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Driven: VW rewinds pricing clock for Golf GTI Original

Back to basics: The GTI Original is offered in three-door guise only and swaps out the three-mode adaptive suspension for a fixed sports suspension standard overseas.

Three-door Original to top manual Volkswagen Golf GTI popularity

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Volkswagen logo9 Feb 2018

VOLKSWAGEN has announced a special driveaway deal for the Golf GTI to coincide with the arrival of the Original, a 200-unit limited edition paying tribute to the 1976 first-generation hot hatch that has the cheapest entry price since 2003.

The Mark 7.5, three-door-only Golf GTI Original six-speed manual had been announced from $37,490 plus on-road costs – $500 above a Mark 4 Golf GTI from 2003 and $1000 below the three-door Mark 5 from 2006 – but it has now been revealed that on-road costs will add just $1000 to every GTI.

VW’s permanent – until further notice – offer is also applicable to the $39,990 Golf GTI Original with six-speed dual-clutch automatic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), the $41,990 manual/$44,490 DSG five-door Golf GTI, and the $47,990 Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 three door, however it does not cover any Golf R.

The most affordable Golf R Grid Edition, its equivalent special model but with five doors, starts at $47,490 – but according to Volkswagen’s Sydney-based price guide will demand an additional $5125 in on-roads totalling $52,615 driveaway.

A Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) spokesperson said the driveaway deal, on top of an already reduced entry pricetag, was designed in part to combat the onslaught of new rivals such as the Hyundai i30 N and Renault Megane RS.

However, despite performance GTI/R versions snaring around 25 per cent of all Golf sales, it was also in attempt to skew buyer attention back to the GTI, which holds only a 40 per cent share of sales between them, leaving R at 60 per cent.

VGA product planning manager Jeff Shafer added that rewinding the pricing clock, as well as stripping some equipment to create the Australia-only limited edition Original, was about taking a Golf GTI back to its core.

“I think the germ of the idea was actually when we were launching the GTI 40 years almost two years ago,” Mr Shafer told GoAuto at the national media launch of the Golf GTI Original in the NSW Southern Highlands this week.

“We were talking about the origins of the car and how far it had come over that time, and I think we were just talking a little bit about is there something we can do around something that’s a bit back to basics and kind of distil the essence into something that may be a bit more accessible but also retaining everything that makes it a GTI.

“I think if you look at what’s in the car as standard, it’s got everything that makes it a GTI. Maybe nothing beyond that, and so it’s really for that person, I think, who can think back even to generation one and generation two.

Mr Shafer said the demand of the Golf GTI 40 Years – a powered-up five-door to celebrate the model’s 40th anniversary – with a manual transmission also guided the creation of the Golf GTI Original, which was devised by VGA and then approved for production by global headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

“I think we were kind-of looking at manuals as being around 25 per cent of the mix (of Golf GTI 40 Years),” he said.

“(But) the manuals in the 40 Years got snapped up really quickly and so I think we kind of factored that into this one (Golf GTI Original).”

He therefore revised the forecast so that “we’ll have a reasonably even split between the two” transmissions in this circa-200-unit production run, making a manual version of this Golf GTI Original twice as popular as the 40 Years.

“I think we'll actually get a decent uptake on the manual, and manuals, I guess nowadays are becoming a bit more unusual,” he added.

“There’s probably some people who want to go back to that. I think with the way it’s positioned as a three-door, it’s probably (an offering for) young singles and maybe those looking with an almost purist kind of thinking.”

Depending on the success of the Golf GTI Original, it could also become a more regular part of the range, with Mr Shafer also promising that further limited-edition models could be on the way to join the Volkswagen performance range.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” he added.

“If you look at the history of the car, GTI never sits still. So we’re certainly proud to get this car on sale today, and I think it’ll find some amazing response, and this isn’t the end of the story.

“So we’re not done. We’ve got plenty to come, even in the seventh generation, and then looking into the eighth generation. We always want to listen to the customer in the market and we’ll see how this goes. I think having now the opportunity to be getting to a car for well under forty (thousand dollars) on road makes a really compelling case for a lot of people.”

The three-door Original shares its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with the five-door Golf GTI, with both making 169kW of power between 4700rpm and 6200rpm plus 350Nm of torque from 1500rpm until 4600rpm.

Despite both body styles sharing exterior measurements (4268mm long, 1799mm wide, 1442mm tall with a 2626mm wheelbase), and a 380-litre boot, the de-specified three-door sheds a further 25kg to a kerb weight of 1304kg.

Performance and economy have been unaltered, however, with a claimed 6.4-second 0-100km/h for both transmissions and combined-cycle fuel consumption of between 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres (manual) and 6.7L/100km (DSG).

Compared with the $4500-pricier Golf GTI, the Original retains 18-inch alloy wheels and 225mm-wide 40-aspect tyres, however it flicks a silver Tornado design for black Sevilla items with a red pinstripe. While front and rear parking sensors remain, it drops foglights but picks up an ‘Original’ tailgate badge.

Underneath it also loses three-mode adaptive suspension that has been standard on all locally delivered performance Golfs since the introduction of the Mark 7 generation in 2013, replaced by a fixed sports suspension standard overseas.

Meanwhile inside it also loses keyless auto-entry with push-button start, and retains an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring but without the GTI’s integrated satellite navigation.

Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning with rear air vents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, colour multi-function trip computer display, and auto on/off wipers and LED headlights and tail-lights also remain.

With only a choice of no-cost red or white available, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard, the only option is a $1600 Driver Assistance Package – incorporating active cruise control, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assistance, and auto reverse-park assistance.

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