Weight Down, Style Up: </br>RAYS For Project GTI
It’s all in the wheels

Could there be a more crucial modification you can do to a car than a new set of wheels? With the exception of maybe the engine itself, I’d say no. They might just be round pieces of metal that the car rolls around on, but I don’t think you need me to tell you the way a set of wheels can absolutely make or break a car.

You can take a fairly normal car, outfit it with a proper set of wheels and completely change its identity. At the same time, you can also have well-thought out, expensive builds where people skimp on the wheels and come away with more negative reactions than positive ones. It doesn’t matter what car scene you follow – that’s just the way it is.

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It cannot be understated just how seriously some people take the wheel selection process. I’m sure there are plenty of us out there (including myself) who have bought sets of wheels for cars we don’t even own. We’ve also put just as much thought into choosing a set of wheels as we have choosing the car itself.


From the moment I rolled my 2012 Volkswagen GTI off the dealer lot last year, I was thinking about what sort of wheels I’d like to fit on it. Such is the way of the car freak.


With a car like this, there are so many choices when it comes to wheels. You can go with a classic mesh design for the classic VW look, a big-faced wheel for the Euro look, or something that’s more motorsport inspired. After lots of thought, I came to the conclusion that I wanted something light, simple, and attractive. I was specifically keen on fitting a set of Japanese wheels to the car after seeing some of the demo cars and privately owned VWs during my travels to JDM land.

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After all, my goal for this car was not to build a dub scene show scraper or track monster, but a fun and functional daily driver true to the original GTI spirit. After fitting a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers this summer, the next step was to install a set of wheels to complement the car’s dropped ride height and increased handling capability.

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When the opportunity came to partner up with our friends at RAYS on a new set of wheels for the GTI, I was stoked. This was exactly what I was looking for to add a little of that Japanese tuning touch to my German-built hot hatch.

The Japanese touch
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While they might be a Japanese company, the RAYS line-up offers an extensive selection of wheels designed specifically for European cars. Take a look through their catalog and you’ll find tons of sizes and fitments for BMW, Mercedes, and all the models from the VW Audi Group.

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After a lots of deliberation, I finally decided on the Volk Racing G25, a forged wheel that was first introduced last year. I’d considered some of the classic RAYS choices like the TE37 and RE30, but there was just something about the simple, split spoke design of the G25 that I thought would work well with my car.

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Once the wheels arrived from Japan, I couldn’t wait to get them on the car. Of course before I could do that, I’d need some tires.

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In the rubber department, I went with a set of Falken’s Azenis FK453s in the same 225/40R18 size as the GTI’s stock tires. I ran the older version of this tire on my Mustang GT a few years back, and figured this would be a good mix of grip and daily driver friendliness. Once I had the wheels and tires, I loaded them up in the back of the car and took them to be mounted. Amazingly, I was able to fit four 18″ wheels and four 18″ tires in the rear – thank the lord for hatchbacks.

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Dino and Sean already covered the mounting and balancing process pretty well in their project car posts, so I won’t go through that again. I will say that there’s just something about a freshly mounted set of new wheels and tires, isn’t there? As for the specs on my wheels, I went with 8×18 +50 offset all around – a size that’s essentially made for the Volkswagen Golf. The color is Black Clear/Mercury Silver with a machined rim edge. Enough staring though now, let’s get them on the car.

Shed those pounds
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Wait. One more thing. Being that these are lightweight, forged wheels I had to do a weight comparison between the RAYS and the factory VW Detroit wheels I was taking off.

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In the beginning I wasn’t big on the look of the factory wheels, but the style had grown on me a bit over the months. I was never a fan of their weight though.

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For the stock wheel and tire setup I got an approximate weight of 49.4 lbs each.

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And for the G25s and new tires?

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41.4 lbs each approximately. That’s a savings of eight pounds of rolling mass at each corner – which of course aids in all manners of performance, be it accelerating, cornering, braking and even fuel economy. Let’s not forget that these are also half an inch wider than the factory aluminum wheels.

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Using a set of black lug bolts from Gorilla Automotive Products, I bolted on the G25s and prepared to lower the jack to see what she would look like. Even with thousands of images circulating the internet and the power of Photoshop, nothing compares to seeing a new set of wheels mounted up in real life.

