• Aug 30th 2010 at 7:24PM
  • 50
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

My daily driver is lowered. Really low. Like damn-near-touring car low. Almost every car I've owned over the last decade has benefited from some kind of suspension setup that dropped its ride height. Traversing speed-bumps and steep driveways has always been a slow-speed, one-wheel-at-a-time affair for me. But with all these different cars with their low clearances, I've never had as many problems with scraping as I have with our long-term Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition.

The first time it reared its ugly head wasn't in a parking lot or on a curb, but during my initial blast down a favorite backroad. I went into a banked right-hand bend, and as the left suspension loaded up, I heard a faint scraping noise up front. I figured it was a fluke until it happened a second time. Then a third. After the drive, I stopped to scope out the damage and found the paint stripped down to the base coat under the left bumper.

Since then, it's only gotten worse, but it's not the lower fascia that's taking the brunt of the abuse.

There's a small lip on the plastic underbody tray that gets caught on driveways and a marginally steep curbs, and after a few dozen scrapes, the four plastic clips holding it to the bumper are approaching their breaking point. It's not a major issue, but hearing plastic meeting asphalt on a regular basis is enough to make anyone cringe.

As such, I make it a point to reverse into driveways steeper than a few degrees and slowly pull out, careful to drop one wheel, and then the next, when leaving. Yes, this is a sporty sedan. And yes, some concessions need to be made. But with a suspension that's barely lower than a stock TDI, it's the front fascia – and specifically this underbody tray – that's to blame. And considering this is the same kit pulled from VW's TDI racers, a slight modification to the lower valance might have been in order for street duty. While it's more than just eye candy and has been optimized for increased airflow over the standard Jetta, the Cup Street Edition's lower valance must live in the real world, and so far, the real world has left its mark on our long-term tester.




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  • 50 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      That is the one of the reason that i want CUV.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmm, well every car should be designed from the factory with the correct spring/shock rates + travel to not bottom out like that. If it's still bottoming out or scraping, then that's a fail on their part, period.. sounds like they cut the springs and put it up for sale :P

      I like to drop my cars about an inch, anything more is overkill unless you have uber stiff springs and see race duty. otherwise you're just ruining the ride quality at the expense of good looks. I didn't know what a stock undertray looked like until i bought an adult owned car recently, lol...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Paul, I'm pretty sure he's referring to the fact that when driven hard on the mountain road (as the author states), the car is bottoming out under heavy braking and cornering. A car bought off the showroom should absolutely not do that...doubly so if it's meant to be driven like a sports car.

        If your springs are too soft, you'll get too much dive under heavy braking and you'll scrape. If you stiffen them up, less dive, no scrapes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You can't change the approach angle (height) without raising the car or removing the front spoiler. Spring rates don't affect that, only the depth of compression.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I second that, it's a design fault and it's down to VW's incompetence. It doesn't surprise me and it was to be expected.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not the suspension tuning or rates, it's the actual height of the car, deepness of the front lip and the resulting approach angles. If it's too low (like this clearly is) it'll scrape on everything, eventually getting torn off.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Jason
        "A car bought off the showroom should absolutely not do that...doubly so if it's meant to be driven like a sports car."

        I don't think the Jetta TDI Cup is really designed to be driven like a sports car. As far as I can tell it's a regular Jetta TDI with a body kit and decals.

        It could be cool, but it's really not, which is too bad. I could really dig on hot subcompact with a sporty diesel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ^--- you said it more eloquently than i did :P

        The bump stop is where compression/motion of a suspension stops. If your underbody is getting scraped up at that level, whoever manufactured the car failed some pretty basic suspension/car design guidelines.

        As the springs/shocks gradually wear, it only gets worse :P
      John
      • 5 Years Ago
      It aint dubbin unless your rubbin
      • 5 Years Ago
      Safe to say then that this would not make a great winter car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They end up being pretty decent snow plows however.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think the 2003-2007 Saab 9-3 Aero's front fascia is lower (or looks lower) from the factory:

      http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200608/2007-saab-9-3-sportcombi-6_460x0w.jpg
      • 5 Years Ago
      The TDI Cup isn't even low. Sounds more like someone (and a lot of other people in this topic, as well) needs to learn how to drive.

      I daily drove my car dropped 4" on coilovers for 3 years. In PA, nonetheless.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, are you seriously blaming the manufacturer for a problem experienced after YOU made a non-factory modification?

      What was the point of this piece anyway? Is it a car review? News report? or editorial on the state of the auto industry? I can't tell what this was and I expect better from this site.
        • 5 Years Ago
        AH, nevermind my earlier post Damon. I see it was not your lowering modification that caused this. The car came this way. Sorry.

        I have to agree though with the earlier comment. If this is the update on a long term test it's missing just about everything people care about on long term test reviews.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How many times do I need to slow down for you goofs who can't drive over a simple bump in the road, wondering what the hell is this moron doing stopping in the middle of the road? Save the track setups for the track. I'd rather save on the taxes and have a few holes in the road then pay for your pleasurable driving conditions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If a car scrapes the front end during hard cornering then it's safe to say that a: you shouldn't be cornering that hard and b: it wasn't meant to corner hard in the first place. It's a diesel jetta...not a 370Z. What's next, hard cornering in a Caravan?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dude, the entire character of this car is based around sporty driving. It's MEANT to be able to corner hard. It's simply a half ass job of design on VWs part. It would definitely aggravate me if my stock suspension car scraped in front while cornering aggressively, there's no good excuse VW could have for letting it get to production with that trait.
      • 5 Years Ago
      from the gallery it looks like it could/should be lower.....

      unless the TDI cup has "settled" and is a bit lower now
      than when these glamor shots were taken

      I'm surprised your scraping as much as you say.....
      I guess that front lip spoiler overhangs and is low enough
      to scrape through..... crazy cause it doesn't look that low!
      I can fit a redbull can under there!

      you can go lower!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would run one size taller tire.. I bet that would solve the problem without effing up the spedometer by very much.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ahhh yes...i remember the sound well from my firebird...now I drive a Jeep GC-what curb? haha
        • 5 Years Ago
        With that type of front overhang, you'll need the front lip to have that upward angle to allow for sloped driving. My A4 is several inches above pavement and I don't scrape. However, the A4 bumper is also sloping upward because of the overhang. This VW front lip doesn't have that up angle to it. That's the nice thing about a short front overhang, you can get lower.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I used to have a 1998 Legacy GT wagon that I lowered. My driveway is fairly steep and it wasn't so much the height of my car as it was the overhang. When the DOT guys were in town resurfacing the road, I bought the crew lunch to grade the entrance to my driveway a little softer. Best $50 I ever spent.
        • 5 Years Ago
        16 degrees? says who? Don't tell Volvo, cause my S60R with the factory kit is about 11 degrees. That's why RaceRamps makes so much money. I'm pretty sure most modern Corvettes are way below 16 degrees.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @chingchong

        I completely dissagree. Wheel gap and and high ground clearance are ugly as sin, and create more drag and lift. You will stick to the high-rider while the rest of us who know how to drive prefer the purpose built machines.
        • 5 Years Ago
        16 degrees is the minimum rap angle in the US. A lot of automakers don't follow the rules. I've seen packages with 15.7, 15.8 and 15.9 degrees front ramp angle. .3 degrees won't change the design. Let's keep it 16 degrees guys.

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