Front-wheel drive isn’t for the weak.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is often considered to be one of the most iconic automobiles ever made. Generations have enjoyed the GTI’s approachable looks and performance. Volkswagen recently came out with an even faster version called the Golf GTI TCR. The car gets its name from the TCR racing series, a front-wheel-drive-only racing series with competitors such as the Honda Civic Type R, and Mazda3. The road-going GTI TCR sits slightly above the already capable Golf GTI, with more power and other racey additions. To show off just how capable this tweaked GTI is around a track, Sport Auto Magazine took the new higher performance GTI for a hot lap around the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Upon first glance, the GTI TCR looks very similar to a standard GTI, as most of the work was done under the hood. Power jumps from 228 horsepower (170 kilowatts) to 286 horsepower (213 kilowatts), making it the fastest front-wheel-drive Golf ever. Not only does the TCR have more power, but the vehicle also sits lower, features a locking-front differential, perforated brake discs, and special brake pads. Utilizing the added performance, Sport Auto test driver, Christian Gebhardt took the hot hatch around the Green Hell in just 8:04.92.
Right away, we see the little VW’s added performance hard at work around Hatzenbach corner at the start of the lap. For context, the GTI TCR’s lap lacks slightly behind the front-wheel drive king, the Honda Civic Type-R, which did a 7:43.8 around the ring. Even with similar power outputs, the TCR can’t keep up with the Civic’s immense grip and over-engineered front axle.
While this lap time is impressive, it’s still worth wondering whether or not buying the TCR is worth it for about $8,000 more than Type R. Before making further judgements, we’d be curious to see a side by side comparison between the two on the same tire and driven by the same person. All things considered, the GTI TCR is still an impressive car in its own right.