Life begins at 40 for Golf GTI
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VOLKSWAGEN’S LATEST SPECIAL EDITION MODEL IS THE BEST YET
Volkswagen’s Golf GTI Edition 40 is the best hot hatch you’ll probably never get to drive. And we’re really sorry about that.
What an absolute tease.
Not only is the Volkswagen Golf GTI Edition 40 the most powerful iteration of what many consider the original hot hatch, but the handful of examples Volkswagen New Zealand managed to snaffle have already been sold.
So no, sorry. You literally cannot have this car. Which is a bit of a shame because Volkswagen’s latest special edition model is the best yet.
The Wolfsburg-headquartered manufacturer has made quite a habit of releasing special edition GTIs over the past decade (30th and 35th birthday models were released in 2006 and 2011 respectively). The special edition cars tend to get snapped up very quickly too; proof positive that the Golf GTI remains as important a totem of hot hatch hoonery as it did when it first exploded on to the market back in 1976.
It’s grown in size by quite some margin since then, but the modern GTI sits comfortably in its skin these days. It’s no porker like it was a couple of generations ago.
The GTI Edition 40’s turbocharged 2.0-litre TSI engine has been tuned for 195kW peak power, which outputs a decent 33 more kilowatts than the standard GTI. Not that it needs underlining, but this is the most powerful production GTI ever released.
As if that extra power wasn’t quite enough, Volkswagen’s engineering boffins have also added a boost function to the Edition 40. To activate this, you kick down on the accelerator and the car will give you an extra 10 per cent acceleration for 10 seconds, effectively increasing engine power to about 216kW for a moment or two; certainly a handy trick for that overtaking manoeuvre.
The boost function feels almost surplus to requirements, however, when you’re hot-footing at open road speeds. The fancy new clothes do nothing to change the demeanour of this car. For all its special 19-inch alloy wheels, side skirts and redesigned air intake-punctured front bumper (there is also a multi-sectional roof spoiler at the back), the Edition 40 remains a GTI underneath and is as nimble and responsive as you’d hope for. The car’s official 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.3 seconds looks glacial on paper; something that seems almost wrong in practice. The GTI’s acceleration feel is the sort of thing you sign up for in the first place and right from the get-go the car feels impressively fast.
That it is fast isn’t in doubt; a Golf GTI Edition 40 (or GTI Clubsport S as it is known in Europe) recently became the fastest front-wheel drive car to race around Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleife, setting a new record of 07:49:21 (check out the lap on YouTube).
Inside the GTI Edition 40 you’ll find everything is very … well, Golf-ish. That tartan seat fabric is about as outlandish as any Volkswagen — not just the Golf, — gets, as the company certainly errs on the conservative side when it comes to its interiors.
The cabin atmos is very much improved these days though, with updated graphics in the instrument panel and a very top-shelf, premium feel to everything your hand falls to. The car offers up the driving dynamics of a true sports car on the road and you feel as though you’re sitting in one even at standstill.
But don’t think of this as a story of the hot hatch that got away; the standard one you can buy tomorrow if you wish – the $56,990 Golf GTI TSI – remains a fantastic wee sports car worthy of those three iconic letters affixed to its nameplate. Besides, there’s always 2021 to look forward to.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI 40TH EDITION
|ENGINE:||2.0-litre four cylinder TSI (195kW, 350Nm)|
|PROS:||The original hot hatch made even cooler|
|CONS:||They’re all already sold, so keep your eye on the second-hand market … in a few years’ time|