RE: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: Driven

RE: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: Driven

Saturday 26th January

Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: Driven

This deeply impressive generation of Golf GTI isn't long for this world; is the TCR a worthy goodbye?



Among cars that have earned a valedictory special, the Mk7 Golf GTI is arguably more deserving than most. After the fairly tepid Mk6, the 7 has re-established the GTI as the most broadly talented hatch out there: refined when required, entertaining, engaging and - whisper it - fun when needed, with all the usual Golf attributes thrown in to the package as well.

Just think what's spawned from it: a Golf R finally worth giving some attention to, an estate version of the same that should render many SUVs redundant, and the exceptional Clubsport S. In its near six years on sale, the Mk7 GTI has proved unequivocally that VW can certainly make a hot hatch.

To bid this car farewell, then, and in anticipation of the Mk8's arrival, we get the TCR. That's TCR as in, er, Touring Car Racing, the tin top series (and set of regulations) that the Golf racer has enjoyed considerable success in across the globe. So, motorsport success, a special edition required with production ending... there's only one thing for it - the race-inspired road car!


Truth be told, the concessions to actual motorsport and the racing car are limited in the GTI TCR (shock, horror). There's an aggressive, but still fairly modest, aerodynamic kit, some interior jazzing up and 'Pure Grey' as a unique colour choice on the palette. And, fear not, the body graphics are optional. Anybody expecting a fully fledged track renegade will be disappointed - but then they would have foolish to expect such a thing in the first place.

The impression that we're basically getting a Golf GTI made a bit nicer bears out on the road. All cars tested on the public highway were fitted with the first TCR option pack - the one that introduces 19-inch wheels and the DCC adaptive dampers, but not the Cup 2 tyres - and, as has always been the way with these MQB hatches, there's a perfectly inoffensive compromise struck between comfort and control in all the drive modes. The 18-inch wheels and passive dampers would surely do as effective a job, although don't expect many TCRs in the UK to go without the larger wheel option. Indeed in its meeker settings the TCR is as docile as any other Golf, smothering bumps and shuffling through its seven-speed automatic gearbox without drama.

So far, so Golf GTI. However, things do improve with speed, firstly because it's accrued that bit quicker. With a minimal torque improvement from GTI Performance to TCR but a 45hp gain (still produced from 5,400-6,400rpm, it's only with revs that the improvement is noticeable - but it's certainly there. Combine 290hp with a kerbweight of less than 1,350kg and the TCR can certainly get a shift on, accompanied here by overrun gurgles and upshift parps (from the new exhaust) that lift the experience above that of the regular GTI.


Furthermore, it can put the power down better than the equivalent Leon Cupra, implying a bit more sophistication to the hardware or setup here. Again, it'll be no surprise to find the traction trade off very nicely done - less wild than the SEAT, more interesting than an all-wheel drive R - and a nice reminder that a powerful, front-wheel drive hatch still has something to give even as the sector moves away from arrangement.

Throw some corners in and the TCR feels how this era of Golf always has: nimble, neutral, light and energetic. It's direct into a bend, balanced during it and brisk on the way out. While the steering's weight is still either a bit too light or a bit too heavy, it does give the driver confidence and, although the VAQ 'diff' is not as effective as a conventional mechanical unit, traction is so seldom challenged that it's not a significant issue.

Down a challenging road the Golf is a car that feels more honed that an i30 N (if perhaps less immediately entertaining) and more predictable than a Megane; any misbehaviour wholly introduced by the driver. There's perhaps a slight trade off in ride quality for a fraction more dynamic edge going from Golf Performance to Golf TCR, though that would surely need a back to back comparison to be sure - certainly it's nothing drastic.


The impression, though - that of a GTI+ - is both a blessing and a curse. Because while it'll be familiar (and most probably welcome) to those coming from the standard car, it does feel like the run-out special might be deserving of just a little more excitement. Especially so given what we've seen this architecture achieve in the shape of the Clubsport S, which - and this is no exaggeration - remains one of the finest driver's cars of the past few years. To know that experience of uncanny chassis dexterity and genuine road racer engagement has already happened (and hasn't been repeated here) feels like something of a shame.

The same is true on circuit: on the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres - the same as fitted to the CS - the TCR knows a level of purchase and accuracy on track that would have seemed otherworldly for a Golf GTI not so long ago. It's stable, consistent and fun to a (laudably high) point, if lacking that final layer of polish that separates the truly great from the very good - and found exactly you know where.

