Brief History of the Golf GTI
For those of you that have seen the debut of first Volkswagen Golf in 1974 you would be able to appreciate its progression and evolution trough the last 30 somewhat years. It definitely has gone a long way from its 66 horsepower engine and 4 gear manual transmission. The real connoisseurs on the other hand would appreciate this mk1 platform for being one of the most popular iconic cars Volkswagen has produced. Till today and over 30 years later the GTI’s roar the streets everywhere.
Did you know that the first mk1 Volkswagen Golf platform was actually called the vw rabbit for the North American market and introduced in 1978 while for our Mexican neighbors, it was launched in 1977 and it was called the caribe? Did you also know that the Golf was meant to replace the hatchback beetle that was losing in popularity? The Golf was an immediate success from the initial launch. No wonder.
The official US release of the vw gti was not until 1983 while Canadians on the other hand where able to get in on the action as soon as 1979. The European had it best; they had access to the vw gti as early as 1976. The sports version of the golf called the GTI had a whopping 112hp to the crank. I am going to hear some of you say: what? That’s it? Don’t be fooled, this lightweight car was able to do 0-60mph in only 9 seconds and was able to reach a top speed of 110mph. Pretty impressive for a little car like that, wouldn’t you say? With mass market appeal, the vw golf GTI soon found a new name: the “Hot Hatch” sold like hotcakes.
Through the years, Volkswagen changed engine option and progressively worked towards improving its performance and drivability. This is why I have a lot of respect for Volkswagen, they constantly want to improve with new technologies, new engines, new gadgets, and whatever else they can put their hands on to satisfy their so ever demanding customers. They are a true constant improvement company.
Unfortunately, I have noticed that they have fallen into the programmed obsolescence trap to remain competitive and to make their business stay alive for the years to come. It is not beneficial for a manufacturer to produce too good of a car, even if they are able to do so, it’s not good business. A car needs to break down so the dealers and garages can make their money, while others can drop their old one and indulge in the latest model. Call it consumerism 101. Yes, the extended durability is no longer what it used to be, but I do believe it is still much better than most other vehicle out there, that are in direct competition with the GTI. I also noticed that Volkswagen would lower its quality standards and produce lower grade vehicles to directly compete with small compact competitors. Fortunately this does not affect the GTI models which are designed with the driver in mind and cost a pretty penny for a two door hatchback. For those of you who know what a GTI truly is, you are willing to pay the price for it.
Nowadays, the golf comes in a range of models and engine options. From the basic new generation 1.8T engine developing 170hp, to the Clean Diesel TDI engine, all the way up to the powerful golf R model that pushes 292hp to the crank and comes standard with the so ever popular 4 motion drivetrain. Now imagine installing a performance software in that Beast! With an extra 50hp to the crank you might just believe you are dreaming and consider yourself to be, in driver’s heaven. Being a higher end model and specifically targeted at enthusiasts and connoisseurs of the brand, Volkswagen decided to only offer the vw Golf R model in a 4 door hatchback edition to also attract the family guy who would appreciate a fine looking, powerful sport car when driving alone. Being a Volkswagen enthusiast and connoisseur myself, I understand Volkswagen’s strategic placement for North America, but I would rather enjoy a 2 door hatchback model just like available in Europe.
Until today, in North America, the Golf R was only available with a DSG transmission, which is the best option for performance but what about those people who would rather enjoy a manual transmission to fully take control of their ride. This is one of the reason’s I’ve chosen to keep my 2004 R model. Yes in 2004 Volkswagen launched a very iconic car, equipped with a naturally aspirated 3.2L Engine and a 6 speed manual transmission. This car had it all; the Konig German made leather bucket seats, the 4 motion drivetrain, the big brakes, and on and on. But the sound of the exhaust when you start the engine would make you immediately want to take this care for a spin. It was asking to be driven!
