Going above and beyond in his quest for the ultimate show car, Neil Montgomery’s tuned Mk5 Golf GTI is even rocking custom 3D-printed parts to ensure it now stands out for all the right reasons…

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Unless you’re one of the very few out there who are lucky enough to be able to shell out for a brand new, lime green McLaren, it can be much trickier than you think to really set yourself apart on the scene with your four-wheeled companion of choice.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Sure, the beautiful world of aftermarket upgrades that this fine publication revolves around certainly opens up plenty of options to make your motor that little bit more unique and personal to your tastes, but chances are you’ll see at least one other car at the next show you go to that’s boasting some similar modifications to yours, especially if you go for off-the-shelf parts.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Thankfully, though, there is a solution to the problem, as we’ve just been so beautifully reminded after spending some time with electrical engineer Neil here and his next-level Mk5 Golf. His secret to creating something that provides so much more of an impact than most? Plenty of blood, sweat and tears, and the willingness to create entire parts from scratch where necessary to fulfil his vision. Because, as we’re about to find out, being awesome doesn’t come easily…

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

“Personally, I think the Mk5 is the best-looking Golf,” Eastbourne-based Neil admits, soon on the hunt for a GTI-badged example of this celebrated mid-noughties hatch after owning a string of SEATS that sold him on VAG-group cars and their infamously impressive build quality.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

There were a few caveats thrown in as he began to trawl eBay, however: one revolving around some torn ligaments in his knee that resulted after landing at a dodgy angle at work a few years back and meaning an automatic car would be the most suitable option, and the other being one all of us can relate to in the form of a fairly limited budget. “I loved the look of the Edition 30-spec cars, but couldn’t find one in my price range, so decided to look at this DSG-equipped GTI instead,” he recalls.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Before going to view this seemingly tidy Reflex Silver model, though, another hurdle soon sprung up, this time in the form of one of his children dropping a bowling ball on their foot and leaving Neil house-bound for the next couple of days. “The owner kindly offered to drive down to my house so I could look at it… he said he could do with a drive and wasn’t bothered about whether I committed to buying it or not,” he continues, clearly stumbling on another genuine car fella. “It was super-clean so we did a deal. I’d like to once again thank him for his kind gesture if he’s reading this!”

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

With a sumptuous three-door slice of VW’s 200bhp hot hatch now on his hands, plans were soon afoot to get this very modify-able machine tailored slightly closer to Neil’s needs in the form of some light fettling here and there. It’s how some 19in Bentley rims soon found their way onto the car, swiftly followed by some 25mm lowering springs that ensured a much nicer ride height was offered up. Things were initially meant to end there, but we think you can probably already tell that was actually only just the start of the story…

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

“I’ve always wanted to have a good go at building a proper show car and installing air ride on one of my vehicles, and had a conversation with my partner about it one day,” Neil tells us – something that can often become a make-or-break moment in any car build. “She turned around and said ‘if that’s what you want, go for it’, although I think she’s regretted it since!”

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Less than a week later, then, a range-topping Air Lift Performance kit was on its way to Neil’s abode, with a mental list of other parts slowly-but-surely taking shape in his head to complement the huge drop this new suspension setup would undoubtedly offer up. It began by Neil’s partner very kindly driving the pair from the bottom of the UK all the way to the top – up to Scotland to pick up a set of 20in OZ Racing alloys that matched his exact requirements – Ultraleggera HLT jobbies in matte graphite that promised to look a million dollars up against the bright silver bodywork.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

“I’m a firm believer that if you add big wheels, you need big brakes to match,” Neil explains, his clinical attention-to-detail beginning to shine through even at this early stage. Cue some monstrously capable Audi TTRS and RS4 stoppers taking pride of place both front and rear respectively, all finished up in VW’s Tornado Red colour that would play a massive part in the styling elsewhere down the line.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

With his fave show – Edition 38 – only weeks away, Neil ramped things up a notch at this stage, snapping up an Edition 30 interior and forming a carbon fibre addiction after discovering the process of carbon skinning – something he applied to a large number of interior panels to great success. With plenty of love for his quickly-forming beauty to be received at this Dub event, it also spurred him on to keep the momentum going upon his return.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

“Paul from C6 Carbon took over the carbon fibre duties, while Gary from GDF Steelworks whipped up a half roll-cage that I’d designed on my computer,” Neil modestly reveals, with plenty more of the lightweight weaved material finding its way into the cabin in the form of bespoke parts, and the ‘cage itself being finished off in none other than that bright Tornado Red hue, of course.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