Which, to some extent, leaves the TCR languishing in no man's land. It's certainly an eminently talented and rather likeable hot hatch, as it was always going to be with the Mk7 GTI as its foundation. However, it neither accommodates quite as well as a standard car - owing to some additional noise, and the slightly more extroverted styling - nor enthralls like the Clubsport S. As enthusiasts the extra edge makes the TCR preferable to a GTI Performance, and yet the fact that VW didn't go the whole hog once more does rankle a tad. For those after the best driving new Golf GTI currently available at Β£34,000, the TCR is the car to buy; for those after one of the very best hot hatches in recent memory (that just so happens to also be a Golf GTI) then buy a Clubsport S - just like this one.


SPECIFICATION - VW GOLF GTI TCR

Engine: 1,984cc 4-cyl, turbo
Transmission: 7-speed DSG automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 290@5,400-6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@1,950-5,300rpm
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited, optionally 162mph)
Weight: 1,410kg (to EU, with 75kg driver)
CO2: 175g/km (WLTP combined)
MPG: 42.2 (NEDC correlated)
Price: c. Β£34,000









Author
Discussion

Boulders

Original Poster:

24 posts

167 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
This sounds like a re-badged Clubsport (non S) but in MK 7.5 rather than MK7 guise. No? Still sounds like a great all rounder and something that would make a lovely ownership prospect. Doing what all golfs do, the day to day boring stuff but can excite when you’re on your own and want to push on a bit.

greenarrow

1,807 posts

65 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all

I think this gen of Golf GTI (and R) will join the Mk5 and Mk2 as the best all rounder so far.

Quesion for me when I read this article and similar to when the ClubSport S came out, is that I think "What is the point of the Seat Leon Cupra". It seems in recent years, the Cupra has not been developed whilst VW has brought out niche specials like this which are very Cupra like. Anyone else agree? Its as if VW got the hump when the Cupra took the Nurburgring record a few years back and decided to put it back in its place.

So in the VAG pantheon, I think VW is on top right now, Skoda has its own niche and a good product line, but Seat, what is Seat there for?

wab172uk

1,470 posts

175 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Why why why no manual?

Who give a S**t about 0-60, or ring times?

jonosterman

53 posts

40 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
Why why why no manual?

Who give a S**t about 0-60, or ring times?
I know right?

When I was shopping for my hot hatch I was much more focussed on the diameter of the cup-holder, the thickness of the headrest covering in the rear passenger seats and the colour temperature of the glovebox light. Motoring journalists these days are so divorced from what actual buyers want to read about.

rb_89

87 posts

18 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
Why why why no manual?

Who give a S**t about 0-60, or ring times?
Definitely needs a manual, hot hatch's deserve a manual. Sad times.

JMF894

2,963 posts

103 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
jonosterman said:
wab172uk said:
Why why why no manual?

Who give a S**t about 0-60, or ring times?
I know right?

When I was shopping for my hot hatch I was much more focussed on the diameter of the cup-holder, the thickness of the headrest covering in the rear passenger seats and the colour temperature of the glovebox light. Motoring journalists these days are so divorced from what actual buyers want to read about.
Take the mick if it makes you feel better but he has a very valid point. One that you clearly have missed. 0-60 is nothing more than w44k material for spotty yoofs. 30-50/50-70/70-90 is a proper indication of a cars' performance potential.

As for 'ring times, so what if a professional driver manages to shave a second or two off a lap over 21km? It makes no difference to driving plebs like us and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

TheBALDpuma

5,317 posts

116 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
I do like this, but not as much as the Clubsport S. From my perspective as a second hand buyer I like to get the best edition/iteration of the car I'm buying. I'm currently in a Mk5 GTi Pirelli edition. If in a few years time I want another golf, I would go straight to looking for the Clubsport S, and would look straight past this - not the it isn't a great car I'm sure, the have just done the same thing better already.

jonosterman

53 posts

40 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
JMF894 said:
Take the mick if it makes you feel better but he has a very valid point. One that you clearly have missed. 0-60 is nothing more than w44k material for spotty yoofs. 30-50/50-70/70-90 is a proper indication of a cars' performance potential.

As for 'ring times, so what if a professional driver manages to shave a second or two off a lap over 21km? It makes no difference to driving plebs like us and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
I don't think he does have a particularly valid point though.

Whilst they may not matter much on the road, I think (and I accept this is just my opinion) that these numbers do matter in the showroom and the pub. People will narrow their selections down based on performance figures that does include 0-60.

And besides, while 50-70 is a good indication of a car's performance potential the 0-60 for a hot hatch gives you a good idea about its low speed traction.

