Inspired by @DerHase I wanted to get a journal thread going. This is my 6th Golf and my 4th MK7!

This post is reconstitution of a thread on - thread link.

Over the years I've owned a 1999 MK4 1.6 Petrol (in the UK), a 2011 TDi 2.0 dieselgate, a 2015 MK7 GTi from new (in the UK). Then I sold that, emigrated to the US and bought a 2016 GTi which was stage2 APR tuned (Carmax sold it that way!) and got a shock as to how much VW USA limit features vs Euro models. I finally achieved nirvana and purchased a brand new 2019 Golf R before covid but I had to sell it for various reasons.

Last year an opportunity presented itself to acquire another one and with the MK8 interior being what it is, I elected to buy the exact same car over again. A 2019 Golf R in Lapiz Blue - this one came from Tampa and had 5700 miles on the clock when I took ownership in May 2022. I flew down from Raleigh to Tampa to pick it up and came home via the Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Georgia mountains and was reunited with an old friend.

Just outside Hiawassee, GA

My goal for ownership is to keep the miles relatively lowish but still drive and enjoy the car on the weekends. I'm lucky enough to WFH so no daily commute and have other vehicles I can use for daily chores. I also want to learn about how to do the maintenance and any upgrades myself. My plans are modest and mostly focused around an OEM+ type mindset looking at improving handling and mildly increasing power, rather than stance type stuff. A reliable HDPE weapon, you might say.

First Year of Ownership

In the first year I've mostly stuck to those goals. I ended up getting an offer from a buddy I couldn't refuse on an accessport so I flashed an EQT stage 1 93 off the shelf tune at around 7500 miles in October. Typical cliche line "this is how it should have come from the factory" applies. I swapped the spark plugs to one step colder plugs as per the EQT recommendations. Fighting the ignition coil clips was a "fun" learning experience but I got it done.

I'm a bit of a nerd with detailing and elected to do PPF on the front bumper, headlights and B pillars with a ceramic coat on the rest of the car. Absolutely love washing this thing, it cleans up so easily with CC and some snow foam.

I've fastidiously kept up with my oil changes at about 4000 mile intervals (thanks FCP) and learned how to do them myself.

I installed a radar detector with a blendmount and mirror tap. In the process I broke all the plastic clips on the trim and had to go to VW to get that repaired. Oops. Living in the Tampa sun probably did the car no favors there plus, I'm not the most patient with plastic clips in VW interiors!

I went for a Thinkware U1000 dashcam and ran the rear camera wires along the headliner (behind the airbags in the A pillar). I designed and 3d printed a rear camera bracket which needs no adhesive. In the process of running the cables through the hatch lid I broke a clip on the cable boots and now it leaks when I wash the car or it rains really hard - luckily the car lives indoors.

The interior of the car is a little quiet and I really miss the plaid seats from the GTi so I replaced the shift boot and shift knob with a Euroverse Designs GTE blue plaid boot and a BFI golf ball shifter as a nod to the cars heritage.

The final cosmetic change I made were Euro tails with dynamic sweep and killallwipers rear wiper delete. I had some significant back and forth on the harness with @ZERO815 but in the end he got me sorted out and even though I never get to see them myself, I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing I have amber indicators which in my opinion are the only safe option. I always thought rear wiper deletes were dumb but living in NC, it's a total non issue and I love the look (and ease of cleaning!).

Euro tail lights look so goooooood

To cap off the end of the first year of ownership I got to take my R and my mk4 R32 (golf #7) to Wookies in April. These cars are just bits of metal and stuff to some, but to me they are so much more than that. I have some HDPEs coming up in the R throughout 2023 (just did my first at VIR with TSCC) and want to learn about the limits of this car and myself - I've never once come close to the limit of this car on the street imho. It just isn't safe to do so!

15 years of progress

June 2023 - After 1 track day

This weekend just gone saw my first HDPE. Before going crazy with mods I wanted to get a solid weekend (or two) under my belt with the car stock and see what I noticed throughout the sessions. Following my OEM+ philosophy I don't want to do big turbos or crazy exhausts or anything like that - it's a 4pot after all. If you want the noise, the RS3 is available.

I went to VIR with TSCC and was in the green novice group with instruction. I prepped the car thoroughly (see this thread on why I'll never be doing business with Carbotech again) by replacing the factory brake lines with 034 steel lines, upgrading the brake pads to Ferodo 3.12 front, 1.11 rear and flushing the brake fluid with Castrol SRF.

I also got a set of delivery mileage Bridgestone Potenza S005 tires off a buddy for $500 from his MK8 R delivery (he wanted all seasons). I read that these tires are great in the dry and awful in the wet. I don't really know enough to form a proper opinion on the dry performance as I only had two properly dry sessions (my first two) with the remaining 6 being wet and slippery. I thought the tires felt pretty decent in the wet, quite communicative about when grip was going to give up before it did. I'm not sure I'd buy them at full price over a Michelin PS4S which I've run for many years on the street. But a second set of wheels with a more competitive dry tire (RS4 or V730 maybe) combined with something like the PS4S or S005 for when it rains makes for a great weekend. All the guys with powerful RWD cars went home - not me with AWD, it seriously felt like a cheat code in the wet.

