Build Thread: Performance e-Golf

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Aug 27, 2019
Hi Guys,

I'm almost two months in on my eGolf ownership and have started tinkering so I thought I'd share.

First to give you some background and put this all into context, my name is Zac Moseley, I run a place called Classic Car Club Manhattan, a private members club for auto, moto and motorsport enthusiasts in NYC. We run a fleet of amazing cars from classic american muscle and vintage sports cars to modern sports and exotic cars. The club originated as a private garage where members join the club to drive the cars, we now have a full service clubhouse and events schedule ranging from social events in the club to international travel events. Really a place for enthusiasts in and around NYC to get together and live life a bit more adventurously.

While our interests originate in performance cars, we're really into any unique motoring experience. We've always had something around on the leading edge of new technologies; to that end we've had several Teslas in the fleet and were actually the northeast homebase for Tesla ahead of them opening up a store in New York. With that we were running pre-production prototype tesla roadsters in the fleet in 2007 for Tesla's press drives and members were among the first people in the general public to drive the cars when they weren't booked out with the press. So we are early adopters of modern EV's and have a lot of experience behind the wheel.

I recently moved my growing family from lower manhattan to the suburbs and while I had a Dinan-tuned BMW 535xi wagon that I loved, I needed to get something a better suited for the missus and didn't need a big heavy vehicle (especially one capable of drinking fuel to the tune of single digit mpgs) for my daily commute on my own. In general, while I love old cars, love the smell of and oily greasy mechanical things and have petrol coursing through my veins, I just couldn't bear the thought of burning fuel idling my way into the Lincoln Tunnel. Thus my quest for an electric commuter began.

Sure, I could have got a Tesla (likely used), but it's only me on my commute, I don't need a big stately sedan, don't want a big car payment and I wanted to have fun. I first started looking at Fiat 500e's, and while we used to have a 500 Abarth that was entertaining, it's a pretty compromised car and I thought I'd grow tired of it quickly, also since I'd likely be dropping my kids off at school on the way to work, a 4-door would be useful. Then I learned about the eGolf, with 4 doors, smart VW design and the Golf Platform that I have associated with being a fun car since riding around in the back seat of my mom's 5-spd Rabbit in the early 80s, it seemed to be the perfect fit.

Then I learned about the eTrophy race cars and I knew this was the car for me.

Since I was planning to modify it from the getgo and I have access to buy used cars wholesale, a shop to work on the car and am not very risk adverse, I was looking for a good deal on a used car rather than a new car or a lease. I wanted to get the premium features and found a great deal on a 2015 SEL with 16k miles out of a VW off-lease sale at Manheim in California.

First impressions of the car are great. It's not brutally fast like a higher end Tesla, but the instant torque makes for an entertaining sprint up to about 45mph. Handling is fairly spirited and compliant and the even weight distribution pays big dividends. I've also come to appreciate the fact that when you're not using long range capabilities in an EV, there's no point in having the extra range since all you're doing is hauling around extra batteries that you don't need while paying for it in reduced efficiency. Dropping the extra batteries also pays dividends for acceleration and handling. And it's a golf, which from my mom's early rabbit to recent experiences with Golf R's and GTis has always meant for fund driving and this car still carries that spirit 100%.

That said, I can't leave well enough alone, so I've started down the road of a changing af few things. As a disclaimer to save the comments that I'm killing my range and voiding my warranty, I'm not really concerned about that. I made sure I found a used car at low price point (~1/3 MSRP) where I could experiment a bit and not worry too much about the costs if it goes wrong. Also, while I don't want to do anything that will defeat the original intention of the car being a smart and efficient EV, my commute is only 15 miles each way and I have a 240v charger on each end so I can afford to sacrifice a bit of range for fun.

The aim is to build an electric equivalent to a GTi that's a road going nod to the eTrophy cars. I want to maximize the performance aspects that will bring out the visceral feel of the car while maintaining a balance for efficient zero emissions commuting.

Here's the road map so far:
- Wheels and tires for more spirited handling, although I'm also looking at options make custom aerodiscs to keep them low-drag
- Lowering Springs: Admittedly, springs are mostly for the way the car looks, and while I'm generally not interested in anything that doesn't purely improve performance, i do want it to look the part. I'm not expecting springs to improve handling much, I just hope they don't ruin the cars good balance and compliance.
- Better Seats: With more grip, I'll need bolsters to hold me in the driver's seat
- Revozport 7E Aerokit: You can buy all of the kit developed for the eTrophy cars. Supposedly, they provide downforce while reducing drag. While that would be great, I kind of doubt it and am mostly doing it make the car look purposeful and in line with my goals for it. I'll probably skip the rear wing and Canards and just do the splitter, diffuser and side skirts.
- Any actual performance mods that may come down the line. Can i open the taps on some more power at the cost of range? Anyone know what level of tuning can be done currently or have any suggestions?

