From Stock to Slammed: En|Ex MKVI Build

Posted on July 3, 2015



After selling the MKIV, we were looking for something newer to wrench on. When we found out that the 2014 Jetta SE was going to be equipped with Volkswagen’s new 1.8T EA888 Gen 3 engine, we lost it.

We all know that “1.8Tees NEVAR LOSE”, so we just had to have a new one.

*Queue the piggy banks*





We did the paperwork and brought the car home. Right out of the box, the little 170hp 1.8t actually really surprised us. It wasn’t as much of a dog as it’s 2.5l 5cyl predecessor, but it actually had enough pep to get out of it’s own way. Merging onto the highway was a breeze, and the car’s gears were extremely long, but very smooth. Regardless.. it wouldn’t stay stock for long. 🙂

Now in order to meet Massachusetts blaazay state inspection laws, we had to run a front plate. When we put the order in for the Jetta, we ordered every option we wanted, (including that sleek and stylish factory Votex lip kit), and we strictly told them not to drill the front bumper for a plate. They agreed haphazardly and informed us that they would not be able to legally inspect the car.

“Not a problem”, we said. “We’ll be back next week to get an inspection”.

So started the “modifications” of a vehicle that was in our possession for less than four hours. A quick Google search returned a handful of results. USMILLWORKS seemed to be the best bang for the buck. Their newest front plate tow hook mount came with a lightweight version of their most popular plate mount and it was also available with quick disconnect pins. This made it 10x easier to remove to easily wash and wax the car.




Of course while searching for the plate mount, we “stumbled” onto a list of other parts that could fit the car. Due to the engine being brand new, no software or engine parts were available at the time, so we searched for body modifications; something that would really match well with the factory Votex lip, skirts, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. (P.S. The dealer had been selling MKVI Jettas for over 4 years at that point in time, not once had they ever ordered one with the factory Votex parts. We were amazed. Everyone at the dealership came out to check it out as we were leaving for the first time. It was quite a sight.)

We decided that the Hybrid grille would match the look we were going for pretty well. Luckily enough, we stumbled across a like new hybrid grille that had already been debadged and deblued. The price was right, and we pulled the trigger. We got it the day of inspection, so we brought it with us to the dealer. Without even looking at the installation instructions for the grille (which contains all of 4 screws), we asked the dealer to install it, which was more-so a joke, but they agreed to do it without hesitation.

Once again, everyone from the sales floor had to check it out… (Once again very odd. Most of us see modded cars daily and a grille certainly isn’t a huge mod).


While the sales team was checking out the new grille (lol), we asked someone if we could order foglights for the car through the parts department. After doing some quick math (space math apparently), they came back with a price of $3120.00 USD installed. ☠☠☠

Trying to contain our laughter, we said we’d mull it over and return later with an answer. (We never did… haha)

We knew we could score the fogs for A LOT cheaper online, so we took to the classifieds again. We found OEM foglights that were in great condition. Only issue was the wiring harness was junk from the previous owner. With a few mouse clicks more, we had a brand new fog harness from Urotuning en-route.


We decided to install everything at once, and some precut yellow Lamin-x for the fogs was exactly what the car needed. In the picture above you can see we tried the light tint on the stock headlights as well, but ended up removing it rather quickly due to the “butterfly lashing” effect that it caused on the light output. (The lip vinyl wrap was also removed. We’re currently trying to get Ghost Knit to make legit carbon fiber front lips for the Jetta). An auto function euro switch, paired with RFB’s adapter harness, was installed to make the fogs function and give the car a bit of an update over the stock unit.

With the fogs installed, we were desperately searching for better light output from the stock headlights. Since we all know HID’s in reflector housings are a BIG no-no, and after not falling in love with OEM projectors, we took to the aftermarket to see what we could find. Something that is pretty popular now, but was pretty new and uncommon at the time were MK7 Style Replica headlights. They were aggressive, stylish, and pretty unheard of in the VW community. (It’s a bit of a different story now-a-days due to Helix finally cashing in on the same style lights). After searching for about a month, the only way to get them to the US was through Alibaba or eBay; both which were extremely expensive for Chinese built replicas. On the verge of giving up, we took to the classifieds again and we found out Chris at MotoMavericks had purchased a set previously but no longer wanted them for his GLI. We both conversed back and forth for a couple hours, and before you knew it we were en-route to Chris’ shop in Connecticut to pick them up.



As you can see, the spontaneous trip was well worth it. These are by far our favorite style lights for the MKVI Jettas. To compliment the gorgeous housings, we decided on a RetroFitSource 35W Morimoto kit paired with 5500K bulbs. The bulbs shine pure white with just the right hint of blue. The CANBUS adapters and ballasts were integrated with the housings to provide a truly plug and play unit.

