While both the PGA TOUR and Golf TCR are both golf tours, the former is a civilised bunch of golfers travelling around the world (although mainly the US) putting round balls into holes in the ground and searching for an elusive Albatross, while the latter is an angry sporty hatchback that travels around a racetrack in search of podium finish, thanks to Volkswagen New Zealand, I got my hands on the latter.
Volkswagen Motorsport developed the Golf TCR in 2015 as a way to take the legendary GTI brand onto the racetrack, it was evidently successful with a number of TCR trophies stacked up in its showcase. Unfortunately, this 2L 250kW/410Nm track demon ceased to be in 2019, however, there’s now a road going, slightly tamed version to be had and there’s it’s a bit of a handful (in a good way).
Under the bonnet remains a 2L turbocharged four (or is that Fore) cylinder engine. Only this time it produces 213kW of power and 350Nm of torque, which is a fair chunk as it only weighs in at 1,355kgs. Just like its track-based sibling, it has paddles connected to a 6-speed DSG and again, just like the original TCR it is front wheel drive while behind the scenes it has GTI TCR exclusive sports suspension and a TCR exclusive Limited Slip Differential.
There are a boat load of other ‘exclusive’ components too. Firstly the exterior decals, the flurry of black hexagonals (honeycomb) that spread over the doors pay a visual homage to the VW track star. They looked quite subtle on my pure grey model but would sure stand out on the pure white or Tornado red.
The 19-inch matt black ‘Reifinitz’ (not sure if this relates to the region in Austria or not), adds to the hot hatch’s attitude, while nestled behind them is the reassuring stopping power that comes with Brembo brakes in racing red of course.
But wait, there’s more, inside and out. There’s a TCR front bumper and the air intakes have a honeycomb effect. A TCR rear diffuser, TCR puddle lights, carbon mirror covers, the TCR steering wheel has a red stripe at 12 o’clock (so you know when you’re going straight) and aforementioned paddles,TCR bucket seats in Vienna (there’s that Austria connection again) and contrast red stitching as far as the eye can see. Regardless of how good it looks, with all the upgrades over a ‘regular’ GTI, I wanted to know if it was worthy of the TCR moniker and that meant driving, lots of it.
There are of course, a certain amount of compromises and differences required when heading from ‘track only’ into mainstream motoring. The roll cage needs to go and the luxury needs to increase. Suspension needs to be less back breaking and it certainly has to talk to your phone. All the above has a tendency to beef up a vehicle but somehow, the GTI TCR still retains a fiercely racing attitude.
Launch control will have you requiring a visit to the tyre shop, cornering will have you visiting the head straightening shop and braking will have you reaching for pegs to keep your face from falling off. Apparently 0-100km/h comes in at a shade over 5.3 seconds (although as I said before, launch control just had me leaving licorice marks on the road) and top speed is 260km/h. This is a performance hatch that is hard to believe is not all-wheel-drive.
It’s loaded with modern tech too so you’re not left wanting in terms of driver/safety features, for sounds Beats are on hand, connectivity (Apple/Android), driver fatigue alert makes sure you’re awake when driving (not sure this is required), an incredibly big and clear reversing camera and when it comes to personalising the data or info you get, the adaptive digital screens offer more options than you can shake a golf club at.
The Volkswagen New Zealand Golf TCR sits in the sweet spot between the GTI and the R, it’s more exclusive and more performance driven than the benchmark hot hatch and although slightly less rapid and not all-wheel drive, comes within a few fractions of a second of the range topper when racing to 100km/h (it’s more than a fraction less price wise though).
Now I’m off to tear up the greens in my automotive Albatros.