Volkswagen's new 'Performance' GTI model lives up to its name with 230PS, a limited-slip differential and a rear diffuser for increased handling and agility as well as straight-line speed.
In 1976, when Volkswagen launched the first generation Golf GTI, it created a new car segment, the Hot Hatch -- a vehicle that was equally at home on a supermarket parking lot and a race track and one that was very quickly aped by all of Europe's leading manufacturers from Ford to Fiat to Alfa Romeo, Renault and Peugeot. Nearly 40 years on, the demand for hot hatches, and, with it, car companies' attempts to one-up each other in terms of features and performance, shows no signs of abating. Therefore the latest Golf to carry the GTI badge not only has a lot to live up to, it has to offer something special to get noticed in an increasingly crowded market.
In terms of looks alone, the Golf's styling is subtle yet powerful, with no huge ‘whale tail' spoilers or attention-grabbing decals. The only clues to its power are colored brake calipers, 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch alloys in the UK, where the hot hatch market is at its most competitive), chromed twin exhausts and a red outline around the front radiator grille -- a feature of all GTIs since 1976.
Inside, there is a return to the classic tartan upholstery on the sports seats that was synonymous with the Mark I and Mark II GTIs and a six-speed manual gearbox with stainless steel gear knob to squeeze every ounce of power from the engine.
The ‘Performance' model offers 230PS from its 2-litre turbocharged engine, good for a 0-62 mph (0-100km) time of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph (250 km/h). The standard GTI offers 220PS and a top speed of 152mph (245km/h).
The car will make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show on March 7 but will be available for pre-order from March 5 in Germany where on-the-road prices are expected to start at €28,350. The car will be available to order in the UK from March 26 with first deliveries expected to start in June.