THE ICON

Now in its 7th gen­er­a­tion, the Golf GTI sets the new hot hatch bench­mark

Evo India - - VW POLO GTI -

WAS THE GOLF GTI THE ORIG­I­NAL HOT HATCH? I’M not sure. Is the Golf GTI the most recog­nis­able hot hatch? I def­i­nitely think so. The Mk1 Golf GTI laid the tem­plate for every hot hatch, every af­ford­able en­thu­si­ast car out there, and even to­day re­mains the bench­mark by which this cat­e­gory is judged.

37 years and seven gen­er­a­tions later the Golf GTI has grown. In size, power, se­ri­ous­ness, lux­ury, and es­pe­cially the price tag on the wind­screen. The un­der­pin­nings, un­sur­pris­ingly, are VW Group’s MQB with an in­de­pen­dent rear setup and the XDS+ elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial that mim­ics the work­ings of a dif­fer­en­tial by brak­ing the in­side wheel dur­ing cor­ner­ing thus send­ing more torque to the out­side that has grip while also drag­ging the nose into the apex. Uniquely on the Golf GTI this also works on the rear axle even though this is front-wheel driven. And though I couldn’t feel the op­er­a­tion on the rear axle, I can tell you this GTI at­tacks a race track with bril­liance; so much so that I can tell you that a prop­erly setup FWD is ac­tu­ally more fun than your av­er­age RWD. There’s great pre­ci­sion to the chas­sis, tremen­dous rigid­ity, fan­tas­tic change of di­rec­tion, leech like front-end grip and a com­pli­ance to the dampers even in Sport mode to ride the bumps on the As­cari cir­cuit with ease.

It ac­tu­ally needs a pol­ished chas­sis be­cause there’s a lot of power. I’m driv­ing the Per­for­mance pack that boosts out­put of the 2-litre TSI mo­tor by 15 horses to 242bhp, tak­ing the Golf GTI to 100kmph in just 6.2 sec­onds. It’s mated to an equally im­pres­sive 350Nm of torque that starts pulling hard from just 1500rpm and prop­erly sings be­tween 2500 and 4000rpm. And un­like most turbo mo­tors re­ally sings all the way to the redline, where you flat shift on the man­ual gear­box. While there is a DSG au­to­matic, a 6-speed man­ual is stan­dard on the GTI and it re­ally is the trans­mis­sion that VW should of­fer when they bring this to In­dia.

To In­dia?

So here’s the deal. Bring­ing the new gen Polo GTI to In­dia while the older gen­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to sell is kara-kiri; it will only re­in­force the fact that we are get­ting a car phased out in Europe. The Up GTI – no chance. It will be a CBU, all the taxes will dou­ble its price (at the very min­i­mum) and no mat­ter how en­thu­si­as­tic the per­son there’s no way he will pay 15-20 lakh ru­pees on such a small car. But VW has to have a hero car in In­dia and what bet­ter than the most iconic of them all, the most ca­pa­ble too. The Golf GTI could even be the dip­stick for the reg­u­lar Golf, to gauge In­dia’s readi­ness for an ex­pen­sive hatch­back. Ul­ti­mately though the all-round ex­cel­lence of the Golf GTI means your money will be spent on a gen­uine icon, the orig­i­nal hot hatch, and one that is at the top of its game right now.

Above: Dim­pled golf ball on the gear lever and tar­tan pat­tern on the seats. It is a GTI def­i­nitely

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