If you want a fast hatchback, there is only one brand most notable for producing some of the fastest examples out there.
Volkswagen attached the GTI name to the Golf back in the '70s, and since then, it has garnered an almost legendary reputation among petrolheads around the world.
This year the Golf will transition into its eighth-generation and make its way to local shores toward the end of the year. While many people are anticipating its arrival, the German brand decided to give the outgoing seventh-generation a parting gift by launching the limited edition, race-inspired GTI TCR.
Packed with 213kW and 380Nm, and a whole host of exterior goodies, only 297 models will be made available to buy in South Africa. This makes it a real collector's item at a retail price of R669 000.
VW's MK7 Golf performance range is already littered with the likes of the GTI, Clubsport, Clubsport S, R and now the GTI TCR. No other generation has spawned so much models, but is the introduction of the latter really needed when there is already so much to choose from?
Yes, the TCR is priced very well and the fact that its a limited edition makes it lucrative, but in terms of power it still comes in second to the R. With peak power at 228kW and mated to an all-wheel-drive system, the Golf R represents the better-packaged option on paper. The R is the range-topper but seeing as though the TCR is a special edition, power could have been upped a bit more.
What you end up paying for in the TCR is basically a host of optional extras like the unique interior, rear diffuser, 19-inch wheels and 'TCR' livery. Nothing changes under the bonnet, though, as it still makes use of the standard GTI's 2.0-litre petrol engine, bar a few tweaks to increase the power output.
With all that considered, you'd still get schooled by an R.
Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post
R or TCR?
To be fair, there aren't many hot hatches out there that can embarrass a Golf R in a straight line. There is also no overboost function in the TCR, which the Clubsport has for that extra kilowatts when you need it.
Just like Toyota did with the wide variety of Hilux models on offer, each comes with a different level of value. Kind of like a 'you have the Legend 50, I have the GR Sport' sort of thing.
There is no mistaking that the GTI TCR will definitely be a hit when customers can start placing orders. Most people probably won't care that its slower, and more affordable, than the R, but merely buying it because its a special edition.
Volkswagen knew they had limited time within which to market and sell the TCR, which is why only a limited amount of models are making their way to SA. There is a very high possibility that most, if not all GTI TCR's will find new homes before the eighth-generation Golf GTI and R is officially launched.
If you want exclusivity and belong to an elite club of Golf GTI, then the TCR is the chosen one. On the other hand, if you merely want to outrun the competition, the R is the hands-down choice.
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