Tired of the car being sky high, we settled on modifying the suspension next. Having dealt with coilovers, cup kits, and air suspension before, we decided to go the air route again. E-Level was agreed upon for our build and the management was paired with Airlift Performance struts and rear bags.

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A custom enclosure box was built for the trunk. Inside, the box houses a 5 gallon Specialty Suspensions seamless tank. A single SMC water trap sits between the tank and the VU4 Manifold. Dual Viair 444c’s with their stealthy matte black finish sit on each wing of the trunk. All wiring and air lines are run under the custom 2″ false floor space.

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The entire section has been carpeted since the last pictures were taken. The setup isn’t meant to be beautiful like some of the show builds you see. Instead everything is housed inside of the box that can only be accessed from the rear seat. We also opted to run a coiled air hose as a drain, and to take advantage of having a small amount of compressed air in the trunk of the car. A typical shop blower tool is used to drain the tank. Other tools like a tire chuck and small air powered rotary tools are always in hand in the trunk incase of emergency.


The floor is actually probably our coolest part. While the door to the spare is in, the entire floor is locked down. Once the door is removed, the entire floor is free floating and can actually be lifted right out of the trunk. Pretty neat if you ask us.



Due to lack of room to mount anything in the MKVI, we wanted to run something other than big bulky gauges like you normally see. We decided on a Zaetech DigiGauge kit with the red LCD screen to match the interior lighting of the car.

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The center console was the only option for the controller and gauge setup. Unfortunately, the only option to get everything to fit, called for the e-Level controller to be mounted sideways. We tried to reach out to Accuair to build a horizontal controller, but it’s nowhere even near the pipeline, never mind in it. (We can wish though, right?). The OEM funk button will be hooked up to an electronic exhaust baffle controlled by button push, using OEM relays. Originally, it was going to be used as an emergency switch to cut power to the dual Viair 444c’s in the trunk, but the Mass State Police, whom are very unfriendly with current day car mods, have forced us to reconsider. As we really enjoy daily driving the car, this OEM+ addition will be a very useful mod.

(Also dont mind the rough finish of the center console. We were in a rush to get everything bolted together for SoWo and everything will be finished soon).



Wheels wheels wheels. Everyone loves wheels in the car community. Wheels are at this point a status symbol, a real dick measuring contest. We decided to keep it semi-average and chose to run a set of 19×8.5 square Rotiform BLQs. We also found a deal too good to pass up on Nankang tires. They are 235/35/19s, and we were definitely weary about running a full sized tire with little to no stretch. Pair that with difficult offsets that plague the MKVI platform, and we were afraid of the results. Much to our surprise, it worked out perfectly.

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The fenders were rolled to account for the wider than expected tires. If we decide to keep these wheels on the car next season, we’ve considered color matching the centercaps to the car.


To compliment the orange wheels, we hit the web again for some ideas. Funny enough, the Chinese make cheap replica “R” parts and the trim.. just happens.. to be orange… Hah. Perfect.


The parts were shipped rather quickly and when we got the parts, obviously we weren’t totally impressed. The trim was decent quality, but the grilles themselves were cheap and bleh.



We carefully removed the orange trim pieces from the new grille and even MORE carefully removed the chrome trim from the OEM grille. As we started to line the trim up, wouldn’t it figure, none of the tabs even remotely lined up. The orange trim wasn’t actually as flimsy as it looked online, and actually required Dremel removal. A bit of thinly sliced 3M Automotive Double Sided Tape was placed in the channels of the OEM Hybrid, and lower grilles and the outcome was astounding.

Tom's Front End

With the suspension squared away, we moved to the interior. The interior of the SE is a bit on the cheap side, although not totally unfortunate. Our SE came with Titan Black leatherette seats, which are heated due to our sunroof package ordered from the factory. (I can’t even begin to ask how those two things are remotely related, but VWoA thinks they are, so they’re packaged together and we’re not complaining). We grabbed our Jetta with the Connectivity package as well, so we were blessed with the RCD-510 with bluetooth capability from the factory. For the time being we decided to leave the head unit alone. We may upgrade to a NAV unit a bit later on, but for now our MDI cable and bluetooth keep us happy.

The trim. Oh boy the trim. It’s plastic. It’s supposed to resemble brushed aluminum. It doesn’t work. Sorry Volkswagen.

We decided to try our hand at vinyl wrap. It came out decent at best.

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We decided on gunmetal carbon fiber vinyl. The color is a bit darker and matches the Platinum Grey exterior a bit better. The carbon weave just makes it look… fast. 🙂 We’re currently talking with oCarbon about getting a custom set done with real carbon fiber.

