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VW Golf GTI in the test: a worthy successor?

Rossen Gargolov
VW Golf GTI in the test
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The instrument unit looks surprisingly modern even by today's standards. The spindle-thin steering wheel, the towering shift stick in golf ball design and the checkered seating are not. No - we are of course not talking about the current sixth generation Golf GTI. At most, when it comes to the color of his seat covers, he still borrows from his spartan, almost naked ancestor. Otherwise, it has long outgrown the class to which it once named in terms of comfort, material appearance and quality.

We're talking about the progenitor, the GTI with the code number 1 and, which was first launched in the mid-1970s just 110 horsepower stowed in the airy, filigree-looking front end. To be admired and driven on the occasion of the presentation of the newcomer. What role does that play here? Quite simply: it grounds, adjusts the situation in view of the driving fun that the unfiltered oldie conveys on the winding streets in and around St. Tropez.

Safety has top priority

It's hard to believe how little car it once took to really enjoy driving. Today such a restriction to the essentials is unthinkable due to the current legislation. Pedestrian and occupant protection is now a top priority in the development of modern cars. Six to ten airbags, ABS, DCC, ESP, EDS or - as with the new GTI - XDS, the list of safety-relevant equipment features that have long been accepted as indispensable is long.

So it's no wonder that the current Golf is too GTI Speck has started: Instead of the previous 800, it now weighs 1,391 kilos - and is therefore still relatively light, as the comparison with the almost 100 kilogram heavier Ford Focus RS shows. The weight increase is compensated by the modern engine development: two liters displacement, gasoline direct injection and an exhaust gas turbocharger give the current GTI 210 hp. Even with that, the Wolfsburg-based man is comparatively modest.

Competition awaits with significantly sharper weapons

Whether Renault Mégane Sport, Opel Astra OPC or Seat Leon Cupra - the compact competition has long been waiting with a lot sharper weapons. The spearhead among the compact front-wheel drive vehicles is currently the aforementioned 305 hp Ford Focus RS.

Compared to the previous fifth generation model, theNewcomers that have become quite a bit more distinctive come up with just ten hp more with the same weight. From a sporting point of view, an all too big step forward is therefore not to be expected.

An assumption that the measurement day in Hockenheim, which is quite warm at 25 degrees Celsius, basically confirms: The values ​​determined in the acceleration and elasticity test differ differ only marginally from those of the Golf V GTI. 7.2 and 20.9 seconds from zero to 100 and 180 km /h for the newcomer are compared to 6.9 and 22.4 seconds for the predecessor. The torque values ​​determined within a speed step are almost identical.

Lap time in Hockenheim: 1.19.8 minutes

Against this background, the consistency in lap times is not really surprising. Although the electronic driving stability program ESP can no longer be deactivated in the current GTI, because otherwise the electronic differential lock with the cryptic designation XDS would no longer be effective, the sixth generation laps the small course in Hockenheim with 1.19.8 minutes, just as quickly as the two at sport auto previously tested Golf V GTI. The first car with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires (edition 12/2004) was exactly one second slower with 1.20.8 minutes, but in 2007 a model equipped with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A made a round of the Baden circuit with 1.19.6 minutes. Both of them clearly tended to understeer when exiting the curve under load. Such course deviations are no longer an issue with the new Golf GTI.

Non-deactivatable control interventions by the electronics

In contrast to the Ford Focus RS, however, this is less about careful tuning work on the chassis than about the gently but reliably performed control interventions by the electronics. This and the sometimes unpleasant support provided by the brake assistant, which provides vehement assistance with hard braking maneuvers, may be good and useful in everyday life and for normal Otto drivers, but leaves a stale aftertaste with sports drivers and on dry racetracks: You are really self-determined in the current VW Golf GTI not on the road. Something is always doing and regulating somewhere.

Example at the end of the start /finish straight: veterans here usually know exactly where to drop anchor. If you do this with the quick change from the accelerator to the brake pedal, which is common on the racetrack, the brake assistant suddenly increases the pressure on the pedal so much that the fleet load unintentionally plunges into the front and then begins to prance at the rear. The driver himself would consciously never go to work so insensitively.

Example ant curve: Anyone who tries an emergency here, in other words: with the new Golf GTI too quickly into the 90-degree right, will be won over Electronic helpers punished with clearly noticeable control interventions, where other, more puristicdesigned front-wheel drive, slow down simply by pushing over the front wheels.

So that we don't get each other wrong: Away from closed-off routes - in city traffic, on the autobahn, when driving on country roads - and for less experienced drivers who, due to the very low entry-level price of the Golf GTI, make up a large part of the customers , such corrective interventions are good and correct. However, sporty drivers only appreciate them to a limited extent because their sensors, which have been trained over many years, are simply not prepared for such control interventions. In this respect, the complete deactivation of such helpers would be desirable.

Safety is important and brings advantages

The fact that Volkswagen does not do this in the case of the new Golf is due to the electronic transverse locking differential integrated into the ESP XDS, which indeed noticeably improves the traction and handling properties, especially in adverse road conditions. Since this is done by selective braking interventions, the whole thing still has a certain taste. After all, one would like to be able to use the offered performance at any time, if possible.

However, there is one thing we are completely in agreement with with the new motorsport ambassador of the VW Group, Hans-Joachim Stuck: “For the normal driver the XDS is definitely a very important security feature. “

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