Sure, a decent FWD hot hatch is going to have a 50-70 time that's competitive with an AWD hatch but the 0-60 time is useful to know how much better the AWD is going to be when going for it off the line, out of slow corners or in any particularly traction limited setting. Probably not that relevant on track, but relevant for a lot of people's real world driving.

Edited by jonosterman on Friday 25th January 10:20

Baldchap

1,743 posts

40 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Surely a ring time is an indicator of a car's dynamic ability?

A Kia Sedona isn't going to lap as fast as a Paganism Zonda S, because it's less dynamically capable.

yme402

58 posts

50 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Just what is the point in SEAT?
Only thing I can think of for it is to use it as a no frills bargain basement brand to compete with Dacia

Jonno02

1,963 posts

57 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
yme402 said:
Just what is the point in SEAT?
Only thing I can think of for it is to use it as a no frills bargain basement brand to compete with Dacia
What's the point in VW? It's a budget Audi.

wab172uk

1,470 posts

175 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
jonosterman said:
JMF894 said:
Take the mick if it makes you feel better but he has a very valid point. One that you clearly have missed. 0-60 is nothing more than w44k material for spotty yoofs. 30-50/50-70/70-90 is a proper indication of a cars' performance potential.

As for 'ring times, so what if a professional driver manages to shave a second or two off a lap over 21km? It makes no difference to driving plebs like us and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
I don't think he does have a particularly valid point though.

Whilst they may not matter much on the road, I think (and I accept this is just my opinion) that these numbers do matter in the showroom and the pub. People will narrow their selections down based on performance figures that does include 0-60.

And besides, while 50-70 is a good indication of a car's performance potential the 0-60 for a hot hatch gives you a good idea about its low speed traction.


Edited by jonosterman on Friday 25th January 10:20
My point being, is DSG is there to extract the best 0-60 time possible. DSG is there to enable the car to get round the ring faster than the manual.

These figures might impress in the showroom, and in the pub when you can brag to people who don't care, that your DSG Golf can get to 60 0.3 seconds quicker than if it was a manual car. I'm sure any women listening to your bragging will leave a slight damp patch on the seat, but in the main, people don't really give a s**t.

Most hot hatches will hit 0-60 in around 4-5 seconds. In what situation will 0.2 seconds matter in the real world? It doesn't.

A manual gearbox gives the driver some interaction with the car. Surely this is what the whole point in a hot hatch is all about ..... Fun !

95% of the buyers of these cars will stick it in `D` and never use the paddles, or gearshift (which is the wrong way round anyway) so it just becomes another dull to drive quick car.

Want to chase 0-60 bragging rights, and make the Ladies swoon with ring times, fine, have a DSG. But for people who want to drive their cars, the manual is the better option. The fact is hit 0-60 0.2 seconds slower means absolutely f**k all to me.

It's just a crying shame the manufacturers don't offer the choice. As in every situation, I would always buy a manual over an Auto in something that was meant to be fast and fun.


Edited by wab172uk on Friday 25th January 12:14


Edited by wab172uk on Friday 25th January 12:27

wab172uk

1,470 posts

175 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
Surely a ring time is an indicator of a car's dynamic ability?
In the main yes, but if a manual GT3 gets round the ring slower than the PDK GT3, doesn't that mean the manual GT3 is less dynamic? No.

But I bet you £50 the driver is having loads more fun in the manual.

Baldchap

1,743 posts

40 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
jonosterman said:
JMF894 said:
Take the mick if it makes you feel better but he has a very valid point. One that you clearly have missed. 0-60 is nothing more than w44k material for spotty yoofs. 30-50/50-70/70-90 is a proper indication of a cars' performance potential.

As for 'ring times, so what if a professional driver manages to shave a second or two off a lap over 21km? It makes no difference to driving plebs like us and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
I don't think he does have a particularly valid point though.

Whilst they may not matter much on the road, I think (and I accept this is just my opinion) that these numbers do matter in the showroom and the pub. People will narrow their selections down based on performance figures that does include 0-60.

And besides, while 50-70 is a good indication of a car's performance potential the 0-60 for a hot hatch gives you a good idea about its low speed traction.

My point being, is DSG is there to extract the best 0-60 time possible. DSG is there to enable the car to get round the ring faster than the manual.

These figures might impress in the showroom, and in the pub when you can brag to people who don't care, that your DSG Golf can get to 60 0.3 seconds quicker than if it was a manual car. I'm sure any women listening to your bragging will leave a slight damp patch on the seat, but in the main, people don't really give a s**t.

Most hot hatches will hit 0-60 in around 4-5 seconds. In what situation will 0.2 seconds matter in the real world? It doesn't.

A manual gearbox gives the driver some interaction with the car. Surely this is what the whole point in a hot hatch is all about ..... Fun !