OEM under-seat Euro storage drawers were sourced from OEMPlus and installed on both drivers and passengers sides. If you haven’t installed them already, do it now. They offer just the right amount of extra space to store all your useless shit you usually leave in your cupholders or center console. 😀

The center console area was a bit bare and the stock shift knob was already showing signs of wear. We decided on something a bit different as the heavy weight shift knob phase was just starting to percolate. Raceseng is (was at the time), a small company that specializes in race inspired products for various vehicles. After meeting them at Waterfest20, we came home and built a custom shift knob on their website using the Ashiko as our base. Gunmetal grey matched the trim’s carbon vinyl wrap, and matched the exterior of the car. We also chose to take advantage of Raceseng’s engraving options.



Weighing in at 735grams, it’s a hell of a lot easier to bang gears now. 🙂


The rearview mirror is the same old design from MKIII days. VW just decided to make it two tone in the MKVI.

Oooooh. Woot. Naht.

Instead, we fitted an auto dimming/compass mirror from a 2003 Audi A6 that we sourced at the junker. All that it requires to work is a 12v switched power source and a ground. The auto dimming and compass are all built in and require no other wiring to make them functional.


It uses the same type of factory mount as the OEM manual mirror, and the red compass matches the existing interior lighting perfectly. The only real gripe we have about the entire install is the fact that it sits about two inches lower than the manual counterpart. If you have the resources to move your windshield mount or know someone who can, have them set it about an inch and a half higher up the windshield. We’re going to be fixing that issue soon as our second windshield has more cracks in it after the trip home from SoWo. -_-

The stock steering wheel, another weak focal point of the factory interior, needed to be swapped. We sourced a few MKVI Golf R steering wheels through the classifieds, but each time we were beaten to the punch. We were about to buy new instead, but found a thread on vwVortex regarding a best photo contest. Using a photo that our friend Josh of Josh Brooks Photography took during our stay at SoWo, we entered the contest. The contest started out slow at first, and we thought it was a guaranteed win. Well without paying much attention, we were quickly in second a few days before the contest’s conclusion. Reaching out to friends, family, and other enthusiasts in the community brought in just enough votes to win us a new Beetle R steering wheel.

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GCP Tuning is a great OEM Supplier located in Puebla, Mexico. They overnighted the wheel to us, (Puebla -> Boston) and the very next day it was installed and looking great. The Piano Black trim matches the car well. The grey stitching of the steering wheel really sets it off, and it’s a bit different from other installs we have seen in other MKVI Jettas. Now we’re going to have to match the boot with some grey stitiching… Thanks a lot GCP Tuning… 😀

By this time, engine mods slowly became available for the new EA888 Gen 3 1.8T. Once again we took to the web for our best options. The big tuning companies were steadily working on a Stage 1 tune, so we looked for other bolt ons first; intakes and exhausts.

Everyone in the MKVI community seemed to be rocking the APR Carbonio intake. We wanted something a little different. According to all the websites, the VW-R intake was incompatible with the new 1.8T. As most of you know, an intake is nothing more than a filter on a stick; possibly including a canister or heatshield of some sort. So we did a bit of research to figure out why it wouldn’t work on the 1.8T.

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 1.22.37 PMWe were confused. All the necessary mounting points for the “Ram-Air function” style canister were present in our car, but there was one necessary point missing after closer inspection.


Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 1.36.52 PMA tiny adapter ring to connect the two hose halves together. The adapter ring also was pretapped and plumbed to keep the runner flap solenoid happy. An APR breather filter was popped onto the SAI hose and “professionally” zip-tied in place. Most people were just buying these alongside APR’s super wonderful Carbonio intake to get the same cookie cutter look and feel. We decided to give it a shot with the VW-R. It worked out beautifully.

Mated with the larger air openings of the hybrid grille, the car lets out a big “whoosh” upon gear changes. Although mainly for looks and sound, we did see lower RPM boost ranges. (Probably placebo effect).

Searching for software, we really tried to hold out for Uni’s stage one tune. Thankfully we didn’t wait for it, as it’s STILL in development on their website. Too bad, really. We may still change in the future, but for now we decided to grab a Stage 1+ tune from APR while we were attending Waterfest20. It definitely woke the car up, absolutely night and day over the stock tune. The big issues that were plaguing APR at the time of purchase made us a bit hesitant, but we pulled the trigger anyways and we’re glad that we did.