Any input you guys can offer is welcome.

I've got the wheels, tires and seat's done, I'll post pics next.
I look forward to reading a about your progress with this. I'm close to ordering a 2020 eGolf, and thinking of bigger wheels, and possibly lowering springs depending on how it looks. Wheels for this car are tricky, because open styles like the Pretoria will accent the smallish brakes. I'm thinking the GTI 5-spoke 18s might be a good compromise. The seats in the eGolf are a bit on the basic side both for bolstering and adjustment. I love the GTI seats, but the expense to make that upgrade may be overwhelming. Bring on the deets! :)
I've been contemplating these wheels:

Anyone done it already?
I haven't seen anyone use the "Englishtown" wheels, but I've seen a couple with "Cadiz". My favorite Golf R wheels are actually the 19-inch "Pretoria" because they're actually lightweight. The Englishtown and Cadiz are cast I believe and weigh a ton.
I've looked at swapping out my e-golf seats for GTI bucket seats. It looks like the rails are the exact same, and the functionality is the same as well. The electronics should interface as well since they have the same functionality, and ultimately it is still a Golf. I haven't tried it yet, so I can't give you any details other than that, but I've been tempted to try and find a junked GTI, and grabbing the seats and throwing them in the e-golf.

I'm not sure there's anything you can do to increase the power. You might be able to toy around with manufacturer's settings with an OBD11, but really you want to interface with the electric controller. The AC motor should be able to handle the extra amps, I'm sure they were ultra conservative in their ratings, but the controller itself might short out if you push too much electricity through it.

If you want to go full ham into upgrading the speed of the e-golf, I'd shoot someone like John Wayland (owner of the worlds fastest street legal electric car), an e-mail. I'm sure he'd be happy to get you contact information for people who love to build souped up EV's in their garages. They still use old e-mail distribution lists so far as I know, so unfortunately I can't point you towards a forum online.
The GTI and Golf R seats fit perfectly into the E-Golf. Already verified on the Speak EV forum.
Sounds like very cool mods to make the car look and feel sportier. There might be a significant reduction in range from all of the changes, especially the big wheels. If the trade off is worth it then go for it!
I would rather have a car that is faster than it looks, than the opposite.

You will draw so much unwanted attention, from cops, and from every ego-driven driver on the road.

The egolf is not worth dumping a bunch of money into it. It defeats its purpose on so many levels.

While I do love the car, I can tell that the suspension has been made to support it at the bare minimum. Lowering the egolf will likely have very adverse affects and prob even damage it.

All this being said, it is your car and no one has the right to tell you what to do with it. Just my 2cents. Hope you have fun in whatever you choose.
I am another one for modding my daily commuter for a more fun stable car. Glad to see there is more of us out there in this ev world.
So step 1 and 2 complete. Wheels, tires and seats.

First, just want to clarify my goals. I know this is not for everyone and even with my goals clearly states, some will say I'm wasting my money or ruining the car, but I want to cut a few concerns off a the pass.

First, I'm hyper sensitive to things that look good, but actually make the car worse. As part of my business, I have the extreme privilege to drive some of the worlds most desirable cars and have an unusually high amount of time behind the wheel to understand what makes cars truly good. So, I like suspension that's appropriately compliant an keeps the tires connected to the road, not stanced to look a certain way or stiff to the point where the tires go airborne on the slights irregularity. I understand that if you look at a race car, they fit the smallest wheel they can get over the brake caliper and use tires with meaty sidewalls for compliance and grip. I also truly appreciate this car for what it is, i geek out on the range and am trying to enhance the visceral feel and driving enjoyment without totally throwing range and efficiency out the window.

Lastly, If I was going to dump a bunch of money into it, I'd just go buy a Tesla, but that would defeat the purpose. The goal is to have a fun, zero emissions commuter and not tie up a bunch of money. That's also why I started with a used car and scoured to find a good price so I'm not taking something brand new and throwing a bunch of it's value out the window modifying it. The aim is to get it where I want it to be for less than $20k.