It’s at this stage where Neil’s out-and-out dedication to ensure his pride and joy was like nothing anyone had ever seen before really began to shine through, though. “I wanted to add some sounds into the car, so decided to build my own sub-woofer box,” he explains. “It was around the time I had an operation to remove a metal plate from my leg, which left me sofa-bound for three months.” While many would use this time for rest and recovery, Neil could be found finishing up the boot install from his sofa, leaving him with the mother of all installs now that not only sports a killer ICE setup, but also a sumptuous air display complete with carbon fibre tanks and all the trimmings.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Still not happy to settle, a relatively new technique of parts production soon entered Neil’s life, not only changing his car but his career path for the better. “I started 3D printing parts that I couldn’t buy, which proved such a success that I started to sell them within my newly-formed company, Bespoked Customs.” As well as custom door and bonnet stays, the Golf now rocks a raft of other one-off touches, such as the seat adjusters and air tank valve covers – certainly not lengths you’ll see every owner going to with their car, that’s for sure!

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

Neil’s story reminds us that, if you really want to do things differently from the rest, you better make sure you’ve got the minerals to dive head-first into the unknown, keeping faith regardless of what life throws your way. It might sound daunting, but it only takes one look at this Mk5 to prove that it’s always worth taking the more challenging route in life.

tuned mk5 vw golf gti

“My partner asked me the other day what style I thought my car has ended up like, to which I described ‘OEM retro plus’,” Neil ponders – a fitting phrase for what’s on offer here. Keen to ensure parts like his air suspension drove to at least the same high standards as the factory components, as well as now housing a healthy 357bhp motor, it ain’t no show pony, often getting a good blasting on his local Sussex country roads. Because if you’ve created something this special, the last thing you want to do is lock it away all the time…

tuned mk5 vw golf gti


Reflex Silver body; SRS Tec 25mm widened front wings with modified inner arch liners; EM Tuning modified headlights (featuring Morimoto bi-xenon bulbs, Reflex Silver LED Shrouds and frosted indicators, all de-chromed with laser-etched projector lenses); custom LED R32-spec rear lights (with clear lenses, de-chromed with satin black details and Skyline Modon inner tailgate lights); OSIR carbon fibre front grille, rear DTM-style diffuser, Telson rear spoiler and B-pillar panels; LED lights in outer door handles; custom carbon fibre tailgate and bonnet struts with 3D-printed end caps.

2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine; K04 turbocharger upgrade; custom induction kit with enlarged Pipercross cone filter; Forge Motorsport front-mount intercooler; Forge Motorsport diverter valve; Audi RS3 fuel injectors; Audi RS4 fuel rail pressure valve; 136bar uprated high-pressure fuel pump; 200bar fuel rail pressure sensor; 3bar MAP sensor; Audi R8 coil packs; iridium spark plugs; Creation Motorsport PCV delete; full turbo-back BCS Powervalve exhaust system with black ceramic coated twin oval tips; R-Tech ECU re-map.

Six-speed DSG semi-auto dual-clutch gearbox.

8.5x20in OZ Racing Ultraleggera HLT alloy wheels in matte graphite; Wheelworx custom centre-lock caps; Air Lift Performance air suspension system (with Performance front struts, double bellow rear bags, Slam XL rear shocks and 3P management); Hardrace rear camber kit; Audi R8 eight-pot calipers with 370mm Audi TTRS (front); Audi R8 four-pot calipers with 365mm discs and separate handbrake calipers (rear).

Mercedes A45 AMG Recaro front seats in red/black leather with black Alcantara centres and red stitching; 3D-printed adjuster inserts; C6 Carbon full interior dash kit (comprising centre dash, dash end covers, air vents, dash/door inserts and DSG gear surround); Mk6 Golf steering wheel with C6 Carbon carbon fibre finish and Lavish Automotive Alcantara re-trim with red stitching; custom S2T gloss red DSG paddles; all gloss chrome trim replaces with gloss black/red highlights; black Alcantara-trimmed interior components (including sun visors, arm rest, gear gaiter, handbrake cover, roof lining and door car inserts); DPM Auto Body gloss black components (including door tops, dashboard, centre cubby and arm rest); GDF Steelworks rear roll cage; full boot install (comprising custom seat delete with anthracite carpet; twin carbon air tanks, LED-illuminated Alcantara frame with satin black hardlines and 3D-printed valve covers); Kenwood DNX518VDABS GPS navigation system head unit; full Bespoked Customs audio boot build (comprising Kenwood DRV-N520 dashcam, Kenwood KFC-WPS1200F 12” sub-woofer, Kenwood KFC-S6976EX 6×9 speakers, Kenwood KFC-XR18009 two-way speakers, Kenwood X501-1 sub-woofer amplifier and twin Kenwood X301-4 speaker amplifiers).

