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  •   Alex Grant reacted to this post about 8 months ago
    Alex Grant posted a new blog post in Volkswagen Golf VII Club
    With a part-electrified R32 drivetrain putting out more than 1000hp, JP Performance is laying down the gauntlet for a high-tech new decade in car culture. Game-changer? Absolutely. Words: Alex Grant.   Photos: Martin Hillmann.
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  •   Si McNally reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Alex Grant posted a new blog post in Volkswagen Golf VII Club
    APR's TCR-inspired unrestricted 536bhp AWD street-legal race car that you can order and own today! APR SEMA Mk7 APR’s show-stopping Golf R might look like it’s fresh off the TCR series grid but, without the limits of FIA regulation, it’s a road-legal machine that can run rings around the thoroughbred touring cars that inspired it. Words: Alex Grant Photos: APR.
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  •   Alex Grant reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    VW Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40. It’s a Golf GTI that’s been specifically tailored for people like us – and now we have one on our fleet.

    / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Gti-Clubsport-S / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40-VII / #VW-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #VW / #2016 / #VW-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk7 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII

    Has there ever been a more exciting time for hot hatches? There’s a Leon Cupra with what feels like in excess of 300bhp, a four-wheel-drive Focus RS with a drift mode, a turbocharged Civic Type R with a fabulously unnecessary complement of aero add-ons, and, of course, the Renault Sport Mégane, recently retired but still utterly sublime. And let’s not forget the smaller hatches: Peugeot finally finding its mojo again with the 208 GTi, and Ford’s Fiesta ST hopping into the desirability spot recently vacated by the RS Clio.

    Amongst all of this, however, it has been rather easy to overlook the good ol’ Golf GTI. With a mere 217bhp, or 227bhp with the optional Performance Pack, it’s been looking a bit tame of late. Thankfully, Volkswagen hasn’t rested on its laurels of being the default choice for the average punter looking for a smart, quick hatchback; it has also produced not one but two models for those of us who like our hot hatches a little bit more special.

    The most special of those is, of course, the 306bhp #VW-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-S , which finished an astonishing second place in our recent Car of the Year test – just ahead of a McLaren 570S, a Honda NSX and an Audi R8 V10.

    Sadly, with just 150 examples coming to the UK, it’s already sold out. That leaves the Clubsport Edition 40, which is still available – albeit only until the ‘Mk7.2’ Golf goes on sale in the spring. It has 286bhp on overboost and, unlike the S, has rear seats. It’s also available with five doors and a #DSG gearbox, if you so desire. When we tested the Edition 40 on UK roads for the first time last month, we labelled it ‘the best drivers’ GTI you can buy’.

    So I’m rather chuffed to now be running one on our Fast Fleet. Our car has five doors, but not DSG – my thinking is that you might as well have a manual ’box wherever you still can. The Clubsport Edition 40 kit includes an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip differential, lowered and retuned suspension, a new front bumper, a rather large (by VW standards) roof spoiler, and some stripes that mimic those which adorned the flanks of the Mk1 Golf GTI. In basic form you’re looking at £31,590 with five doors (£30,935 with three), which is just over £3000 more than you’d pay for a basic Golf GTI and on a par with rivals from Honda and Ford.

    Our car also has a healthy smattering of options, namely Oryx White paint (£985), a driver assistance package (including lane assist and side scan, and costing £960), Discover Pro Navigation (£1325), 19-inch ‘Brescia’ alloy wheels (£595, and an inch larger than the standard items), tinted rear glass (£95), rear side airbags (£280) and a tracker (£536). This little lot takes the total to £36,366.

    First impressions? Well, it’s a Golf, so of course it’s a brilliantly easy thing to live with. The extra power is most definitely welcome, and while the Clubsport doesn’t perhaps feel as wild as some of its rivals – not least the Civic, an example of which I ran as a long-termer before the Golf – the VW has its own, more composed strengths. Just the kind that come to the fore in the midst of a grubby UK winter, in fact, as I hope the Clubsport will demonstrate over the coming months.

