Project GTI: Keepin’ It Rubber Side Down
Hello, It’s Been A While

Yes, Project GTI is still a thing.

I’m quite a ways beyond the two year anniversary mark with my Volkswagen, but there hasn’t been much to talk about these last few months. In fact, I’ve had to go back and re-read the last post to catch myself up and ensure I don’t repeat anything. It’s been nearly three months since the car was treated to a full Integrated Engineering package consisting of a modified K04 turbocharger, larger front-mount intercooler with IE’s Flow Distribution System, a larger cold air intake and a beautiful cast intake manifold. The car is quick.

Lately, the only limiting factor has been my tyres. Back in May of 2016, and around 23,000kms (14,291mi) ago, I fitted four brand new Michelin Pilot Sport 4s. The PS4 (for abbreviation’s sake) is the true successor of the Pilot Super Sport, and not the Pilot Sport 3. It’s an odd naming convention, but it is what it is.

As the tread depth approached the legal limit, their performance notably dropped. To be fair, I’m putting far in excess of 300bhp through the front tyres, so I will always be asking a lot of any piece of rubber, but they needed to be changed, regardless. For the record, the PS4 is the best road tyre that I’ve ever had on a car. Any replacement would have a lot to live up to.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-4

I get strangely excited by the prospect of changing tyres, and always see it as an opportunity to try different things and maybe learn a thing or two in the process. With seasons changing, and hearing how good Continental tyres perform in the wet, I wanted to try a different brand on the car. An email to their PR department in the UK saw a set of 225/40R18s ordered and shipped right away. What do they say about German efficiency? They have nearly 150 years’ worth of experience making tyres, are a premium brand (I’m not in the business of putting cheap tyres on a car that I value so much) and I run their Gatorskins on my road bike, which have been brilliant.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-5

On paper, the Continental PC6 and Michelin PS4 are an almost perfect match. Their EU tyre label ratings (a mandatory requirement for all tyres sold in the European Union) are in the same places that matter for me: A ‘C’ rating for fuel consumption and an ‘A’ rating for wet weather performance, both on a 225/40R18 XL 92Y rated tyre.

I might have mentioned it once or twice over the years, but I live in Ireland. The little rock in the midst of the Atlantic that I call home can experience all four seasons in one day, so a good tyre is of the utmost importance, especially with regards to wet conditions. A semi-slick type tyre just doesn’t cut it. I know, because I’ve tried.

Brilliantly, the PC6 comes with two wear markers. The first, an ‘X’ in the main centre grooves lets you know when the tyres have reached or exceeded their wet weather ability. The second is the standard minimum tread depth marker which is a simple ridge between the grooves.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-9

They’re rated ‘AA’ for traction (same as the PS4) and 280 tread wear (PS4 is rated at 320). Continental claim that the new crystal silica composition of the tyres improves braking performance, especially in terms of wet road conditions while improving mileage on the tyres. So, this technology should be perfect for the coming months.

With the back seats folded flat, the new Continentals were loaded and it was time to get them fitted.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-13

I don’t think I’ve ever had my tyres changed, rotated or balanced anywhere else than my local tyre place. The business is run by a motorsport family, and the owner has a pretty remarkable and rare Ford Escort that we featured some years ago.

They have a shiny new premises across town, but I still find myself coming to the old building more often than not out of habit. The guys are thorough and have never marked one of my wheels over the years, which having heard some of my friends’ horror stories, is something most people worry about.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-18

Also, they don’t shout at me while I walk/stumble around things taking photographs and being generally artsy. 

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-19

Finally, they balance my wheels with the spacers attached and always retain my RAYS valve stems. I still haven’t found out who stole my dust caps, but when I do, Liam Neeson will have nothing on me.

With the new Continentals fitted, I would need to put up some miles/do several smokey launches to scrub them in. We’ll come back to them in a bit.

Woah, Back It Up

Around six weeks before the Continentals arrived, I had a very different delivery. If you follow my updates on the GTI, you’ll know that I had some brake issues this year after a track day. We addressed the overheating brakes by installing some neat brake cooling through the front splitter, but the discs, despite being skimmed, were beyond saving.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-33

To their eternal credit, Tarox have been exceptional throughout the process; they replied to every question and offered every bit of help they could. In the end (maybe to get rid of me and have a nice, peaceful day in the office for once), they offered to send a complete new disc and pad package, gratis, to solve the problem once and for all. They absolutely didn’t have to do that, but they did. To say I’m grateful is an understatement.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-34

So, one Saturday afternoon on my parents’ driveway, I set about performing my first ever brake service. How hard could it be?

