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A lowered MK4 GTI is truly an iconic Volkswagen. It was first introduced in 1999 and produced until 2005. When stanced with a low aggressive exhaust, it’s a real head-turner. The MK4 GTI featured a revolutionary, at the time, 1.8T K03 turbo that put down 178hp and 173lb-ft of torque. Since the MK4 GTI is now over two decades old, it may be a good time to check out your factory suspension. We view most MK4 GTI’s as project cars nowadays, so we want to provide some coilover kit options.
MK4 GTI Coilovers Considerations
When it comes to coilovers, there are a lot of technical components to consider: monotube vs twin-tube, spring rates, and fixed or adjustable dampening. However, before getting into the considerations, it is important to specify your vehicle goals. Do you want to improve ride quality? Do you want to be stanced? Make sure to pick before reading more. We assume most of our MK4 GTI readers will likely be going for stance or improved ride quality, but we want to make sure to include all information necessary to assist in your purchasing decision.
Coilovers vs. Lowering Springs
Before going into the considerations, we want to go over a hot topic when it comes to lowering a vehicle: coilovers vs lowering springs. Many customers may resort to buying lowering springs since they tend to be cheaper than coilovers. There’s nothing wrong with this idea IF you are only wanting to lower your vehicle a couple inches. However, if you are looking to improve ride quality, handling, or have the ability to adjust ride height or dampening, coilovers are the way to go. Although coilovers tend to be more expensive, it is well worth the extra hundred bucks. Coilovers typically come with upgraded struts and shocks as well.
In short, if you are simply looking to lower the vehicle a couple of inches and that’s it, lowering springs may be for you. If you are looking for a higher performance suspension, coilovers, and the extra money, are well worth it.
Monotube vs. Twin-Tube
Without going too deep into this topic, we’ll make sure to cover the high-level information so you can make an informed decision on which is best for you. Put simply, monotube and twin-tube refer to the internals of the coilovers and shock design.
Monotube coilovers feature a single chamber that contains both hydraulic gas and hydraulic liquid. These two components never mix which produces a more stable and stiff driving experience. Monotube designs are found on high-performance street setups or track setups because precision is key when it comes to the track. That also means monotube’s are more expensive because they tend to be more technologically advanced, which means they are more expensive to you, the consumer.
Twin-tube coilovers feature two chambers: one contains hydraulic gas and one that contains hydraulic fluid. These two components can mix sometimes causing ride quality to be rougher and less precise. However, this may not be ideal for track cars, but it actually isn’t a bad thing for daily drivers because it makes the suspension softer for a more comfortable ride.
Coilover Spring Rates
Spring rates are an important consideration because it determines how soft or stiff your coilover kit will be. Spring rates measure how much weight it takes to compress the springs by 1 inch or 24mm. It can be measured in lb/in or KG/mm depending on where you’re from. A higher spring rate, or track setup, will be stiffer because it takes more weight to compress the springs, 420lb/in for example. Whereas a lower spring rate will be softer because it takes less weight to compress the spring, 220lb/in for example.
Lastly, probably one of the most important considerations, is dampening. Dampening refers to the control of the compression of the springs and how quickly they rebound following compression. Therefore, dampening adjustability is having the ability to adjust the compression of the spring and how quickly they rebound after compression. Not all coilovers have adjustable dampenings because it is primarily found on aggressive street cars or track cars. However, the coilovers without adjustable dampening tend to have fixed dampening, which means that aftermarket companies ensure the dampening out of their shops is optimal for the smoothest riding experience.
If you are someone that wants to control the amount of dampening, just know you’ll have to pay a little extra, but it will provide a more precise driving experience.
MK4 GTI Coilover Benefits
- Ride height adjustability
- Dampening adjustability
- More comfortable driving experience
- Increased handling
- More cost-efficient than replacement factory suspension (Some setups)
Best MK4 GTI Coilovers
After scrolling through forums, we’ve come to the conclusion of the best coilover kits that people have used in the Volkswagen space. However, with that said, the “best” is rather subjective because it depends on different driver goals. Therefore, listed below, we have coilover kits suited for stance, street performance, and track to ensure all drivers goals are met. 90% of our readers are more than likely in the stance or street category, but we want to make sure to include a track setup for those building an MK4 GTI track beast. Let’s jump into it.
