Installation

Now that we had sorted all of the pieces of the puzzle, it was time to install all of the parts. As mentioned above, we planned to have the transmission overhauled at the same time as the Stage 3 install so that we could enjoy our new found power. Doing all of these upgrades on the tranny at the same time would also help with our labor costs since they were going to be installing the clutch, flywheel and pressure plate already.

The differential install is not terribly difficult, but you certainly need an advanced knowledge of transmissions and automotive engines in general. In terms of knowledge required, we would put this project above changing out your own clutch assembly as there are a few special tools and know-how needed to properly install it. We decided that this whole project was well above what we were willing to do without the access to a complete shop. An install date was setup with NGP instead.

Our install date arrived and we eagerly made our trip to the shop loaded with boxes of goodies from a few different manufacturers. NGP co-owner Dave Graf went over our last minute questions and made sure that he understood all of the project requirements. At that point he introduced us to the tech that would be exclusively working on our car.

We were told that the install was pretty uneventful and that there were no surprises or delays in getting everything the items installed. NGP is a full service shop that can handle just about anything from fabrication to motor swaps, and this was not anything new to them.

On the day the car was to be ready we were disappointed to be greeted with steady rain - not a great scenario for picking up a 300hp fwd car. Of course the precipitation didn't stop us!

Now, for those who do not own a chipped K03 motored car, you may not be familiar with the characteristics of this type of vehicle. The turbos that Audi and VW use for the 1.8T application are designed to spool up very quickly, giving the car peak torque by about 2800rpm. This makes for a very quick out of the hole car, with lots of power available in low range. This also causes the factory traction control, ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) to frequently interfere under hard acceleration where any slip has occurred. The ASR will inevitably shut down engine power by cutting fuel and closing the throttle plate, allowing the traction to catch up to the power. Luckily for the FWD owners, we have the option of turning off the ASR traction control via a button on the dash. This keeps the motor from cutting power but it does not make the power get to the ground any more efficiently. You must master the art of feathering the clutch without smoking the tires.

Unfortunately, the day we received the call that the car was ready to be picked up it had rained all day. Something about picking up our 300hp fwd car in the rain was not the entertaining proposition we were anticipating. Obviously we decided that it was going home anyway, but opted to have it stretch its legs on another day. When we arrived at NGP they started the car to warm it up and proceeded to cover everything on the install. Dave hopped in the driver's side and told me to get in so we could go for a shake down run - make sure that everything was to our satisfaction and that everything was in working order. We took a quick spin down the road, all the while taking it easy on the car so that it would come up to operating temperature. All signs were good - no weird sounds and everything was as we left it with the exception of an additional 100 or so hp - but that is for another article.

When we arrived back at NGP, Dave hopped out and offered up the driver's seat. We were very conscientious of launching the car out of 1st gear since we had been told about the break-in period for the clutch. Basically the instructions were to avoid aggressive launches out of 1st gear for about 800 miles, which would be plenty of time for the clutch to break in properly. After becoming semi-familiar with the power delivery we performed a few hard acceleration runs, letting the motor really scream through 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear. The most surprising initial result was that the car was not all over the place as we expected with this kind of power. Truth be told, it was quite drivable. Had this Quaife made that big of a difference? Yes!

In the excitement we had forgotten to even turn off the ASR and had been making aggressive runs in the rain. The combination of the more sport oriented Quaife and the more linear power of the Stage 3 had made this car much more drivable in the rain than it had been in the dry (even with ASR engaged). It is difficult if not impossible to put quantifiable #'s around the benefits of installing an upgraded differential without extensive testing at a skidpad or a road course, but we immediately noticed a huge increase in drivability in less than 5 minutes behind the wheel.

In the past we had driven this car aggressively in many different conditions and were always able to feel the wheels slip under power due to weight transfer. If you were traveling around a sharp left hander, while accelerating quickly, you could always feel that the left side wheel would become the drive wheel and would start to slip. The same could be said for a right hander as well; accelerating hard out of a turn would ultimately make the right side wheel become the drive wheel and begin to slip. This is just the nature of a open differential. The Quaife differential has completely transformed this car by sending the power to the wheels that grip, instead of the power to the wheels that slip.

Further driving in the car in different conditions supports the notion that the car is much more planted and can be driver more aggressively without fear of losing traction in the midst of a turn. Aggressive launches are less of an exercise of smokey burnouts because the transmission quickly harnesses the power and the differential efficiently distributes the power. We seemed to have accomplished our goal of getting as much power to the ground as possible.

After years of modding numerous fwd VW cars, we really started to wonder why we never got around to installing a setup like this. You can rest assured that in the future if we ever end up with another fwd car the first thing we install will be a Quaife.

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