TMT Performance has quickly become known for churning out eccentric and unique rides, none more so than this Golf which isn’t exactly what it seems.
By Shudley Daniels
At this time last year we shared with you a car that was breaking the internet. Mulan, as she was affectionately known, was the talk of the town, especially since we exposed her almost-twin sister, Pocahontas, just months before. I am of course talking about the Evo8 and Evo9 belonging to that man, Kirschlee Naidoo. While smashing all sorts of records and calling out almost anyone and anything the racing world had on offer, Kirschlee suddenly started keeping a low profile. We’ve always been in touch though, especially since his company, TMT Performance, started churning out some very unique rides.
I’m often amused when I hear people speak of “builds”, and these days the term is used very loosely. A guy with a Tazz or Mk1 Golf with wheels and coilovers refer to their cars as builds, or any car which also happens to have some sort of mod, are called ‘builds’. I guess people will always differ in their definitions but to my mind, a build is, well, this G5 is the epitome thereof. Why? Every aspect was built, quite literally.
TMT acquired the unfinished project, but that’s putting it mildly. You’ll notice the yellow R550 badging, and I don’t blame you for being a tad confused. Kirschlee refers to the car as a Golf 5.5 because that is exactly what it is- halfway between a 5 and 6. Still confused? Let me spell it out for you. It looks like a 5, but has all the underpinnings of a 6. Not any 6, a 6R. Yes, that means it is AWD!
If you know Kirsch, or you’ve seen any of his other cars, you’d know that he is not just a man with a plan, but he is OCD AF! It would come as no surprise then that everything was either improved on, or completely refabricated. Let’s start with what is visible in the pictures. Both the front and rear bumpers were sourced from an R32, with the latter featuring a Maxton Design diffuser and modified to expose the bling custom TMT exhaust. It takes cahunas to do that mod as it doesn’t work on any ride, but for some reason works a charm on the 550. The car was given a custom paint job and I rather like the colour combination. The rear wiper was removed to give it a cleaner look and the extended roof spoiler makes a world of difference to the aesthetics. Rolling stock are in the form of 19” ABT Sport DR’s and once again, they are my personal favourite design- simple yet timeless. Even the brake discs are custom TMT items (read: research and development)
Kirschlee explains that the car is meant to be a daily driver, but this is a show car through and through. The interior sports custom Recaro wingbacks with contrasting Alcantara centres. The 6R cluster and head unit was fitted, and the car was also used for R&D, with the fabrication of the carbon fibre interior door trim, gear lever surround and radio bezel not just looking the part but providing tech answers as well. A custom carbon fibre 6R steering with extended selectors give it a luxurious yet sporty feel.
The 4-point bolt-in rollcage was another of TMT’s first designs and add to the character of the car. While sound is at a minimum, Kirschlee wanted a boot install, and pulled it off brilliantly. It just goes to show that an install need not be big sound or huge air tanks and compressors to look “built”.
Now, for the underpinnings! The G5 runs the entire 6R powertrain. The floorboard was cut and seam-welded to accommodate the suspension and drivetrain, including the rear subframe. The engine, the 6R TFSI with KO4 turbo, was left stock (by Kirschlee’s definition of stock) as he wanted to maintain the driveability and, as mentioned before, this is meant to be a daily! Audi R8 coils and an Audi RS3 in-tank fuel pump was fitted, along with a VIS HPFP. An AEM/TMT Performance water/meth kit is in play, along with a plethora of custom goodies which not just serves a purpose in terms of performance, but are pretty to look at as well.
The engine is running a TMT Stage2+ software package with anti-lag/ launch control and Kirschlee reckons it is easier to swim from South Africa to the Seychelles than to get the electronics working properly. “We took months to sort that out”. As you can imagine, it is no mean feat, especially on the suspension and AWD side of things, but TMT was committed to creating a fully functional, road-going car. Power was purposely limited to around 270kw on pump fuel, but with the nitrous armed, the TFSI motor pushed a tad over 300. “The nitrous was added mostly for show though” says Kirsch.
I’ve had the privilege to be privy on most of Kirshlee’s builds over the years, and am constantly updated on the happenings at TMT Performance. If you’ve read me long enough, you’d know I often speak of cars that are “done right”, and it is difficult to explain what that means. In a world where social media likes and images seem to be the order of the day, it is great to see marvels of engineering like this. What the eyes see might be pretty, but the real appeal and beauty is beneath the surface, and in the headaches of passion, to produce a one of one unique ride. Would they do it all over again? Definitely not, but hey, I’m sure just looking at that R550 badge makes the team smile.