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Driven: VW lobs sportiest Golf 7.5s

Long game: Volkswagen has drastically increased the number of hot Golf variants it offers in Australia.

Updated spec and power for Volkswagen’s performance Golf line-up


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17 Aug 2017

VOLKSWAGEN Australia has introduced refreshed versions of the Golf GTI and R performance variants just six weeks after the launch of the main ‘7.5’ range and ahead of the arrival of even more special edition go-fast models later this year.

The GTI, the new limited-edition GTI Performance Edition 1 and updated R range offer more specification and performance than the models they replace, and include upgrades that have already rolled out to the more pedestrian variants.

Volkswagen Australia general manager of marketing and product Ben Wilks told GoAuto that there was opportunity for more growth for the hot hatch and wagon variants.

“If you look at the importance of the range in terms of Golf, it's more than a quarter of what we sell already and there's so much potential,” he said at the media launch in NSW.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in entry-level cars, in classic, simple, accessible sportscars, and there’s also opportunity in the top end of the range as well.

“We see a huge amount of demand for the (limited-edition Golf R) Wolfsburg, for example, from people coming in new to the brand as well, where they just want something that is practical, but still does naught to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.”

Mr Wilks added that the Golf GTI and R variants were a crucial part of the Volkswagen brand.

“These performance vehicles define our brand and they will continue to evolve,” he said. “In the end, there really is a performance vehicle, a performance Golf, for everyone in this range.”

Volkswagen Group Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer told GoAuto that expanding the Golf Performance model range with new variants would not necessarily add to volume to the model, but it would increase the current percentage of sales, which currently stands at between 20 and 25 per cent of all Golf sales.

“The overall position is that we know that Performance cars are quite strong in Australia and we get that feedback from the market and it’s feedback that we then in turn pass on to our colleagues in Germany,” said Mr Shafer.

“We think we’ve got a performance Golf for everyone. We wanted to appeal to a slightly broader range of customers, too, so with the (future) addition of the GTI Original three-door at a lower entry price, you’re probably looking at a slightly younger, probably single buyer, all the way up then to the Golf R Wolfsburg wagon at the other end of the scale.”

Mr Shafer said he believed that the original ‘standard’ GTI would remain the best-selling performance variant for the interim.

“I still think that the kind of mainstream GTI will be the big part of our sales, though,” he said. “So in terms of what we’re hoping to achieve with the models, yes, certainly we’d hope that with a broader offering that we get a few more sales in, but I think it’s also just about having a bit of choice through the range.”

The entry level five-door GTI will start at $41,490 before on-road costs in six-speed manual guise, or $43,990 fitted with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. This is $500 more than the outgoing car, though the 7.5 offers more equipment as standard.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine offers slightly more power - up seven kilowatts to 169kW – and a wider spread of its 350Nm of torque.

Revised front and rear bars, new-design 18-inch rims and larger exhaust tips complete the exterior makeover, while inside, the GTI offers the same 8.0-inch recessed touchscreen multimedia system as fitted to more regulation Mk ‘7.5’ Golfs.

The GTI Performance 1, meanwhile, heralds the return of the three-door Golf GTI body style after a 12-year absence. The output is 180kW and 370Nm from the same EA888 four-cylinder engine as the GTI, save for an ECU retune.

VW’s latest seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission and electronic limited slip diff as well as larger 320mm brake rotors are also standard on the Performance 1, along with 19-inch Brescia alloy rims, a honeycomb microfleece/leatherette trim, LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators, VW’s Active Info Display dash and adaptive cruise control.

Just 150 have been offered initially, in DSG guise only. It will cost $47,990, which is $1500 more than the six-speed DSG-equipped, five-door Performance.

Mr Wilks confirmed that the company had the ability to increase the Performance 1’s production run if demand required it.

Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive R has also changed little mechanically in the switch from Mk 7 to Mk 7.5, with its already-uprated 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine benefiting from a computer retune to yield 213kW and 380Nm.

It can be had with either a six-speed manual gearbox or the new seven-speed DSG in hatch form, while the new R wagon is DSG only.

It also gets new LED headlights with dual LED daytime running lights, LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators, refreshed front and rear bumpers, a larger 9.2-inch multimedia screen with gesture control – a first for a compact car, according to VW – and new 19-inch rims.

At $52,990 and $55,490 before ORCs for the manual and DSG respectively, VW says the price between the previous generation R and the Mk 7.5 has not changed.

The Wolfsburg Edition, meanwhile will return in the guise of 300 hatches and 300 wagons, with grey 19-inch rims, carbon fibre mirror caps, Nappa leather-appointed interior and a Dynaudio 400W premium sound system the main additions for an additional $2500 ask, along with the fitment of VW’s Driver Assistance package as standard.

As previously reported, the Golf R will now be offered permanently in wagon guise, while a pair of special-edition variants – the three-door Golf GTI Original and the five-door Golf R Grid – will land in showrooms in late 2017 and early 2018 respectively.

The GTI Original is expected to be priced under $40,000, while the R Grid will bring the price of the R down to below $50,000 for the first time.

2017 Volkswagen Golf pricing*
GTI (a)$43,990
GTI Performance Edition 1 (a)$47,990
R (a)$55,490
R Wolfsburg Edition (a)$57,990
R (a)$57,490
R Wolfsburg Edition (a)$59,990

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