$0-50K: 8th - VW Golf GTI Performance

Put down your keyboards, angry VW fans, we know we’ve got the wrong car.

While there’s no doubting the Performance Pack is the sharpest tool in the GTI shed, the nature of the BFYB formula means the extra seven kilowatts, bigger brakes and tricky front diff were never going to overcome the extra $6500 the Performance Pack adds to a base manual GTI.

So why did we take it? Simple, it was the only one VW had.

The bad news for those ready to lambast us for handicapping the Golf’s chances of its first win since 2010 is that it wouldn’t have made much difference.

Even assuming that the base manual matched the PP’s numbers – no guarantee given how much sharper the upgraded car is – plugging its lower price into the formula leaves the GTI… eighth, exactly where the PP ended up.

And overall? Yes, the base car would’ve moved a couple of places further up, but it wouldn’t have given the pointy end any trouble.

Yesterday’s hero, then? Not quite. Check out the judges’ rankings for an accurate representation of its abilities.

That trick new front diff is truly a thing of wonder, more throttle dragging the nose further into the apex when traditional logic says it should be pushing wide.

Everywhere else it feels very similar to the regular Golf GTI, which is certainly no bad thing.

The 2.0-litre turbo four has plenty of punch and revs strongly, the brakes stand up well and the handling is entertaining and agile.

A lap time of 1:44.9sec put it well clear of the baby hatches, though still two seconds off the pace of the all-wheel drive WRX.

VW’s biggest mistake was letting its health and safety people meddle in the GTI PP’s final tune.

It really is a travesty that VW creates a chassis this good then smothers it with electronics; you can turn everything off in the R, so why not the GTI?

This ‘careful now!’ attitude also explains the GTI PP’s lacklustre straight-line numbers.

Since VAG products cut the throttle whenever there is brake applied, you can’t build any launch revs, which gives you two options: first, walk the car off the line as gently as possible, or two, use the launch control and try and manage the furious wheelspin and axle tramp that results.

Neither is the fastest method and 0-100km/h in 6.80sec and a 14.9 quarter was the best it could manage.

A grippier surface would have helped, but check out how much faster the (manual) Octavia RS was! It’s all in the launch.

None of this takes away from the fact that the GTI PP is a superb road car, and good fun on a track, too – it’s just frustratingly held back from being as good as it could be.

Results
$0-50K placing – 8th
Overall placing – 14th
Judges' ranking – 6th

0-100km/h – 6.80sec (13th)
0-400m – 14.90sec @ 159.5km/h (13th)
Lap Time – 1:44.90sec (8th)
Pricing – $48,490 (12th)

Specs
Engine: 1984cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 169kW @ 4700-6200rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1500-4600rpm
Weight: 1364kg
Gearbox: 6-speed DSG
Suspension: A-arms, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 340mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (f); 310mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 7.5-inch (f/r)
Tyres: 225/35 19 Pirelli P-Zero (f/r)

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