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OK, I don't know a whole lot about wheels, except that I want to get my 15's off my B5.5 and go to something a bit larger. I like the look of the larger wheels, but I'm under the impression there something of a performance difference as well.

Can someone fill me in on just how different 18's would perform vs 17's (with similar tires on each), and why this would be the case?

thx!
 

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18's will be a bit more harsh. The more you reduce sidewall and the "thinner" the tire gets, the more you feel the road. Weather or not it is too harsh is up to you and what you can tolerate. Provided the outside tire diameter stays the same your speedometer reading should still be accurate. The larger you go, generally, the wider the tire gets, so expect some lowered gas mileage from increased rolling resistance and from the weight of the wheel, as it will most likely be heavier than stock.
 

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Here's my assessment:

18s

Pros:
- more rubber on pavement means potential for more grip
- killer looks
- more room for bigger brakes
Cons:
- may be heavier therefore does not help performance
- less sidewall means firmer ride and less confortable if roads are lousy
- tires more expensive

17s

Pros:
- more comfy than 18s
- lighter weight means better performance
- still looks great on a B5
- tires are cheaper

Cons:
- less rubber on pavement therefore less grip than 18s

BTW, I run 17s on my B5 Passat and Mk4 GTI and Montreal roads suck so I'm a bit biased.
 

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Here's my assessment:

18s

Pros:
- more rubber on pavement means potential for more grip
...

17s
...
Cons:
- less rubber on pavement therefore less grip than 18s

...
Not to pick "nits" but since when did wheel diameter have any direct correllation to tire width? Just because wheel or tire diameter changes doesn't mean that there is appreciable change in amount of rubber that touches the road.
 

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Not to pick "nits" but since when did wheel diameter have any direct correllation to tire width? Just because wheel or tire diameter changes doesn't mean that there is appreciable change in amount of rubber that touches the road.
That's true - although generally speaking most wheels do get proportionally wider as the wheel diameter goes up. For example, 18x8 or 18x8.5 is common for 18 inch wheels while 17x7 or 17x7.5 is more the norm. Logically as wheel widths increase, wider tires match up better.
 

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That's true - although generally speaking most wheels do get proportionally wider as the wheel diameter goes up. For example, 18x8 or 18x8.5 is common for 18 inch wheels while 17x7 or 17x7.5 is more the norm. Logically as wheel widths increase, wider tires match up better.
Well put, sir. :thumbup:
 

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Actually, what is the width of the stock steel wheels on a B5? I'm stuck with these for the time being, and I've got my eye on a set ot 17x7.5's, but I have no idea if 7.5" is actually any wider than the stock rim.
 

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Stock alloys for the B5 were 15x7. I think the steel wheels may be a 15x6.5 but I am not sure.

As for performance, just invest in good tires. Anything above 17" is more for show (or larger brakes).
 
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