Buy­ing Guide

Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI & VR6 MkIII

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

The Golf GTI had al­ready achieved leg­endary sta­tus among hot hatch fans by 1992 so the MkIII had big shoes to fill. And it strug­gled. While the pass­ing of time has meant that it’s now viewed more kindly, it sim­ply lacked the verve that ea­ger buy­ers ex­pected, and sales of 39,766 were notably less than its il­lus­tri­ous MkII pre­de­ces­sor achieved. That cer­tainly ex­plains its af­ford­abil­ity com­pared with the sparkling MkII, with good ones avail­able for around £3000. But what was wrong with it? Well, it might have been larger and more spa­cious than be­fore, but it was also heav­ier and that blunted per­for­mance. Launched with a 115bhp 2.0-litre engine, it was slower from rest to 60mph than the MkII, and it was also less adept dy­nam­i­cally, with softer, less pre­cise han­dling.

It wasn’t un­til Jan­uary 1993, when Volk­swa­gen slot­ted a 150bhp 16-valve mo­tor be­neath the bon­net, that some pub­lic faith in the GTI badge was re­stored.

An­other an­swer came in the shape of the VR6. Fea­tur­ing a creamys­mooth, nar­row-an­gle 2.8-litre V6, it man­aged a more im­pres­sive 174bhp, en­dow­ing the chubby MkIII with a 140mph top speed and a 0-60 sprint in 7.4 sec­onds.

This was much more like it, and the later High­line model boasted a rich spec­i­fi­ca­tion that in­cluded leather seats and air-con­di­tion­ing.

What the new vari­ant never re­ally man­aged to do was to ad­dress an­other com­plaint of the MkIII, which was a cabin that lacked the hewn-from-solid-rock feel that GTI buy­ers had come to ex­pect. It was a ret­ro­grade step by VW and while the com­pany made nu­mer­ous at­tempts at im­prove­ments dur­ing the car’s life­time, it would take the ar­rival of the ex­pen­sive-to-build Golf MkIV to re­store the mar­que’s rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity.

It’s not all bad news, though – make your peace with the MkIII’s de­fi­cien­cies and you’ll be able to bag that all-im­por­tant GTI badge without break­ing the bank.

Cabin lacks style, but VW im­proved qual­ity through­out the MkIII’s life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.