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-35

As it turned out, not very. The slowest part of the process was cleaning the hub surface, but everything else was as simple and as smooth a process as I could have hoped for.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-36

In maybe 90 minutes, I had both sides done and was able to go for an easy drive to start the bedding-in procedure. Nothing fell off, which surprised me as much as it might surprise you.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-20

Around the same time, we modified (read: drilled a big hole) in the plastic panel beneath the windscreen to allow easy access to the damper adjuster on top of the Air Lift Performance struts. We edged it with some left-over drain piping from the water trap in the boot. Resourceful.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-21

The most exciting delivery of the last weeks was also the most recent. There were no Brad Pitt in Seven type questions, as I knew exactly what it was.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-22

You might remember that I had the pleasure to drive and shoot the Volkswagen GTI Clubsport late last year. Ever since, I’ve been wanting to bring a little bit of Clubsport into my life. This is the first piece.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-25

It’s an original Mk6 GTI DSG steering wheel, which was trimmed by Royal Steering Wheels in the UK to my specification: Black Alcantara, red stitching with the red top stripe. The cost of this was £140 ($190US) plus a refundable £150 ($203US) deposit once they received my wheel.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-24

The finish is perfect.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-32

Because it involves removing the airbag to install, which scares the absolute bejesus out of me, I popped into Stone Motorsport to have it done. After John Stone had finished laughing at me (unrelated, I think) he had the wheel out, my MFSW buttons and DSG paddles swapped onto the new wheel, and then fitted it.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-30

It would have been the perfect opportunity for John to ruin my life and fit the wheel off centre, just to wind me up, but always the professional, he set it dead straight.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-31

Good. Although I think I need new seats to complement it. And to remove the chromatic aberration the next time around. A man’s work is never done…

Where Were We

Now, that we’re fully back up to speed, this story resumes late last week.

I had put up around 500kms (310mi) on the new Continentals at this point, so figured it was about time to go for a drive. As I’ve been travelling so much this season with Formula Drift, opportunities to drive my car for leisure have been few and far between. Since moving to Dublin last year, this situation has only got worse.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-39

Just to get out of traffic takes around 30 to 40 minutes. It might not sound like a lot if you’re from Los Angeles, but I used to have the greatest driving roads on earth on my doorstep before. In saying that, it might take an hour or that to get out into the wilderness outside Dublin, but it’s worth it, to be fair.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-40
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-43

I typically have a routine of driving to a particular point, taking a break for a few minutes and making my way back. It was on the drive out that I started to learn more about the PremiumContact 6s, slowly pushing them on the undulating mix of corners and straights that make up the famous Sally Gap and Military Road.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-47

The road had been resurfaced in sections, leaving a couple of kilometres of loose chippings over one stretch, but on the whole it was good driving. The road can be rough in places, and is a proper test of any car. You also have to watch out for the locals (sheep), the actual locals (people), cyclists and the utter lunatics that commute on the road and drive at 8,000mph everywhere and try to force you into the scenery.

I’m weary of any change that I make to the car, tyres included, and always find myself slowly putting more trust into the car. The road isn’t the ideal place to test limits, so there’s only so much one can learn. Still, at a similar pace that I would usually travel at, the car remained surefooted.

I’ve always maintained that to get a car to understeer on the road, you have to be either an awful driver or doing something really stupid, but there wasn’t even as much as a hint of it, even through the faster sections.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-55

If you’re familiar with Continental’s tyre range, you might ask why I didn’t go down the ContiSportContact route, Continental’s top-of-the-line performance tyre. It’s a fair question, and it simply comes down to two things.

First, is the purpose of my car. I use it everyday; it’s my daily driver and only car. Truth be told, 95 percent of my time spent driving is commuting or motorway miles. It’s rare that I have time for a track day (maybe two a year) or to be able to go for a quick drive somewhere. I know that sounds boring, but it’s the reality of it.

I’m more in need of a tyre that can stop quicker on a wet motorway than a tyre that gives me an extra second around Mondello Park in the dry.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-50

The second is the performance of the new PremiumContact 6 when compared to the ContiSportContact 5. To be short, it exceeds the CSC5 for dry handling, aquaplaning, mileage and matches it for wet braking. It’s basically a better CSC5 but longer lasting. That to me, is the best of both worlds.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-56

Unrelated, but the above picture is a good example of the average Irish driving road. It’s just about wide enough for two cars, but it should give you an idea of why I have no desire for more power. Top of 3rd gear is around 155km/h (96mph), top of 4th is over 190km/h (120mph), and the GTI gets to those speeds very, very quickly these days.

100km/h (62mph) on a road like this feels like 260km/h (160mph) on a motorway.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-58

I think that just about catches us up on everything. Lots of driving and a couple of small but significant changes – now the car is ready for more motoring over the winter months.