95% of the buyers of these cars will stick it in `D` and never use the paddles, or gearshift (which is the wrong way round anyway) so it just becomes another dull to drive quick car.

Want to chase 0-60 bragging rights, and make the Ladies swoon with ring times, fine, have a DSG. But for people who want to drive their cars, the manual is the better option. The fact is hit 0-60 0.2 seconds slower means absolutely f**k all to me.

It's just a crying shame the manufacturers don't offer the choice. As in every situation, I would always buy a manual over an Auto is something that was meant to be fast and fun.

Sure, a decent FWD hot hatch is going to have a 50-70 time that's competitive with an AWD hatch but the 0-60 time is useful to know how much better the AWD is going to be when going for it off the line, out of slow corners or in any particularly traction limited setting. Probably not that relevant on track, but relevant for a lot of people's real world driving.

Edited by jonosterman on Friday 25th January 10:20
The thing you're missing is that these cars are now designed as autos with a manual option added in some cases, which they don't really work properly with.

Example:. The Golf in the article has adaptive cruise control, which in the Auto version will go from zero to whatever, back to zero and set off in traffic etc. It's an excellent feature that makes long runs and congestion very low effort. In the manual, it does none of that. Now consider driving modes:. In the auto it makes a difference, in the manual it basically changes what the air conditioning does. The list goes on.

The manual, be it right or wrong in the grand scheme of things, is half the car the auto is because half of it doesn't work properly unless you buy the auto.

As a sidenote, I have a DSG R and use the paddles fairly often.

kmpowell

1,935 posts

176 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
Why why why no manual?
A manual with those power outputs doesn't pass WLTP. Hence why the Manual R was dropped post WLTP. A manual GTI 245 Performance is 155 g/km, a DSG is 140 g/km. Ironically the DSG R has only just been signed off for WLTP certification, and that had major delays, so an engine with the same power output and a manual box in a GTI will have no chance of passing.

As for the TCR, I'm sure it's a great car on track (as good as a CSS though, I doubt it), but IMO it's not special/different enough for day-to-day use (which lets be honest is what a Golf is all about ) to warrant the very hefty price tag. I therefore decided to order & buy a very well specced 245 performance (which had a healthy level of discount), for much less than the estimated base price of a TCR.

Off track it's 99.9% of a TCR. I picked it up 3 weeks ago, very happy with it so far...



Edited by kmpowell on Friday 25th January 11:34

andrewparker

3,698 posts

135 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Manual and option of buckets, a la CS, and I'd be ordering one. Shame.

Domf

286 posts

103 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
I think this gen of Golf GTI (and R) will join the Mk5 and Mk2 as the best all rounder so far.

Quesion for me when I read this article and similar to when the ClubSport S came out, is that I think "What is the point of the Seat Leon Cupra". It seems in recent years, the Cupra has not been developed whilst VW has brought out niche specials like this which are very Cupra like. Anyone else agree? Its as if VW got the hump when the Cupra took the Nurburgring record a few years back and decided to put it back in its place.

So in the VAG pantheon, I think VW is on top right now, Skoda has its own niche and a good product line, but Seat, what is Seat there for?
SEAT is the fastest sales growth manufacturer in the UK in 2017 and 2018, the Cupra brand sales were up 40% in 2018 and now stands as a separate brand with lots of new products due. The Ateca and Arona have been a great success and yes they are SUV but classic hatchback sales are falling fast.

Onehp

1,128 posts

231 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
greenarrow said:
Quesion for me when I read this article and similar to when the ClubSport S came out, is that I think "What is the point of the Seat Leon Cupra". It seems in recent years, the Cupra has not been developed whilst VW has brought out niche specials like this which are very Cupra like. Anyone else agree? Its as if VW got the hump when the Cupra took the Nurburgring record a few years back and decided to put it back in its place.

So in the VAG pantheon, I think VW is on top right now, Skoda has its own niche and a good product line, but Seat, what is Seat there for?
You missed the Cupra R, a car with much of the hardware of the Clubsport S, a manual and with rear seats! But it was slated because people care more about brand image and how it looks on pictures. And few bothered to test it properly. This one I enjoyed the footage... https://youtu.be/neQXaA3_Hzk

The ST now comes with 4wd and 300hp, not too bad either. Cupra is now its own brand. Cue people complaining again.

I only care what hardware I get and what I pay for it. I thing they all look good. So the Cupra makes sense to me.

As for 0-60 and ring times moaning, I kind of missed the weight put to those in the article. If they were even mentioned. Definitely wrong looking at fwd if you care much about 0-60...

