VW Mk7.5 Golf GTI & R Porsche Panam­era Sport Turismo Toy­ota Yaris GRMN McLaren 570S Spi­der Lexus LC500h

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - By DAVID MOR­LEY

DON’T EVER un­der­es­ti­mate the Aussie car-buyer’s ap­petite for per­for­mance. Whether it’s Ford Mus­tangs or high-end AMGs, this mar­ket is a sponge for the things and a global leader when it comes to tick­ing the ‘hottest one’ box. So no real sur­prises, then, to learn that the 7.5 up­grade of the VW Golf now in­cor­po­rates a broad per­for­mance range rather than a few mod­els.

There are some ex­cit­ing fastGolf mod­els com­ing in the next few months, but for now, the Golf per­for­mance cat­a­logue is made up of a base-model GTI, a GTI Per­for­mance and a re­vised Golf R along 7.5 facelift lines. Given the over­all move to 7.5 spec­i­fi­ca­tion wasn’t a huge one, there aren’t too many changes to see here, but if any­thing, the con­cept of a rapid hatch­back has been re­fined and mas­saged along.

But what you will see now are LED head and tail-lights, new front and rear aprons, big­ger tail-pipes, new colours and 18-inch al­loys as a min­i­mum. In­side, there’s the new ac­tive dash­board (op­tional on the base car) the up­graded info screen, an up­grade of the stereo, bet­ter nav­i­ga­tion, im­proved me­dia in­ter­face and new tech in­clud­ing a driver-as­sist pack­age that of­fers radar cruise, lane­as­sist and blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing. All Golfs now have au­ton­o­mous brak­ing.

Things kick off with the en­trylevel GTI (from $41,490) which gets a 169kW tune of the 2.0-litre en­gine (with a wider band of torque) and a choice of six-speed man­ual or the same num­ber of ra­tios in the (now) old dry-clutch DSG. To drive it is to un­der­stand that any changes are of the in­cre­men­tal type and that while there are im­prove­ments, they’re mainly to do with live­abil­ity and com­fort rather than any huge dy­namic leap. It re­mains, how­ever, a hugely en­ter­tain­ing and sat­is­fy­ing car to punt along with a feel­ing of real class in the sus­pen­sion de­part­ment.

Of po­ten­tially greater in­ter­est to most of us is a model called the

GTI Per­for­mance Edi­tion 1, which will come here on a lim­ited (150 ex­am­ples) ba­sis. It’s a three-door-only deal and, in Edi­tion 1 form at least, it’s DSG-only. Be­yond that, it’s pretty well loaded with 19-inch al­loys, tinted glass, the ac­tive dash­board, driveras­sist, leatherette trim, dy­namic in­di­ca­tors and a bunch of GTIbranded gear in a GTI carry-bag.

Me­chan­i­cally, it’s choice pick­ing,

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