I’d like to say thank you to all my friends and family for pushing me to do the build and come up with new ideas, also Dave at DPM Autobody, Gary at GDF Steelworks and Paul at C6 Carbon. But mainly my partner, Bex, for putting up with the late nights and the support she has given me to get on and make my dreams come true.

Words Sam Preston Photos


V60 Tuning

We review V60 tuning and outline the optimum mods that work.

Volvo V60’s make a good tuning project and with a few sensible motorsport modifications you can dramatically maximize your driving experience.

The only thing holding you back in your V60 project is time, money and your imagination The key to V60 tuning is getting your choice of modification right – a lot of money can be wasted if you do it wrong.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for loads of people first priority in your V60 tuning project.

Good suspension tweaks that greatly enhance handling for the V60 include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe in on the front wheels.

We suggest that you fit performance suspension and lower the car by 28mm – 38 mm. Larger drops require arch work – especially on models already equipped with uprated suspension.

Turning our attention to the engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end.

V60 make good sleepers if you debadge them and fit the most powerful engine upgrades and handling mods you can !

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Tuning modifications.

2010 -2018 model range engine options.


  • 1.6–2.0L I4
  • 2.0–2.5L I5
  • 3.0L I6


  • 1.6–2.0L I4
  • 2.0–2.4L I5

Diesel-Hybrid: (171kW–213kW)

In the more recent 2018 model range the engine options were simplified a little with only a 2.0 liter being offered but in various states of tune.


  • 2.0L I4 140kW-228kW


  • 2.0L 110kW-140kW


  • 2.0L I4 186kW–223kW

These mods kits are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you begin.

Getting the best modified mods for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport mods just don’t work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Stage 1 mods: Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Sports exhaust, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Remap, Alloy wheels.

Stage 2 mods: Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injector, fuel pump upgrades.

Stage 3 mods: Sports gearbox, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam.

Peak power is good on competition cars but for a drivable and fun car you need a long torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

In this article we shall give a little insight into the world to the best mods for your car, but we’d encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance upgrade.A fast road camshaft usually proves to be one of the best NASP power modifications you can do from a single upgrade to your engine.

The exhaust and intake durations play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You’d need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully realise your gains.

When pushing up the power you will need to uprate to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you suffer from flat spots and power surges after your sports kits you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Upgrading the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned V60s uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Induction kits only help to add power if the air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see NO POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it’s need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we’d just recommend for V60 engines you should settle for a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow out of the engine but do not go too wide or you may end up will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head work including a gas flow (ported and polished) and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. A good fast road uprated clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never make false economies or ask the standard OEM clutch to cope. The best mods we recommend for your V60 are a remap especially on a turbo, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intakeRemaps offer big power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We’ve also seen some tuners toying with twincharged conversions and making some impressively high power hikes.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NASP engine will give large power gains. Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. Turbos provide boost in increasing proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

Superchargers, however will give a boost which is proportional to engine speed so is simpler. Adding forced induction will generally require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

As alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they can help to cool the brake disks. Pay attention to your choice of tyres (tires) for your car, a good directional tread pattern tire can really enhance your cars handling. The drawback to large alloys on your V60 is that you’re changing your effective final drive ratio so this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration.

Although some people have gone larger than this we would stick to a 16 inch rim size as the maximum.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss V60 options in more detail with our V60 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually updated.

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.


Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

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Tesla Effect: Expert dives into EV adoption and the internal combustion engine’s death

When Elon Musk took the helm as CEO of Tesla, he aimed to disrupt the transportation industry to such a degree that electric mobility becomes the preferred, primary form of transportation. It was a lofty goal, near-impossible at the time. Yet, more than a decade and several all-electric vehicles later, Musk’s dream and his all-too-familiar Master Plan are actually happening. 