2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-60

It’s been a good time lately, to be honest. As I came back down the mountain, with the car popping and banging on overrun, I couldn’t have been happier. The car is the best it has ever been and has treated me very well the last few months.

It was typical then, that I curbed a wheel outside my house when I got home. Ugh.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com

Project GTI on Speedhunters

Cutting Room Floor
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-38
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-8
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-10
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-11
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-12
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-23
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-37
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-44
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-45
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-46
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-54
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-57
2017 Project GTI Continental PremiumContact 6 Install Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-49
ADVERTISEMENT

Comments

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

54 comments

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
1

Brilliant, car is looking really smart and its making me question the decision to sell my ED30 or not. Love that steering wheel as well, the guys at Royal do a fantastic job.

Author2

What would you replace it with? It's something I think about a lot and there's not many realistic options for me here. Maybe a Golf R at some point? But I like the FWD characteristics of the GTI.

3

Im looking at estates at the moment, I've just bought a dog and planning for a future of UK based holidays and long weekends away so I'd like some extra practicality but nothing out there really excites me. I did find a very nice Jag XF R sport estate in all black that looked very nice but a 2.2 diesel doesn't really do it for me. I'm really struggling to find something I want/like. I'd love a E91 335i tourer in black but they appear to be pretty rare!

By the way, we need to get you on track with us in 2018 at one of the #TrackAddict events, first event confirmed for March 24th at Rockingham

Author4

I've always had a soft spot for the fast derv A6 & 3 Series wagons, but they're even rarer here.

5

Derv is no good to me to be honest. I dont do the mileage day to day to need it... trying to find a quick(ish) petrol estate that doesn't have an AMG or RS badge is proving tricky.

Keep up the good work with the Golf though, looking forward to the next update and seeing it hit the track!

Author6

Only hope of any big engines here (>2.0) is to go diesel, anything else is taxed to death.

7

Hi Paddy, nice write up and awesome photography as always. This GTI is one of my favorites on the internet. Though I have to correct you on the tires: the real successor of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is the Pilot Sport 4 "S" and not the Pilot Sport 4. So there is an even better daily-drivable Michelin tire out there. Anyway, small nuance. Enjoy the Conti's! I love the alcantara wheel and I look forward to the new seats! Keep the tartan!

Author8

It's a bit odd, but the Pilot Sport 4 is the successor to the Super Sport, with the 4S being the evolution of the PS4 and being closer to a Cup 2. It's an odd naming convention, which isn't helped by the fact that Michelin seemingly invited every man and their dog to the launch of the PS4S, so that's all you can really find on Google.

9

Ok, fair enough, I had a different interpretation. Thanks for answering! Enjoy Project GTI and keep posting articles on it! Have a nice day!

10

The little details make all the difference, looking pretty sweet

Author11

Thanks, Matt.

12

hey, I run Gatorskins on my track machine, too! tubulars. shame Continental didn't make their move into tubeless road tires.

Author13

I got four punctures in one day on my old bike tyres, never had one on the Gatorskins.

14

IDK if Europe can get them but when I had to get new tires for my MKV GLi I went with a brand called Vogue Signature Vs from Discount Tire and so far I've been pleasantly pleased with both the tires and the customer service from Discount Tire. I had to get two new front tires from them due to excessive wear but that could have very well been a manufacturing defect as the other two were wearing just fine.

I am gonna start doing some work on my car soon, nothing major just a new flywheel/clutch, intake and maybe exhaust. Any suggestions for an exhaust?

Author15

I like the Scorpion system I have fitted with the resonator removed, the right amount of sound without being obnoxious.

16

Hmm they must be Europe only as I didn't see a Jetta listed on their website. I want to keep it more reserved and classy as its going to be a remembrance for my Dad who just passed.

Author17

They are UK based, so that's a possibility. Maybe AWE? Sorry to hear about your Dad, hope the build goes great for you and him. .

18

Thanks, he's the reason I'm into cars like I am even though he was more into classic hot rods and I am more into imports and now VWs.

I am looking at the AWE Touring exhaust with the black tips, which apparently is in the same state as I am. I'm also looking at the same intake you have, though I'll have to get the emissions tube. I'd also like to get TE37s in black with one spoke red.

19

I absolutely love your car man. I've never had a GTI or a VW for that matter, but the lines, stance and mods you've done to this car keep me waiting for each update. Thanks for sharing!

Author20

Thanks, Travis.

21

Good. Although I think I need new seats to complement it. And to remove the chromatic aberration the next time around. A man’s work is never done…

This is brilliant :D :D :D
And car is too. good work so far.

Author22

Thank you!

23

I really like your taste in mods, I'm a huge fan or those wheels and Alcantara Steering wheels.

