meet Volkswagen's standards, and consult the Bentley manual for procedures and torque specs. The braided stainless-steel brake lines were the only part of the job that was not transparent, with a slightly different form on the inboard ends in front. No problem resulted. (I have never seen an aftermarket braided stainless brake line that exactly matched the factory line it was meant to replace.) The rears were more challenging, and the driver's side rear would have required the removal of so many parts to access it that I decided to leave the stock line in place.
After bleeding the system and torquing the wheel lug bolts, I bedded in the new pads according to Mintex's instructions before returning the vehicle to its owner. With the significant increase in braking ability, it was soon determined that the Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires were insufficient. The owner complained of locking up the fronts. I drove the car, and agreed that though braking effort was easy to modulate, the tires simply ran out of grip at a moderate level of effort. This echoed past experiences with the tires; one example is a Miata keeping up with a Porsche fitted with Supra 712s on a mountain road.