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Sub-to-Dub's 2017 GTI Sport

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
June 2021

Project:
short shifter install
Product: Diesel Geek Sigma Six
Cost: $200
Install time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: 2/5

I've been through several different shifter mods and configurations over the years and have never been completely satisfied. I noticed recently that DG had an updated version of the Sigma Six shifter that uses the OEM side-to-side cable end which should be much easier to dial in. Having previously owned this shifter (and sold it for something less notchy) I decided to give it another shot given all the favorable reviews. I'll keep it on the car for a few hundred miles before passing judgement but so far it feels really good, better than I remember.

First impressions are that Ii's definitely notchy but the throws are short and precise and I have finally been able to adjust the cables adjusted properly.

The parts are all thoughtfully designed and really well made which I think justifies the asking price. The Sigma Six replaces the OEM Euro shifter, Diesel Geek Super Slider, and ECS cable end bushings I previously had on the car.

Installation took about 15 minutes since I'd done it before and adjusting the cables took another 15 or so (had to do it a few times). One note about the installation, the 4mm Allen bolts need to tighten the front-to-back cable end are pretty tough to access and my ratchet was too large to fit. I dug into the bike toolbox and found a tiny ratchet and bit meant for a saddle bag that absolutely saved the day.

I'll be adding stage 1 engine and transmissions mounts later this week and am excited to see how those can tighten things up even more.

Beautiful part, shame it never gets seen!


and the hero tool (shifter locking pin for scale):


 
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Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
June 2021

Project:
engine/transmission mount installation
Product: BFI stage 1 engine mount, BFI stage 1 transmission insert, misc. OEM hardware
Cost: ~$320
Install time: ~3 hours
Difficulty: 3/5


I spent Saturday morning installing new engine and transmission mounts. The install took longer than expected (doesn't it always) but aside from a wicked sunburn and a sheared socket extension things went pretty well.

After almost pulling the trigger for over a year I finally ordered for BFI stage 1 mounts. I opted to go with the transmission insert vs the full mount which saves about $200. I had originally purchased an aftermarket replacement mount with rivets but ultimately reused the factory one since it ended up having rivets. If you're able to verify your car has a version with rivets you could get away with spending $50 for just the insert.

Thoughts on installation:
-I watched all the videos and read all the posts I could find and was probably a little over confident going into the install. It took me about 3 hours plus a few breaks.
-The most time consuming part was removing the air box, battery, ECU, brackets to access the transmission mount. Not too technically complicated but a little fiddly at times.
-The most difficult part part was dealing with the engine/tranny shifting and getting things back in alignment. I did the install in my driveway which is not level in any direction. I used ramps to get the car as level as I could but the engine/trans still wanted to shift around.
-I used a floor jack with a wood block to support the engine/tranny. Everything dropped more than I expected.
-Out of the box I had issues with the engine mount bolt holes aligning between the body and frame. I had run into this issue during an earlier attempt to install a CTS engine mount so I think my car may have been a little off from the factory. I had to loosen the top bolt on the BFI mount and shift the upper mounting arm over a little to get everything to line up.
-The old OEM mounts looked fine, very squishy as expected but no visible issues or wear.
-It was nearly impossible for me to do the +90° on the OEM stretch bolts on the transmission side. I ended up shearing a socket extension so I just torqued them down per the manual as best I could and gave them a little extra. I'll be checking the mounts in a few hundred miles to make sure everything is tight.

Current setup:
BFI engine mount
BFI transmission insert + OEM mount
Powerflex Red (Diesel) dogbone insert
OEM pendulum arm

Observations from initial few miles:
-Vibration are minimal at idle, with the AC on they are nonexistent.
-There is a little more noise in the cabin but it's good noise. I can hear more fun turbo sounds, kinda like the soundaktor but not fake.
-Shifts feel a little more precise but I had also just installed the DG short shifter so it was a little hard to tell.
-Taking off in first is much easier to do smoothly as the action of the clutch pedal seems to translate much more directly. This was a pleasant surprise!
-The front end feels a little more composed over speed bumps and planted around corners.
-Overall the car just feels more solid, direct, and composed.

