Supermarket EV charge points DOUBLE in two years

Electric car owners can charge for FREE at Tesco

The number of electric vehicle charge points at supermarkets has doubled in the last two years.

An impressive 6.5 percent of all UK public charge points are now located at supermarkets.

This is according to data released by Zap-Map and the RAC.

The figures show there were 1,115 supermarket charging points at the end of December 2019. That’s more than double the number at the end of October 2017 (542 charge points).

In total, there are 608 UK supermarkets with charging facilities – around five percent of all supermarkets.

Charging at a supermarket makes sense. Customers spend 45 minutes in store, which is enough time to top up an electric car, especially using a rapid charger.

Supermarket charging table

Supermarket Charging points (Dec 2019)
1. Tesco 281
2. Asda 228
3. Morrisons 143
4. Co-op 88
5. Lidl 76
6. Aldi 72
7. Sainsbury’s 27

This table shows only half the story, because while Tesco has added 258 charging points since October 2017, Asda has installed just eight. This puts Asda on the back foot, especially considering Morrisons has added 83, Co-op 68, Lidl 48 and Aldi 40.

As for rapid charging points, Morrisons has 84, which accounts for 59 percent of its total number. Conversely, Asda and Tesco have just one and two rapid chargers respectively.

‘Graze energy while doing an everyday task’

Melanie Shufflebotham, co-founder of Zap-Map, said: “It is very encouraging to see supermarkets increasingly embracing electric vehicle charging at their stores with a dramatic shift in the number of chargers being installed over the course of the last two years.

“Our research shows that while the majority of charging is done at home, most EV drivers use the public network more than once a month. While a robust rapid infrastructure across the country is essential for longer journeys, having charge points in supermarkets provides EV drivers an excellent way to ‘graze‘ energy while doing an everyday task.

“With 89 percent of EV drivers taking the availability of charge points into account when selecting their parking, providing charging can be a real differentiator locally in the competitive supermarket sector. This seems to be recognised by some supermarkets, notably Tesco and Sainsbury’s, providing EV charging for free.”

Supermarkets dominate fuel retailing 

Volkswagen ID.3 at Tesco

RAC spokesman Simon Williams added: “It is extremely positive to see the supermarkets making it easy for drivers to go electric. Having more chargers that are readily available will help to speed up the transition from petrol and diesel cars to electric ones.

“We have always said that it makes sense for people to be able to charge at supermarkets because anyone doing a full shop will inevitably spend 45 minutes in store. The UK’s big four supermarkets currently dominate fuel retailing, so it will be very interesting to see if a similar battle will develop in EV charging.

“At the moment the emphasis seems to be very much on installing any form of charge point. It is our belief that as the EV market matures there will be less need for slower chargers and a greater need for higher-power ones.

“The introduction of more rapid chargers at supermarkets may even stimulate take-up now as it would make EVs viable for those who cannot charge at home because of where they live. 

“Very positively, new car sales figures reveal that three times as many BEVs were registered in January 2020 as were in January 2019.”

A ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars could be brought forward to 2035. The government has launched a consultation on the plans, which will remain open until the end of May 2020.

This modified RWB Porsche 911 is an extreme machine up for sale

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

The all-new Volkswagen Golf GTI might feature hints of tartan on the inside, but that is nothing compared to the interior of this modified Porsche 911. 

But this is not just any German sports car, but one that has been specially modified by Japanese tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff (RWB). 

From the exterior made to look like an original Carrera RS, to the upgraded engine and wide wheels, nothing has been left untouched

Rough World Concept

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

Currently available for auction on Bring a Trailer, this car began life as a regular 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera coupe. The car lived in Texas and California, before the RWB conversion in 2015.

Founded in Japan, Rauh-Welt Begriff creates bespoke 911s for customers across the globe. Founder Akira Nakai travels the world to fit the bodywork to each custom car the company builds, giving each a unique touch. 

Translated as ‘Rough World Concept’, RWB typically takes inspiration from Porsche GT race cars from the 1990s. However, this one has been inspired to look like the desirable Carrera RS from the 1970s. 

Backdated and widened

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

Before the RWB conversion, the Porsche was repainted in Light Yellow. The sunroof was removed, the fuel filler was moved to inside the front trunk, whilst the passenger-side mirror and windshield wiper were also chopped. 

The widebody RWB kit added new bumpers, a lengthened hood, and a rear engine cover with a ‘ducktail’ spoiler. Carrera decals were added to the side, along with a RAUH-Welt graphics on the windshield and spoiler.  

Drilled door handles, European-spec lights, and new chrome trim were also included.

Lower and more powerful

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

To ensure the 911 sits right, a set of three-way adjustable Moton coilovers were installed, with 17-inch Fuchs-style alloy wheels. Brake calipers and rotors were all replaced in 2018.

The air-cooled 3.2-liter flat-six engine has also been enhanced, with Jenvey individual throttle bodies fitted. A new ECU was installed to control it, whilst a Fabspeed catalytic bypass is mated to a dual-exit exhaust.

Although performance figures are not quoted, the work should mean this Porsche produces more than the 217 horsepower if originally left the factory with.

Not so mellow yellow

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

A five-speed manual transmission is controlled by a shifter topped by a Porsche 917-inspired wooden shift knob. It is one of the subtler parts of the interior, which is finished in a dramatic yellow tartan upholstery. 

The incredible yellow material covers the inserts for the sport seats, door cards, dashboard, and the storage bins replacing the rear seats. It makes for a bold statement, but one that works with the overall image of the car. 

Creature comforts like electric windows and climate control have been retained, whilst RWB also installed a MOMO Prototipo steering wheel. 

Media starlet

BaT RWB Modified Porsche 911

Attempting to put a price on a RWB Porsche is not easy, given the uniqueness of each build. That this car was featured in Super Street magazine, and driven by Porsche tuning icon Magnus Walker, will only help the desirability. 

The overall mileage covered by the Porsche is unknown, although 7,000 kilometers have been added since the car moved to Canada. Located in Vancouver, the Porsche is being sold on a British Columbia registration. 

Being such a rare vehicle, the RWB 911 has already provoked many comments on Bring a Trailer. The auction runs until Wednesday, March 4th, leaving plenty of time to prepare for that interior. 

Mini Electric (2020)

Mini Electric (2020) review

Mini Electric (2020)

The Mini Electric is built in the same Oxford factory as the regular car. To the casual observer, it looks just like a normal Mini. You can choose to have bright yellow door mirrors, a yellow stripe across the grille, and wheels that look like plug sockets. Or you can choose not to, with only the yellow badges giving the game away.

It’s all intentional. We already love the Mini, and don’t want it to change. We simply want it future-proofed with zero-emissions electric technology. The Mini Electric does all that brilliantly – with just one major proviso that buyers alone will judge either irrelevant or a deal-breaker.

Mini Electric (2020)

At first glance, the electric Mini passes for a high-performance Cooper S model, thanks to the scoop in the bonnet (for obvious reasons, it lacks the centre-exit exhausts at the rear). The grille is sealed, so it’s slipperier through the air, and the front bumper is smoother. Differences are otherwise minimal – you don’t even have to choose the three-pin plug wheels if you don’t want to. But why wouldn’t you?.

The Mini Electric comes in three grades: Levels 1, 2 or 3. Everything is standard: you can’t add any options, so if you want more equipment, you move up through the levels. With Level 1, you can only pick two colours – grey or the silver seen here. Level 2 and 3 add more colours, like the everyday red or British Racing Green that will see you pass for just another Mini.

It’s the same inside. Little gives the game away, apart from the more feature-packed electronic display ahead of the driver. All Mini Electrics get standard navigation (so they can show nearby charging points to drivers in a panic), while climate control air-con keeps climate change discomfort away.

The differences come the moment you press the yellow-coloured starter toggle. 

Driving the Mini Electric

Mini Electric (2020)

The Mini is a little car and you’re used to the connection with its sprightly turbo engines. But with the Electric, there’s silence. Pull the auto shifter back into ‘D’ and creep eerily forward, again without a peep. The loudest noise you’ll hear is the crunch of gravel under the tyres. 

For a car that, in classic original guise, deafened its occupants, this is a massive transformation. The satisfying simplicity is enhanced by an unusual feeling of accuracy – it’s somehow easier to move the Mini Electric along at exactly the pace and distance you want. Low-speed manoeuvring is brilliantly easy.

The electric motor is basically the same as in the BMW i3, a very popular premium electric car. BMW’s years of experience with the technology shows. The Mini Electric is fast, fluid and seamless, with a sophistication lacking in some other electric cars. It has a superb traction control system, too, which lets you use its mountain of surge to the max, without the steering wheel fighting in your hands.

Mini Electric (2020)

A toggle on the dashboard lets you choose the amount of regeneration when you lift off the accelerator. It defaults to heavy regen, so taking your foot off the pedal is like tapping the brakes. This does feed energy back into the batteries, though, and once you get used to it, you can drive the Mini Electric with just one pedal. Choose mild regen for a more normal experience (the toggle glows orange, to discreetly scold you).  

It’s heavier than a regular Mini, so it’s perhaps not quite as agile. It’s still way nimbler than most cars though, responding with alacrity to the steering in that well-loved chuckable Mini way (it has, ahem, a ‘go-kart feeling’). Because the batteries are mounted so low, most of the weight is close to the ground, further enhancing stability.

The controls work impeccably, with premium engineering. Steering weight and feel are superb, the brake pedal is less sloppy and jerky than in other electric cars, and the response to the accelerator pedal is instantaneous. And while it has a taut, jiggly ride, the suspension also works quietly, and eases away any crashy harshness. 

Inside, it’s high quality, and Minis still feel special to sit in – with their long dashboard and upright windscreen. The firm front seats are lovely and supportive and the rear seats, of course, are microscopic. But although the boot is compact, it’s no smaller than a normal Mini Hatch. Indeed, the packaging of the batteries is brilliantly compromise-free. You almost wonder how they managed it.

Mini Electric (2020)

Battery capacity is how. The 32.6 kWh size is pretty much half the size of, say, a Kia Soul EV. The new Renault Zoe has 52 kWh, for an extra 100 miles of range compared to the Mini Electric. On a chilly February day, a 100 percent battery charge gave me just 83 miles’ range (although, by the end, I did add 11 miles to it, despite some eager driving).

Mini insists it won’t be a problem. This is a city car and owners are expected to charge overnight so their car is always ‘full’. Most motorists rarely cover more than 30 miles a day, anyway. Dealers will profile customers carefully to make sure they’re suited to an electric Mini.

For cautious buyers considering their first EV, though, such a limited range does nothing for buyer confidence. It’s undoubtedly the elephant in the room when considering the otherwise fantastic Mini Electric.

Mini Electric: verdict

Mini Electric (2020)

This is a charismatic, premium electric car that feels high class without, unusually for an EV, the high price tag to match. Because everyone loves Minis, this alone will generate huge interest, and the curious are guaranteed to be wowed when they drive it.

The limited range does nothing to ease anxieties, and will lose some potential buyers along the way to models such as the Renault Zoe or Vauxhall Corsa-e. But if ever a car was likely to force people to think how they actually use their cars – and realise going electric is not only perfectly viable, but actually more convenient than driving petrol or diesel – it’s the Mini Electric. It really is that appealingly, authentically ‘Mini’.

Crowds at the Geneva Motor Show

Official: 2020 Geneva Motor Show CANCELLED due to coronavirus

Geneva Motor Show

Organisers of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show have announced the cancellation of the show, blaming ‘force majeure’. 

The Swiss government has banned events with gatherings of more than 1,000 people, with immediate effect.

The ban is effective until “at least 15 March”, effectively making hosting the annual Geneva Motor Show impossible. 

Organisers have also clarified that it is a true cancellation, rather than a postponement. “The show cannot be postponed,” they said during an emergency press conference. “It’s too big. In September, October? It’s not feasible.” 

In a statement, Geneva Motor Show officials insisted they “regret this decision, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority”. 

Refunds of tickets for show visitors will now take place in the coming days. 

Earlier decision reversed

Earlier this week, the organisers of the show had confirmed that the show would go ahead as planned, between the 5th and 15th of March 2020.

A review followed concerns over the spread of coronavirus, as the first case has been confirmed in Switzerland. 

This followed the official Geneva 2020 press conference last week, held as construction of the stands was almost complete.

A week ago, say officials, there was “nothing to suggest that such a measure [cancellation] was necessary.

“The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus diseases in Switzerland and the injunction of the Federal Council on 28 February. 

“The event is cancelled due to this decision.”

For context, the International Exhibition of Inventions, also planned for the Palexpo facility in Geneva, has already been cancelled. It was due to take place on March 25. 

No-shows at Geneva 2020

Crowds at the Geneva Motor Show

Many brands had already cancelled their show attendance.

Chinese mobility company Aiways said it would not be debuting its U6ion electric crossover concept at the show as previously planned. The model will be revealed to the media at Geneva ‘via alternative means’. 

CEOs from Ferrari and Brembo will not attend, although the marques themselves should be present. Brembo CEO Daniele Schillaci has elected to stay away, given the escalating severity of the disease in Italy. “We believe that protecting people’s health is a priority in the current fast-changing environment,” a spokesman said. So far, there have been 374 confirmed cases in Italy.

Ferrari’s CEO Louis Camilleri is said to not be going due to the fact that Ferrari isn’t expected to have any debuts at the show, and therefore his presence isn’t warranted. Its three chiefs of marketing, design and technology will, however, be going.

Harman, an automotive technology supplier, has pulled out of exhibiting in response to the disease, to protect the safety and wellbeing of its employees.

Some attendees and exhibitors could simply be deterred from attending because of the furore around the virus. The risk of quarantine and being detained is very real, alongside the risk of contracting the disease.  

Geneva and Coronavirus: health advice issued

Geneva Motor Show crowds

While the show is to go ahead, some strict advice has been given out to those planning to attend. Those who have showed symptoms within 14 days of the date they plan to go have been asked to stay at home. 

Show managing director Olivier Rihs has confirmed that the decision to close the show could be taken at any point up to, and during, its opening. 

“The advice from the authorities here in Geneva is that the show can continue – and they are the only ones who can say yes or no to the show going ahead,” he said.

‘Caught on the horns of a dilemma’

Commenting on the ongoing situation, automotive editor at GlobalData, David Leggett, said that “The organisers of the Geneva International Motor Show are caught on the horns of a dilemma. Issuing health advice for exhibitors and attendees is undoubtedly the responsible thing to do, but it draws attention to the rising level of risk as the crisis spreads in Europe.

“The public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has hit home this week with whole towns quarantined in northern Italy and the first case confirmed in Switzerland.

“This public health crisis is fast-moving and the authorities in Switzerland could yet decide that the risks are too great in allowing such a large show, with many international exhibitors and attendees, to take place.”

Wheeler Dealers: all the cars of the new series

There’s a new series of Wheeler Dealers coming to Discovery, starting on Monday 2 March. It’ll see motor maestro Mike Brewer and his right-hand-man Ant Anstead buy and restore classic cars from a variety of eras: everything from new-millennium heroes all the way back to the 1950s. These are the cars of the new series of Wheeler Dealers, in the order that you’ll see them.

2004 BMW M3

The first car you’ll see when the series begins is a 2004 (E46) BMW M3. This is widely considered the best M3 ever made (sorry, E30 diehards), and an essential modern classic to consider.

There are niggles, however. The rear subframes are a common issue, but according to the episode description, Mike made sure his car had that sorted. What Ant will be contending with, however, is the gearbox, which Mike has challenged him to transform with ‘new tech’.

Volvo Amazon 122

At the other end of the scale is a Volvo Amazon 122. This classic Swede has rally heritage, and drew Mike out to the pacific northwest to buy one. While the prospect of a ‘barn find’ sounds exciting to us, for mechanics like Ant, it could prove a nightmare.

Happily, this one looks in reasonable shape, and ripe for a restoration, although pictures can be deceiving. Ant is tasked with ‘making it roadworthy before the guys know the true scope of the work ahead’.

Ford Bronco

A very topical classic, given a new one is due later this year, is the Ford Bronco. They’ve always been a well-loved machine, but have recently become highly collectable.

Mike has picked himself up a fifth-generation Bronco for episode three. Ant will need to put his best foot forward on this one, given it hits the block at the biggest collector car auction in the world, Barrett Jackson.

Fiat 124 Spider

The Fiat 124 Spider is a pure-bred classic Italian roadster. Unfortunately, that can spell trouble for those trying to repair them. Mike’s is a 1972 car, described as a ‘survivor’.

Supposedly, ‘the driving experience leaves a lot to be desired’. To get it sorted, Ant tackles a leaky differential, among other mechanical gremlins. Mike, meanwhile, stays (relatively) clean sorting the tatty interior.

Toyota Celica ST

The Toyota Celica is an iconic sports car from the Japanese marque, eventually giving birth to the legendary Supra. But this car came long before the Supra came to dominate movie screens and car forums.

Mike ‘finds a powerful solution to a rough-running engine’ in the 1972 example he picks up in episode four. That sounds very intriguing indeed, while Ant is due to test his fabrication skills.

Mercedes E55 AMG

The E55 AMG was Mercedes’ answer to the BMW M5 in the early 2000s. With a thunderous V8 and sleeper looks, you’d be hard-pressed to tell if your taxi had the pace of a supercar.

Unfortunately, most E55s were used quite hard, and they can be problematic – as the gents find out in episode 5. Their 2002 example is neglected and in need of a major service from Ant.

Merkur XR4Ti

If Merkur doesn’t sound familiar to you, but XR4Ti does, that’s because this was a Sierra in other markets. Not quite the Cosworth that followed, but a bona fide classic all the same, these are rare beasts.

For Wheeler Dealers, Mike found a 1985 competition shell. Ant is tasked with making this Merkur euro-spec, with bits from Sierras that these cars never received.

Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser was very nearly the death-knell for Land Rover. Such was the influence of this utilitarian go-anywhere tank. Still on sale today, the Land Cruiser has been traversing the more inhospitable parts of the planet for five decades.

Mike and Ant find a Land Cruiser in reasonable shape, which is in need of an upgrade to make it suitable for modern roads. It falls to Ant to fit a Japanese-spec five-speed gearbox, in place of the four-speeder holding it at a snail’s pace.

Mike’s pride and joy

This should be an episode with a difference, given it’s titled ‘Mike’s pride and joy’. If you’re a Brewer aficionado, you’ll know he’s fond of Porsche 911s. Naturally, the subject of the episode is a 1982 911 SC.

Mini Electric and electricity windmills

New Mini Electric offers 5,000 miles of free electricity

Mini Electric

Mini is partnering with green electricity supplier Ovo Energy to offer 5,000 miles of free power to its customers.

The bundle is available for Mini Electric buyers who switch to the Ovo Energy ‘EV Everywhere’ package.

The tariff uses 100 percent renewable electricity.

Mini Electric and electricity windmills

Those ‘free miles’ come via an £11 discount off the owner’s monthly electricity bill for a year.

This adds up to 5,000 free miles for drivers who charge up on the off-peak Economy 7 rate. For those who use the regular single-rate tariff, it’s equal to 3,300 free miles.

Mini Electric charging socket

The Ovo Energy deal also includes free membership of Polar Plus, BP Chargemaster’s nationwide EV charging network. It’s described as the UK’s largest network, with more than 7,000 public charging points.

“Our Mini Electric customers have already taken a big step in lowering their carbon emissions,” said Mini UK director David George.

“We’re pleased now to recommend this exclusive offer with Ovo Energy, for those drivers who want to reduce their footprint even further.”

Tom Packenham from Ovo Energy said: “Our EV Everywhere bundle helps customers have more control over their total energy usage, with a complete at-home  and on-the-go energy solution, enabling zero-carbon driving.”    

When is the best time to renew car insurance

When is the best time to renew your car insurance?

When is the best time to renew car insurance

Renewing your car insurance policy eight days before it expires could save you money. That’s according to data released by a leading price comparison website.

It found that drivers who renewed with eight days to go saw an average saving of £132 (28 percent). This is in comparison to if they had taken the price quoted on the day the policy was due to start.

The data shows that prices start to rise three days before a policy’s expiry. The most expensive policies are those bought on their current policy’s end date.

This graph shows the difference a little forward planning can make.

Best time to renew car insurance graph

MoneySuperMarket is keen to point out that there’s no extra benefit to renewing your policy more than eight days ahead of schedule. Any longer than that and the curve is flat.

Being organised is the key. You should receive a renewal notification a month before the policy is up for renewal. Place the renewal documents in a visible location to serve as a reminder to search for some cheaper quotes. Never accept the renewal quote offered by your existing provider.

Figures provided by MoneySuperMarket show that car insurance auto-renewal costs motorists an estimated £565 million every year. Insurers add an average of £40 per year to existing policies. At the very least, give your current provider a call to see if they can reduce the quote.

Finding alternative prices in advance is a good idea. A price comparison website is a good place to start, but it’s worth remembering that some of the best insurance companies aren’t listed on such sites.

‘Shop around’

Rachel Wait, consumer affairs spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “If there’s one thing to remember when it comes to saving money on your car insurance, it’s making sure you shop around before your policy automatically renews – you could save hundreds of pounds.

“What our data shows is that the time you run your quotation can also have an important bearing on the level of savings you can make. Insurers know that many of us leave buying insurance to the last minute, which is why we see prices increasing closer to the date a policy is due to expire. To avoid higher costs, you should shop around for your new policy at least a week before the old one runs out and lock in the price you are offered at that point – those that do can make substantial savings.”

Skoda ‘blue light’ emergency vehicle sales up 75% in 2019

Skoda blue light sales success

Your chances of being stopped by a Skoda police car, or helped out by a Skoda ambulance, increased substantially in 2019. 

UK blue-light fleets bought an impressive 75 percent more Skodas in 2019, when viewed against sales figures for 2018.

A grand total of 792 Skoda vehicles went to help serve with the emergency services last year, compared to 454 the year before.

Octavia is the blue-light best-seller

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda’s biggest seller to UK emergency services during 2019 was the outgoing Octavia Estate. Favoured by the police, ambulance and fire services, some 339 examples of the Octavia found new fleet roles in 2019. 

Against the 110 examples sold in 2018, this represents a considerable increase of some 208% for the practical wagon

The forthcoming fourth-generation Skoda Octavia, including a plug-in hybrid vRS, will be launched later this year in the UK. Skoda expects the new model to remain just as desirable to fleet users, following its launch in May. 

Scala now available to police fleets

Skoda blue light sales success

Another of the new models ready for police usage in 2020 is the Scala hatchback. The compact hatchback is pitched as a contender against patrol car regulars such as the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308.

Skoda is able to sell the Scala fully prepared for police work. LED flashing lights are built into the windscreen, number plate surrounds, grille, and light bar. A three-tone siren is also included, plus all the relevant interior controls. 

During 2020, the Scala will also be joined by a version of the Kodiaq SUV, converted for use by police dog units. 

Distinguished service record

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda is also keen to celebrate the lengthy association the company has with the emergency services. 

One of the earliest Skoda models, the 1906 Laurin & Klement C1, served as an ambulance. The 1930s and ‘40s saw a greater expansion of ambulance models, with Skoda exporting them across the globe. 

2017 saw the Skoda Yeti become the most-used emergency vehicle in the Czech Republic, with an armoured version of the Superb released the following year.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI, Golf GTE and Golf GTD compared

Volkswagen Golf GTD GTI GTE

The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been revealed in eighth generation form – along with two siblings, the hybrid Golf GTE and diesel Golf GTD.

In revealing all three at once, Volkswagen aims to future-proof the hot Golf line from launch. Customers can choose which flavour of fuel best suits their performance Golf. So what is the choice on offer?

ALSO SEE: Volkswagen Golf GTI history in pictures

Visually, the three hot Golfs are closer than ever. The GTI, GTE and GTD badges all share the same typeface, and are all in the same place. It’s the colour ID that differs: red for GTI…

Volkswagen Golf GTI

… blue for GTE…

Volkswagen Golf GTE

… and silver-grey for GTD.

Volkswagen Golf GTD

This carries across to the tartan seat trim (officially called Scalepaper) inside. Here’s the GTI…

Volkswagen Golf GTI

… the GTE…

Volkswagen Golf GTE

… and the GTD.

Volkswagen Golf GTD

Golf GTI, GTE and GTD: engines and performance

Volkswagen Golf GTI

The new Golf GTI has a 245hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. It has a six-speed manual as standard, or a seven-speed DSG auto as an option.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The new Golf GTE shares the same 245hp output as the GTI, but it’s produced in a different way – from a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine serving up 150hp, combined with an 85 kW electric motor.

With the help of a new lithium-ion battery, maximum pulling power (or torque) actually exceeds the Golf GTI, and it can be driven at speeds of up to 82mph in pure electric mode.

A seven-speed DSG gearbox is standard.

The electric range is around 37 miles before it needs to be plugged in and recharged. And if the batteries have enough charge, the Golf GTE will always start out as a zero-emissions pure electric vehicle.

Volkswagen Golf GTD

The Golf GTD has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that produces 200hp, and the same amount of pulling power as the Golf GTE.

Like the hybrid GTE, it too only comes with a seven-speed DSG – so the only hot Golf available with a manual gearbox is the regular GTI.

And diesel-haters, worry not: the new Golf GTD has ‘twin dosing’ selective catalytic reduction, with dual AdBlue injection. This ‘greatly reduces’ NOx emissions even compared with its predecessor.

Golf GTI, GTE and GTD: equipment

As standard for each hot new Golf are 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch and 19-inch versions are optional), a custom front end, rear diffuser and spoiler, bespoke exhaust tailpipes and red brake calipers.

The GTI and GTD have sportier, 15mm lower suspension. So they visually sit a bit closer to the ground… 

Volkswagen Golf GTD

… than the Golf GTE. 

Volkswagen Golf GTE

All three have a front axle differential lock, plus a sound actuator for a more purposeful engine soundtrack inside.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

They all have the fully digital cockpit of all new Volkswagen Golf 8 models, colour-keyed respectively – red, blue or silver.

Detail differences

They’re not fully identical. The Golf GTI and GTD have logos on the front wings.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

They’re missing on the GTE – instead, it has a filler flap on the passenger side, to charge the battery.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Exhaust tailpipes also mark the differences at a glance. The GTI has dual exhausts – one left, one right.

The GTD has a double tailpipe on the right…

Volkswagen Golf GTD

… and the GTE has no visible tailpipes at all.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

It’s the colour bar in the front grille may become the biggest at-a-glance differentiator: red for the GTI, blue for GTE, silver for GTD.

Volkswagen Golf GTD

This colour key is highlighted by the LED daytime running light strip in the headlights when the car is running.

Oh, and the radiator grille itself can optionally be illuminated too: surely a must-have option for new Golf GTI, GTE and GTD owners?

Volkswagen Golf GTI

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI revealed: the history of a hot hatch

Volkswagen has revealed the new Golf GTI. It’s the eighth generation in a long line of hot hatchbacks, going back to the genre-defining Mk1 of 1975.

Celebrated though it is, the GTI’s history is a patchy one, with nearly as many misses as hits. Will the new car be the former or the latter? We’ll find out when we drive it.

For now, let’s look back at the tyre tracks it follows in – but not before getting the headline facts on the Mk8.

Gr8 eight

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

So, the eagerly-awaited Mk8 Golf GTI. What does it bring to the table? Well, underneath it’s not all that different to the previous car. It still runs on a version of the MQB platform and it still uses the ‘EA888’ TFSI engine. It’s mainly on the outside that things have changed. New for the GTI is a full-width light bar at the front, as well as optional honeycomb fog light clusters.

Tower of power

 

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Power out of the box is 245hp, with 273lb ft of torque, although we already know this engine is good for upwards of 300hp. Expect more from a future GTI TCR variant, and possibly an Edition 45 special edition next year. A six-speed manual is standard, with the seven-speed DSG automatic optional.

Tartan treat

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Inside, it’s business as usual for GTI fans. Tartan and a golf ball gearknob join the high-tech new Golf cabin. Tech fans will enjoy the 10.25-inch digital dashboard, plus a 10-inch Discover Pro infotainment system.

Meet the ancestors

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Since the original’s arrival in 1976, the Golf GTI has cemented its reputation as the definitive hot hatchback. Now, let’s look back over the GTI’s 44 years and seven previous generations, to the genesis of the car that defined the breed.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Flying in the face of convention, the Mk1 Golf was launched after the Mk1 Scirocco, with Volkswagen keen to iron-out any potential issues before unleashing its car to conquer the world. It arrived in 1975 and would go on to become one of, if not the greatest, car of the 1970s. It also spawned a proper game-changer…

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Creating a high-performance version of an otherwise humdrum vehicle was nothing new. Witness the likes of the Ford Lotus Cortina and hot versions of the Mk1 Escort. But in the mid-1970s, the hatchback was still a relatively new development, with motorists clinging on to their more conservative saloons and estate cars. What the hatchback needed was a halo product – something like the Mk1 Golf GTI…

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

It arrived in 1976, but its appearance wasn’t guaranteed. Volkswagen wasn’t planning a performance car and, even if it had, you’d have thought the achingly-beautiful Scirocco would have been the low-hanging fruit. So it was left to a small team of engineers to develop a ‘Sport Golf’ in their spare time.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Once the concept was presented to the Volkswagen board, common sense prevailed and the ‘Sport Golf’ was given the go-ahead, with production limited to 5,000 units. The Sport name was dropped, in case the car was a flop, which would have left Volkswagen with egg on its face. Instead, the GTI badge was adopted and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Volkswagen dealers were inundated with orders and requests for test drives, meaning the plan to build a mere 5,000 units was quickly forgotten. Indeed, VW was soon receiving around 5,000 orders… a month! Volkswagen used an off-the-shelf 1.6-litre engine with Bosch fuel injection (the ‘I’ in ‘GTI’). The car was basic, but it was fun. And it also helped that the Mk1 Golf was such a well-engineered car.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

A legend was born. The rise of the hot hatch, with the Mk1 Golf GTI as its ringleader, led to the death of cars such as the MGB and Triumph Spitfire, eventually seeing off the likes of the Ford Capri and Opel Manta. It became the original classless car – as at home on the King’s Road as it was on a B-road.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Production continued until 1983, by which time the 1.6-litre engine had been replaced by a marginally more powerful 1.8-litre unit, with the new car marked out by its quad headlights. Amazing to think that Britain’s motorists had to wait until 1979 to get their hands on a right-hand-drive Golf GTI. Naturally, it was worth the wait.

Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Talk about a tough act to follow. The original Mk1 Golf GTI had caught the world off-guard, meaning the industry was still playing catch-up by the time the Mk2 Golf GTI arrived in 1983. This was a softer approach, but the Mk2 benefited from improved engineering and a more grown-up feel.

Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

The Mk2 Golf was heavier than the Mk1, with the three-door GTI tipping the scales at 920kg, compared to the 840kg of the original. But it was bigger inside and therefore more practical, helping it to win over a legion of new fans. British motorists in particular took the second coming of the Golf GTI to their hearts, which at one point accounted for around 25% of all Golf sales.

Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But not everybody welcomed the new, softer, larger Golf GTI. Some felt it had lost some of its focus, some of the unhinged madness of the Mk1. Many of these criticisms were answered in 1986, when Volkswagen launched the Golf GTI 16v. With a huge increase in power, the Golf felt more alive, especially at the higher reaches of the rev counter.

Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI – 8v or 16v

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

That said, some Golf GTI owners claimed the 16v lacked the mid-range pull and ride comfort of the 8v, leading to many healthy debates at the trendy wine bars of 80s Britain. Not that any of this mattered, because the Golf GTI was the car of choice for the yuppies and stockbrokers of London. It was the car to be seen in.

Acceptable in the 80s

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

By the end of the 1980s, the Golf GTI had been joined by an increasing number of rivals, most notably the Peugeot 205 GTI, Ford Escort XR3i and Vauxhall Astra GTE. The Golf may not have been the best or the fastest, but it remained the most sought-after. Available in three- or five-door guise, it was the ultimate classless car.

Joyriding and car crime

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But by the early 90s, the GTI badge had lost some of its lustre. Faced with joyriding, car crime and spiralling insurance costs, the GTI name was being dropped by carmakers, but Volkswagen stood firm. Indeed, it was one of just a handful of GTIs able to ride the storm.

Volkswagen Golf G60

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

In Germany, Volkswagen launched a supercharged G60 version, developing 160hp. This output wouldn’t be bettered in a Golf GTI until 2002. Whilst not officially available in the UK, we were able to get our hands on a limited number of Golf Rallyes. This supercharged and wide-arch special was built for homologation purposes.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Bigger, safer, slower, more? No, not the debut album of 4 Non Blondes, but an adequate description of the Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Introduced in 1992 – a year after the standard Mk3 Golf – the third generation GTI was powered by a new 2.0-litre 8v engine. But 115hp was nowhere near enough to deliver the performance demanded by the fabled Golf GTI badge…

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Part of the problem was that the Mk3 Golf was developing a bit of a weight problem. Faced with ever-stringent crash test and emissions legislation, the Golf GTI had piled on the pounds during middle age. The Mk3 Golf GTI 8v is considered to be the least exciting Golf GTi, almost unfit to wear the badge.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

The Golf GTI 16v of 1993 improved matters, with power increased to 150hp and torque at a more substantial 133lb ft. The 0-60mph time dropped to 8.3 seconds, while top speed rose to a more autobahn friendly 133mph.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf VR6

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But this wasn’t the best Mk3 Golf, because this accolade was reserved for the Golf VR6. Oh sure, the VR6 was far removed from the Golf GTI recipe, majoring on luxury and lazy performance, rather than B-road thrills, but it was able to take the fight to BMW and more upmarket rivals.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf VR6

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

This flagship Golf was a rare beacon of light at the top of a range that had received its fair share of criticism. Powered by a silky-smooth 2.8-litre V6 engine, the Golf VR6 featured electric windows, sunroof, leather-trimmed steering wheel and rode on 15-inch BBS alloy wheels. It also sat 20mm lower than the standard Golf, with leather and air conditioning available as options.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI Anniversary

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Perhaps the greatest Mk3 Golf GTI is the Anniversary model, of which 1,000 units were built. Produced to mark 20 years of the Golf GTI, the Anniversary featured chequered Recaro seats, red seatbelts, half-chrome/half-leather gearknob and red-stitching for the steering wheel and gear gaiter. The exterior was enhanced by red stripes and red brake calipers.

Mk4 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

The Mk4 Volkswagen Golf was the result of Ferdinand Piëch’s desire the push the family hatchback further upmarket. Launched in 1997, we already had some idea what the new Golf would be like, because its platform had premiered in the Audi A3 of 1996. Indeed, the Golf was living in different times, with the Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon set to ‘borrow’ the Golf’s platform.

Mk4 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

This was the first Golf GTI to be turbocharged, powered, as it was, by Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 1.8T engine. But thanks to changing market forces, the Golf GTI now faced an enemy from within, in the form of the first diesel-engined GTI.

Mk4 Volkswagen Golf GTI 25th Anniversary

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

The most desirable Mk4 Golf GTI is arguably the 25th Anniversary edition, available in Reflex Silver. Features included BBS RC alloy wheels, red and black Recaro seats, factory body kit, larger brakes and lowered suspension. At the time, this 180hp Golf GTI was the most powerful and fast accelerating GTI produced to date.

Mk4 Volkswagen Golf R32

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But in common with the Mk3 Golf, the most desirable Mk4 Golf didn’t wear a GTI badge. The R32 was the first Golf to wear the R badge and it was first seen at the 2001 Essen Motor Show. Volkswagen had planned to use the RSI badge for its high-performance models, but stuck with the ‘R plus engine capacity’ formula. Hence, the Golf R32.

Mk4 Volkswagen Golf R32

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

It was powered by a 3.2-litre version of the narrow-angle V6 engine, used in the Phaeton and Touareg. Thanks to Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system, the R32 was kept on the straight and narrow, with a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 153mph amongst the headlines. All well and good, but was the GTI badge being put out to pasture?

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Not a bit of it. The Mk5 Volkswagen Golf of 2003 represented a return to form, not just for the GTI, but for the Golf overall. Volkswagen was keen to inject some renewed driving satisfaction into the new Golf, a direct response to the cheaper and more rewarding Ford Focus.

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Launched at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, the Mk5 Golf GTI was extremely well received, with many lauding it as the greatest Golf GTI since the Mk1. Its new 2.0-litre TFSI engine developed 200hp, making it the most powerful Golf GTI to date. Crucially, it was also a dynamic gem.

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

The engine was mated to a six-speed gearbox and standard ESP, which were linked to a chassis equipped with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link configuration (a la Ford Focus) at the rear. It also sat 15mm lower than the standard Golf, with new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. This was the real deal.

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Paying homage to the original Golf GTI, the Mk5 heralded the return of the tartan interior and red surround to the grille. Even the GTI typeface echoed that of the original. It was as though Volkswagen acknowledged it had dropped the ball. Tipping the hat in such a way could have been seen as mere window dressing, had the Golf GTI failed to deliver. Fortunately, it did anything but fail.

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI Pirelli and Edition 30

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Special editions soon followed, including the Pirelli and Edition 30 (pictured), both of which were powered by the 2.0-litre TFSI engine, but this time developing 230hp.

Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI W12-650

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But the wildest Golf GTI has to be 2007’s GTI W12-650, which featured a mid-mounted 6.0-litre engine developing 650hp It could accelerate to 62mph in 3.7 seconds, before going on to a theoretical top speed of 201mph.

Mk6 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

By the time the Mk5 Golf GTI made way for the MK6 in 2009, the hot hatch sector had evolved into a formidable battleground. While the Golf GTI was still the best all-rounder, the likes of the Focus RS, Civic Type R and Megane R26.R had left it in the shade. Time for a change?

Mk6 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Perhaps not. For Volkswagen, being the best all-round hot hatch is where it’s at. A GTI for all people, all scenarios, for all seasons. So the Mk6 was little more than a refresh – a new lick of paint here, some extra horses there. It also benefited from a new XDS electronic diff and nicer interior. Evolution, not revolution.

Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Noble though the Mk6’s intention was to remain the sensible all-rounder, it left many feeling cold. The Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI came to deliver excitement, as well as dependability. Whilst looking remarkably similar to the Mk6, the MK7 was based on the MQB platform, making it an all-new Golf GTI. It was also larger, with more power squeezed from its 2.0-litre TFSI engine. You could also specify an optional performance pack, which puffed up the power to over 220hp, and added a clever differential.

Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Golf GTI, Volkswagen launched a new Clubsport special edition. Boasting 265hp as standard, the Clubsport featured an overboost function, which upped the power to 290hp during hard acceleration in third gear and above.

Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

But unlike the 300hp Golf R, the Clubsport’s power was channelled through the front wheels, in true GTI fashion. Prices started from £30,875 for the three-door version, increasing to £32,290 when fitted with the DSG automatic transmission.

Mk7 Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

In common with the Mk3 and Mk4, not every sporty Mk7 Golf wore a GTI badge. Many would point to the 300hp Golf R as the default choice: the epitome of a new breed of mega-horsepower hot hatches.

Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport S

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

Talented though the Mk7 R was – and a world away from the Mk6 R – it wasn’t the ultimate incarnation of the Mk7. The GTI Clubsport S ditched the rear seats, added buckets in the front, reduced weight by 30kg and eked out 310hp from its EA888 engine. Add Michelin Cup 2 tyres and it transformed the family man who keeps fit at the gym to a bona fide power lifter.

Ring king

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

At the time of its release, the Clubsport S took the Nurburgring front-wheel-drive lap record, posting a time of seven minutes and 49 seconds. Just 400 Clubsport S models were made, making it one of the rarest and most special Golfs ever.

Mk7.5 GTI and R

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

A facelift in 2017 added sharper lighting and, on the inside, a digital instrument cluster and improved infotainment. The R could now be optioned with a parpy Akrapovic exhaust and a bit more power. New WLTP fuel economy rules in 2018 neutered the R a little, making the R facelift with the full 310hp wallop a rare beast.

Mk7.5 TCR

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

A new nameplate for the GTI was ‘TCR’, basking in the limelight of the race series. It was the car to send off the Mk7 GTI. While not quite as hardcore as the Clubsport S, it delivered 90 percent of that car’s X-factor for GTI buyers. Some don’t like the decals, but they’re an option.

2020 Mk8 Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI history

So, here we are in 2020 with a new GTI. Will it win us over the way its predecessor did? They’re big shoes to fill, but being made of the same stuff, fundamentally on the same platform, we have high hopes for it. We wonder if Volkswagen is cooking up something special for next year, when the Golf GTI turns 45…