GTI fans racing for celebration model

An epic effort at the Nurburgring appears to have hastened the local market sales pace of a celebration special Golf.


KIWIS seem to be snapping up a special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI at the kind of pace that did an even even wilder model proud in setting a Nurburgring record.

The VW Golf GTI 40 Years Edition, also known as the Edition 40, could have been a risk for VW New Zealand, not least because the feat it obviously celebrates – 40 years of the Golf GTI being built – is not one that has direct relevance here, as the car has been on sale here for a lot less time.

Instead, the $63,990 five-door dual clutch automated manual model looks set to be the variant that re-ignites Kiwi interest in the car, with the Auckland distributor announcing over the weekend that of the 40 examples set to land from next month, just five have yet to find homes.

Interest in the car appears to be fired by a more potent spin-off, the GTI ClubSport S - the hottest ever Golf to date - having recently lapped the Nurburgring Nordschleife in just seven minutes and 49.21, setting a new lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at Germany's famed 20.83km road circuit.

The ‘40 Years’ car is also labelled a ClubSport in Europe and the United Kingdom, but cannot be called that here or in Australia, because Holden Special Vehicles owns rights to that name.

It is not clear if the ClubSport S will be sold here; although it is the actual performance king, VW NZ is also cautious about the appeal of a manual-only, three-door only. Assuming they can still even lay hands on the car. Just 400 examples of the S are being built for global consumption.

The Edition 40 is the first Golf GTI come with a turbo overboost function that delivers peak power of 213kW and maximum torque of 380Nm for 10 seconds at a time. For the rest of the time, the 2.0-litre turbocharged TSi engine creates 195kW and about 10 percent less torque.

For the ClubSport S, VW tweaked the EA888 engine even more – revising the ECU and implementing a larger fuel pump - to achieve the same torque but 230kW. This helped reduce the 0-100kmh by a tenth to 5.8 seconds and lifts its top speed to no less than 265kmh.

VW also gained extra pace by lowering the kilo count by 30kg. The removal of the rear seats, centre armrest and sound insulation, and the fitment of a smaller battery, aluminium brake covers and an aluminium subframe for the front suspension brought the S model’s kerb weight down to 1285kg.

Even so, the Edition 40 is hardly a lightweight of Golf-dom: It has plenty of sporting touches – a new exhaust system, front racing bucket seats with red-lined seat belts and an Alcantara-trimmed sports steering wheel and golf ball gear knob – and has more fizz than a standard Golf GTI (162kW) or Golf GTI Performance (169kW).

The Edition 40 has the same basic mechanical package as the GTI Performance, including bigger brakes, a sophisticated front differential lock, unique 19-inch alloy wheels and adaptive chassis control.

The claimed 0-100kmh time of just six seconds in six-speed manual form, dropping to 5.9 sec in six-speed DSG form. The all-wheel drive Golf R remains the fastest Golf, however, with a 0-100kmh time of five seconds.

The 'Green Hell' record-setting GTI Clubsport S was driven by 28-year-old German racer Benny Leuchter. His lap betters the 7m 54.36s time set by the Renault Megane RS275 Trophy-R in June 2014, as well as the 7m 58.44s time set by a Seat Leon Cupra 280 and the 7m 50.63s time set by a single-seat prototype version of the new Honda Civic Type-R.

While the Edition 40 and ClubSport S will clearly stand to achieve special status here, it seems VW can actually extract even more from the model’s engine.

The VW performance fan event the brand hosts annually at Lake Worthersee in Austria always delivers a surprise turn or two from the factory: The Golf GTI Heartbeat that showed up this year certainly rates as that.

The Heartbeat also honours the 40th anniversary of the GTI – but in novel fashion, with an even more extrovert version of the engine, developed to create 400bhp (294kW) – one horsepower for every year.

This one-off was designed, created and engineered by Volkswagen apprentices from Wolfsburg.

Unconfirmed rumours suggest the Worthersee Heartbeat concept also runs the 300kW production engine that the all-wheel drive R400 hatch was supposed to come with before the super-Golf project was put ‘on ice’ following the fallout from the recent Dieselgate emission scandal.

Volkswagen has not released any performance claims for the Heartbeat.

As well as the powerful engine, the special has a custom body kit, large 20-inch alloys and also lacks rear seats: To fit a powerful 1360-Watt sound-system.

The Heartbeat marks the ninth GTI project created since 2008 by apprentices studying on the Volkswagen Vocational Training course at the German car-maker’s HQ.