    ‘When we tested the Edition 40 last month we labelled it “the best drivers’ GTI you can buy”’

    Date acquired October 2016
    Total mileage 3568
    Mileage this month 1132
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 28.8
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  •   Ian Eveleigh reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Gti-Clubsport-S / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40-VII / #VW-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #VW / #2017 / #VW-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk7 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Clubsport-Edition-40-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII

    With the brilliant Clubsport S sold out, is this the best Golf GTi that money can buy?

    Test location: Thundridge, Hertfordshire
    GPS: 51.839570, -0.051380
    Photography: Aston Parrott

    After the euphoria of the Golf GTi Clubsport S scoring a victory in issue 227’s hyperhatch group test and then going on to bloody a number of premium noses in last month’s eCoty, it may have escaped your mind that VW produces two Golf GTis with ‘Clubsport’ in their names. This is the one you can still buy, and this is our first drive of it on the road.

    It’s available as a three- or five-door and with a choice of either a six-speed manual or double-clutch gearbox. There’s an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip differential taken straight from the GTi performance pack model, too.


    Using the familiar EA888 2-litre turbo engine from other GTi models and the r, the Clubsport produces 261bhp – 34bhp more than a performance pack GTi – and in short bursts that increases to 286bhp, just 10bhp shy of the r’s peak figure and 20bhp below the Clubsport S’s. Peak torque is 258lb ft at 1700-5300rpm with 280lb ft on overboost, but at 6.3sec to 62mph regardless of which gearbox you choose, the edition 40 is some way short of the 5.2sec evo recorded with its fast fleet Golf R.

    Other changes will be familiar to those of you who have pored over the spec of a Clubsport S. the front bumper features a number of aerodynamic devices that give the car a more focused look. I’d posit that it looks more extreme even than ford’s focus RS, but then I am to design what Nigel Farage is to international diplomacy. There’s also a boot spoiler and the most modest of rear diffusers, which permits VW to claim that rear-axle downforce is ‘significant’ above 60mph. it also claims ‘slight’ downforce at the front axle. the car does, however, create no lift, which is something.

    Other chassis work has seen the roll stiffness move rearwards to improve rear-axle turn-in and front-end grip. In essence, this means understeer should be less prevalent and the rear more mobile.

    Spring rates are ten per cent stiffer, with the dampers tweaked to suit, but toe, camber and caster settings remain untouched from a GTi performance pack (so, too, the brakes). Adjustable dampers, as fitted to this car, are an £830 option.

    An 18-inch wheel is standard and comes fitted with a Pirelli P Zero tyre, but you can specify the same 19-inch wheel and ferociously sticky (in the dry, at least) Michelin pilot Sport Cup 2 tyre as on the Clubsport S.

    As VW prepares for the new, facelifted Mk7 Golf, the Clubsport feels like the engineers have been let loose to do what they wish, resulting in this GTi feeling tighter, fitter, more eager and athletic than the Mk7 GTis that have gone before. the chassis doesn’t represent a night-and-day difference over a regular GTi’s, but it’s appreciably more responsive and alert when you push it, the differential being keen to bite and the front axle less inclined to push when you pour on the power. Indeed, the chassis manages to extract more grip and traction from the (standard) front tyres than before, allowing for wider throttle openings earlier in corners and no manic scrabble for grip from the inside front tyre.

    At higher speeds the Clubsport is much sharper, too, with less body roll. the front and rear feel more tightly connected and react as one when the car is pitched in on its nose – you can really feel the rear arc round the apex as you drive for the exit. Who needs a four-wheel-drive hatch?

    The added power will be noticeable to anyone coming out of a regular GTi, and on the road the Clubsport feels on a par with an r in a straight line.

    Its motor exhibits a bit more of an appetite for revs and encourages you to reach for the top end of the tacho rather than driving around without straying from the torque band. This is a deceptively quick hot hatch.

    Renault’s Mégane 275 trophy and Honda’s Civic Type-R still have sharper chassis, but in the Clubsport edition 40, VW has delivered the best drivers’ GTi you can buy. If you’re quick.

    ‘You can really feel the rear axle arc round the apex as you drive for the exit’

    + Faster, tighter; fitter engine and chassis
    - Still not top of the class; only in production for a short time

    Rating 4++
    Specification
    Engine in-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo / #EA888
    CO2 162g/km
    Power 286bhp @ 5350-6600rpm
    Torque 280b ft @ 1700-5300rpm
    0-62mph 6.3sec (claimed)
    Top speed 155mph (limited)
    Weight 1300kg (224bhp/ton)
    Price 2017 UK / USA £30,935 / $22,350

    ‏ — at Thundridge, Ware SG12, UK
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  •   Stuart Gallagher reacted to this post about 3 years ago

    GREEN DAY / #VW-Golf / #VW-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk7 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-Mk7 / #VW-Golf / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTE / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTE-Mk7 / #2016 / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTE-VII

    Going green with your car doesn’t sound all that fun does it? But driving the #VW-Golf-GTE-Mk7 for a week showed us that maybe things won’t be all that bad after all… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Simon Jackson.

    We don’t know if you noticed but Volkswagen got in to a spot of bother recently with its range of TDI engines. It didn’t get much attention outside of the front pages of the majority of international newspapers, TV news programs and internet sites so it might have slipped you by… Basically (and it’s going to be basic because we’re still not entirely sure what’s going on, even after reading everything the oracles at VW Driver mag wrote about it) VW decided the best thing to do was engineer some of its diesel cars to cheat the official tests so that it would pass them with flying colours, whereas out in the real world, those colours would be far less airborne. Once the mainstream media picked up the story and ran with it everything went ape sheet, especially in America. You know, the same place where modding your giant 7.0-litre Cummins diesel pickups to pump out clouds of black smoke is met with nothing more than a roll of the eyes. Whether that makes sense to you is irrelevant, the world’s media went mad, half of VW’s top bods stepped down and there were more awkward press concurrences than we could keep on top of.

    At the moment, VW and the rest of the VAG group are figuring out how to fix the bazillion affected engines and deal with getting sued into potential oblivion due to people wanting compensation (got to get a claim in for everything, right?). At the same time, however, plenty of other manufactures out there are dodging claims that they’re just as crooked when it comes to emissions. So with all that in mind, VW’s GTE has suddenly gone from an interesting car to one that might just be critical in convincing the public that VW’s top brass don’t take their team building exercises in the arctic circle kicking Polar Bear cubs and Penguins for a laugh.

    We went on the launch for the GTE in Switzerland last year and rated it. Unfortunately, as is often the case with foreign press launches, we were more concerned about not breaking any speed limits, crashing in to the scenery and having to have an awkward plane ride home with the Press Office. So while we liked the GTE out in Zurich, we were excited to try it out on the far less interesting roads in our little bit of south London and Kent.

    Of course, part of the appeal of an hybrid car is (you would hope) the increased fuel economy and the only way to get a real judge of that is to own one long term. Unfortunately, while we couldn’t blag the GTE as a long-termer (come on VW, you give EVO long-termers, we’re definitely cooler than them…) we only get cars for a week.

    That’s not to say we’re ungrateful, press cars are a lovely break from driving our own crappy cars for a few days. So everything we do is based on a week’s worth of normal use and, erm, I live in a second floor flat, so plugging it in wasn’t going to happen unless I threw a really long extension cable out the window to reach my parking space. But as we figured that a huge part of the appeal of a hybrid like the GTE is that it can basically charge itself as you go along we would not be missing out on too much (maybe it’s motoring journalism like that that stops us getting on the long-termers list? ~ All).

    So, what’s the GTE like to live with? Well, and this isn’t just the usual ‘oooh a new car’ infatuation we admit it’s easy to suffer from, it’s seriously impressive. Compared to hybrids like the Prius and CT 200h, the GTE doesn’t look like a kitchen appliance on wheels, it looks, well, like a normal Mk7 with really smart blue detailing both inside and out. VW is keen to push the fact that the GTE is from the same family as the GTI and GTD, meaning that it’s meant to be quick and handle well. And it does succeed at both. Thanks to the 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged TSI lump up front and the 101bhp electric motor hidden away somewhere, it has, when you push the GTE button (meaning that everything’s working together) a total output of 201bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. That’s three tenths faster than the GTD and only 1.1 seconds slower than the GTI. Of course it’s DSG only but the ’box works in the car’s favour, the electric motor’s instant shove meaning it launches away like a Penguin toe-punted by a be-suited VW exec. Of course how little dino-juice it gulps down and the headline figure is the (claimed) 166mpg on the combined cycle and a ‘please don’t mention the TDI’ 39g/km of C0².

