Closing the Chapter – VW Golf GTI TCR DSG
There is meaning to every word of most the German Marques products, especially those that have childish grin inducing capabilities, in this case the last Hooraah in the 7th generation is inspired by the (TCR) Touring Car Racing series.
What sets it apart?, there is definitely something in the looks, mild upgrades from the standard GTI, the front has a high gloss splitter at the bottom of the bumper, wolverine fangs on both sides of the bumper, signature GTI red line across the standard fitment LED headlights and grille, and that honey comb grille with bigger holes which showed off what looked like a bigger intercooler.
As you move to the side profile, the first thing that caught my eye were the satin black split 5 spoke 19” alloys in what looked like a turbine design with perforated brake discs and red calipers coming through as background, black honey dots on both doors on either side, black gloss sills along the bottom of the doors, TCR logo sits at lower corner of both passenger doors, and it’s something you might just miss if those dots mean nothing to you. Mirrors are finished in matt black to round off the classy look.
At the rear end, a very nice and neat small spoiler in gloss black placed on top of the normal roof spoiler, high shine exhaust tailpipes on either side, and a black high gloss diffuser, this is a real diffuser with huge slits, something that you see on race cars, it actually is another give away that this is TCR is race inspired.
As you enter the Interior you are greeted by a TCR logo projected unto the ground under the drivers door ,it is not so visible during the day, interior is finished in tartan cloth, grey alcantara and grey leather with red stitching detail, the steering boasts a centre marker,a standard fitted active info display, and an ownership certificate on the dash located on the passenger’s side in the form of the number of the unit from the 300 allocated to South Africa, we had 300/300, the last one.
The gearlever is finished in alcantara material, which is surrounded by a number of buttons that form part of the standard features ie, dynamic chassis control with drive profile and parallel park assist.
In essence it is styled very well and set to appeal, and it has the elegance which is usually associated with the Gti culture.
Its powered by a 2.0l turbo charged 4cylinder engine that is rated at 213kw with a healthy torque serving of 380nm, perhaps there is an unwritten rule within high performance Golfs, they just never tip over 400nm mark, it’s the same figure from the 206kw MK 7 R, 213Kw MK 7.5 R and with the mighty 228Kw MK 7.5 R as well. I will tell one thing for sure though, the thrust feels a lot more than 380nm!
Back to the TCR, I’ve been privileged enough to have driven the entire 7th generation of the outgoing Golf, so I have a solid basis to compare on.
Stepping in I felt an aura of familiarity with a dose of pure newness, the smell of a new car is always addictive , seating position felt great despite getting accustomed to the cloth, am used to leather in a Gti, turn on the ignition(I expected push start), a deep bellow emits, in normal mode nogal, something feels very promising. As I join Uitenhage road from the VW Service centre exit, I plant her, full throttle as I turn to the right into UTH road, she bites and hurls forward madly 2nd gear at 6500Rpms, BHAAAA is the audible response with my gear change, I lift of the throttle, as I start to chuckle I hear something in the background, its overruns like a small machine gun , he he he kuyafiwa mos apha. I swing my arm to the centre console with a glimse at the big touch screen, Shaun(VW Technician) had left the settings on performance mode, they displayed boost pressure, power and the G-force metre in full view, I smile and carry on, I switched driving modes to SPORT, the intake sound filled the cabin. As I get close to the taxi terminus I am already catching stares from onlookers, then I recall, it’s the TCR markings on the doors which are creating this interest, not that one does not benefit the same in a normal VRRRRR PHAAAA, I can’t let these people down, they were expecting something, traffic lights go green, I blast her with quick changes, the place fills with whistles of approval. At this stage I was overwhelmed by how direct the steering is and how this puts down power so well, the aural pleasure was a bonus. It felt the way I wanted it to feel, mind you I had not been in something fast in months(bloody COVID19) and to jump into something so solid was pure bliss.
I got to the freeway as quickly as I could through the Rocklands route from Uitenhage, that route has a variety of surfaces, the car rolled on 19” wheels and some decent rubber, the last thing I wanted was to buckle a wheel, so I had to change the drive mode to comfort, which was quite pleasant to handle the bumpy parts of that stretch. We joined the freeway from the Uitenhage exit if you coming from PE on the N2, the anticipation was getting the better of me, switched over to Sports mode and went full throttle as road cleared , the shove from 120Kph to the where most are limited is shall I say ….. was swift….very swift. What blew me away is the lightness on its feet, I do believe it gets to that claimed top speed with ease and within shorter distance than I expected too. The in gear acceleration for overtaking is quite simply mind-blowing , even when doing so with while taking long sweeps. It certainly feels much stronger and faster than the prized ClubSport and the 213kw Golf 7.5 R.
Then there’s the way the TCR takes sweeps and intense curves, what’s the term used by most “like it’s on rails” its efficiency in delivery is like Mugabe’s hold on Zimbabwe , here’s why I say this, very few cars inspire this much confidence without the thought of letting loose at the ultimate intimate moment of velocity, you can sense that this was fined tuned for engagement, pure driving perfomance. What’s even more impressive is the point and shoot attitude thanks to a great diff on the front wheels putting power down. I went past Jeffrey’s Bay , HumansDorp was in my sight, and before I knew it was Kareewdouw was fast approaching so I decided to take a breather and comprehend what I had just experienced. Oh the fuel had also brought me to my senses, I had to consider driving back.
So many thoughts and experiences as I look at the scenery and my eyes come back to this RED TCR that brought me here, especially on this route. What I was looking at was something that looked above average but delivered bucket loads in driver fun , the only car that sprung to my mind was the 228Kw R, it was the only faster car than this, however it just never felt like this, this was adding chakalaka to mild n spicy to get the right flavor, the 7th generation chapter could not be closed in a better way than this.
I carried on the N2 , having a chilled drive, now I had time to see other things in this car, like my favourite radio Dynaudio is missing, it was only at this point that I started to tune the radio and realized about 150-180kms away I could still pick up my BayFM, Nozi has set the bass on high due to the inferior sound system in here, the system is standard but once you hear how Dynaudio sounds there is no going back, especially for me as a music lover. As I made U-Turn at an off ramp somewhere for pics I realized as I hooked reverse, Thyini no reversing camera, so as I park trying to figure different route to take going back home, I knew it was there somewhere, No navigation!!!! Perhaps I’m spoilt!!! Every Golf that I have had on test has been spec’d with these missing options, and they made difference to me. Do they take away from the car?, HELL NO, priced at R669k , it makes sense if you compare to what a standard Gti costs right now. The options fitted to the TCR will make most happy, LED headlights, Panoramic glass roof, Parallel park assist and Dynamic Chassis Control with driver profile, it’s all the vital stuff.
The 7th Generation is nothing short of great, legendary and all things that make great history, it showed the world that Volkswagen know how to build HOT hatch, the 8th generation has its work cut out and big shoes to fill.
This is one generation of a car that has been quite close to my heart, My daughter(Mbali) was born and it was her first ride, this was the car I rushed to hospital in and made it just in time , she has been in every in every performance derivative, it brought me almost to tears to hear her shout “Yenza kakulu daddy” in the TCR as the sensation of acceleration and the loud bangs got her excited. I am eternally grateful.
By the time this article goes LIVE, I believe Volkswagen would have sold all 300 of their units of the TCR.
Chapter closed !
Farewell to Martina and Thomas , wishing them the best in their new positions, they made this brand that extra special with their passion , and enthusiasm for our country.
Thank you Volkswagen SA, Andile, Siya, Yusuf and Nozipho.
Yours in Motoring
Wezile Lorenzio Bonani