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Once again, it was amazing just how much the new wheels changed the look of the car. It was completely transformed.

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Within seconds, I knew that the G25s were the right choice for this car, and the final result was even better than I’d imagined.

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Although this is the flattest of the four different face types offered on the G25, it’s nice to see that that the spokes still have a decent amount of concave to them. As for the fitment, I won’t be winning any stance contests but I couldn’t be happier with the – dare I say – “grown up” look. There’s been no rubbing whatsoever and for a daily driver I don’t think it gets much better than this.

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I especially like the red lettering on the RAYS center caps, which almost seems like it was made specifically to match with the GTI’s red brake calipers and grille accent.

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But the new look was only part of the upgrade. I was also anxious to take the car for a spin to see if I could notice any of the benefits of the decreased rotating mass.

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To be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to notice anything. I know about the benefits of trimming unsprung weight, but I wasn’t sure how much of that would translate to normal driving. Immediately after pulling out of the driveway though, I noticed the improved response of the steering – especially in low speed situations like parking or making U-turns. It just seemed like there was less stress on everything.

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Once I got up to speed, I also noticed an improved feeling in the way car the drove. Obviously this is a seat of the pants impression, but the car just felt more eager and lighter on its feet.

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A couple of days later I hit the road for Formula Drift Irwindale, and the combination of the KW suspension and lightweight wheels seemed to do great over long highway distances in terms of comfort.

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While the majority of people will fit a new set of wheels for looks above all else, if you choose the right equipment a wheel upgrade can be so much more than cosmetic.

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I’m in love with the way the car looks and feels now, and to me, the Volk Racing G25 is the perfect mix of motorsport-derived engineering and street car style.

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While I learned quite a bit through the process of selecting and fitting a new set of wheels to Project GTI, the experience has only intensified my feeling about the importance of choosing the right set of wheels.

Whether it’s the look, the performance or both, wheels make or break a car – so make your choice a good one!



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I like the wheels, their definitely unique for a GTI. Also love how you put a tactical art sticker on the back.  More pics of your Mk.VI rear?


Final result looks great! Was never a fan of the stock wheels and I don't think I ever will be. Your daily would brighten up any of my days for sure.


Is it against the rules somewhere to post how much your modifications cost. Because none of you ever do. I would love to know how much of this I can't afford. i doubt those wheels were cheap or are within my sad means


Great choice! I also like white wheels on white cars, looks less sporty though.
So much better than those funny "Disco" wheels...buy some glass and you've got yourself four wonderful coffee tables!


Cyaman24 because they get them for free LOL...


koko san Cyaman24 your probaly right. Now my already meager means seem even more sad.


Great choice, I've been debating which set of rays to go with for my DC5 for close to two years now! haha .
Holler if you have any ideas, its a Milano Red car.


Can we please just get it straight that "VW Audi Group" isn't, and never was a thing. VAG is Volkswagen AG. Audi is a subsidiary, not an equal partner. There is no evidence to support the wide misconception that VW Audi group ever was a thing.


16lb lighter wheels - sorry, do you really think that makes your car more agile? its more likely due to the new/better rubber you put on them.


I have a feeling that to original wheels for the Gti's are actually made by Rays as well, but the new ones looks soooooooooo much better.
Absolutely perfect fitment too,


Cyaman24 koko san  scroll down the page slightly, and tell me who pops up in the official suppliers list.
i seem to remember this car has kw suspension to...


AdamBasing Cyaman24 koko san 
I'd do a simple write up for free stuff any day.


AdamBasing Cyaman24 koko san  Considering he wrote right in the article that he installed KW Variant 3's earlier this summer, yes, your memory is correct.
Or you could just read the article.


moe79 Unsprung weight: The general rule of thumb is that for every pound of weight that you add in wheel/tire combo, it’s equivalent to adding 2x that amount of weight anywhere else in the car. This only applies to straight line accelerating and braking though. So yes, the car is more agile because he removed 8lbs per corner, so 32lbs physically, which when factored in that it's unsprung weight, means it feels like 64lbs of the car. With added width these wheels have in addition to gripper-than-stock tires, this equates to a pretty nice performance upgrade all the way around.


