A PERFECT PERFORMANCE
LITTLE-KNOWN GOLF WELL WORTH IT
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.