Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: And across the line!
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Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
- Much more power
- Handling upgrades
- Has rarity value
- Power overcomes eDiff at times
- Dated cabin
- Those decals
Earlier this year when Bugatti unveiled the Divo, a track-focused version of its Chiron hypercar, it was revealed that only 40 units would be built. That makes it quite exclusive, so you might be surprised to hear that Volkswagen’s new Golf GTI TCR is in the same boat.
Well, not exactly the same. Only 40 TCRs were allocated for New Zealand. And due to Covid-related production issues, just 37 made it here, making it even more of a rarity.
Earlier this year when we got behind the wheel of the Golf R Performance, we thought that it was the final hoorah for the Mk7. But it turned out that VW NZ had one more ace up its sleeve. As the true final hoorah for this model, the track-ready TCR has landed and we took it straight to Hampton Downs.
The TCR is an upgraded version of the Mk7 Golf GTI, but unlike a lot of brands that focus on just the flashy decals, VW has put a lot into this hatch.
Starting on the outside, an extended front splitter, 19-inch black alloy wheels and a large diffuser at the rear are the main additions over a regular GTI. It also gets a decal pack across the sides to imitate the real TCR racer… but we’d go without those stickers.
Beneath the bonnet sits the regular turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, but thanks to new engine management software, it gets peak figures of 213kW/350Nm. While the torque figure has remained the same as the standard GTI, there’s a power gain of 44kW in the TCR, making for a noticeable difference.
A louder exhaust system is the other change here, but it’s nowhere near as obnoxious as the Akrapovic exhaust found on that Golf R Performance.
To help get these extra kilowatts to the tarmac, VW has installed a fancy locking “eDiff” on the front axle. This electronic LSD is meant to minimise wheelspin on launch, although you seem to just smoke both front tyres instead of just one when booting it off the line.
Due to those Covid supply restrictions, the TCR in NZ gets a six-speed DSG transmission instead of the seven-speed unit that you’d find in the normal Golf. This is the only option, so manual lovers out there will have to make do.
It’s obviously not as fast as a Golf R off the line, but once you get moving, the playfulness of the front-drive platform becomes clear. It’s nimble, it turns in nicely, and that eDiff does a good job once you’re pulling Gs around corners. The TCR is dropped 20mm and sits on stiffer springs, giving the driver a lot more confidence once the tyres start to squeal.
VW claims that the TCR will do 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds. Despite the fact that it feels faster, you’d be lucky to get below six seconds when using launch control. You’ll sit on the spot spinning both front wheels for a second or two when using launch control; shifting it into Sport mode, turning off traction control, and pedaling it yourself is a far more effective way to achieve a sub-six-second 0-100km/h sprint.
Other performance upgrades include big brakes and 19-inch wheels that are wrapped in sticky Michelin rubber. This thing is around 20kg lighter than the standard GTI and the speed limiter has been removed.
The TCR shows its age in the cabin, using the same interior that was introduced back in 2013. This certainly isn’t a dealer-breaker, but considering where it’s priced, the TCR’s rivals have more to offer on the inside.
The TCR was available from $65,990 when it landed earlier this year. At the time of writing, just four TCRs were yet to sell.
For similar hot hatch performance in the same price region, you could look at the Focus ST for $59,490, or get the option of a manual transmission with the Renault Megane RS at $59,990.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI TCR
ENGINE: 2.0 turbo-petrol four
GEARBOX: 6-speed automated dual clutch (DSG)