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New Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR to top realigned GTI range

Jordan Katsianis
22 Aug 2018

Gone is the ‘entry’ 227bhp GTI, replaced by the 242bhp GTI PP model, 286bhp TCR to top new range

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Volkswagen has realigned the Golf GTI range, removing the entry-level 227bhp GTI and topping it with the GTI TCR, based on the thinly veiled concept from Wörthersee, later this year.

Killed off thanks to those pesky WLTP emissions regulations, the entry GTI will now come as standard with the previous GTI Performance Pack’s 242bhp engine, while the new TCR will slip (just) underneath the flagship Golf R  at 286bhp, which itself lost 10bhp from the new regulations.

> Click here to read our review of the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S

These changes all result from the introduction of new standardised WLTP emissions regulations, which have hit manufacturers with wide-reaching ranges, like VW, particularly hard. What’s even more frustrating for the German brand is that the all-new eighth generation Golf is only about a year away, making the testing procedures these new models require only valid for a short period of time.

For now, we should just be glad that Volkswagen still seem willing to let the impressive mk7 Golf GTI go out with the bang it deserves as the new TCR model will hopefully capture some of the magic that made other special edition GTIs, like the Clubsport S, such a riot.

Its underpinnings are nothing particularly new, using the same EA888 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but here the TCR produces the aforementioned 286bhp, 44bhp more than the now standard 242bhp GTI and only 10bhp down on the Golf R.

Unlike the previous Clubsport, the TCR’s close-quarter connection to the Golf GTI TCR racing car means that Volkswagen will only offer a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, and not the slick-shifting manual previously offered on the Clubsport.

In addition to the mechanical upgrades, the TCR also rides some 20mm lower than the standard GTI, integrating adaptive dampers as standard on 18-inch, or new 19-inch alloy wheels. The latter are bespoke to the TCR and only available in a gloss black finish. The bodywork has also been subtly revised, with an extended front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser.

Hidden underneath the new rear bumper is a stainless steel exhaust system, with a further option of a titanium system by Slovenian firm Akrapovič. The brakes have also been upgraded, while the GTI Performance’s limited-slip differential also ensures front traction will be adequately handled.

Inside the cabin Volkswagen has applied a range of bespoke finishes to the seats and steering wheel, the latter with a red 12 O’clock stripe to remind you that you’re in something a little more special than a ‘normal’ GTI.

We’re excited with the prospect of a new flagship Golf GTI model, but can’t help but feel the lack of a manual gearbox might set the tone of the TCR being less involving than the previous Clubsport. Another issue is whether a spiritual successor to the fabulous Clubsport S might be on the cards. With a power output of 316bhp, the Clubsport S still holds the candle as the most powerful production Golf GTI ever, while its unmatched combination of tenacious, grippy, yet thrilling handling, complemented by Volkswagen’s typical polish, made it one of the true stars of the hot hatch genre.

With an all-new Mk8 Golf on the horizon, the gap left to produce a follow-up to one of our favourite ever hot hatchbacks is quickly closing, making it even more imperative that the new GTI TCR doesn’t disappoint as the Mk7 Golf’s final hurrah.

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