Rob57’s VW Performance Tips

It’s always great to see great interaction in our VW forums. It just goes to show what an awesome community we are building here. One user, Rob57 shares his specialized performance enhancements, so I present to you without further adieu, Rob’s excellent post on how to up your horses on the cheap! – (and please, contribute your thoughts readers!)
alh radial engine motor powered vw bug 1024x535 - Rob57's VW Performance Tips
A radial engine is one way to go about it!
I am often asked about performance improvements for VW/Audis/Skoda/ and Seat… the latter two are European only VAG models with Skoda also being sold in Australia/New Zealand. I will provide a list of suggested enhancements to up your HP and drivability for typical VAG engines and manual transmissions. They’re in no particular order.

1) Free flow intake air box (BMC and K&N make good ones),

2) larger diameter exhaust pipes from the CAT (catalytic converter) back (there are many good ones Autotech, Leistritz, Remus, Sebring, ANSA are but a few… key thing is that they are TuV approved), (Be aware the CARB Rules apply in California regarding such modifications)

3.) Schrick makes a 268 degree inlet cam shaft that is easy to replace on the 4 cylinders DOHC engines that will instantly make a huge difference in performance… get a good torque wrench and new valve cover gasket and your good to go.

4.) Most gasoline powered VW power plants use an ECU that has two curves on it… one is for regular gasoline and the other for premium or High Test… switching out your ECU chip with a performance one will give you more juice at a low cost, but will require you burn only premium fuel, there are several good ones out there with Superchips from the UK as good as any,

5.) A quaife differential is an expensive enhancement that should be considered carefully… it is noticeable when accelerating from zero as compared to a stock car, but really has a high price tag for just a few tenths off the 1/4 mile times.

6). suspension upgrades are a good place to improve drivability; larger front and rear sway bars and uprated structs and shocks are always good… be careful about lowering Springs with it best to buy systems of Springs and struts/shocks that are designed to complement one another in purpose designed kits Such as Koni/Eibach or Bilstein/HR. If you like a very stiff drive quality for extra stiffness consider a front strut tie-bar that connects between strut towers under the hood; otherwise, it may be too stiff to your liking.

7.) Tires and brakes are about equally important to stop with assurance. An expensive brake upgrade while putting less than performance rubber down is a waste of your money. (Galfer makes a great Big Brake upgrade kit for VWs; as good as Brembo but 1/3 the price, but is generally unavailable in the USA, so you’ll need to find a suppler in the UK to ship it to you. A call to Autotech or Europarts might get you there faster.) Use upgraded pads or you may burn through them faster than you are accustomed.

8. Short shift kits take getting used to… if you are very good at operating a M/T then consider a short shift kit; otherwise, you will burn through your clutch much faster getting used to one… Sachs makes good clutch kits for VWs; Luk is a bit better! Short-shift kits are easy to install and good ones are sold by reputable suppliers.

Please remember to always buckle up for safety and this includes times when your on a race course and properly qualified, obey all traffic rules and track rules too! Drinking and driving never mix and driving a modified car which can accelerate much quicker makes it potentially more dangerous!

Updated Jetta Ups HP

2016 volkswagen jetta - Updated Jetta Ups HP

VW’s famed Jetta model now gets a 1.4 turbo-four that pushes the horsepower needle to 150, up from a stingy 115. Torque goes up to a punchy 184 lb-ft. Much better.

A manual is the standard transmission, and an automatic is available. The auto has a tall 6th gear for low revs and better economy during highway cruising.

The suspension is now 4-wheel independent on all Jettas. In the past, this nicer suspension was reserved for the higher-end Jetta GLI, a decision we always thought was odd.

Sadly, the suspension generosity doesn’t carry over to the wheels, which on base models are steel, with hubca… er, “wheel covers”.

The Jetta currently rides on VW’s PQ35 platform, not the newer MQB. It’s hard to imagine this current Jetta as more than a stopgap car until the MQB Jetta arrives. The expansive Golf line rolls with MQB, and has drawn raves.

Jettas start at $17,680 in the US.

vw 1.4 turbo - Updated Jetta Ups HP

Dieselgate Expands to Gasoline VWs

gasgate - Dieselgate Expands to Gasoline VWs

News is breaking that VW cheated on gasoline car emissions in addition to the already-revealed diesel cheating (“Dieselgate”). Bloomberg reports “Gasgate” affects the VW group’s 1.4-liter gasoline engine. The 800,000 European market cars emit more carbon dioxide and achieve fewer miles per gallon (MPG) than the automaker stated when the cars were certified.

Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. VW wasn’t doing one bad, bad thing, they were doing several bad things.

What does management know? It seems like they were kept in the dark about the emissions-cheating software. Or at least that what they want us to think.

Meanwhile, VW stock is getting (re) hammered, now 39% below its price before Dieselgate.

