Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR – Launched in SA
GTI. Those 3 letters evoke both fear and reverence in the eyes of petrol heads and Midrand residents alike. Introduced by Volkswagen in 1975 on the Mark 1 Golf, the GTI model was the top of the range performance model, which effectively introduced the hot hatch segment. With the subsequent Mark 2 cementing the Golf GTI in the minds of petrol heads, the Mark 3 and 4 were rather disappointing sequels. The Mark 5, introduced in 2005, was the return to glory of the GTI. Who can forget the DSG gearbox optioned cars producing the now infamous DSG fart, or “vrr pha” on up-shifts. The Mark 6 and 7 were an evolution and improvement on the GTI, with the Edition 35, and Clubsport models proving to be very popular amongst petrol heads.
Volkswagen decided to send off the Mark 7.5 GTI with a second special edition in the Mark 7’s lifecycle, the GTI TCR. Following the template set by the GTI Clubsport and Clubsport S, VW have based their latest special edition car on their racing car that takes part in the Touring Car Racing series – hence the name. Volkswagen SA is bringing only 300 units into SA. Let’s break down what’s special about the TCR.
The GTI TCR uses the familiar EA888 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder turbo charged engine that has done duty in the GTI since the Mark 6. It produces 213kW and 380NM of torque sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG ‘box. For comparison’s sake, the standard GTI produces 162kW and 350NM of torque sent via a 6-speed DSG ‘box. The TCR will do 0-100kph in 5.6 seconds. (the normal GTI does it in 6.4 seconds, the R in 4.6) All this power will send the TCR on to a top speed of 264km/h.
Not only is the TCR faster than the standard GTI, it also handles better. The suspension sits lower and is firmer. The brakes offer more stopping power for exuberant driving. The electronic steering has been tuned to offer a more direct steering feel through the corners. Speaking of corners, with all that power, you’ll be pleased to know that the TCR comes with a recalibrated version of the GRI’s XDS front locking differential, which will allow you to put down all of those 213 kilowatts.
The interior of the TCR is similar to the GTI we reviewed last year, Changes that have been made are new alcantara and cloth sport seats, and a slightly different leather wrapped steering wheel, with a red 12’o clock marker. Other than that, the interior remains standard GTI. Good, but slightly dull compared to its competitors. However, it offers all the tech and connectivity you could ever want out of a car and all the systems are easy to use.
The TCR seems to be the perfect swansong for arguably one of if not the best iterations of the Golf GTI. Sadly, VWSA will only be bringing in 300 units of the TCR, which can be had for around R669 000. Is it worth it? Some may prefer the standard GTI as it offers all the performance you may need. Others may prefer the Golf R, as it adds 15kW more, and 4-wheel drive. But for the ultimate GTI fan? The TCR is for you.