Nice and almost very naughty.
The current range of Volkswagen’s ubiquitous Golf is designated as the Mk 7. The first, the Mk1, was introduced to the world in 1974. Blimey, that 45 years ago. That Guigiaro penned little car was surely the shape of things to come. Like a totes influencer of the day, no? By the start of 2020 the new Mk8 will have taken its introductory bow, so we must all agree that the Golf story is one off remarkable success all around the world. Does anyone even mention Dieselgate any more? This success is in part down to the vast range of engines and specifications in the Golf armoury. As I never tire of telling folk – there’s a Golf for just about everyone. My favourite amongst the current crop is the Type R – discreet, powerful and fast and blessed with all-wheel-drive. But my automotive ramblings for this month may usurp the R’s position in my heart.
Welcome to the VW Golf GTI TCR 2.0-litre TSI 290 PS 7 speed DSG five door – to give it its full moniker. Oh, a three door option is available. The TCR bit is a derived from Touring Car Racing, so in essence this is a gussied up GTI with the R’s power output but front-wheel-drive only. Am I boring you? You should spot the racy differences, especially if like mine, it’s been fitted with the full option pack, which includes (for £555) rather loutish honeycomb race car style decals on its flanks, a delete I think. But tick the 19 inch wheels box, simply because they look good. Top speed on the car here was “derestricted”, so its limited 155mph top speed was, erm, unlimited to 164mph. No big deal really and a lot of dosh for an extra nine mph. Ah, unless you’re a track day monster and need that extra top whack when belting down the Hangar Straight. The benchmark 0 – 62 (100kph) is rattled off in 5.6 seconds, making the TCR the quickest ever Golf in that department. That DSG paddle shifter really works, in case you were thinking you’d like a nice six-speed manual. Well, sorry. You can’t have one. Not an option.
I like this Golf rather a lot. Yes, it’s got big nostrils and fancy spitters front and rear but nothing too shouty like, say, a Honda Accord Type-R which is, frankly embarrassing to be seen in, unless you wear a tracksuit and a reversed baseball cap. Adjustable suspenders and performance levels can be dialled up to suit the mood or occasion and helps transform this racer into a civilised hatchback. Turn the sensible bits off and all the naughty bits on and boy, this is one quick touring machine…just like it says on the tin. And freed of the weight of all-wheel-drive, it’ll show the Golf R a clean pair of exhaust pipes. It corners very predictably and the chassis feels glued to the road. Overdo things into a corner and you will feel that inevitable front driven understeer, but you’ll have to be going some.
The Golf GTI TCR is very much a cake and eat it machine. It’ll pootle gently to the school gates and then, taking the long way home, it’ll put its hand down your trousers. All the practicality of a tame Golf and all the fun of a GTI with brass knobs on. This is an area where VW excels, and the TCR is a fine choice. Not as focused as, say, a hot Focus and some are faster. But they ain’t Volkswagens.
VW Golf GTI TCR – from £34,085.00
As driven here – £41,289.00