Observations after 1,000 miles:
I will update soon!


OEM vs BFI. It sure is nice looking, glad the engine mount is the one that's visible!


Engine mount installed:


I ended up reusing the OEM mount but this aftermarket one for $43 would have also worked great:


It took a lot to gain access to the trans mount but just take your time and it'll go smoothly:



Overall I'm very pleased with this upgrade and wish I had done it sooner!
 
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Dog Dad Wagon

Autocross Champion
Location
Innnnn West Philadelphia...
Car(s)
19 Alltrack 6MT
June 2021

Project:
engine/transmission mount installation
Product: BFI stage 1 engine mount, BFI stage 1 transmission insert, misc. OEM hardware
Cost: ~$320
Install time: ~3 hours
Difficulty: 3/5


I spent Saturday morning installing new engine and transmission mounts. The install took longer than expected (doesn't it always) but aside from a wicked sunburn and a sheared socket extension things went pretty well.

After almost pulling the trigger for over a year I finally ordered for BFI stage 1 mounts. I opted to go with the transmission insert vs the full mount which saves about $200. I had originally purchased an aftermarket replacement mount with rivets but ultimately reused the factory one since it ended up having rivets. If you're able to verify your car has a version with rivets you could get away with spending $50 for just the insert.

Thoughts on installation:
-I watched all the videos and read all the posts I could find and was probably a little over confident going into the install. It took me about 3 hours plus a few breaks.
-The most time consuming part was removing the air box, battery, ECU, brackets to access the transmission mount. Not too technically complicated but a little fiddly at times.
-The most difficult part part was dealing with the engine/tranny shifting and getting things back in alignment. I did the install in my driveway which is not level in any direction. I used ramps to get the car as level as I could but the engine/trans still wanted to shift around.
-I used a floor jack with a wood block to support the engine/tranny. Everything dropped more than I expected.
-Out of the box I had issues with the engine mount bolt holes aligning between the body and frame. I had run into this issue during an earlier attempt to install a CTS engine mount so I think my car may have been a little off from the factory. I had to loosen the top bolt on the BFI mount and shift the upper mounting arm over a little to get everything to line up.
-The old OEM mounts looked fine, very squishy as expected but no visible issues or wear.
-It was nearly impossible for me to do the +90° on the OEM stretch bolts on the transmission side. I ended up shearing a socket extension so I just torqued them down per the manual as best I could and gave them a little extra. I'll be checking the mounts in a few hundred miles to make sure everything is tight.

Current setup:
BFI engine mount
BFI transmission insert + OEM mount
Powerflex Red (Diesel) dogbone insert
OEM pendulum arm

Observations from initial drive:
-Vibration are minimal at idle, with the AC on they are nonexistent
-There is a little more noise in the cabin but it's good noise. I can hear more turbo woosh sounds, kinda like the soundaktor but not fake
-Shifts feel a little more precise but I had also just installed the DG short shifter so it was a little hard to tell.
-Taking off in first is much easier to do smoothly
-Overall the car just feels better connect/complete
-The front end feels a little more composed over speed bumps and planted around corners

Observations after 1,000 miles:
Will update soon!



OEM vs BFI. It sure is nice looking, glad the engine mount is the one that's visible!


Engine mount installed:


I ended up reusing the OEM mount but this aftermarket one for $43 would have also worked great:


It took a lot to gain access to the trans mount but just take your time and it'll go smoothly:



Overall I'm very pleased with this upgrade and wish I had done it sooner!
crazy what experience will do for you. when i had my bfi's installed at my trusted shop (small family owned shop that builds rs3s), they were done in 45 minutes, while i was talking to them the whole time.
 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
crazy what experience will do for you. when i had my bfi's installed at my trusted shop (small family owned shop that builds rs3s), they were done in 45 minutes, while i was talking to them the whole time.

You ain't kidding, 45 minutes is impressive! I could probably shave an hour off the job if I tried it again.

