Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

VW's Golf GTI is gen­er­ally re­garded as king of its class; it's a popular per­former with a great pedi­gree.

But you might splash out $10,000 ex­tra and get the GTI R, which ups the power and road­hold­ing via all- wheel drive and about 45 more kilo­Watts.

But in be­tween is the lit­tle­known GTI Per­for­mance.

It re­tains front-wheel drive, but has a tad more power (9kW) and an elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial. And big­ger brakes and a few other bits.

It also sits 15mm lower and is only $3500 more than a regular GTI.

You need to be a GTI tragic to spot the dif­fer­ences: the Per­for­mance model has red brake calipers, 19-inch al­loys, adap­tive bi-xenon head­lights.

That's about all one can see, but there's a fair im­prove­ment in the way it drives.

With the wick of its 2.0litre turbo turned up to pro­duce 169kW it is frac­tion­ally quicker, with a zero to 100km/h time of 6.4sec, but its hot-shot diff does give it even bet­ter cor­ner­ing abil­ity, more sta­bil­ity and it elim­i­nates torque steer.

It's fine to go into most tight cor­ners with­out lift­ing off, and the neat hatch just stays on the cho­sen line with no sign of run­ning wide.

It also has a Driv­ing Pro­file Se­lec­tion, which you can fid­dle with to ad­just the sus­pen­sion, steer­ing and trans­mis­sion set- tings, but we were more than happy with the nor­mal mode. Trans­mis­sion is a six-speed di­rect auto shifter, nice, smooth and quick, and that's stan­dard.

No op­tion, even, of a man­ual, which old-school types like moi would pre­fer.

The big­ger ven­ti­lated brake pack­age is su­perb and does a great job of wip­ing off speed or set­ting the car up for some su­per-sporty ac­tion.

In­side, and apart from the plethora of stan­dard gear such as Sat­Nav, re­vers­ing cam­era, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, seven airbags and five-star crash rat­ing, are nicely bol­stered sports seats trimmed in tar­tan fab­ric with Al­can­tara.

The Golf Per­for­mance costs $48,490 plus on-roads, and if you're wor­ried about fuel con­sump­tion, don't be.

This car will pro­vide more com­fort, class and fun than you can imag­ine and re­turn 6.9litres/100km while do­ing so.

Ver­dict: A cherry-on-top ver­sion of the GTI – and I love cher­ries. Well worth the ex­tra few grand.

Per­for­mance model gives the Golf GTI more bark and bite.

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