Here's where I'm at now on that goal:
- Car: 2015 eGolf SEL with 16k miles: $12,525, including fees. I have dealers license so am able to purchase at Manheim wholesale auctions. This turned out to be a good thing since the lionshare of the used market is off lease cars in CA being sold by VW at auction
- Shipping from CA $1,249 (shipping wiped out any wholesale value I had in the car, but I really wanted an SEL, was running out of time and couldn't find much on the east coast)
- Wheels and Tires: $1,241.07
- Seats: $734.48 shipped

$15,749.55 so far

For the wheels and tires, I wanted to improve handling and grip without totally killing range. It seems the biggest detriment to range in the wheel tire category is weight since rotational mass causes a big parasitic loss which not only hurts range, but saps power and acceleration which would defeat the purpose not only on range, but performance. I also know that going with really wide tires would sap range and acceleration and have diminishing returns on handling. So I wanted light wheels and grippy, but reasonable tires and while it doesn't add to performance, i wanted them to look purposeful, like the eTrophy race cars which actually runs 18" wheels and 245 width tires. In the end i settled on 17" wheels to keep the weight down, but with the right offset to maximize the track width and 225 width wheels to provide some extra grip without too much added rolling resistance. I landed 17x8 et35 Advanti DST Storm S1 wheels which are not the lightest at 17.5lbs, but only 1lb more than the lighter and much more expensive options. Tires 225/45ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. I know a high performance, high grip tire like the Pilot 4S is costing me some range, I've run these tires on other cars and they're just too good to pass up. Great grip and predictability in wet and dry, compliant and smooth and theel great in all conditions, even when they're cold. I don't need the range so I figure I should indulge and use my favorite tire when I'm driving in warm enough weather for it. I tortured myself trying to find the best performance/low rolling resistance option, but I just couldn't pass up the Michelins in the end.

As for how it all works? They're great. The car feels faster and I'm not sure if there's any truth to that or if the grip and visceral feel just gives me more encouragement to mash on the accelerator. It also has a much more confident command on the road. On center steering is sharper and there's no more squealing the tires on crosswalk paint when trying to get out of the way quickly at an intersection. While I don't have loads of data to go off of, I would say I've lost less than 10% on range and efficiency. Before the wheel and tire swap, I was showing 4.5miles/kwh, now I'm averaging 4.1-4.2miles/kwh. My drive is 15 miles back and forth to NYC from suburban NJ to Manhattan. It's 300 feet of elevation change, but mostly downhill on the way in to work and while I typically can manipulate my schedule to avoid the heaviest traffic, it sill probably 10 miles of light to moderate traffic highway cruising averaging 50mph and 4 miles of coasting through the tunnel or stop and go city traffic. One thing on range (and I'm sure someone here knows the science behind this) is that like wind resistance, the rolling resistance has a compounding impact as you go faster. So the loss in range and efficiency drops much further if I'm heading home late, have no traffic and can boot along at 70mph for most of the drive when compared to my normally moderate highway and traffic driving. All in all though, a great improvement in performance ane for d feel with only a minimal impact on range.

I also got the GTi seats in. They bolt right up and since they were from a MK7 Gti, the connectors plug in. I just need a VAG/COM computer to I can reset the airbag and seatbelt codes. Fro me this is a massive improvement as I've really become spoiled by sports cars with high bolstered seats to hold you in. It feels more purposful and sporty, but I find the bolsters to be more comfortable too. (BTW, if anyone in the NY Metro area wants my leatherette seats , they're for the taking)

Next up will be springs. Tried for Eibach, but they were on backorder. I have a set of H&R springs now that will be going in soon.







Very nice! I love those seats in there. I'm considering going with 225/50 tires on the stock rims to add a little more grip, but I'm rather reluctant to give up even 10% of the range. Your description makes it very tempting though.
Did you replace the back seats as well, or just the passenger and driver's seats? Where did you get the seats from? I'd definitely be interested in replacing mine as well :D
ZeroMoon17 said:
Did you replace the back seats as well, or just the passenger and driver's seats? Where did you get the seats from? I'd definitely be interested in replacing mine as well :D

Just the fronts for now, but I want to do the rears too. Got them off eBay. I was working on a deal to get the rears too, but the seller wouldn't offer a penny off for buying them as a package and I stubbornly refused to buy them, but I'm regretting that now. On the hunt for rears.

I just need a VAG/COM connector to reset the airbag and seatbelt warnings. Anyone in the NY Metro area have one that wants to swing by and help me clear the codes? There's a beer and a burger in it for you.
+1 on your choices so far. I really want to do those seats too, I think that's my next mod. Hope I can find them for a reasonable prices.

