The first generation of the Wolfsburg-based carmaker Volkswagen Golf GTI has been around for 40 years and for that time, only 5 000 units were planned.
The 81kW strong and 182km/h fast Golf GTI won a new group of customers and founded the GTI class. I acutely fell in love with all the GTI models from the MK 1 to the present generation MK 7, everything is just right about these models.
Funny thing is that the engine of the first Golf GTI produced a faithful 81kW, but then again, the seventh generation Golf GTI sends 162kW to the front wheels – which is double the power of the first Golf…and to prove if the new GTI models including the new Clubsport tick all boxes of everyday use rather than unticking them, I put the Scirocco R, Polo GTI and the influential Golf R through their strides down to Mpumalanga, Machadodorp.
First drive of the day… Polo GTI
A minute into my first drive in the Polo GTI, it shocked me with its 141kW/ 320Nm of power sent to the front wheels that kept pushing me back in my seat as I hurtled from traffic light to traffic light through the streets of Sandton.
It being the smallest in the range, it came as a surprise to my fellow motoring journalists with their Golf GTI’s who might have undermined its capability of letting them eat the dust.
The Polo GTI can get you from zero to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds. You can choose between manual and automatic. I had the six-speed manual: the efficiency reading isn’t as good as the one you get from the optional DSG transmission.
Motorway driving was a blast: even in 6th, the supermini showed a need to just get up and go. Nobody was more surprised about it than I was as I hurtled up the rear carriages of the other Golf boys.
Retail Prices (VAT & CO2 emissions tax included)
1.8 TSI 141kW Manual R349 900
1.8 TSI 141kW DSG R365 900
The Polo GTI comes standard with a 3 year/45 000km service plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.
Second drive… New Golf GTI Clubsport ‘Fastest GTI since GTI’
Things got better and better as I arrived in Bronkhorstspruit for a vehicle change. This time around it was the seamless time to put the new GTI Clubsport that hit our shores a few weekends ago through its paces down to Machadodorp in Mpumalanga.
What stunned me was not the way this model hurtled from a stop, but how easy it was to drive. Looking under its bonnet, you get the same engine that powers the normal Golf 7 GTI, however, engineers working under the hood fiddled with its engine to give it more grunt.
The Clubsport now churns power of 195kW (26kW more than the currently most powerful Golf GTI Performance Pack), giving you a sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds before hitting an electronically limited top speed of 249km/h.
To get the upmost feel of the Clubsport meant adhering strictly to recommended speeds on the N4, and besides that a little respect for this monster was needed. It surely took care of the road like an AWD car.
With serious pulling power in all six gears, it displayed the trademark swift style that encouraged a determined enthusiasm behind the wheel. Enhanced sound dampening techniques made the Clubsport extremely quiet in most situations, while an aggressive tap on the accelerator allowed the engine to truly raise its voice and we loved the tunes produced by the twofold breathers at the back. The steering wheel felt well-weighted and not overly-assisted as some of its rivals.
As much as this is a limited-edition car, Volkswagen only asks R541 520 for it.
Third drive… Scirocco R
Arriving at Nkomati Mine through the curvy Slaaihoek road and given a chance to drive up and down the Slaaihoek road, I decided to take the Scirocco R sideways.
For a minute, you may think this car boasts the same motor that you get from its big brother, the Golf R because of its ‘R’ designation repeated twice on it. Under the hood of the Scirocco you find the same engine that lurks under the GTI, however, this one has been perfectly tuned to produce 188kW of power to the front wheels, good for a 5.9 seconds sprint to 100km/h.
Driving up and down the Slaaihoek road, the Scirocco delivers much in efficiency and sensibility and the fruity noise of a turbo-four roused sensations to the drive. However, it tussled a bit with handling bends.
The ride is exceptional, even over nasty, aggressive surfaces. It remains settled, the dampers soaking up all the bumps with impressive comfort.
Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)
2.0 TSI 132kW Highline Manual R412 400
2.0 TSI 162kW GTS DSG R489 500
2.0 TSI 188kW R DSG R546 100
The Scirocco comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km service plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.
Fourth drive… Golf 7 R
One thing that made me really happy with the Golf R is its four-wheel-drive system, but I was fairly disappointed when it failed to keep up with the Clubsport around the bends.
My car test was equipped with a DSG transmission that sends power to all four wheels, giving you a sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.0 seconds. Like all previous Golf R models, the new model also transfers its turbocharged engine power to the road via a permanent all-wheel drive system. In this case, it is the latest version of the 4MOTION system with a fifth-generation Haldex coupling.
The driving position is spot-on, and the front seats supportive and comfy enough to create the right balance of a sporty, premium hatch. Pushing the 206kW derivative on bumpy road surfaces, it proved less of a handful as expected, with a fair bit of arm twirling required sometimes at roundabouts.
It’s a lot of fun though, and we feel that with a 4Matic four-wheel drive system is much better than the front-wheel-drive. It’s bit weighty though, but not entirely handicapped and the thickness suits its applications of a cruiser, but not toughie.
Prices (VAT and emissions tax included)
2.0 TSI 206 kW Manual R575 800
2.0 TSI 206 kW DSG R591 800
The new Golf R comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.
What I choose…
Of course the Clubsport! Out of all the models that I have driven, the Clubsport is the most entertaining. Its 195kW is used effectively to create the sports car ethos of the range. It’s on point, its exhaust and engine acoustics emitted through the special double exhaust system adding to the pleasantries of its drive.
Dial in sharper drive modes and the throttle responses and shift points sharpen. The steering also tightens for better feel when on the attack.
Yet in all of its available driving modes it remains sophisticated, its dampens successfully kneading broken surfaces, which were in good supply.