As for manuals and WLTP. It's not about them not being able to pass, it's that there is a big time pressure and cost to get them certified, and it makes little financial sense to certify a variant barely sold (sad truth) at the end of its lifespan...

Happy I got one of the last Cupra ST with manual ánd a handbrake...

wab172uk

1,470 posts

175 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
wab172uk said:
jonosterman said:
JMF894 said:
Take the mick if it makes you feel better but he has a very valid point. One that you clearly have missed. 0-60 is nothing more than w44k material for spotty yoofs. 30-50/50-70/70-90 is a proper indication of a cars' performance potential.

As for 'ring times, so what if a professional driver manages to shave a second or two off a lap over 21km? It makes no difference to driving plebs like us and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
I don't think he does have a particularly valid point though.

Whilst they may not matter much on the road, I think (and I accept this is just my opinion) that these numbers do matter in the showroom and the pub. People will narrow their selections down based on performance figures that does include 0-60.

And besides, while 50-70 is a good indication of a car's performance potential the 0-60 for a hot hatch gives you a good idea about its low speed traction.

My point being, is DSG is there to extract the best 0-60 time possible. DSG is there to enable the car to get round the ring faster than the manual.

These figures might impress in the showroom, and in the pub when you can brag to people who don't care, that your DSG Golf can get to 60 0.3 seconds quicker than if it was a manual car. I'm sure any women listening to your bragging will leave a slight damp patch on the seat, but in the main, people don't really give a s**t.

Most hot hatches will hit 0-60 in around 4-5 seconds. In what situation will 0.2 seconds matter in the real world? It doesn't.

A manual gearbox gives the driver some interaction with the car. Surely this is what the whole point in a hot hatch is all about ..... Fun !

95% of the buyers of these cars will stick it in `D` and never use the paddles, or gearshift (which is the wrong way round anyway) so it just becomes another dull to drive quick car.

Want to chase 0-60 bragging rights, and make the Ladies swoon with ring times, fine, have a DSG. But for people who want to drive their cars, the manual is the better option. The fact is hit 0-60 0.2 seconds slower means absolutely f**k all to me.

It's just a crying shame the manufacturers don't offer the choice. As in every situation, I would always buy a manual over an Auto is something that was meant to be fast and fun.

Sure, a decent FWD hot hatch is going to have a 50-70 time that's competitive with an AWD hatch but the 0-60 time is useful to know how much better the AWD is going to be when going for it off the line, out of slow corners or in any particularly traction limited setting. Probably not that relevant on track, but relevant for a lot of people's real world driving.

Edited by jonosterman on Friday 25th January 10:20
The thing you're missing is that these cars are now designed as autos with a manual option added in some cases, which they don't really work properly with.

Example:. The Golf in the article has adaptive cruise control, which in the Auto version will go from zero to whatever, back to zero and set off in traffic etc. It's an excellent feature that makes long runs and congestion very low effort. In the manual, it does none of that. Now consider driving modes:. In the auto it makes a difference, in the manual it basically changes what the air conditioning does. The list goes on.

The manual, be it right or wrong in the grand scheme of things, is half the car the auto is because half of it doesn't work properly unless you buy the auto.

As a sidenote, I have a DSG R and use the paddles fairly often.
So basically, you want an autonomous car then? Set off, set the adaptive cruise control, and never hit the brake or accelerator peddle again until you reach your destination. Now if it would only steer for you too.

This is why driving standards are going to s**t these days. People want the car to drive for them, rather than having basic skills in driving the car.

On a car enthusiast site, people want the car to drive them about. Wow. Just wow !

coupe20VT

14 posts

145 months

Friday 25th January
quotequote all
I drive a Seat Leon Cupra 300 DSG as a daily and I think its great. Its my first ever automatic and I am very impressed and don't miss a manual (had a manual Scirocco R before the 300).

As already touched on a DSG gearbox works much better with features like adaptive cruise control and driver modes and they are much easier to live with everyday for the commute in heavy traffic and fun when you want to go for a blast, isn't that the point of a car like a Golf GTI that can do the everyday stuff so well?

Don't get me wrong If I had the funds for a weekend toy that would be manual but I wouldn't have a manual again for a daily driver.

And to address the comments about 'What is the point in SEAT?' Try specking a golf GTI with a nice paint colour, 19's, adaptive dampers, adaptive cruise control, electric mirrors etc etc which the majority are standard on a Leon Cupra and you'll soon see how much better value the SEAT is. SEAT definitely has a place in the market. Try one.

As for this TCR I like it a lot but its a shame they didn't use the more compliant clubsport S suspension setup which all the reviewers praise.