The latest issues affect Volkswagen’s Polo, Golf and Passat models, Audi’s subcompact A1 and A3 hatchback, the Skoda Octavia, and the Seat Ibiza and Leon, with most in Europe. While smaller diesel motors account for the vast majority of affected cars, a specific type of 1.4-liter gasoline engine is also involved, the company said. Germany’s Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said that 98,000 gasoline cars are affected.

atw Commentary

Whatever the case, our question at atw is this:

  1. All this stuff is easily verified. CO2, MPG, etc… science gave us the tools to measure these things roughly a hundred years ago. Why were our governments, so stuffed with regulatory money, not testing these cars? Why were they taking VW’s word for it?

That’s it. Just one question. We don’t get it. A couple smart ten-year-olds could test fuel efficiency, given a legal driver. The carbon dioxide and diesel cheats are also easily tested, relatively speaking. Although those would require high school age kids.

Diesel and the EU

diesel cars break nox limits - Diesel and the EU

To us here at atw it’s strange how the EU, so full of rules, regulations and limits on pollutants, could have let the diesel dragon run so far from the cave.

The European Union (EU) is considered by some to have the most extensive environmental laws of any international organisation.[1] Its environmental policy is significantly intertwined with other international and national environmental policies. The environmental legislation of the European Union also has significant effects on those of its member states. The European Union’s environmental legislation addresses issues such as acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, waste and water pollution. The Institute for European Environmental Policy estimates the body of EU environmental law amounts to well over 500 Directives, Regulations and Decisions.[166]

Europe’s long love of diesel, which enjoys tax benefits in many countries, was driven by an ambition to fight climate change: diesels burn 20 percent less fuel. Now, the technology is used in more than half of all cars sold in the European Union.

But the more fuel-efficient the engines are, the more toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) they create. In London alone, NOx pollution causes the equivalent of up to 5,900 deaths a year, a recent King’s College study concluded. Most European cities habitually exceed the allowed NOx levels, often by a large margin. The transport sector, and diesel in particular, are mainly to blame.

It turns out the regulations were there, they just weren’t enforced regularly, or strictly, or both:

On average, new diesels sold in Europe in real use emit seven times more NOx than the official limits allow, a 2014 study of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a non-government organisation, showed.

Whoa. Seven times more NOx than allowed!? In such a highly-regulated, rich continent so able to apply this policy? But how?

VW equipped cars in the United States with “defeat devices” that damped down emissions during lab testing. In Europe, carmakers have had no need for such tricks, thanks to the leniency of the testing regime.

Ah, that’s how. So VW cheated in the US, but didn’t need to cheat in the EU because nobody was enforcing the policy.

Perhaps to blame is the disparate nature of the Union:

The European Commission not only has an exclusive right to propose new environmental policy, but it also has a responsibility to ensure the implementation of environmental rules. Therefore, since its creation in the 1950s the European Commission has been at the heart of the European Union. However, it did not set up a unit dedicated to environmental issues until the 1970s and a full Directorate General for the environment until 1981.[9] Initially DG Environment was perceived as a relatively weak DG but it has gradually become more assertive through the development of technical and political expertise. However, the Commission still has to depend on member states to implement its policies.


Policy making in the EU can be extremely complex. It has been suggested that the policy making process is too densely populated with veto players (i.e. actors whose agreement is necessary for a policy to be adopted) for any single actor or group of actors (including the EU’s member states) to consistently control the direction of policy making.[15] The result in environmental policy making has been widely depicted as being especially unpredictable, unstable and at times even chaotic. However, the European Commission, as a key player in the policy making process, has under pressure to develop ‘standard operating procedures’ for processing policy.[16] This has led to a number of changes in policy making processes in recent years, including: adopting minimum standards of consultation; the impact assessment of all major policy proposals; and the earlier publication of its work programmes.[17]

Turns out our (US) glacial pace on mainstreaming diesel technology into the private automobile industry wasn’t such a bad thing, despite the chorus of booing that would arise over here when this or that marque announced no diesel version of any particular model was bound for US shores. Just look on any car enthusiast site, like Car & Driver, for instance.

VW: EA 288 Engines Clean, EA 189 Dirty

ea288 tdi - VW: EA 288 Engines Clean, EA 189 Dirty

This comes just a day after VW said it was probing its new diesels for emissions testing cheat software. Could they have completed testing in just 24 hours?

The EA189 engine was replaced by the EA 288 in 2014, with the latter being offered in models for the US market since the start of the 2015 model year.

In a separate statement issued today, VW said diesel cars with EA 288 engines (both Euro 5 and Euro 6) meet legal and environmental requirements.

“Volkswagen confirms today that no software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA 288 EU5 as well as EU6-engines in the European Union. Consequently, new vehicles of the Volkswagen Group offered within the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards,” the automaker said.

This contradicts a recent report which said VW had developed defeat devices for the EA 288 engine as well.