REVIEW: MSS Sports on VW Golf MK7 GTi
There are many aspects of MSS KITS which gives me immense pleasure, from responding to equally excited customers to dealing with dealer enquiries. However, nothing beats road testing first thing on a Sunday morning or last thing on a Friday night.
During testing, it is the opportunity for me to personally sample what I created on the different platforms that we target – to think that MSS was as a results of a humble aim of mine to improve the ride comfort and handling of my own car makes the journey thus far surreal…a true ‘pinch myself to make sure am not dreaming’ moment each time we develop a product and am in the driving seat ensuring we have kept to what I set out to achieve back in 2010…stuff of dreams and long may that continue!
Quick fact sheet, we have in fact developed the MSS performance springs kits for 9 different vehicle platforms to date and have only released products for 5 of these platforms. It is a simple fact of life that where we feel we cannot bring meaningful improvement to the target platform, we simply will not release a solution – that simple promise will not be broken for as long as I am at the helm.
On to the VW Golf MK7 GTi, the second MK7 Golf vehicle in our development fleet following on from the MK7 R 6MT which I reviewed with MSS Sports fitted back in March of this year.
- MSS KITS Development VW Golf MK7 GTi
- Transmission: 6-speed MT
- Engine: Stock and claimed 220BHP
- Anti-roll bars: OEM
- Wheels/Tires: OEM 18″ with Bridgestone Potenza tires
- Suspension: Factory passive shock absorbers (non-DCC) tested with production MSS Sports modular performance spring kits – Standard and Fully Adjustable.
The first thing you may notice when swapping from the MK7 R in to the MK7 GTi is weight…the GTi feels very lite and nimble in stock trim; the ride is supple and comfortable relative to the MK7 R; the power is noticeably less however this car in stock trim is actually very nice to drive. Sure, the steering feels a little loose; the chassis does sway when close to the limit; potholes or rougher roads does unsettle the chassis however all that occurs at a more forgiving pace and thus the enjoyment is not diminished by much.
I collected the car back in March and was at home immediately with the cabin; feel; comfort and handling. Had we started development initially with the GTi, I may have been worried because to me it is a fine stock car in all the areas MSS seeks to improve upon – ride comfort; road handling on wet or dry tarmac; composure when driven close to the limit; dive on braking; squat on acceleration. The only immediate issue I noted was that potholes seemed to unsettle the chassis noticeably and so undulation (off-camber) on some of the British B-roads we use for our road tests. The steering feel improves a smidge when in the Sports mode though in all honesty it is a tough call to feel the difference as being a giant leap.
A couple of weeks living with the car then showed/amplified issues in all the key areas of interest for MSS. The changes we make with MSS Sports is not revolutionary unlike on the MK7 R, however you will certainly appreciate the sportier feeling of the chassis now and you learn to trust the GTi quickly in to the journey whereas with the stock setup I always found I needed to get acquainted to all the areas identified above on each drive for the best part of 30-minutes before settling down to enjoy the MK7 GTi. In a way, it is not a bad thing really…it simply means my enjoyment is delayed for 30-minutes… which is no different to driving an exotic high performance sports car…the engine; brakes; steering fluid and any other hydraulic fluid needs to warm up before settling down for some sporty driving.
I make the point above in relation to the stock setup because it is important for me to relay back to you, our customers (current and potential), that what we do is to make your car a place you want to spend more time in…each drive out should be fun; enjoyable; engaging and above all else bring you back home safely in the wet or dry. You should want to drive more often than not and with MSS I hope we are making a small contribution to your investment in your car.
FFWD to the install of MSS Sports Fully Adjustable and then MSS Standard Kit…
The first thing you will note when you step back in to the MK7 GTi after install of MSS Sports – Standard or Fully Adjustable – is that the chassis now feels a little firmer and connected to the tarmac. Set the steering in Sports mode; engaging second gear in to a fast bend and the rear has ample grip tracking round the bend compliantly and steering now gains a heft in weight which you can feel. A left / right flick of the steering and gone is the sway of the body with a smidge of latency/delay…these actions are now urgent/nimble. Yes, this is a GTi which now feels even lighter; eager; ready; responsive yet ride comfort has not degraded…in fact, the GTi with MSS Sports fitted rides over rougher roads with greater smoothness compared to the stock setup. Drive over a series of road humps and that ‘tad’ you may have heard with the stock setup is much lowered in volume – subjectively from volume level 20 down to level 5 – yes, the sound is much less and a welcome reduction.
MSS Standard Kit reduces front ride height by 15mm initially and has settled at 18mm on our test car after 1,000 miles – the rear is adjustable from stock height down to -30mm. As with the MK7 R, we have set the rears at 340mm and the front has settled down to 350mm – indeed that is a reverse rake however on our test cars we use a variety of setups as part of the testing. Our recommendation would be to set the rears 5mm higher to the front at point of installation and that allows the car to have a slight positive rake of less than 10mm per axle when measured at each wheel. The MK7 R front ride height in comparison settled down to 12mm from stock height when MSS Standard Kit was fitted. The fully adjustable enables ride height to be lowered overall up to 30mm all round.
For me, the ideal ride height is -20mm on the front axle and -18mm on the rear axle, we liked this setup for the looks as well as ride comfort and handling. You can go lower offcourse however personally I do think -20mm is about right for streets use – on track I will be at full lowering.
Repeating/echoing points from the MK7 R review, our solution will allow you to return your car to the stock ride height, this is key, or lower down to 30mm (+/-3mm) and not many solutions on the market can offer this option on OEM shock absorbers. This is a key point and worth taking on-board – in essence that makes our kits entirely different to other lowering kits or Coilover kits as neither of these competitor products will allow the ability to return to stock height for Winter use, as an example. For us, lowering is for function and our primary aim is to enhance ride comfort with composed and balanced handling so as to make driving fun; safe; enjoyable.
For me, we have worked well to transform the MK7 GTi as I was a little concerned that in fact the stock setup was good enough to warrant not being touched.
However, what we have added is composure; agility; weighted steering; firm yet comfortable ride that can be continued to be used every day or at weekend in the wet or dry as intended. Testament to this is the fact that I drive the MK 7 GTi more than my MK7 R and it is simply because the GTi is just as much fun as my MK7 R – sure, does not feel as ‘plush’ inside compared to the MK 7 R nor is the exhaust note as ‘fruity’ however the rest of the package is thrilling with MSS Sports Standard or Fully Adjustable. If you have MSS Sports on backorder, you will be happy, that I promise!
I will report later when we get MSS Track Pack fitted and thank you for reading.
William | Owner | MSSKITS.COM