GTi TCR is a very potent front-wheel drive VW Golf

VW has surprised all by announcing that it will sell a very limited number of exclusive Golf GTi TCR models into the local market next year.

For months VWSA has been denying that his high-performance Golf derivative would reach local shores. But at the South African Festival of Motoring, it confirmed that market conditions and local demand have altered its strategy and created a business case for this super Golf.

Since its debut in the late 1970s, VW’s Golf GTi has been the standard by which all other hot hatches are evaluated.

Over the decades it has evolved into a tremendously accomplished family performance car and broadened in appeal, with the likes GolfR.

Although VW has not confirmed exact pricing for the TCR, it has committed to not breaking the R700 000 ceiling, which means that this hot Golf sits in a curious relationship with the GolfR.

Priced at R681 000, the GolfR is VW’s most potent South African market vehicle option, with a 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine boosting 228kW.

With the benefit of all-wheel drive, it runs 0-100kph in 4.6 seconds. The only issue with it, is that VW is tapering production of the current GolfR – which means that global inventory is rapidly evaporating as cars are delivered to customers.

Keeping fast VWs relevant until Golf8 arrives

VW’s GTi TCR is to ensure that the brand has a peak performance model in this post-GolfR period, and before the new Golf8 range is launched – due later next year.

Specification shadows the GolfR, with a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 213kW. The most significant change with TCR, compared to GolfR, is that is remains front-wheel drive, like all other GTi models.

Without the benefit of GolfR’s all-wheel drive traction, TCR is slightly slower in the benchmark 0-100kph sprint (at 5.6 seconds). For those GTi purists who prefer the car’s front-wheel drive handling characteristics, it will offer a compelling powerful swansong to the current range of high-performance Golfs.

Distinguishing the GTi TCR are design details such as the darkened 18-inch wheels, black front splitter and roof spoiler. In case you forget what it is, there are also TCR decals on the rear doors.

The most curious aspect of this TCR Golf is that it only manages to be marginally faster than the standard GTi, despite having quite a lot more power (169kW versus 213kW). Both vehicles run the same seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and yet the TCR is only nine tenths of second quicker in the 0-100kph sprint, although it has 26% more power.

VW will limit ownership of the new GTi TCR to only 300 customers for next year, which means that these Golfs should retain their value strongly over time.

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