2012 VW Golf R Mk6

XPEL ULTIMATE REVIEW: PAINT PROTECTION AT ITS BEST

We live by the words, “You gotta drive ’em” but we have to be prepared to take whatever the open road throws at us. And all us of know there is always the risk of damage every time we lay rubber to the asphalt. Are you one of those owners that cringe anytime you hear something ricochet off the windshield or get a little depressed looking at the front end that’s been peppered by debris, gravel, and UFOs (unidentified flying odds and ends) littering the roadway? Fortunately, there are paint protection films (PPF), commonly referred to as clear bras, that can keep your car looking showroom fresh even after driving thousands of miles.

For this review, a Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R was purchased from an owner who took great pride in her car. After 28,000 miles and more than four years of driving between Pennsylvania and New York, the front end was heavily weathered and had also picked up a nasty scratch on the hood. So the original owner had the front bumper and hood repainted, making the German autobahn sled look almost new again.

2012 VW Golf R front end protected by xpel ultimate

The hood, front bumper and aero slats of the grille are covered in XPEL ULTIMATE PPF. The clarity of the polyurethane film allows the depth and detail of the paint job to shine through.

After we took ownership of the feisty little hot hatch and saw the excellent condition of the front end, an appointment was set up with Elite Auto Films to get the car wrapped and protected using XPEL ULTIMATE paint protection film. The thinking was to try and prevent future damage – from nasty rock chips, scratches, and other unimaginable pieces of flying shrapnel – to a minimum.

Why Choose XPEL

According to Elite Auto Films, which also uses 3M PremiumShield Elite and Suntek PPF C, XPEL ULTIIMATE offers the best paint protection.

When taking a close look at each product, it became apparent that each brand differs in thickness, healing properties, flexibility, and warranty.

We liked the ULTIMATE clear bra because if its 8.5 mil thickness, the ability to erase minor scratches with the application of a little heat, and the 10-year warranty that covers cracking, peeling, staining, and hazing. It also has the following properties, which make it a great choice for protecting your prized vehicle.

  • Nearly invisible protection from damage caused by flying rocks, salt, insects, bird droppings, and other small road debris that can mar the paint surface.
  • XPEL ULTIMATE has a proprietary, self-healing top coat that is scratch and crack resistant. It also means that swirl marks and other fine scratches can be erased.
  • No UV coating, which means it won’t fade or yellow over time. Plus, the paint underneath will visibly age at the same rate as panels not covered by XPEL ULTIMATE.
  • Excellent (optical) clarity from any angle
  • XPEL offers a large range of computer designed, precision-cut patterns that fit most modern cars. If a pattern does not exist, the PPF can be custom fitted to any vehicle.

A clear bra offers near invisible paint protection. For car owners who are particular about details, look for an install shop that has experience doing a custom wrap. It requires more skill and experience to apply a custom wrap of PPF but the edges of the film aren’t visible because they are tucked into the seams out of sight. This makes the polyurethane film is virtually undetectable to a casual observer. We had to use our fingers to feel the edge of the film to confirm where the PFF was applied.

A custom wrap of the Golf included everything from the A-pillar forward. The hood, front fenders, mirror caps, front bumper, headlights, and even the aero slats on the front grille were covered in XPEL ULTIIMATE. Be prepared to be without your vehicle for a couple of days. Elite Auto Films likes to use the second day to correct any lifting and peeling that might occur. A follow-up appointment a couple weeks later is recommended to take care of any tiny imperfections that may appear after the film has time to fully cure.

Don’t be concerned about damage or discoloration to the paint after years of use. XPEL claims the film can be removed easily without harming the paint underneath. Since there is no UV coating, the painted panels that were protected should fade at the same rate as the uncovered panels.

The Mk6 Golf R  does have a well thought-out list of modifications lined up and we consider XPEL’s paint protection film as one of the most important and valuable aftermarket mods for helping the car retain its clean appearance and making it look almost new. The Golf was wrapped a few months ago and has survived the 60-mile daily commute without sustaining any new rock chips. We’ll write up a follow-up report the end of year describing how the front end is holding up and if we ran into any issues.

About XPEL paint protection films:

ULTIMATE is highly durable and has a clarity that few protection films can match. Which means it will keep your car looking good year after year. It has the ability to shed contaminants that could possibly stain or yellow lesser quality paint protection films. Additionally, the clear coat has a special elastomeric polymer that heals over time or with the application of low heat. Thus, fine scratches and swirl marks that normally become etched into a paint’s lifetime eventually disappear.

STEALTH protection film was specifically created for matte paint schemes. It has a satin texture that blends perfectly with matte paint finishes. It carries the same protective properties as ULTIMATE.

ARMOR protection film is ruggedized for off-road, commercial and industrial vehicles. It has 13 mils (.013-inches) of protection against gravel and rock chips.

TRACWRAP is meant to be a temporary protection film for short-term use. It provides better protection than blue masking tape or messy spray-on products against rock chips, bug splatter, and bird droppings. Perfect for protecting a show car that is driven to the event, temporary protection on a track day, or just taking a road trip, the product is available in an affordable and easy-to-install package.

XTREME is the closest you can get without going “naked.” XPEL’s clearest and thinnest protective film, XTREME, offers the peace of mind that comes from a protective barrier that safeguards against environmental pollutants and road debris in an invisible package. This is the choice for showing off the classic curves and hand-painted custom designs on custom and vintage cars.

Contributing Author at Fuel Curve

Before becoming an automotive journalist, Derek was diving into engine bays and wiring car audio systems for competitions since high school. Granted, there were a few leftover pieces after reassembling everything but nothing ever fell apart on the road. Today Derek applies his enthusiasm and gearhead knowledge into the latest cars, unraveling today's complex automotive technology, and learning the rich history behind classic cars.

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