This was the first time I'd really done much under the hood and it was nice getting a little more intimate with the car.
 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
Small update for this week, I went back to the OEM shifter after a few years with the Boomba knob.

I love the weight of the Boomba but don't like how my fingers naturally rest on the boot and not the shifter (given the overall height of the knob). It's difficult going back to the weight of the stock knob though which I believe is about 1/4 of the weight.

I think I'm going to experiment with a way to add some weight to the stock knob, it just feels so flimsy now (although more comfortable and visually pleasing in my opinion).
 

perryis5150

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
Champaign,Il
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI S
How much of a difference is the Sigma Six compared to the boomba adapter? I have that right now and wow what a difference. Is the money difference worth it? I would also like to keep the stock knob with some added weight. That would be ideal.
 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
How much of a difference is the Sigma Six compared to the boomba adapter? I have that right now and wow what a difference. Is the money difference worth it? I would also like to keep the stock knob with some added weight. That would be ideal.

I'm trying to remember, it's been a while since I had the Boomba adapter on the car. It's not a massive difference but the Sigma Six is definitely a step up; it just pushes things further. If going from stock to the Boomba adapter felt like a big change, this is probably that same amount of change again. I didn't have these two setups back-to-back so it's difficult to compare.

Throws are shorter and a little notchier on the Sigma Six. The Boomba adapter only affects the front-to-back action of the shifter and not side-to-side. The Sigma Six replaces all the cable end bushings so there's no slop anywhere on that side of the shifter. You can achieve that with the Boomba adapter but you'll just have to purchase those other parts separately. The Sigma Six is nice because it upgrades/replaces everything at once and it's all designed to work together.

As for the cost, I think the shifter is one area I'd want to invest in, it's just such a big part of the driving experience.

That being said, if you're happy with the Boomba adapter keep enjoying it until the fun wears off. You can always change to the Sigma Six down the road.
 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
July 2021

Project:
lowering spring install
Product: H&R OE Sport springs, OEM hardware
Cost: ~$260
Install time: ~6 hours
Difficulty: 3/5

Spent a good chunk of the day installing lowering springs. I've been itching to get rid of the wheel gap for a while now but was hesitant to spoil the stock ride. I had originally set my sights on DG springs but was worried the drop would be too minor to justify the cost and time involved. On the flip side I worried VWR springs would lower the car too much. There are lots of options but I ultimately decided on the H&R OE Sports after reading a few posts here and my previous experience with H&R springs.

As with pretty much any mod there are pros and cons so here are my impressions after about 100 miles of driving:

The Good:
  • Price was right, picked these up for about $210 along with new strut bearings and bolts which added another $50 or so.
  • The springs seem high quality, thick coils, good paint, etc.
  • Larger steering inputs feel sharper and more direct
  • Car is flatter around corners and feels great on smooth, twisty roads
  • Ride is firmer but not really that harsh. The usual manhole covers and bumps around town are still manageable. I suspect my Michelin AS3+ tires exacerbate any harshness introduced by the springs.
  • In some cases the car is actually more comfortable and composed over certain bumps/dips because it reacts less.
The bad:
  • The ride is lower than the .75" specified by H&R. I'd say it's more like 1" or even slightly lower. Not a big deal but if you install these expect a larger drop than advertised.
  • Even with the TT pads, the rear sits lower than the front.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ride with the stock dampers is a little bouncy at times. It's mostly fine but it can get annoying if the road has lots of little drips and undulations. No doubt a proper set of dampers like B8s would make this a non-issue. This isn't necessarily the fault of the product since they don't specifically say these are for the stock struts/shocks (despite calling these "OE").

In terms of ride and handling, it's a mixed bag; better in some aspects, worse in others. I knew what I was getting in to so I'm not disappointed about the bouncy ride. I wanted to do the springs first to see if I could deal with a lowered car and will follow up eventually with some dampers (maybe B8s?).

It's been about a week and 100 miles so I'll be going in for an alignment soon.