Exhaust. Loud and proud. Not proud of the prices of the big tuners “professional exhaust systems”.  All of these exhausts include crazy high end technology and different features to make them the best over the competition. We definitely didn’t cheap out on the suspension, but $1800 for some computer created, bent tubing, just sent our minds into a frenzy. We kept it local, as we have in the past with all of our cars. Lou’s Custom Exhaust uses stainless parts where it counts, and keeps the cost down elsewhere by using plated aluminized steel. Not a bother to us whatsoever, as we are paying for.. pipe. All piping is custom bent right in front of you and welded into place. Not realizing the cat comes right off the turbo in these cars at time of install, we had the bottom of the stock downpipe cut off and a 3″ (technically) cat-back system installed from there back. A single 3″, non-resonated catback paired with a 3″ stainless Magnaflow muffler before the rear suspension was installed. The independent rear suspension was a bit of a challenge for Lou’s, but being a custom exhaust shop they had the right tools and knowledge to squeeze the 3″ piping over the rear suspension and out the back to a nicely polished stainless tip.

(The video below is a much older segment before the suspension and tune was done. The exhaust was actually done before all of these mods, but to keep the flow of the build thread moving, we placed it at the bottom… doh!)


Ambient noises are a bit of an issue, but the exhaust lets out a nice gurgle while coasting in lower gears and a bit of a DSG-esque “fert” between gear shifts. We love it and at $400 for the entire setup, including a two year warranty, our wallet enjoyed it as well.


If you’re a TL;DR kind of person, well then here you go:


  • Factory installed Votex body kit (front, rear, skirts)
  • Factory installed Votex trunk spoiler
  • eBay roof spoiler
  • Hybrid Grille with custom orange trim
  • OEM lower grille with custom orange trim
  • 35% Window Tint


  • APR Stage 1+ EA888 Gen3 Tune
  • Custom Magnaflow 3″ Catback exhaust
    • Magnaflow muffler
    • Unresonated
    • 4″ dual polished stainless tip
  • VW-Racing Ram Air Intake
    • APR Gen 3 Adapter
    • APR SAI breather filter


  • AirLift Performance Suspension
    • Fully Adjustable Collared Fronts w/ 30 Way Adjustable Dampening and Camber
    • Performance Double Bellow Rear Bags
    • OEM Shocks
    • Accuair e-Level Management
    •  Custom False Floor Trunk / Hidden Box
      • US 5 Gallon Specialty Suspension Seamless Air Tank
      • Zaetech DigiGauge Digital Gauges (Red)
      • SMC Water Trap
      • Accuair VU4 Manifold
      • Air Tool Setup w/ Coiled Hose For Draining / Filling Purposes
    • Airlift Endlinks


  • MK7 Style Replica Headlights
    • Dual Projectors / LED DRL and Turn Signals
    • D2S Morimoto Elite HID kit
      • Morimoto XB35 Ballasts
      • D2S XB 5500K Bulbs
      • XB Igniters
      • CANBUS
  • OEM Foglights
    • Yellow Lamin-X Protective Film
    • UroTuning Foglight Harness
  • OEM Auto Function Euro Switch
    • RFB Adapter Harness With Light Sensor and Coming Home Function
  • Stock Tail Lights
    • Lamin-X Light Tint Film
    • LED Bulbs


  • Rotiform BLQ
    • 19×8.5″ Square
    • ET45
    • Centering Rings
    • Powder Coated Safety Orange
    • Locking Spline Lugs
  • Nankang NS-20
    • 235/35/19


  • OEM Under Seat Euro Storage Drawers
  • Raceseng Ashiko Shift Knob
    • Gunmetal Grey
    • Shiftgate Engraving
    • Threadless Adapter Kit
  • OEM Audi A6 Auto Dimming / Compass Rearview Mirror
  • OEM Beetle R Steering Wheel
  • Gunmetal Carbon Fiber Vinyl Wrap Trim
  • OEM Monster Mats
  • OEM Cargo Blocks


  • Needle Sweep Celebration
  • Push Button Keyfob Windows/Sunroof Open Close
  • PTT Button As Mute Button
  • 24 Hour Clock


Planned/In Progress/Future

  • CTS Turbo Downpipe
  • Stage 2+ Tune
  • becausebags e-Level Sensor Brackets
  • Illuminated Interior Handles
    • Red Leds On Hand. Color Matched To Interior Lighting
  • Funk Button Install
    • OEM Relays
    • Powered To Electronic Inline Exhaust Baffle
  • Unitronics/Neuspeed FMIC
  • Spulen Boost Pipes
  • Double Apex USB Charging Button
  • R36 Aluminum Pedals
  • P3 Gauge System
  • Stage 1 Engine/Trans/Torque Arm Mounts
  • Rhino Rack Vortex 2500 RS Black Roof Rack
  • Westfalia Hidden Euro Hitch
  • UNIBrace
  • Stabilia Sway Bars
  • Audi Style LED Taillights
  • Passenger Frame Notch



Tom's MK6 Driveway