Overall it was a bloody fantastic experience. I was super nervous going into the weekend I'd forget something silly and be prevented from tracking the car due to an innocuous oversight. Thankfully, no problems arose and I was able to run. Perhaps I was guilty of over-prepping but better that than the other way around imho. My fastest time in the wet was session 2, a 2:32 - I started off at *well* over 3 mins on Sunday morning on day 2, by the end of the day I was down to 2:45.7 - definitely plenty of time left in the lap and the car but having to drive the car home again is a powerful motivator not to bin it. No doubt I'll improve as I do more HDPEs but I was quite pleased with that 2:45.7 in the wet.

Apex wheels had a memorial day sale over the weekend so I purchased a set of 17x9 wheels and will be ordering a set of RS4 245/40r17 to go on them. After that I should try the v730 as I hear the heat cycling of RS4 wears them out before the tread is done - we shall see!

Future mods over the summer might include a DO88 or APR intercooler - I didn't notice any temp issues but it was barely 60f and wet all weekend so not the best test. I'm at VIR again in a few days and will use my accessport to log some sessions and a recently delivered Macchina A0 for others. I'd like to try and cure a bit of the understeer MQB cars tend to have with a rear sway bar and some camber plates. The understeer wasn't so bad on track, but definitely an issue for autoX.

Early June 2023 - After 2 track events

Returned home shiny side up with a new PB of 2:27.3. Lots of very fast Porsches there this weekend, some with very slow drivers but that's what green group is for I suppose - and who doesn't like lapping a 992 in an ecobox? I got the sign off for Blue so I'm very pleased about that! Best lap of the weekend was my last. Lap 10 of this video.

The new tires were sublime. Such a crisp turn in compared to the streets which I ran on day 1, saving the good stuff for day 2. They really allowed me to lean on them coming out of T1 without any real complaint - it was a great comparison running the streets one day and Re71-RS the next. The streets really greased up in the later laps of the day as the ambient rose to 85 but the re71 just didnt seem to care. Also pleased to report no rubbing with these wider tires and the fender screw mod

The brake changes made for a really interesting weekend. Day 1 I ran the changes listed above and everything was fine. I thought for some reason, let's just try reverted the hydraulic brake booster and brake boosters back to factory for day 2. In the first 2 30 min sessions on Sunday coming off the back straight at VIR (130 down to 45 ish) it felt like what I can only describe as brake fade. Whether it was or not I don't know, but it wasn't consistent or confidence inspiring.

For session 3 I changed the values back to the values above and the pedal felt better and more consistent throughout the entire session. i had clear traffic most of this session (this is the YT vid above) and was my fastest of the weekend so heat built up the most. I added the RS3 ducts after the first session but didn't really notice much a difference in pedal feel.

I would support the theory that hydraulic brake boost moves the bias rearward because my rear tire PSI came in 2psi higher after that last session than the one before. more heat? or just driving faster? it's hard to know for sure.

@DerHase analyzed some of my OBD2 data from the accessport and the short story is, it's time for an intercooler. Lots of ignition timing pulled (almost 8 degrees pull at some points). DSG temps never rose above 101c, but they were still climbing so maybe a DSG cooler would be a smart move alongside the IC.

Future upgrades before the fall sequence of events will be camber plates and IC. Maybe a rear sway bay.

Late June 2023 - Before a 3rd track event, Intercooler upgrade time.

Intercooler upgrade is a separate blog post.

Late June - Chin at VIR

Went over to ACI in Gibsonville yesterday to get some track prep done. Josh is a former VW master mechanic and setup ACI last year, I met him and his crew at VIR last year for Dave's race when they were working on Arul's RS3. Josh is quite the character but let me hang around in the shop with him all afternoon as he worked, and I learned a lot watching. Really nice to spend a good amount of time under the car on a real lift giving everything a proper look (those boost pipes seem fine btw).

I opted for some 034 front camber plates and some rear adjustments got me to -2.2 deg front and back.

I also had a DSG and Haldex service done. Even though the car only has 12k miles on, its about 4 years old now and with the track time I figure bumping up the intervals in terms of miles isn't going to hurt anything (except my wallet).

Next weekend I'm out with Chin up at VIR, really looking forward to seeing what difference the alignment makes on track. I took the back roads home from Gibsonville and when you're really leaning on the car in a corner it's like the rear actually wants to push you round, rather than be dragged. Hard to explain, but I think I like it. Acid test is next weekend on track.

Here's the full video from my final session of the year scoring myself a PB of 2:16.07 in the absolute perfect conditions of early December at VIR with TSCC.

See you next year out on track!