Time to bring in the experts | James’ MK4 GTI
Performance bushes on, and with my new ROTA D154 shoes and Eibach Pro-Street-S coilovers sitting patiently in their respective boxes in the corner of my office just begging to be fitted to my Golf, I eventually caved in and gave Essex-based Torque Developments International (TDI) a buzz the other week to arrange getting all my new gear fitted and professionally set up at its seriously impressive workshop.
Let’s get one thing straight about TDI from the start, in case you’re not familiar with what it’s all about: this place is way more than just another performance car tuner. In its incredibly impressive 30-year history, the firm has racked up some pretty significant accolades, including being the first and only UK tuner to attain the prestigious ISO-9001 quality accreditation, the first firm in the UK to have a 4WD rolling road, and the country’s number one in the industry based on net worth. Unsurprisingly, I was fairly certain I was in safe hands with these guys!
Turning up at the Thurrock-based HQ, my first impressions of TDI filled me with even more confidence; with a sea of performance metal spilling out of the clinically clean workshop, from Japanese hot hatches all the way up to supercharged BMW M3s and even full-blown race cars!
Founder and CEO Mark Catchpole offered us a very warm welcome and a cuppa as we entered the trophy-ridden waiting room, before Technical Director Sam Borgman discussed what I wanted to get out of the car once everything was fitted. Sam is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and what he doesn’t know about cars you could most likely fit onto a Post-It note, and he seemed to instantly understand my brief of a fast-road, occasional track setup from the word go.
Laser alignment sorted and the car back on solid ground on its brand new wheels, Sam then took the Golf out for some on-the-road testing, making notes as he went to fettle the car when it was back up on the immaculate ramps. The attention that the guys put into the car blew my mind, meaning I couldn’t wait to jump back in and chuck it round a few roundabouts as work neared its completion.
With the job signed off, I grabbed the keys and was grinning like Cheshire Cat as I jumped in my newly-transformed ride. Like Sam Preston from Banzai Magazine’s EP3 Civic which is running the same Eibach suspension setup, the ride in my Golf too now hits the spot-on point between comfort and performance, not threatening to re-align your spine while being able to take on corners with an alarmingly improved amount of poise – a massive step-up from the boat-like handling the car came with as standard!
Then there’s the way my Mk4 now looks, of course. The arches sit perfectly over those wider rims, which themselves look absolutely pukka up against the black bodywork (as I think you’ll agree from the pictures). The car’s got a much more functional, squat stance to it from almost every angle now, which has only added to that big grin on my face whenever I catch a glimpse of it nowadays.
More about Torque Developments