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