Like the wheels and the fitment. The JDM Euro crossovers are cool to see. My only gripe is that stupid, thin, aluminum/silver ring around the edge of the wheel. Wheel look so much cleaner, and less ricery, when the color covers the whole wheel.


WOW, still 41lbs a wheel! I mean, weight savings are always good but I guess I just never realized how much a thin spoke 18" wheel weighs ... It could be because I'm use to seeing the weight of the 16" wheels on my race car weighing less than 11lbs each, (without tire) but still, that's almost 200lbs of wheel and tire!


PaulDYuen Before someone else says it, TE37. Obvious choice but it looks damn good.


I want some TE37's for my Z but they're crazy expensive :/


Ha, I'm glad you said that you're using the same tyre dimensions as before - the side by side pic makes your old wheels look about two inches bigger!


@U mirin Tyres weigh quite a lot though - I'd imagine somewhere around 25lbs in this size. I remember putting my TE37s on my car and thinking they didn't feel that light (with the tyre on). Then had to replace one and was shocked at how light the wheel on its own is!


SuzyWallace The power of angles! That said, the Detroits do look huge though...


Itchys2 A bit of saving and the reward will be worth it!


@U mirin Yeah 16"s will obviously be lighter. I should have done a comparison with the weight of the wheels alone, but I never dismounted my stock tires.


ColinSpears Hmm. I actually like it, provides a nice little contrast without being too much.


2bAUS Actually made by Borbet in Poland if I recall.


FunctionFirst moe79 ^ What he said :)


TomHoward Sure.


PaddyMcGrath PaulDYuen Can't go wrong with those.


koko san Thanks! I thought about doing white on white, but I think this worked out pretty well.


koko san Thanks! I thought about doing white on white, but I think this worked out pretty well.


@nothingspecial Thanks much!


Swonz Just supporting some friends!


Mike Garrett ColinSpears yeah i am not a fan of it either all black would look better i think. But also maybe you could try some rim tape in red to match the rest of the accents.


Mike Garrett koko san White wheels would be a nightmare to keep clean though!


Just why would you fit 18"? 16" or 15" would fit with your current brake setup. It isn't good for the car in any way....


nice choice, looking good. some window tint would do wonders too


What would be the purpose of listing the price of something that is a standard item on the market that they get discount since they are sponsored? and considering the vast audience across different markets that SH appeals to, what is the point of listing a price, the price is going to differ from one continent to the next.
If you are interested, look up the price of a set of wheels, lug nuts and tools, type in Rays G25 in google and the first result if the manufacturer with listed specs and prices.
By that same token they should list the hourly rate for anyone that touched someone build so that we can all know how much money went into it?


Mike Garrett 2bAUS  I just remembered seeing them in a youtube video on wheel manufacturers thought it was Rays but had a quick look again and actually was BBS 1:27 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq1YyzWS5bw. May not actually be the GTi rims but that's what I was thinking of.
Anyways doesn't matter, all the really matters is the car looks awesome, congrats


I have a white 2010 Golf 2.5 2 door (sadly not a GTi... but hey it's still stick shift and torquey and therefore fun). i looked into some wheels a while back but never got around to getting them. These wheels look amazing on the GTi! I knew black or bronze/gold would be the way to go.
I would be concerned about changing wheel width or size, though, since I know a lot of other things can arise from changing that stuff around. And, I know pretty much nothing when it comes to working on cars. I'm caught in indecision and laziness and money issues, but every time I get in my car and see the silly stock silver plastic hubcaps, I get all sad.


Mike Garrett SuzyWallace 
I love my Candywhite Golf as well Mike Garrett and uses the same dimension on my third set of wheels hehe
Yours looks nice, clean and fresh! 



PerTurboBacke Mike Garrett SuzyWallace  
Hi, can't reply on the website (stanceworks.com) so ill do it here, im buzy on a audi a3 and i love the idea of those wooden mirror caps, are those wrapped or acually wood?  Excuse me for my bad english ;-)


Looking good Mike!  I love seeing Japanese wheels on German cars (and vice versa)
I've always liked the look of those VW Detroits but I always imagined that they weigh a lot.  Going to be doing some work on my VW project soon, I think some lightweight wheels and track rubber are in order.