Wheels and tires are one of the most popular upgrades people do to their cars. Not only can they dramatically improve the appearance of any vehicle, in some cases they can also enhance braking, acceleration, steering feel and overall grip.
When deciding on a wheel for your car there are a few things most people consider – design, size, and price of the wheel. But enthusiasts and more performance oriented drivers will often also look at the weight of the wheel. Switching out your vehicle’s heavy factory alloy wheels instantly reduces unsprung weight and rotational force needed to move and stop your vehicle. This allows your engine and braking system to respond quicker and feel much more responsive. During cornering, the shocks and springs also have less weight to dampen – keeping the car more stable during aggressive turning.
So naturally when upgrading the wheels on my 2010 GTI I knew I wanted something lightweight. After several hours of searching the internet I decided the 18 inch Neuspeed RSE52 were exactly what I was looking for.
At 20.75 pounds each the RSe52 are not the lightest wheels available that match Volkswagens 5×112 bolt pattern, but the smooth and simple five spoke design and machined silver finish compliment the clean and “OEM” look I was going for.
The first drive
The moment I take my first turn I immediately feel the difference. At nearly 30 pounds per wheel for the factory wheels, the RSE52’s shave off close to 10 pounds of unsprung weight per corner. It only takes a few minutes to appreciate the reduced effort to turn the steering wheel. With 40 pounds of rotational mass removed, accelerating from a dead stop now requires less throttle input. The brakes feel much more responsive now thanks to a lighter pedal feel. Overall, the car feels much more nimble and receptive to driver inputs.
The RSE52 wheels achieve the exact end-result I hoped for. Cosmetically, they flow well with the lines of the car without being too overbearing like many aftermarket wheels tend to be. The machined finish also contrasts the dark grey paint of the car extremely well. For a simple bolt-on performance upgrade, I am extremely pleased with the way they look AND perform.