• The Golf GTI TCR is the very last edition of the seventh generation hot hatch.
• Volkswagen South Africa were allocated 300 units.
• The TCR features bespoke detailing inside and out.
I was excited as a child on Christmas eve when I heard the swansong of the seventh generation Golf GTI was arriving on test in the Wheels24 garage.
Called the Touring Car Racing edition or TCR , it doesn't look like any other Golf 7 GTI Volkswagen has produced.
There are no LED front spotlights, it has stickers on the front doors, a massive rear diffuser, a rear wing, and new 19-inch wheels with red brake calipers.
Inside, there's alcantara on the gearlever and sides of the seats (which have a tartan design), steering wheel and door inserts. On the front passenger side of the dash there's a numbered plaque indicating which of the 300 models you're in. This one we sampled was number 299 of 300.
Visually, it stands out and I'm a fan of the boy-racer body kit, however the decals should be a no-cost delete option. It adds a bespoke feel to the exterior and is warranted of the R669 000 asking price.
A nice touch is the TCR logo puddle light that's projected onto the ground at night.
Features-wise the TCR ships standard with a panaoramic sunroof, park assist, active info display, We Connect Go and dynamic chassis control.
Our test unit was clad in Pure Grey, one of only three available hues that include Pure White and Tornado Red.
The GTI's final send-off version is fitted with the most powerful version of the 2.0-litre EA888 engine. It produces 213kW and 370Nm that's sent through the front axle.
Volkswagen has removed the limiter so the TCR will hit a top speed of 264km/h. With launch control activated the six-speed DSG is capable of whipping through the gears at a dizzying rate to hit 100km/h in a claimed sprint time of 5.6 seconds.
Under the TCR's muscular body is the standard electronic front limited-slip differential for greater traction out of tight corners. The TCR sits 5mm lower than a normal GTI and sports Continental ContiSportContact rubber.
Just a drive
Finding the right road and time to explore the TCR's capabilities was tricky since there was only one day to do so. I waited until the roads were quiet, then fired up the throaty four-cylinder engine and lit up the road with the TCR's steely LED headlights.
Changing the car's set up to sport allows the revs to increase and tightens up the suspension.
The TCR is predictable in the way it handles and that's not a bad thing. This time around the extra power translates into fast exit speeds, and outstanding mid range grunt.
The chassis can handle more grunt and some would argue the TCR should have more power, but that would mean stepping on the R's four toes.
The steering is accurate and makes you feel confident to tip the car in knowing the electronic front-diff is working its ass off so make sure the traction control light isn't flickering when you get onto the power out of tight, twisty corners.
The gearbox in its sportiest setting punches through the gears that adds to a great driving experience. The standout qualities after the drive is the steering, front-end grip, and exhaust note. It's vital for a performance car to sound good, and the TCR delivers in that aspect.
In Comfort mode the suspension is supple and class-leading, but the Sport mode exposes the expected hardness on bumpy surfaces.
The TCR shines when driven with gusto and offers a bespoke look, and I suppose bragging rights too (only 300 in the country).
Did it make me feel special? Yes. Did I crave to drive it once it went back? Yes. What a way to goodbye, GTI.