Author24

Cheers, I don't think I've had a set of wheels so long in my life!

25

What are those wheels by the way? They'd go great on my mk5

26
Brennan McKissick

This is about what I'd consider a perfect daily. Room to carry stuff/gear, great stance, enough power, subtle interior/exterior bits and just overall enhancing the platform. One of my favorite Speedhunters project cars for sure.

Author27

Cheers, it's pretty much what I've been aiming for, a baby RS6.

28

Your movie references are funny, always a pleasure reading about project GTI.

Author29

You'd never guess I worked in a Blockbuster through high school and college.

30

Paddy, I was never a fan of Volkswagen before, but your GTI change that. I haven't red the post yet, just saw it on the feed of speedhunters and I am super exited already hahahahha thanks for the great car , sharing it and showing the world how its done.

31

If THIS GTI is the only one to turn your head and change your idea of Volkswagen, then you obviously haven't been trying. The amount of examples that are exactly like this one are endless, and the amount that surpass it equally so.

32

maybe you are right, i respect that. But honestly I still stand by what i think. I really just like this one.

33

Sorry, I couldn't help but smile at the thought of a gravelly Neeson impression "If you don't hand back my valve caps, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will photograph you."
Beautiful photos as always, and if your golf gets any nicer I wouldn't even want to use it as a daily!
On an unrelated note, I wish the county councils would stop using loose chippings for road repairs! It makes for a horrible job and is absolutely lethal for weeks after, especially for (moto)cyclists!

Author34

Those chippings are the worst, especially on those types of roads.

35

Car is looking great Paddy!

36

Car looks great! I love the way this has progressed. What ever happened to running some wider wheels with 255's up front though?

Author37

I want to run a 9-inch or 9.5-inch front wheel with an aggressive offset to take a 245/255 and do away with the spacers. It's still the ultimate plan, but it just hasn't happened yet.

38
foxboyhunter@insta(DarkShadowFox)

the alacantra steering wheel with DSG is a nice touch and the center fabric line is very clubman/ ralley level.

39
Michael John Macfarlane

Dude, this thing is perfect. Pretty much exactly what I'd hope my GTI turns out like.
Question, what kind of front plate mount do you have? Looks to be a quick release of some sort?

Author40

It's a US Millworks plate holder, with a Porsche 911 towing eye adapter. (US MK6 is different to EU MK6 for some reason.)

41
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I'm starting to like how all the Speedhunters project cars does not have extreme makeovers. Just enough mods to make them more reliable and easier to live with on daily basis.

Oh, and those shots under the bridge look surreal!

Author42

Yeah, had to make the most of it before I got shouted at and had to leave.

43

I feel your pain on the curbed rims arrrrrrrgh!!

Author44

The curb outside my house is the worst for it, it's literally wavey.

45

quality shots right there!

46

Grettings , as mention before , PS4 ''S'' is successor of pilot super sport . Pilot cup 2 stands unchanged and PS4 is replacement of pS3.
And i think, Conti premium contact and PS4 are not even in the same category of tyres. Conti i s Summer Premium Touring and PS4 belongs to Max Performance Summer.
So totally different categories and think are not comparable, since premium cotact is desgined more towards comfort.
Conti sport contac 6 is direct rival to PS4.

Author47

I've read a release from Michelin stating that the PS4 was not a replacement for the PS3, and that it's a replacement for the Super Sport, the same for the PS4S being an all new tire which is basically a track version of the PS4, with Cup 2 technologies.

Again, according to Michelin, the ContiSportContact 6 is a rival for the PS4S.

decom_123c19abadfe5ee8f7d5ad81b896fc33_59ce861254297.pngdecom_123c19abadfe5ee8f7d5ad81b896fc33_59ce861254297.png
48

After having one of my alloys absolutely destroyed by a tyre fitters this week, I think I need to find somewhere I can trust as much as you do your local place! I'll never make the same mistake of not taking pictures before they take the car in.

49
Miles Hayler-MacMillan

Really nice. Love the way the GTI is shaping up.

50

I have been reading this since the get go but haven't ever posted a comment on SpeedHunters, absolutely love this car and everything you've done with it to keep it a clean, simple, fun street car. Makes me want to go out and buy a GTI overtime you have a new post about it. Awesome car :thumbsup:

Author51

Thanks, Byron.

52

Well Mr. McGrath, the stance and the color and all is very beautiful, gonna be my laptop wallpaper for a few months to come. Great car man! Cheers -Adam

Author53

Cheers!

54

Just got done reading the entire "Project GTI" chronicles. I'm a Subaru guy at heart, but this makes me want a GTI. Thanks for the enjoyable read! Love it.

OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS