Volkswagen has unveiled its new flagship Golf GTI at the Wörthersee festival in Austria. Presented in ‘near production-ready’ form, the GTI TCR uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivering 290hp to its front wheels via a dual-clutch gearbox. Top speed is 164mph with the electronic limiter removed.
The TCR is the road-going version of VW’s 350hp Golf TCR racer. A redesigned front bumper and splitter feeds air to two extra radiators, while the rear boasts a larger roof spoiler and aggressive diffuser housing twin tailpipes. A new colour, Pure Grey, is available exclusively for this special edition.
That 290hp output – developed at 5,000-6,800rpm – comfortably outguns the 245hp Golf GTI Performance and isn’t far behind the 310hp, 4WD Golf R. It’s also snaps at the heels of the 310hp GTI Clubsport S from 2016 – the car that broke the front-wheel-drive Nürburgring lap record. Maximum torque of 273lb ft arrives at 1,600rpm.
The GTI rides on forged 18-inch alloys, with beefed-up brakes and a locking front differential. A stainless steel exhaust is standard, although many buyers will doubtless choose the (optional) titanium system from Akrapovič.
Inside, the TCR has hip-hugging sports seats, a racing-style ‘12 o’clock’ marker on the steering wheel and (oh yes…) go-faster stripes on the seatbelts. You’ll also spot illuminated TCR logos on the sills and projected onto the road surface when you open the door.
If you want the full-whack 164mph – standard VMax is 155mph – the limiter is removed as part of a special package that also includes 19-inch wheels, 20mm-lower suspension and Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). The latter allows the driver to switch the electronic dampers between three levels of stiffness.
It’s not yet known whether the TCR will, in future, be offered with a manual gearbox, nor indeed how much it will cost. As a guideline, the Golf GTI Performance lists at £29,820, while the Golf R is £32,850 – so expect something between the two. Whatever the final price and spec, future classic status is assured.
Volkswagen has a history of using Wörthersee – the world’s biggest festival for VW cars and culture – to reveal show-stopping concepts. Read on to revisit the highlights from previous years.
2013 Volkswagen Design Vision GTI
The wildest Wörthersee concept of all debuted in 2013. Looking like a Mk7 Golf after six months on steroids, the Design Vision GTI packed a 503hp 3.0-litre V6, semi-auto DSG gearbox and four-wheel drive. It blitzed to 62mph in 3.9 seconds and hit 186mph flat-out. Huge 20-inch alloys housed ceramic brake discs, allowing this uber-GTI to “eat up any race track”.
Inside, there was a rollcage in lieu of rear seats, plus lightweight fabric door pulls inspired by RS Porsches. Fittingly, it was painted white (‘White Club’), a colour popularised by the Mk5 Golf GTI.
2014 Volkswagen GTI Roadster
This 2014 concept used the same 503hp V6 as the Design Vision GTI, but could scarcely have looked more different. Its full title was ‘Volkswagen GTI Roadster Vision Gran Turismo’ – a nod to its appearance in the popular Playstation game.
Reimagining the Golf GTI as a hedonistic sports car, the Roadster had a chopped, speedster-style windscreen, upwards-opening doors and a huge rear wing. Its design was the result of an in-house competition and the car debuted ‘virtually’ in Gran Turismo three days before it was revealed at Wörthersee. Its colour, Tornado Red, is another classic GTI hue.
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport
Volkswagen had two surprises for fans in 2015. The first, the Golf GTI Clubsport, was a special edition to mark 40 years of the GTI the following year. With 265hp – or 290hp for limited periods on overboost – it was also the most powerful Golf GTI to date. Zero to 62mph took 6.3 seconds and top speed was 155mph.
A bespoke suspension set-up, trick front differential and downforce-inducing rear diffuser ensured the Clubsport wasn’t merely quick in a straight line. Inside, it boasted lashings of Alcantara trim, plus optional hip-hugging bucket seats.
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport
VW’s second show car for 2015 was rather more radical. In its own words: “the Golf GTE Sport transfers the Volkswagen GT tradition into tomorrow’s world”. The carbon-bodied hot hatch was a plug-in hybrid, its 300hp petrol engine supported by two electric motors. Total output was 400hp: good for 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and 174mph.
Lift up the scissor doors and the GTE Sport’s interior was even more futuristic. A central spar divides the cabin in two, with minimal instrumentation and a steering wheel that resembles a gaming joypad. Sadly, this one never made production.
2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S
On the 40th anniversary of the GTI, Volkswagen treated Wörthersee worshippers to the Clubsport S. Displayed alongside all seven generations of GTI, this 310hp crazy Golf had the number ’07:49:21′ emblazoned across its bonnet – its record breaking Nürburgring lap-time.
Just 400 examples of the GTI Clubsport S were built – a sizeable 150 of which came to the UK. The car had an aluminium front subframe, no rear seats and wore track-oriented Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The 0-62mph sprint was quoted as 5.8 seconds, while top speed is TCR-topping 165mph.
2017 Volkswagen Up GTI
Look familiar? This is the Up GTI concept, revealed at Wörthersee in 2017, but the production car – now on sale – looks very similar. Amazingly, this smallest of VW hot hatches is around the same size as the original Mk1 Golf GTI. A 115hp output from its 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine is near-identical, too (0-62mph in 8.8sec, 122mph).
The Up’s styling borrows much from its Golf GTI big brother, including trademark red go-faster stripes and ‘Clark’ tartan seat trim. At the time of writing, prices start from £13,750, making this pocket rocket a bit of a bargain.
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTE Performance
Another highlight last year was the world premiere of the Golf GTE Performance Concept. This turned up the wick on Volkwagen’s plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, raising output from 204hp to 272hp. The added oomph was complemented by bigger brakes, a wider track and the roof spoiler from the GTI Clubsport S, plus some rather natty graphics.
Is this the future for the Golf GTI? Time will tell. One thing is for sure: Volkswagen has plenty of surprises in store for Wörthersee yet. Click through our gallery below for more photos of all the cars featured here.