Volkswagen has previewed a brawny 286bhp version of the seventh-generation Golf GTI with the unveiling of the TCR Concept at the annual Wörthersee fan meet in Austria.
The new performance hatchback celebrates VW’s participation in the TCR (Touring Car Racing) championship, for which it provides factory support to privateer teams with a dedicated 345hp track-based version of the Golf GTI developed by its Motorsport division.
While billed as a concept, the front-wheel-drive Golf GTI TCR has been confirmed for production later this year, with VW officials suggesting volumes will not be restricted. However, with the development of the eighth-generation Golf — planned for introduction in 2019 — already at an advanced stage, the road-going Golf GTI TCR appears set for a relatively short production life.
Power for the latest in a long line of Golf GTI-based concepts hails from the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine used by the earlier Golf GTI Clubsport.
With 286hp at 5000rpm in overboost mode, at which turbocharger boost pressure is raised from a nominal 1.9 to 2.1 bar for periods of up to 10 seconds, it develops 44hp more than the less heavily tuned engine used by the standard Golf GTI with the optional performance package. Torque remains at the same level offered by the strongest of the standard Golf GTI models, building to a peak of 272lb ft between 1600rpm and 4300rpm.
VW has confirmed to Autocar UK that the production version of the Golf GTI TCR will use the same engine, which comes as standard with a particulate filter and the titanium Akrapovič exhaust system previously only available on the four-wheel-drive Golf R, in combination with a front differential lock and six-speed dual-clutch gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
As with the standard Golf GTI, the driver can choose between four driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual — the latter of which permits specific tuning of the steering, engine mapping and gearbox software, as well as the optional adaptive damping system, Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC).
VW has yet to reveal a kerb weight or acceleration claims for the Golf GTI TCR, but it has revealed that its limited 155mph top speed can be raised to 168mph through an optional pack.
As a point of reference, the Golf GTI Clubsport, with which the Golf GTI TCR shares its complete driveline, is claimed to weigh 1375kg and boasts a 0-62mph (0-100kph) time of 5.9sec.
Among the chassis tweaks accompanying the performance upgrade of the new model is a 20mm reduction in ride height, standard 19in wheels and upgraded brakes featuring larger discs and callipers than those in the standard model.
The Golf GTI TCR is differentiated from the standard Golf GTI by a series of styling changes all aimed at enhancing its performance, according to VW. They include a reprofiled front bumper featuring altered outer ducts to cool an additional radiator within the engine bay, a more prominent front splitter element, wider sills underneath the doors and a large full-width diffuser element at the rear housing by two chromed Akrapovič tailpipes.
VW says it intends to offer the latest model in five exterior colours. They include a new pure grey hue, along with the traditional GTI colours of pure white, tornado red and deep black pearl effect. Buyers will be able to specify TCR decals over the rear of the sills, a body side foil featuring the honeycomb shape reflected in the design of the grille and puddle lamps that project a TCR logo to the side of the car when the door is opened.
Inside, the Golf GTI TCR adopts new microfiber upholstery for the sides of the sport seats, door inserts and gear lever glove. The design of the upholstery for the seat centre has been developed specifically for this model, while the flat-bottomed steering wheel and gear lever knob receive a red marker at the 12 o’clock position as a homage to the racing version of the Golf GTI TCR, of which VW Motorsport claims to have delivered up to 100 examples since 2016.