Simple route to great handling - rear ARB change

United Kingdom
What I Drive
2021 Golf Mk8 Alltrack
I have a 2021 Alltrack with which I have a real love-hate relationship. I love the engine's torque but I dislike the DSG gearbox and the infotainment is a bit of a mess.

The one thing that was tipping the balance over into an overall negative, though, was the handling. In normal driving it was OK but uninspired, with unenthusiastic turn-in and a tendency to understeer, but as you get towards the limit in more spirited driving (empty roundabouts etc), the handling starts to get very untidy and extremely unrewarding.

I contrast that with my previous car (which I still have because it was so great to drive), which is a 2013 Skoda Octavia 4x4 estate. The handling on this car has always been really excellent, very well balanced and regrading to drive. The only thing that was less tan brilliant was the engine which was good for its rated output, but with 150PS was underpowered for the chassis.

So along comes the Alltrack and after a bit of investigation I have made one simple change, which is to replace the rear anti-roll (sway) bar (5Q0 511 305 BC) with one from a Golf R (5Q0 511 305 BE). These are readily available eBay for about £50-£80 because the Golf R guys want to upgrade them with aftermarket products.

This simple change has transformed the handling and now the car has much more enthusiastic turn-in, doesn't understeer as much, and stays tied down at the rear as you get towards the limit of grip. Previously you would get to a point where the outside rear would lift up and basically stop you going any faster, which may have been 'safe' but was incredibly mushy and simply uninspiring to drive.

I know that additional changes would improve things further but this change has already made a really significant difference and without any negative changes whatsoever that I can see. I really don't know why this spec of ARB is not fitted as standard to the Alltrack. It turns a boring car into one which is really decent to drive.

The next thing I would probably try is replacing the front ARB with a Golf R spec one (5Q0 411 303 N I believe), but this is a much more involved process whereas changing the rear ARB is extremely straightforward. It took me less than an hour from a pair of wheel ramps and I did not even have to drop the exhaust off its mountings. One note to mention is that if you do plan to change the rear ARB using wheel ramps is by far the easiest and best way to do it, as for ease of alignment of the bolts the weight of the car needs to be on its wheels. Any way of lifting the car that does not mean the weight of the car is on its wheels will make the job much harder.

Now if only I could get rid of the DSG gearbox and retrofit a manual box I would be almost entirely satisfied!