Monday, September 2, 2013

Generation Game: Volkswagen Golf GTI

The production version of the Mk7 Golf GTI will make its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. With more power and torque as well as a better handling chassis and a DSG gearbox, the newest GTI will undoubtedly carry on Volkswagen's proud 'hot hatch' heritage, but with nearly 40-years of history behind it, there's more than enough material to see how the Golf GTI has developed over the years.

Volkswagen launched the original Golf in 1974, while it was still riding high on the flower-power Beetle. The Giorgetto Giugiario penned lines, crisp handling and reliability were perfect for the era but the Golf really took off with the introduction of the GTI in 1975. Armed with a fuel-injected 110bhp 1.6-litre engine, 810kg kerb weight and a chassis to match, it offered performance and practicality in one package that was also affordable to many. The first real 'hot hatch' the Mk1 GTI received a 1.8-litre engine in 1982 along with new quad headlamps. By the time production ended for the Mk1, Volkswagen had successfully made the transition to mainstream car production.

The first Golf was a worldwide hit so expectations were high when Volkswagen started selling the Mk2 version of the car in 1984. It collected an impressive array of awards and again, there was a GTI version too. The original one used the 110bhp 1.8-litre motor from the old car but in 1986, Volkswagen introduced the Golf GTI 16V. As the name suggests, it used a 16-valve version of the 1.8-litre with 138bhp and though the kerb weight had crept up to 910kg, it was still one of the best cars in the 'hot hatch' class. There were also several special models like the GTI G60, Rallye Golf and the Golf Limited but the real GTI cars were the 8V and 16V models. 

When the Mk3 Golf was launched in November 1991, it had earned a reputation for not only being reliable and practical but also offering levels of build that were far higher than its rivals. The GTI however had somehow fallen down the priority scale as rocketing insurance costs, especially in the UK market, made them very expensive to own. Nevertheless, there was a Mk3 GTI, which used a 2.0-litre 16V engine (a development of the old 1.8-litre 16V) with a healthy 148bhp on tap. Thus equipped, the Golf GTI Mk3 was a genuine 215km/h top speed car but it was also no longer the ultimate performance golf. That title now belonged to the Golf VR6, which used a 2.8-litre narrow-angle V6 engine. 

The ultimate emancipation of the Golf GTI happened with the Mk4 version of the car, which was built from 1997-2004. With the introduction of the VR6, V5 and later the R32 model, the GTI was no longer the performance Golf it was supposed to be. There was more than one engine to choose from as early versions used a turbocharged and non-turbocharged version of the Audi A4 1.8-litre engine with 125bhp and 150bhp. In 1999 they even introduced an anaemic 115bhp 2.0-litre 8V motor, which is probably the worse Golf GTI ever. Redemption came in the form of the 180bhp 1.8-litre turbo Golf GTI, but with the introduction of the 237bhp Golf R32, it was clear the GTI would remain as the second tier of performance Golf variants. 

Galloping into European showrooms in 2003, the Mk5 Golf shocked the car world with an unheard of level of quality. It was costly to build with independent rear suspension and a rumoured 50-hour build time but it was also miles ahead of the competition. The Mk5 GTI went on sale in late 2004 and used a 2.0TFSI motor with 197bhp. It also used a six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox, which set it apart from its manual-only competitors. This model really re-established the GTI name and while there was an even faster R32 model in the range, the GTI was once again the best combination of real-world performance, cost and practicality for the Golf range. 

Critics often refer to the Mk6 Golf as the Mk5.5 as it featured a lot of carry over components. A refinement of the direction taken with the Mk5 Golf it had the same premium quality concept as its predecessor. Diesel engines and fuel efficiency had overtaken performance as the main priority but there was still a potent GTI. Using the EA888 2.0-litre TFSI engine with 210bhp and a 6-speed DSG gearbox, it now offered genuine junior GT car performance with everyday practicality. The ultimate performance model was the Golf R, which used a tuned turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. It's armed with 252bhp and comes with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which helps differentiate it from the already potent GTI. 

Source :

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...