“ABOUT THE only things that haven’t changed are the chassis numbers,” observes Guy Harding, gazing at his Harding Performance Golf R.
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Given this thing cleaned up last year as a box-fresh, lightly tweaked daily drive, that’s a throwaway remark simply dripping with intent.
From inside, there’s little sign of the mechanical mayhem that resides beneath the vinyl-wrapped skin – the stock seats, steering wheel and dash all remain just as Volkswagen intended when the car rolled off the production line.
But under the bonnet, well, let’s just say that’s where you find a whole new kettle of fish.
The R’s EA888 engine – already with more muscle than stock out of the factory, thanks to a stronger cylinder head, hollow exhaust valves, larger turbo and bigger radiator – has scored a full basket of additional goodies from Racingline (think ‘Volkswagen Racing’ stuff and you’re all of the way there).
It uses Harding Performance’s Racingline turbo kit, intake and intercooler, along with a Milltek turbo-back exhaust. Racingline also takes cares of the digital side of things, with software tunes applied to both the engine and the DSG gearbox. Underneath, the goodies are very good indeed.
“The car has one of the first Stage 3 turbochargers from Racingline which has all new internals,” says Harding, who boasts that it’s capable of exceeding 500bhp (373kW), huge power from a 2.0-litre.
“Unfortunately, thanks to this,” says Harding, pointing to the crutches that he hobbled around on for the duration of the event, “we didn’t get time to finish the engine calibration, so we had to wind the power output right down to safely make the event.”
He reckons he lost a month or more of development time in the lead-up, thanks to his dicky knee. Chassis-wise, Racingline supplied the coilover kit, along with adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, all of which is all bolted on with Harding Performance-designed SuperPro urethane bushings.
The monotube dampers are adjustable via a single dial for both bump and rebound, and a specially-cast lower arm allows an extra degree and a half of castor to be dialed in. If you don’t quite get what that means, think about it this way: stand with your feet together, then take a step forward with your left leg. That leg now has more castor, and you have more stability.
“We’ve bolted in a fully ‘dry’ set-up which we obviously can’t change now,” says Harding, as we shelter from the driving rain. “We’ll see how that goes.” A set of six-piston front calipers are mated to 360mm front-hatted rotors, with 18 x 8.0-inch Racingline rims dressed in Yokohama AD08R 235/40 ZR18 tyres.
Car: 2015 VW Golf R
Who: Harding Performance
Where: 1/56 Cambridge Street, Coorparoo, Queensland
How long: Since 1998
Contact: 1300 730 949
Engine: 1984cc inline-4, DOHC,16v, turbo
Gearbox: 6-speed dual-clutch
Suspension: A-arms, coil-overs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil-overs, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 360mm ventilated/slotted discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 310mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0-inch (f/r)
Tyres: 235/40 ZR18 (f/r); Yokohama Advan AD08R
PARTS AND PRICES
Stage 3 kit: $5500
Transmission tune: $1495
Control arms: $1150
Total mods cost: $30,770
Vehicle cost(mSrp): $55,240
Total cost: $86,010