1) Raceland MK4 GTI Coilovers
To start the “best of” list, we’ve got Raceland because we think they provide the biggest bang-for-your-buck when it comes to coilover kits. Starting at just $439, these are just as expensive as replacing the MK4 GTI’s old suspension with the factory suspension. What makes Raceland stand out for us is price and customizability. They provide three different setups for different purposes, stance and street performance. Their twin-tube design shocks feature 1-4″ drop in ride height, adjustable and fixed dampening, and optional upper strut mounts. The coilover kits come with a lifetime warranty, 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and customer service that stands out in the aftermarket industry. Raceland coilovers are best for daily drivers, period.
Driver: Stance or Street
Buy Here: Raceland Volkswagen MK4 GTI Classic Coilovers
Ultimo Raceland Volkswagen MK4 GTI Coilovers (Lowering 2-4″)
Primo Raceland Volkswagen MK4 GTI Coilovers (Lowering 2-4″)
2) ST x Performance MK4 GTI Coilovers
Next on the list, a tier up from Raceland, is ST MK4 GTI coilover kit. This set is for drivers that want increased handling and moderate ride height adjustability. Starting at $1,044, these are starting to get on the expensive side for coilovers, but for good reason. The twin-tube dampers are designed with high-quality components to ensure longevity. They offer a ride height adjustability of 1.2-2.0″, provide high-quality fixed dampening, and an adjustable spring plate. This set was one of the more popular street sets when it came to the MK4 GTI community.
Price: $1,044 + Free Shipping
Buy Here: ST Volkswagen MK4 GTI Performance Coilover Kit
3) Bilstein PSS9 MK4 GTI Coilovers
Lastly, a tier up from ST’s, is the infamous Bilstein coilover kits. Bilstein is known for building high-performance street or track setups. Unsurprisingly, this is the most expensive set on this list for those who are wanting an MK4 GTI track beast or are very particular on streets. Their mono-tube design allows 1.4-2.25″ in ride height adjustability, adjustable dampening for all driving conditions, and easy customizability. It is worth mentioning that if you happen to have a 2001 model year MK4 GTI, the Bilstein shocks don’t fit right, so avoid this set if you have that year. However, any other years should work out.
Driver: Street or Track
Price: $1,565 + Free Shipping
Buy Here: Bilstein Volkswagen MK4 GTI PSS9 Coilover Kit
BONUS PICK: H&R MK4 GTI Coilovers
As a bonus, we wanted to include H&R because it was mentioned quite a bit as well in the MK4 GTI community. Starting at $1,281, these are similar to the ST’s listed above in purpose, but provide lower ride height capabilities and offer adjustable dampening. This coilover kit is well suited for street performance and comfort. H&R partnered with KONI to manufacture the shocks, so you know they are high quality. Something worth mentioning is spacers may be required and if you happen to lower the chassis more than 1.4″, you must use an H&R front sway bar to avoid driveshaft clearance.
Buy Here: H&R Volkswagen MK4 GTI Street Performance Coilover Kit
MK4 GTI Coilovers Conclusion
To wrap this article up, we want to ensure that you go into the coilover purchasing decision with vehicle goals in mind. Again, all drivers don’t want the same thing out of their suspensions. Some want stiff and some want loose, some want stance and some want what’s best for the track, okay you get the point. This post will help you in figuring out if you want monotube vs twin-tube, stiffer or softer spring rates, adjustable or pre-fixed dampening, or even if you are deciding between lowering springs and coilovers. To make it easy, if you are just daily driving and are looking to lower your vehicle a good bit, go with Raceland. If you’re wanting to build a high-performance street car or track car, go with the Bilstein PSS9 kit. There are hundreds of coilover kits, so make sure to do your own research as well, but we wanted to assist you in your purchasing decision.
Let us know what coilover set you are running in the comments below! Also, if you want to read more MK4 GTI content, here is an article on “The 5 Best Mods for the Volkswagen MK4 GTI”.