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First look: New VW Golf GTI goes for gold

Hot hatch: 2009 Golf GTI's turbo four delivers an extra 10 horsepower.

Volkswagen reveals its MkVI Golf GTI concept, complete with variable damping and LSD

26 Sep 2008

WITH the reskinned Golf VI revealed in both three and five-door guises in early August and now launched in Europe, and the bullocking new “Robust” dual-cab ute concept joined by a gaggle of new green-tinged work models at this week’s Hanover commercial vehicle show, it was only natural the sixth-generation Golf GTI would become Volkswagen’s headline act at the Paris motor show on October 2.

Revealed yesterday in Europe ahead of its official world debut next week, the latest Golf GTI emerges in seemingly road-ready three-door “concept” guise and will join the Golf VI range in Australia some time after it goes on sale here in the second quarter of 2009.

While there are no visual surprises, Volkswagen has confirmed the replacement for one of its most popular models in Australia will feature both a limited-slip differential and the option of an adjustable damping system for the first time.

3 center imageChannelled through the otherwise fundamentally unchanged chassis is a peak power output that rises just 7kW, from 147 to 154kW, disappointing those who expected 166kW to match Ford's Focus XR5.

Clearly, Volkswagen needed to restrict the GTI’s performance to levels its front-drive chassis can handle, as well as leaving breathing space for all-wheel drive Golf-based models such as a yet-to-be-confirmed replacement for the current 184kW V6-powered R32 and Audi’s existing 188kW S3 turbo four.

Curiously dubbed a 2.0-litre TSI engine rather than a TFSI as is currently the case, the new GTI’s upgraded turbocharged four-cylinder is nevertheless more efficient as well as more powerful, now returning claimed average EU fuel consumption of 7.5L/100km as well as 178 grams per kilometre of CO2 emissions – down from 8.1L/100km and 194g/km for the MkV GTI manual.

While the new Golf GTI’s official 0-100km/h acceleration figures remain unchanged at 7.2 seconds for the six-speed manual and 6.9 seconds for the six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic, Volkswagen says the extra 10hp of peak power is enough to make it the fastest Golf GTI ever, with a claimed top speed of 238km/h - up from 235 and 233km/h respectively.

Befitting Volkswagen’s iconic small hot-hatch, which spans five generations that attracted 1.7 million global sales over the past 32 years, the new GTI continues to feature firmer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, which are now joined by the option of Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC).

The adjustable pneumatic damping system comprises three settings including ‘comfort’, ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ and is linked to the GTI’s steering and throttle systems. Similarly, the GTI’s electronic limited-slip differential, dubbed XDS, is linked to the car’s standard ESP stability/traction control system.

While the new Golf GTI bodykit continues to feature black ‘egg-crate’ style front grilles, the trademark red outline of the current car’s upper grille is replaced by straight red highlights above and below it.

The current GTI’s matt-black lower plastic sections have been banished, and are replaced at the sides with skirts that now feature a scalloped central section. Volkswagen says the MkV GTI’s “telephone dial” 18-inch alloy wheels have been subtly revised to feature a milled silver finish with gloss black inserts.

Inside the all-new Golf VI interior there’s a flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel, taking a leaf out of Audi’s RS4 copybook but adding black leather with red stitching.

Unique GTI instruments, a gloss black dashboard, silver door trim highlights and contoured sports seats trimmed in grey tartan cloth (said to be reminiscent of the MkI and MkV models) further differentiate the GTI from lesser Golfs.

Volkswagen says the new GTI will come standard with seven airbags, a CD sound system and climate-control air-conditioning.

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