Launched - New Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen gti samen

Having been around since seemingly forever with more than 350,000 sold in South Africa since launch four decades ago, the latest Golf range continues to lead the pack in terms of exciting as well as affordable motoring.

Like a German aunt’s favourite **Apfelstrudel** recipe, the Golf, likewise, has the ability to disappear just as quickly once experienced.

Improvements are discreet and low key, and include a revised engine line-up, LED rear lights, redesigned bumpers (front and rear),  and more stylish headlamps, while the all-alloy wheels have been given a stylish makeover with customers being able to choose, depending on model, from 15 inch to 18 inch sets.

Build quality and road holding are still class-leading – as experienced on some of the Eastern Cape roads linking Port Elizabeth with Graaf-Reinet via Jansenville, a town known as the world headquarters of the mohair industry where the final products are as classy, smooth and luxurious and also desirable as the GTi which served as launch model for the event.

Emerging from Volkswagen factories around the globe for 43 years and now at an average rate of one every 40 seconds, the brand’s family favourite remains a popular choice in South Africa. With global sales now well in excess of 33 million, the updated version of the seventh generation Golf is once again redefining its market segment by bringing big car technology to the compact family car class.

Technical Innovations

The new Golf sparkles with technical innovations. For the first time in the compact class the new Discover Pro radio-navigation system can be operated via gesture control. Sporting a 9.2-inch touch screen, the optional system complements the Active Info Display.

Emergency Braking comes via the fact that the radar sensor in these systems is no longer visible in the cooling air intake on the bumper; rather it is now carefully hidden behind the VW badge in the radiator grille.

Engines, Transmissions and Running Gear

The superb 1.0 TSi has an output of 81 kW and is surprisingly potent for its size – doing the 0-100 km/h sprint in 9.9 seconds and running out of steam at 196 km/h. Remarkably, it claims fuel consumption figures of 4.9 litres/100 km on average – really stunning figures for a little 3-cylinder engine that drives through the front wheels (as most Golfs do) via a six speed manual gearbox.

 The 92 kW 1.4-litre TSI  has been retained, and completes the 0-100 km/h sprint in 9.1 seconds while reaching a top speed of 204 km/h.

The Big Daddy in the power department, the 2.0 TSI, makes an impressive 169 kW, and effortlessly enters sports car realm with sprint figures of 6.4 seconds, and a top speed limited to 248 km/h. The transmission is the brilliant DSG automatic, and Volkswagen claim fuel-sipping figures of 6.4 litres/100 km.

Active Info Display

In combination with the display of the radio or navigation system this creates a virtual, flexible human-machine interface (HMI) whose displays complement one another. Five different views are available for the 12.3-inch Active Info Display. The Golf’s Active Info Display is a fully digitalised instrument cluster with numerous interactive functions. All of the instruments are displayed virtually via software on the12.3-inch colour screen, and the navigation information can be displayed in 2D or 3D.

Data such as telephone contact images and CD covers can also be displayed in the Active Info Display. The graphics are customised according to the model. In the Golf GTI, for instance, GTI red is used as a contrasting colour. Volkswagen offers the Active Info Display as an optional extra for all versions of the Golf, excluding Trendline.

The entire Golf model range has a 5-year/90,000 km service plan, a 3-year/120,000 warranty, and service intervals at 15,000 kilometres.

Last Word

Any Volkswagen Golf, in this case the GTi, is always a pleasure to drive. Road holding is sublime, steering is well balanced and direct, controls are intuitive (the result of great interior design), and the entire model range is so well put together that it’s easy to understand why demand never seems to slack off with factories worldwide producing a Golf every 40 seconds. Fans of air-cooled Beetles wept when the Golf was introduced. Weep no more – the Golf is infinitely better without anyone having to suffer nostalgia withdrawal after all these years.