While we wait for the promised and hotly anticipated production version of Volkswagen’s Golf R 400 concept, here’s something else to drool over: the Golf TCR racing prototype.
Let’s cover some basics: 243kW and 410Nm of torque, front-wheel-drive (yes, front-wheel-drive), an enhanced six-speed DSG transmission and… look, loads of other track-specific tweaks.
The Golf TCR concept looks familiar, wearing most of the Golf’s body, the Golf R hot hatch’s tail lamps and a version of its front bumper design, but that’s about where the obvious similarities end.
Don’t be fooled, though: this racer really did life as something that could become a grocery-getting Golf, but Volkswagen’s motorsports arm - in partnership with Seat’s sports outfit - has saved it from such a fate.
That proto-production status means we’re talking customer racing, specifically in the new TCR International Series, which focuses on ‘C-category’ tin-top racing.
VW Motorsport boss Jost Capito, previously the head of Ford’s performance division, reckons the TCR category holds huge promise for customer racing, and that’s why Volkswagen has produced this prototype. "With exciting races, production-based technology and reasonable costs, it offers a new outlook for private racing teams,” Capito says.
Power in the Golf TCR is provided by a tuned version of the Golf R’s 2.0 litre turbocharged four, while a set of 18-inch racing wheels and a broader track called for a body-widening kit that added a whopping 400mm to the hatch's waist. Inside, there’s a full cage and racing steering wheel, a solitary racing seat and, as you’d expect, very little else. For now, the Golf TCR is purely an evaluation unit, but Capito says it's no mere concept.
This thing is just about ready to land in privateer team garages, pending approval from the accountants and top brass. (Mostly the accountants.) If the word is given, ready racers could have their hands on the Golf TCR as early as next year, although fans will get a squiz sooner than that, thanks to a partnership with Liqui Moly Team Engstler that will see the prototype compete in the final four race weekends of the 2015 season.
When it hits the track, the Golf TCR will face off against a field that includes rivals based on the Honda Civic, Opel Astra, Ford Focus and stablemate the Seat Leon. In 2016, that will expand to include a special privately prepared front-wheel-drive version of the WRX STI. Maybe others, too.