Power is now 220bhp. That’s but a small hike on paper, but fret not. It’s lighter than the old GTI by 90kg, and lower in drag. And it’s had a mid-rev torque boost of 25 percent, to match the old Golf R. The claim is 0-62 in 6.6 seconds and 153mph. Not a slug.
But if it isn’t enough, there’s a ‘performance pack’ to take it to 230bhp. Crucially the pack comes with an e-diff. This gives proper torque vectoring rather than the more common brake-actuated substitute. It also has bigger front brakes. VW’s engineering boss Ulrich Hackenberg told us “It’s the car I wanted. And the traction in tight bends is great. It’s made for English roads.”
The performance pack shaves 0.1 seconds off the 0-62 and adds 2mph to the top speed. Unless you’re an instrumented test dummy you wouldn’t notice. But the diff and the brakes add to its draw. And the bragging rights make it essential. To be in a German car that can do 155mph just, y’know, matters.
Elswehere, it’s all you’d hope for in a GTI. Supportive tartan seats, red stripes, LED tail-lamps and a golf-ball gearknob. Other hot hatches can have the first three. Only THE hot hatch can have that gearknob.
Strangely at the Paris Show, VW had to label it the Golf GTI concept. Despite there being five examples on the stand, in different colours, three and five doors, DSG and manual, and a choice of alloys. But an arcane rule says that if the showroom debut is more than a certain time away, it has to be called a concept. Well, it goes on sale after the Geneva show next spring. Buy it in the UK from summer next year.
Words: Paul Horrell