I also went with better tires (225) but on 16" rims (Konig Runlight 17.75lbs) and have the H&R springs on the stock shocks. It's a great ride.

I went to autocross in this car and ran all day without needing a charge (2016 SE with the low capacity battery) and kept up with practically everybody. The fastest cars there were a Tesla M3 dual motor, and an Evo9, which were about 2 seconds faster (27 second range), a few really nice Miatas and Porsches and a really sweet Datsun 510 were in the 28s, and I managed one good lap at 29.9 which is right around what a lot of the other good cars and good drivers there were doing. I was definitely grip limited, your PS4s are much better tires than my cheap Sumitomos. I highly recommend going to autocross after you put the springs on it.

If you find any engine performance mods I'm very interested, though I fear that might be a tough nut to crack.
zanzabar said:
I also went with better tires (225) but on 16" rims (Konig Runlight 17.75lbs) and have the H&R springs on the stock shocks. It's a great ride.

Good to hear the ride is good, I have the same springs waiting to go in. Do you have pics of you’re car? What kind of impact have you seen on range?

Also there is a full set of GTI seats on eBay now from the same seller I bought my fronts from.
Love all of this! Do you have any suspension mods in mind? I’m wondering how many Golf/GTI upgrades (thinking aftermarket) would bolt on...hmm...

Does anyone know how much the stock rims weigh? Also curious how much their aerodynamic design actually helps improve range (though I’ve grown to love my pizza cutters when they’re nice and clean).
I read a paper a while back from a guy doing wind tunnel tests for volvo that stated that wheels can be up to 25% of a vehicles drag profile. Of course that doesn't translate into 25% more consumption if you go with a certain tire/rim combo, just that it increases as you get more offset and design from minimum possible (you still get drag no matter what you choose).

As you may guess, it seems that the least drag comes from a rim that is flat with only small vents. Though he didn't explain why, it seems this design is slightly better than just a flat, whole, seamless disk. I assume this is due to a vacuum that might be created on the backside of the wheel if there is no way for air to pass through, but it would be just a guess.

He then went on to test various other designs, where the results of a simple 5 spoke design had around twice as much drag as the vented flat design, at speed (100-110kph).

From this I would assume that our stock design falls pretty close to the vented flat design of his paper, i.e.: least drag. So, if you changed to a spoke design, would this translate into noticeable range loss over, say, that of other less economical actions such as driving aggressively? I don't know. There have been people on here that have noticed differences when using heavier rims, and rim weights don't change more than a few pounds, so it is quite possible you would see a difference, especially if you are travelling to max range regularly.

oh, and I don't know the weight of stock rims, though this does beg the question, can you offset the loss in efficiency if you installed a higher drag rim if it weighed noticeably less?
Definitely not aerodynamic, but I cannot tell the difference with my commute (which is approx 25mph average). Rims are 17x8 with 225/45-17. Rim weight is ~21lbs. And there is a hitch for my bike rack (another 50lbs)

Loving what I’m seeing here....I also just purchased a used 2016 e-golf SE with dark interior/light headliner (chose it over an SEL with similar price because I couldn’t stand the cream interior) and am loving it so far (although some prick w/bare minimum liability already put a dent in my rear quarter panel...). Anyhow, I’m coming from a 6speed manual mk6 GTI which was my baby, so there are some pros and some cons.

Pros - it’s electric, less maintenance, smooth, surprisingly fast in 90% of first CarPlay vehicle, feels stable at highway speeds.

Cons - don’t dig the wheels, prefer the mk6 all black gti interior (I also had all red interior led lighting as well as the footwell!), don’t like the light colored headliner, too much torque for the tires!
STOPPING DISTANCE and feel much worse than in the gti, although I did have some higher performance pads installed there.

Just a couple thoughts, in case anybody has any input:
-I wonder if anyone has put the Tesla model 3 aero wheels (w/snap on aero covers) on an e-golf.... could be a good compromise of performance vs range when needed.
-I wonder if it would be possible and make sense to put some GTI (or other, larger) brakes on the e-golf?
-on the SE (w/no electronics buttons), would it be possible to put a gti steering wheel (also without electronics buttons)
-what’s the hitch compatibility vs mk6 gti and/or mk7 golf/gti hitch mounts?
-footwell lighting - how hard to retrofit footwell lights without going full custom headache?
-what kind of novel phone/tablet mount solutions do you guys use?
-anybody tried the wired to wireless CarPlay adapters here and there on Amazon etc?

Glad to have found this forum! Ps wrote all this while filling up with some free electricity!!!!!