Apparently Volkswagen has decided to offer the 2016 Golf R model with a manual transmission making it available as soon as the summer of 2015. Bummer if you are looking for the two door option, it will not be available in North-America for the moment and we don’t know if it ever will be.
The VW Golf Green approach
With the turn to the green technology, which I think are crucial and necessary at this very important time to reduce our global footprint, Volkswagen launched the electric e-Golf with a 24.2KWh electric motor which is equivalent to a 115hp gas burner. The power doesn’t seem much but when you combine it with 199ft/lbs of torque, its starts to get interesting. You have to understand that an electric motor doesn’t work like a gas engine. The immediate torque response of an electric motor makes the driving experience very impressive from the start while on the gas motors, in most cases, the torque band is a progressive buildup in power. The downfall of this electric motor, is after the initial lunch, the power band seems to taper off, but if you are mainly driving this car in the city, this won’t bother you much.
If you are planning an expedition further away from the city, you might be disappointed by the limited range of only 83 miles. There are over 2500 fast recharge points across the United-State where you can expect to spend about 30 minutes to fully load it up. So if you are planning to take a drive from L.A to Las Vegas for the weekend, there is a good change you might end up spending most of your time at charge stations. In this scenic road trip, your car will require constant attention, obliging you to stop 4 times for refills. On the other hand Tesla has it figured out; their P85 model is able to drive 265 miles before it requires a recharge. That is more like it.
Understanding the impacts on the economy, and the requirement for a slow transition period between the gas powered vehicles and the electric cars, one would understand why we are being limited in the options that are being offered. After all, if you watched the documentary: “Who killed the electric car?” you would understand that this technology and even a more advanced one, was available to us years and years ago.
For Volkswagen electric technology, well I believe it is huge step in the right direction, thumbs up! On the other hand, it still has a long way to go before we can use it for distant gateways. If you are the urban type and don’t get away much from the city, then the e-golf is the perfect vehicle for you. If you are a power junky like myself, then you will need to look into to other models Volkswagen has to offer.
What’s up with the 2015 VW GTI
The 2015 GTI mark 7 platform has seen a dramatic facelift! If you are driving on the highway and you notice the Mk7 GTI in your rear view mirror, your first reaction is to change lanes and move aside. The font end of the vehicle is so aggressive that without any words being said it clearly communicates; strength and power.
The overall exterior design is very well balanced where you can appreciate the fine lines of a sport vehicle while you can admire certain body features seen in the Audi’s. For instance the taillights will make me think of the new Audi A3. While you indulge yourself in its beautiful exterior design, remember that the interior is in no way any different in its appeal. Volkswagen, as always keeps an eye out for the quality of the materials they use and have done a tremendous job with paying great attention to details. As always, and in tribute to its heritage, you can expect the VW GTI to have the Clack Plaid cloth seating surface as a standard option. You may also upgrade to the leather interior is such is your desire.
When it comes to the engines options, they have been improved in torque while horsepower remains very similar to the mk6 platform. The standard 2.0TFSI turbocharged engine is the only choice provided for the 2015 GTI. The engine remains the same for the standard GTI, the S and the SE and is available in 2 different configurations. The standard edition will give you 210hp while the S and the SE versions will give you an extra 10 ponies bringing it up to 220hp. The major change from the mk6 platform to the mk7 was the increase in engine torque. Yes, the mk7 GTI’s benefits from a 50ft/lbs torque increase which is huge considering the efforts Volkswagen has put into the 2015 models to reduce their weight by using different materials. Last but not least important, all 2015 GTI’s are available in 2 or 4 doors options.
Now, knowing that you can install a quality performance software to increase your car’s power, I personally would rather save a few thousand dollars on the 10 hp bonus Volkswagen is trying to sell you, and consider getting 50 extra horsepower with a quality aftermarket performance software, if available. No matter what car is more appealing to you, Volkswagen builds good quality vehicles? Ideally I would stay away from the entry level versions and spend a few extra dollars on a higher end model.