Say the words ‘GTi’ and you can only be talking about the box-shaped hatch that passed me on the approach to a set of bends north of Dublin in 1976. Like all, I’d never seen performance like this before – I had just witnessed the birth of the legend that is the Golf GTi.
Even today that original Giugiaro-styled 1.6 litre GTi would be a smiler, a car that would endear you to its cheeky charms. Flick the calendar forwards and VW technology now provides us with the latest descendent to that original, the Golf GTI TCR.
While I thought the 108bhp was eye-watering in 1976, this latest GTi has 290bhp and feeds its power to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG). It also comes with a petrol particulate filter and exclusive equipment as standard. Price for the car in Ireland is €47,495 in either 3-door or 5- door body styles. Only 20 examples will be sold to Irish customers.
This new Golf GTI TCR was derived from the racing car of the same name – the two-time overall winner of the international TCR racing series. It is more powerful than the 245bhp Golf GTI Performance, with its 2.0 litre petrol-turbo producing 290bhp, and features technology such as Front Assist, Active Info Display and LED headlights.
Standard equipment includes:
The new Golf GTI TCR is also distinguished by the standard 18-inch Belvedere forged wheels (or 18-inch Milton Keynes alloy wheels, as an alternative), black exterior mirror caps, sill extensions, front splitter, TCR roof spoiler and a diffuser at the rear.
Customised options for the GTI TCR such as a new honeycomb decor foil for the side sections, exterior mirror caps in carbon look, a black painted roof and two wheel packages to choose from.
The first wheel package comes at a price of €2,895, which includes 19-inch Reifnitz wheels, adaptive chassis control DCC, including lowering by 20 mm compared to the standard running gear (five millimetres less as compared to the GTI running gear) and a special, sporty tuning of the front and rear axle shock absorbers.
The second wheel package costs €3,895 and is tailored especially for the racetrack: Compared to the first wheel package, the distinguishing feature here is the set of 19-inch Pretoria rims with semi-slicks. Deliveries are expected to commence in March.
Tony Toner is a member of the Association of Professional Motoring Press and a voting juror on Irish Car & Irish Van of the Year.