Volkswagen Magazine

Golf GTI

Southern star.

Could the Apple Isle be home to Australia’s best driving roads?

In the latest Golf GTI, the answer is unequivocal.

Text Ben Smithurst
Photos Chris Benny Imaging

To a motoring engineer, few gigs scream ‘dream job’ like the chance to create the GTI version of a new-generation Golf. A true global icon with more than 30 million sold, the Golf has been the world’s bestselling car since its launch in 1974. A designer chosen to work on the hot hatch would feel as though all of their Christmases have come at once.

 

Until it struck them. Not the GTI, obviously. The pressure. It’s a sort of Mission: Impossible, but with less Tom Cruise and more Germans.
 

Make no mistake: The entry-spec seventh generation Golf, which went on sale in April last year, is a pure belter. Its predecessor, the Mk6, debuted at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and promptly won the 2009 World Car of the Year … and then spawned a barnstorming GTI version so hot that you almost needed asbestos gloves to drive it. The seventhgeneration Golf of 2013 has not only won European Car of the Year but also taken out World Car of the Year. Again.

18-inch

new Austin alloy wheels provide a hint of the GTI‘s potent red brake calipers.

So it’s all well and good to covet a job working on the GTI. It’s just that with the base Golf this good—and this universally acclaimed—where do you go? Where do you go to create a car that’s brilliant day-to-day and blisteringly capable on a racetrack? One that’s deserving of the iconic GTI badge?


I’m considering this at the beginning of a circuitous route from Launceston to Hobart. Tasmania is blessed with Australia’s best roads—a grab bag of twisty tarmac, mountain passes and sweeping bends—and we’re moving serenely on a bright morning towards part of the Targa Tasmania course. The sky is so clear it’s hardly even blue.


Immediately apparent as we boot it up St Marys Pass is the Mk7 GTI’s step up in power and torque. While the latest Golf acquits itself splendidly with up to 103kW and 250Nm from its new 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, the 2.0-litre turbo GTI generates a furious 162kW and 350Nm. That’s a shade up in power (7kW) over the Mk6 GTI, but a whopping 70Nm bump in torque. And it means just 6.5 seconds from 0–100km/h, a reduction from 7.6 seconds in the last model.

punch the gas and the Golf GTI reacts immediately. It‘s accompanied sonically by a bark that‘s dropped half an octave.

‘Clark’ tartan cloth trim comes as standard, or you can opt for leather-appointed seats.

The GTI’s freshly introduced electromechanical steering has a variable ratio input that increases the turning angle of the front wheels when you rotate the steering wheel past 60 degrees. That sounds complicated, and it probably is … to those engineers. But in the driver’s seat it’s immediately intuitive and a great step up. Bobbing through deep, looping esses in Targa country, the driver’s wrists and ankles are a choreographed symphony of fun. The steering wheel is now less chunky and easier to grip; the unobtrusive paddles for the 6-speed double-clutch DSG GTI are cool and non-intrusive at the fingertips. Peak torque delivering the goods all the way from 1500 to 4400rpm means moxie on tap. That generous band hunkers, ever present, beneath the right pedal, pre-spooled like the Tassie devil of Looney Tunes fame. Punch the gas and it reacts immediately, turbo lag negligible.
It’s visceral and satisfying, accompanied sonically by a bark that’s dropped half an octave.

Binalong Bay, it turns out, is set against a whitesand beach so picturesque you’re tempted to try flipping it over to see if you’re on a postcard. Nudging the standard adaptive dampers back from ‘Sport’ to ‘Comfort’, we emerge from the hills and drop smoothly towards the seaside on the also-standard 18-inch alloys. After Binalong, we head to Bicheno for lunch, and then Hobart. I’m behind the wheel of the manual, a $2500 snip below the 6-speed double-clutch DSG GTI. If the auto is merely excellent, then the manual
is superb, from its cute golf ball-dimpled gear level to its precise, no-nonsense shift action between cogs. The Pacific is vast and still at my left shoulder, nowstandardissue sat nav directing me south.

Visitors to Australia rave at the emptiness of the Outback, but in pure driving terms the Red Centre’s charms are overrated. Even wide, smooth, immaculate roads aren’t a lot of fun when the next turn is 96 brown, featureless kilometres away … and you’ve only a trillion flies for company. Heading out there expecting any sort of driving pleasure is an opportunity lost.

Tasmania is a driving opportunity seized. drive it in a Golf GTI and you‘ll have the time of your life.

Tasmania, on the other hand, has almost the same shock of the uninhabited, but it’s better. Rolling hills separated from stunning bays by nothing more than the twisting strip of tarmac you’re on. ‘Why are there no houses here?’ you think, faced with one undeveloped, uninterrupted million-dollar view after another. ‘Or here? Or here?

 

Or here?’ Tasmania is a driving opportunity seized. The scenery is magnificent. The roads are perfect. Drive it in a Golf and you’ll have a ball. Drive it in a Golf GTI and you’ll have the time of your life. The GTI might have felt like an engineering Mission: Impossible, but here on the Apple Isle it’s a mission accomplished.

The Golf GTI‘s looks are every bit a match for its sporty performance.

the legend begins

‘GTI’—standing for Grand Tourer Injection (from the Italian Gran Turismo Iniezione)— is today shorthand for standard-bearing hot hatch performance. But prior to the first Golf GTI‘s debut in 1975 the term had barely been heard. That was when the prototype Mk1, begun in 1973 as a secret project conceived by Volkswagen test engineer Alfons Löwenberg, was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Based on the the legend begins first-generation Golf from 1974, but with upgraded components appropriated from the Wolfsburg parts bin, the first Golf GTI boasted a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that pumped out a whopping 81kW—a veritable earthquake by mid-70s standards. The GTI‘s initial production run of just 5000 cars was snapped up within 12 months. About 1.9 million Golf GTIs have been sold globally in the years since.

model: Golf Mk7 GTI
engine: 2.0-litre TSI with BlueMotion technology
transmission: 6-speed manual and 6-speed DSG
max. power: 162kW
max. torque: 350Nm

0–100km/h, seconds: 6.5
weights Tare Mass, kg: 6 Speed Manual 1313, 6 Speed DSG 1324

Filming something on the move takes an extra steady hand, so to make sure we caught every angle in our latest Golf GTI commercial, we had to use something called a Safari Arm.

When you’re filming the latest in automotive technology, you need the greatest in camera technology to do it justice. Check out this short piece on the K1 Rig, the camera behind these awesome eye-of-god top down shots.

What has eight arms, four legs, one eye and flies by remote at 400 feet? It’s called the Octocopter, and it’s just one part of the technology we used to film our upcoming Golf GTI TV commercial.

... and here it is!

disclaimer.

Cars and accessories shown may be overseas models and may not be available in Australia. Please contact your local Volkswagen Dealer or visit www.volkswagen.com.au for local specifications. All information in this publication is correct at the time of publication, however variations may occur from time to time and Volkswagen Group Australia, in so far as it is permitted by law to do so, shall not be liable in any way as a result of any reliance by any person on anything contained in this publication.