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MATURITY :VW Golf GTI MK8 Launch Drive


I have always believed that time is a great teacher, you learn to appreciate to everything about life, you develop a better way of doing things, improve how behave, talk , and even what you drink may shift to what you see as necessary to consume, where am I headed with this you ask, well some brands just know how to push the envelope of progress. That brand being …..Volkswagen, just weeks ago I had their “Tiguan…or ..Tiguaaaaan as Gina Handley (Product Marketing Manager) pronounces it to the amusement of my Thekwini colleagues. That was an all-round impressive car so much that it baffles me how it’s facelift for the amount of progression therein. They truly understand how to go above and beyond into developing great products.

Cults come in many ways and forms, but none are like the cult following enjoyed by the Volkswagen Golf GTI here eMzansi , it’s a way of life actually yazi. As a kasi based motoring scribe I have been fielding questions about the next generation GTI for the longest time, so finally it’s here and what an entrance it made. From the emotive television advert, that tune….”Ukuzisola” by Nonku Phiri derived from Edith Piaf’s “Non , Je Ne Regrette Rien” the stage was set for a phenomenal show, let’s give Ogilvy a round of applause , they outdid themselves.

 At 1st glance it’s looks have taken a more composed stance which signifies a sense of surety in what represents. The face is recognizable by the legendary red line across the headlights and grille, new 5 spot LED fog lights take centre stage over the day running lights, it’s a car you drive with fogs on, a honey comb lower bumper which widens the front image with huge square surrounds which can be blacked out if you opt for the “Black Style package” to set it apart. The IQ LED matrix lights play integral role in enhancing the front end look of the newcomer, the face is completed the renowned GTI logo placed closer to the right headlight. The side profile is slightly muted except for the red GTI badging on both side panels ,neat Volkswagen engravement on B pillars, this is such a nice touch , and a stunning selection of alloys, the new car is available in 18” as the standard fitment wheel or optional 19” which have been met with much approval by many.

The rear has distinctive application we have come to love, “power of Vrrrrr Phaaa” through the chrome twin tailpipes on both ends of the bumper, neat elongated reflectors on either sides, slightly longer LED IQ taillights with flowing indicator action when activated, the GTI logo in 3D below the VW Badge which houses the rear view camera, and last but not least a roof spoiler.

An entire arcade of nice to haves enlighten the interior of the GTI, the one piece 3 colour leather seats(heated &cooled), that look like something out of Health and Racquet therapy class, they provided serious comfort and support, the driver’s seat is powered while the passenger seat demands manual labour. The cluster and centre console have a futuristic approach enhanced by less buttons and centralized functionality. The gearlever console is clinical, free flowing design thanks to new small gear shifter, this makes the GTI feel so much more spacious. The steering wheels is quite similar to the Tiguan steering which I love immense so getting acquainted was much easier, this one even has a heated function. Tech is advanced and suggests the car has moved a few notches up from what is basically a hot hatch, it now meets the needs of a more discerning motorist. My unit had the acclaimed Harman Kardon sound system as one of the options, it had an equalizer within the 4 settings which made it rather complicated to find balance, I could still listen to the TV ad sound track with gusto though !!!  

The test period will yield a better exploration as I was more focused on the drive during the launch.

Volkswagen claims the 2.0L turbo charged motor in the GTI generates 180kw of power and 370nm of torque , this to the front wheels via 7 speed DSG gearbox, still a brilliant piece of machinery that shifter, the 1st thing I noted was then level of refinement this newcomer possesses, this may bother die hard vrrrphaa fans, but worry not as the sound is quite notable for your audience on the outside, the ride quality is a few stitches below heavenly and perfect, front wheel drives should not be this engaging and ego stroking. The in gear acceleration is impressive for overtaking,  as expected the handling is sublime, the Dynamic Chassis Control various modes even out an imperfections one would suffer under normal singular drive mode. In one of the stretches of our test route I left the GTI in comfort mode and it was just amazing how compliant it was even when I pushed it hard. The 7th gear has made a performance hatch somewhat kind to the pocket as this allows for cruising when one calms down from exploring the endless limits of the 8th  GTI.

The brand is on an onslaught of unleashing great products into the market, this car is such a great testament to this, the wait for this GTI8 was long and excruciating but it was worth every second.

Bravo Volkswagen , the benchmark has moved the goalposts further thus moving itself into a more refined class with an impressive price tag of R669 300.

I do hope VW can keep up with orders!!!

Thanks to Volkswagen SA for a great launch , superb accommodation, the rib eye from that Bistro is forever etched in my memory as one of the finest I have ever tasted.


Yours in Motoring

Wezile Lorenzio Bonani

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