VW plays the mild card
The latest Golf GTi is cleaner but a bit on the conservative side, writes PAUL GOVER in Europe
THE new look for Australia’s favourite Volkswagen has just been revealed in Germany. It’s the latest Golf GTi, stretching a line that runs back to 1976, but it’s not what many people expected.
The hot hatch for next year is cleaner, smoother and more refined than earlier cars.
It will still come with a 155kW turbo petrol engine and the promise of a 7.2-second sprint to 100km/h, but is missing the wild body bits of earlier GTi road runners. And it’s deliberate.
The new Golf has a pair of signature red stripes across its new-look grille — first seen on the Golf 6 previewed to the Australian press a week ago — but the overall design will ensure there is no conflict with the sportier new Scirocco coupe.
The Scirocco is still not confirmed for Australia, and could easily miss the cut if the price is not right, but is a big deal for Volkswagen in Europe and more than enough reason for a slightly conservative approach to the new Golf GTi.
But the car’s design chief, Mark Lichte, is talking it up as it is readied for its first public appearance this week at the Paris Motor Show.
‘‘We’re really proud of the clean, simple shapes. We don’t want unnecessary add-ons that add weight,’’ Lichte says.
Still, the GTi has some obvious go-faster gear including a small rear spoiler, 18-inch alloys and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with sports seats in the cabin.
Official Volkswagen pictures reveal a GTi that is more mild than wild, despite having to face such opposition as the Subaru WRX. The German carmaker is pushing its R32 Golf as its rival to the heavyweight Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru’s STi and will probably have an all-wheel drive R version to replace the current V6-powered R32.
Lichte concentrates on the design details when he talks about the GTi, including its new nose and clean tail.
The nose has a giant air intake, chosen as much for styling as cooling.
‘‘The effect is to visually widen the GTi to make it look more aggressive and sporty. I’m not saying there will be a Scirocco GTi but, if there is, it would have the same graphic treatment,’’ Lichte says.
Volkswagen Australia is yet to comment on the new GTi, even though the car will be vital to its success. The GTi is the best-selling individual model and helps make the Golf the top-selling badge. At one stage there was a sixmonth waiting list.
Timing for its arrival is uncertain, though it will probably be here late next year.
Old and new: the latest Golf GTi and the original version that was launched in 1976.