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Volkswagen launches hottest Golf

Six-month wait: The new-generation VW GTI hot hatch is expected to go on sale in Australia late this year for about $40,000.

Sixth-generation Golf GTI hits Europe, but Australians will wait at least six months

26 Mar 2009

VOLKSWAGEN has launched the performance flagship of its latest volume-selling small-car in Europe, but the sixth-generation Golf GTI hatch won’t go on sale in Australia until late this year.

Full pricing for manual and DSG transmission versions of the three and five-door successor for the previous GTI, which comprised a considerable 25 per cent of all Golf sales in Australia last year, have been announced in Europe.

Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) has not confirmed if the three-door will go on sale here alongside the five-door in the fourth quarter of 2009, but the new GTI is expected to remain priced around the $40,000 mark here – in the same way that VGA held prices of the new Golf MkVI at Golf V levels at launch this month.

The Golf V GTI is currently priced at $38,990 for the three-door and $40,490 for the five-door.

Similar pricing will continue to make it a direct rival for hot-hatches such as Ford’s Focus XR5 Turbo, Holden’s Astra SRi, this month’s upgraded Honda Civic Type R, Subaru’s Impreza WRX, Mitsubishi’s Lancer Ralliart, Renault’s Megane RS and the Mazda3 MPS, which is due for replacement around the same time.

Like the new MPS turbo, which is based on the reskinned, second-generation Mazda3 hatch to be launched in Australia next month, the MkVI Golf GTI represents a evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, upgrade of the model it replaces.

Just as the Golf V hatch range made way for a re-bodied, re-engined model this year, the GTI kingpin carries over its fundamental chassis architecture but with a revised turbocharged 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that now drives through a more advanced limited-slip front differential.

3 center imageWhile the MkV Golf GTI was powered by an all-new 147kW turbo four, the sixth GTI’s ‘TSI’ engine now increases its power output to 155kW – but short of the 169kW offered by last year’s limited-edition ‘Pirelli’ Golf and the Golf GTI ‘Edition 30’ that preceded it.

Volkswagen says the latest GTI engine is a development of the 169kW “EA888” engine, rather than being based on its predecessor’s 147kW engine. As well as meeting the latest Euro V emissions standards, it is said to have new pistons and piston rings, a regulated oil pump, a new vacuum pump, a new high-pressure fuel pump and a new mass airflow sensor.

Volkswagen says the result is improved engine efficiency compared with the superseded 147kW engine and the 169kW version.

The new GTI’s TSI engine is claimed to return average EU fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km, which is almost a litre better than the Pirelli GTI’s 8.2L/100km, as well as 0.7L/100km more frugal than the 147kW FSI engine it replaces.

CO2 emissions are rated at a correspondingly lower 170g/km, and the German giant says that equates to a fuel range of about 750km.

Perhaps more importantly to most customers, however, is that a similar kerb weight of 1340kg means the new Golf GTI offers around the same acceleration as before, despite the fact that its unchanged peak torque output of 280Nm now arrives at just 1700rpm and continues all the way to 5200rpm.

Peak power is now also available between 5300 and 6200rpm, and the official result is 0-100km/h acceleration in 6.9 seconds, which won’t surprise owners of the current GTI. Nor will it put pressure on owners of the current Pirelli GTI, which employs its 300Nm to hit 100km/h in 6.6 seconds.

However, VW says the real gains have been realised over the standing-start kilometre, which is now dispensed with in a claimed 27.3 seconds. In-gear flexibility is another alleged highlight, with 80-120km/h overtaking said to occur in 7.5 seconds in fifth gear and 9.5 seconds in sixth. Top speed is listed at 240km/h, when the tacho reads 5900rpm.

The DSG version, which lacks the seventh ratio of Volkswagen’s newest dry dual-clutch automated manual transmission, is even faster at a claimed 238km/h (at 5920rpm), but offers the same 6.9-second 0-100 sprint time and is one point thirstier than the manual (7.4L/100km).

A single chromed exhaust outlet on both sides of the GTI’s black rear diffuser gives no clue to what VW says is a newly developed exhaust system, which features a more complex routing system to produce “the typical GTI sound”, as well as being lighter and producing less back-pressure.

The new GTI’s chassis has been similarly revised and features a new electronic damping control system, dubbed dynamic chassis control (DCC), which offers three selectable damping settings: Normal, Sport and Comfort.

Of course, the Golf VI’s front strut suspension was lowered by 22mm, while the multi-link independent rear suspension’s ride height is 15mm lower. Of course, specific springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are employed, along with wider wheel tracks. ‘ESP’ electronic stability control (ESC) continues to feature, along with red painted brake callipers.

The biggest chassis change involves the fitment of an electronic transverse differential lock – labelled XDS – for the first time on the Golf GTI. Described as “a functional extension of the electronic limited-slip differential (EDS) integrated in the ESC system”, XDS is claimed to significantly improve traction and handling, presumably by reducing understeer.

GTI’s engineering advisor (and two-time Le Mans winner) Hans-Joachim Stuck said XDS gave the car an enormous measure of driving stability.

He said the reduced understeer made it more enjoyable - a characteristic that would not be lost on experienced sportscar drivers.

“Yet, XDS is a very important safety feature for normal drivers too, because they will not experience any unpleasant surprises with the GTI," he said.

Also for the first time, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) will be available as an option in Europe from late 2009. Like other radar-controlled cruise systems, it operates between 30 and 210km/h.

Other European options will include Volkswagen’s second-generation Park Assist system and all-new dynamic bi-Xenon headlights, which can swivel through a steering radius of up to 13 degrees to the outside and seven degrees to the inside.

Within the familiar looking GTI exterior, which appears virtually identical to that of the concept that appeared at last October’s Paris motor show, the new-generation GTI features standard sports seats trimmed with a tartan fabric pattern named “Jacky” and featuring “WOKS” whiplash-optimised head restraints. “Vienna” leather trim will also be available.

Unique GTI interior features include brushed stainless steel pedal caps, an aluminium-look GTI gearshifter, a GTI-badged leather steering wheel with grip recesses and red stitching, a leather gearshift surround and parking brake grip and black rooflining and pillar trim.

Read more:

First Oz drive: Volkswagen Golf remastered

First look: New VW Golf GTI goes for gold

VW Golf gets Australian five-star safety too

Melbourne show: Golf tees off for VW

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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