For some time now I have been seduced by the magic of hard acceleration and the g forces felt with lowered and stiffer suspension. Absolute joy to drive. Having a conservative nature though, I’ve never really understood the power of braking. Sure it’s obvious how important it is when you watch a Formula One race but when on every day roads, I try automatically just always try to conserve brakes. Then after my first track experience, I realized that my performance was suffering because while I handled and accelerated really well, I was gingerly stopping and probably driving the guys nuts behind me. Enter my quest for brake performance.
Having recently added the K04 turbo to my car, the weakest link became a compounded problem. Getting to speed faster just highlighted my inability to slow down appropriately. The stock brakes are very good on the GTI. The best I’ve had to date on any car I’ve owned. However, after a stint at my local on-ramp four leaf clover (endless ramping) I experienced brake fade. Luckily, I only do about 7/10s on the ramps just in case, and the “just in case” came in handy because I needed the buffer to slow down in time for a ramp. So I needed to get an upgrade to the brakes.
I went to H2Sport today to get Hawk HP Plus brake pads installed on my car. It was ~$550 all in including labour and parts. The impressions of these new pads was immediate. The slightest pressure activates the brakes with such force that it literally feels like shark teeth are biting down onto the rotors instantly! For the first time, I felt g forces pushing my body forward with greater force than I’d ever felt before. After I bed-in the brakes, I took the car to higher speeds on the highway and tested at 100, 120, 140 and briefly at 160. Wow. In one word, wow. I had no clue what I was giving up on all these years while I focused on engine and suspension. Brakes definitely round out the performance of a car. At this point, I can safely say that my car is a race car!
So what are the drawback you ask? Well, they won’t last as long as OEM brakes, they create more dust so your rims will get dirty quicker and they have a whining squeel when you drive on a street and stop slowly from 60 km/hr. Can I live with that? Hell yeah! If you are a driving enthusiast, you need to modify your brakes. It will be the cheapest thing you do that drives the most satisfaction. It’s a surprise performance addition. It’s also the greatest safety investment and bang for your buck on safety is unmatched with any other modification. Your confidence somehow goes up two notches on the street (and to be seen at the track tomorrow) with high friction brake pads.