First drive review VW Golf GTI Performance: Northstar VW Brisbane – Ph 1300 684 782 to book your drive
Posted by Bob Aldons – Northstar Volkswagen
I’ve been a VW dealer for almost 4 years, but even I’m struggling to get the reason that Volkswagen trickle feed their products to us. Mark 7 Golf in April 2013, GTI in October and GTI performance edition not until 2014, let alone when the R will be revealed.
I can only put it down as the capacity of their PR team to extract the most space from the mass media – press, television, magazines, digital and not have to invest as much $$ (euro) to promote the vehicle at launch.
The standard version is good, but the gruntier, grippier GTI Performance is great.
We know what you're thinking: we've already tested the new Volkswagen Golf GTI ... so why are we driving it again?
That's because this is the GTI Performance model, a car that hot-hatch enthusiasts are certain to warm to more than the standard car. Not that it wasn't hot enough.
Some will be drawn by the fact the GTI Performance has more power. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 169kW of power and 350Nm; seven kilowatts more than the standard model due to a difference in engine tune.
It can get from 0-100km/h quicker, too, with a claimed time of 6.4 seconds - half a second faster than the outgoing model, and a fraction quicker than the 6.6s claim of the regular version. To put that into context against its rivals, it's faster than the Ford Focus ST and the Renault Megane RS265, but slower than the manic Opel Astra OPC.
However, the GTI Performance model isn't just about adding extra power. More importantly, it boosts the car's cornering poise, too, as we found out during a spirited drive in the Austrian alps over the weekend.
The electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential can put 100 per cent of the engine's torque to the outside wheel, and as a result it feels as though it's hemming you in to the corners. There's a tenacious amount of grip, too.
There is far less squirming from the front end under hard acceleration, and while the standard GTI does a great job of eliminating torque steer - where the steering wheel tugs about in your hands under throttle - the diff further lessens it, giving the driver a more honest feel for the road.
The power delivery feels more urgent, and it's backed up by the quicker sprint time over the standard car. However, there were a few instances that saw us wishing the engine would react more quickly with a small amount of turbo lag putting a very slight halt to our progress up some sections of the steep mountainside.
Our test car's dual-clutch transmission performed dutifully, with far less hesitation in stop-start traffic than we'd come to expect, and it got the gear changes right on almost every single occasion - shifting back a gear under braking prior to a corner, and holding on to the cog as it clambered up the hillside.
It may have been our imagination - or possibly the 2400m of altitude - but the Performance model also seemed to have a more aggressive chortle from under the bonnet and a slightly louder exhaust blurt from the back end.
The character of the car changes dramatically depending on which of the new "driver profile" settings is selected through the media system, with the steering, throttle response and gearshift calibration all changing depending on the mode.
The modes available are Sport, Normal, Eco and Individual - the latter of which allows you to change key items to suit your personal preferences. There's also a Comfort mode if the car is fitted with VW's adaptive chassis control suspension system.
Our drive up and down the Glossglockner range was spent mostly in Sport, which offers razor-sharp steering with ultra-quick turn-in response and virtually no evidence of understeer (where the nose of the car wants to keep pushing straight in a corner) and a ride that was surprisingly supple over surface inconsistencies yet firm enough to hold the car flat through the bends.
The Performance model's larger diameter brakes give the driver more confidence, too, and it pulls up very quickly when you press hard, but not in a grabby way.
It's not clear whether Volkswagen Australia will specify any trim changes inside the Golf GTI Performance, but the test car we drove had heated front sports seats, alcantara bolstered sections on the sides of the tartan-lined chairs and leather lining in the door trims. We would expect sat-nav and a reversing camera to be fitted as standard, too.
VW Australia wouldn't comment on what sort of price premium the Performance model will attract over the regular model. But we'd suggest it'll be about $2000 more than the standard GTI, which is expected to start at about $39,990 when it arrives later this year.
Our advice to the hardcore hot-hatch fans? Wait until the Performance model arrives in 2014.
You could say it's the real GTI.
If you want to experience Volkswagen in person, call into Northstar Volkswagen at 322 Anzac Avenue Kippa-Ring on the Redcliffe Peninsula. We're only 15 minutes or so from Brisbane Airport and a leisurely drive down the highway from Noosa, Bundaberg, Maryborough, and a short trip from Nambour, Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Bribie Island. We also get a lot of our customers as FIDO - that's not a dog by the way, that's fly in drive out. With cheap airfares, our customers come in from Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Mt Isa and even Sydney, Melbourne and as far away as Perth.
We'll happily arrange a drive home registration and you know the best thing about this? The drive home gives you just the best running in you'll ever get. New engines love a long drive to bed everything in and you'll get the best economy you've ever experienced. Alternatively if you're time or distance poor, check us out online at www.northstarvw.com.au or read more reviews at www.mycarreview.com.au . Finally, if you can't come to us, we'll come to your home, workplace or worksite - call Northstar on 1300 NTH STAR or 1300 684 782.