This was my first time doing springs on this car. The install took about 6 hours in total. I think I could get it down to 4 next time.


I opted for the 2x4 method and while it worked ok, it made me a little nervous at times (particularly on the passenger side). I'd probably opt to remove the single outer axel bolt next time around.


Side-by-side comparison.




Here's the drop after about 30 miles of driving-things have settled slightly more at this point. Even with the TT pads the rear sits lower. I do have a hitch on the car and it is a 6-speed but I'm a little surprised the reverse rake is there. I've already ordered a set of EMD reverse rake pads to raise the rear up a little.
 
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Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
I was tossing the old parts from my spring install and got curious about the internals of the strut bearing.

Unsurprisingly there are bearings inside. There's the lower plastic housing with a metal plate that the spring rests on, the lower race, ball bearing retainer, upper race, and upper housing with lots of sticky grease all around.

 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
Got the car back up in the air and added some ED reverse rake spacers in addition to the TT pads to try and even out the ride height. It seems to work but I'm pretty annoyed that the front/rear difference would be this drastic. I don't love the idea of spacers and thicker pads but everything went together fine and there are no strange sounds. I'll check everything out in a few hundred miles.

I'm planning on a set of B8s and will likely move to another set of springs (probably Euro-spec Eibachs) when that happens.
 

Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
After a few hundred miles on the H&R OE Sports I decided to go in a different direction with the suspension.

The OE Sports are slightly too low for my driveway, the rear needed TT pads and ED spacers to just barely correct the reverse rake and while they're nice in the bends, things are a little bouncy around town on the stock shocks/struts. I don't think they're a bad product just not as mild as I expected.

Now that I better know my tolerance for suspension firmness and height, I really only have one choice for springs. I ordered some DriveGears and Bilstein B8s. The drop should be very mild and folks seems to think B8s help clean up the ride some. I'll report back on that combo as soon as it's installed and I have some driving post-alignment. Really hoping this setup works for me because I'm not looking forward to this install again.
 
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Sub-to-Dub

Go Kart Champion
Location
Arlington, VA USA
Car(s)
'17 GTI Sport 6MT
August 2021

Project:
spring and damper install
Product: Bilstein B8s, VW DriveGear springs, TT pads, OEM hardware
Cost: too much haha (about a grand for everything)
Install time: 5 hours
Difficulty: 3/5

So after a few hundred miles with the H&R OE Sports, I'm taking things back a notch. The OE Sports are nice but ultimately lowered the car a little more than I wanted and the reverse rake was severe. I also think that even with uprated dampers they'd be a little too firm for my taste.

I ordered a set of DG springs and Bilstein B8s along with replacement hardware. I spent way to long looking through threads and the DGs seemed like the only way to get a little lower with minimal effect on ride. The B8s were added to better handle the drop and tighten things up a little (I wasn't really in love with the OEM ride anyway).

I opted to buy enough parts to create two complete sets for both the upgraded suspension and the OEM stuff. This way if I ever want to throw the factory stuff back on I can save some time.

Installation was easier the second time around. I was pleasantly surprised that the shorter shock body of the B8s didn't require the much effort using the 2x4 method (yes I used it again).


Christmas came early!


All new springs pads, boots, etc. means I can keep the OEM setup as complete units if I ever want to reinstall quickly


A spring compressor was needed to be able to start threading the nut. Torquing to spec was difficult but the special strut socket (22mm for the B8s) and a good quality Allen key helped. Don't worry, the impact in the shot wasn't used for this.


Everything ready to go on the car


The shorter shock body of the B8s


I thought this line would be where the strut would ultimately rest in the knuckle but it's fully seated here


Team blue and yellow



I've done about 200 miles on this setup so far and am very happy. As others have mentioned, the ride is slightly stiffer (maybe 10%) but it feels more controlled, more refined. This setup is for folks who think they want a lowered car but really can't handle most lowered setups. I'll post some more impressions when I can cover a greater variety of roads and driving conditions but on first impressions I'm thrilled. Here's where things sit, not a bad ride height, definitely a good balance.

 
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