Spurred by the success and the demand generated by vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Model 3, the auto industry is shifting towards electric transportation. Coupled with the ongoing climate emergency, several regions across the globe are also looking to drastically reduce their emissions, and one of the ways they are doing that is by phasing out the internal combustion engine. Paul Eichenberg, managing director of Paul Eichenberg Strategic Consulting and a longtime veteran in the auto industry, discussed these shifts in a recent appearance at Autoline After Hours

During his discussions, Eichenberg noted that the auto industry, including the companies comprising its large supply chain, is already undergoing a steady departure from ICE technology. Aggressive emissions targets in regions such as Europe and China will eventually make it impossible for gas and diesel-powered vehicles to comply unless they become electric. Technological advancements such as autonomous driving solutions are also becoming a priority. This could be seen in how massive companies such as Volkswagen and Ford are currently partnering in a push towards EVs and full self-driving technology. Eichenberg noted that there would likely be more high-profile collaborations in the near future. 

Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 in China as of June 24, 2019. (Photo: China News Photo Network)

It is at this point that Tesla’s disruption, the “Tesla Effect,” if you may, becomes incredibly evident. Tesla might still be learning the ropes when it comes to running a car business, but it is becoming undeniable that the company has created an objectively superior product. Sandy Munro, who has torn down the Tesla Model 3 and other EVs like the Chevy Bolt and the BMW i3, remarked that Tesla’s electric sedan is at least a generation ahead of what other companies have put on the road in terms of the architecture, the electronic systems, and the software surrounding the vehicle. Tesla still needs to figure out a consistent way to make money, but in terms of the electric cars themselves, the company seems to have everything figured out. 

With traditional auto catching up to upstart companies like Tesla, large carmakers are now looking to leverage the innovations from younger, smaller companies. This could be seen in how Ford willingly invested in Rivian, which has developed its own skateboard platform that features much of the same concepts as Tesla’s skateboard chassis. Eichenberg, citing an OEM he spoke with prior to the announcement of Ford’s Rivian investment, stated that building a skateboard similar to Rivian’s and Tesla’s will likely result in a seven-year lead in the marketplace. 

With electric cars being far more straightforward in terms of parts and components, a significant number of companies whose businesses rely on the internal combustion engine are currently being faced with a dilemma. Eichenberg gave an example of this in a brief discussion about forgings. “If you look at the forgings, a typical vehicle like the Pacifica — you know, V6, 8-speed — that has 107 forgings in it, in just that traditional ICE engine ecosystem. When you go to an electric vehicle, whether it’s the (BMW) i3, the Teslas, the (Chevy) Bolt, whatever it is, there’s eight or nine. So you have a 90% over-capacitation of an industry. And here’s an industry that’s only 90 billion globally, and half of everything it does is in the engine-transmission ecosystem,” he said. 

The Rivian R1S at the launch of their joint initiative with the Honnold Foundation. | Image: Rivian/Twitter

Elaborating further, Eichenberg mentioned that big-tier corporations such as Honeywell and Delphi, whose businesses are tied to the internal combustion engine, are now positioning themselves through spinoffs as a way to shed their ICE-centered assets. Unfortunately, smaller companies don’t have it as easy, particularly as private equities and investors do not seem interested in ICE innovations anymore. Eichenberg shared the story of Dayco, a private equity-owned business which experienced multiple failed sale processes. Eventually, the company ended up taking the deal to China, where it failed to receive a single bid. Among the key reasons behind these failures was Dayco’s line of business. 

“Why is Dayco an indication of what private equities are going to do? It’s because Dayco makes pulley systems that go in front of the internal combustion engine. And of course, what’s been the first element to be electrified? All the pumps and all these systems that run off this pulley system. So, the market has already recognized, ‘Hey you know what, we’re not interested in these types of assets,’” he said. 

Overall, it appears that traditional automakers’ decision to “wait and see” if Tesla survives and succeeds was a miscalculation at best. As it turned out, well-designed, long-range electric cars caught on, and with the advent of the Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus, which currently starts below $40,000 with Autopilot as standard, it is now becoming quite evident just how much catching up is needed for traditional auto to thrive (or even survive) in the age of the electric car. Yet, as more large automakers collaborate on technology that companies like Tesla have developed on their own, and as investments flow into young, innovative companies like Rivian, it is becoming a certainty that the internal combustion engine is indeed on its twilight years. 

Watch Paul Eichenberg’s segment in Autoline After Hours in the video below. 

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Tesla Effect: Expert dives into EV adoption and the internal combustion engine’s death


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