    In the real world we were getting around 40mpg while it was charging itself up, and while that might not sound all that impressive it’s worth bearing in mind that you could, in theory, do your next journey on eclectic power only – if you started off with a full battery you could do 25-30 miles without the engine. In pure electric mode it can hit 80mph and in GTE mode with the petrol flowing it can hit a claimed 138mph. While we didn’t get to plug it in, the press kit says that would take 3:45 hours at 2.3kw on a mains plug, or 2:15 hours at 3.6kw from a special wall box. Of course, the tree-hugging nature of the engine means that you wouldn’t pay the Congestion Charge or tax which makes a difference long term too.

    So, would we buy one? We’ve got to say, honestly, yes. Inside it looks fantastic with its blue-checked variation on the classic GTI interior, the level of equipment is as you would expect and it has all the other usual Mk7 niceties. Pricewise, it’s not cheap however. On the road it’s priced at £33,755 or if you take the governments grant in to consideration, £28,755. Our press car weighed in at £36,675 thanks to the upgraded Discover Navigation Pro system and the keyless entry, Winter Pack, Park Assist and Pure white paint. Of course, if you’re a business user or you lease your cars as so many do these days, the low BIK tax and cheap running costs are a definite advantage over its TDI brethren. Plus you won’t feel as guilty that you’re helping melt the ice caps and all that.

    Is it the future? Considering this is VW’s first modern effort (yes we know it made the Mk2 Golf citySTROMer back in the day), we think it’s a proper impressive bit of kit. You know what, if this is what green motoring is really going to be like in the future maybe things won’t be all that bad after all…

    Turns out the green ‘on charge’ bit on the clocks is really addictive to watch. ‏ — with Simon Jackson
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  •   Sean Matthews reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    CARBON COLLECTIVE / #VW-Typ-5G / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk7 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-VII / #VW-Golf-Mk7 / #VW-Golf / #VW / #Volkswagen

    What you’re looking at here was one of the most talked about cars at this year’s Wörthersee that wasn’t an Audi R8. But you’ll have to get pretty close to really see why… Words Matt Zollo. Pictures Igor Vucinic.


    Smoke and mirrors. It’s a beginning-of season tactic that Andy Pfeffer has put into practice to great effect on many occasions over the years, all to maximise the impact of his latest creation when he finally wheels it into the breach of an expectant scene on the ever-earlier first day of that show by the lake.

    Most of you will be able to recall ‘his’ Riviera blue Mk6s, both affectionately known as Dixie (actually, one was owned by his brother-in-law and the other was his mate Hakan Koc’s). The first was a tin top GTI with full R imitation and 20-inch Ultraleggeras, which came on to the scene in #2012 , and the next was the – shrouded in secrecy until the day before it was revealed at Wörthersee 2013 – almost identical 1.2 FSI cab version.

    The various reveals of this Mk7 have seen the smoke and mirrors tactics used on an even more comprehensive, and consequently successful, level. After showing the car with a Martini-style wrap, Gepfeffert’s own KWs and 20-inch OZ rims at Wörthersee Reloaded in 2013, Andy told everyone that he had sold the car and replaced it with a Mk7 R. He hadn’t, of course, instead turning up with the GTI sporting such an authentic R replication (along with some 20-inch Ferrari rims) that he had absolutely everyone fooled. No mean feat considering the expertise of the collective that was duped.

    Later in #2014 the car was pictured on Facebook sat on a trailer, apparently going off to a new owner. But, as you might have guessed, this was nothing but a ruse. Instead, Andy had shipped the car off to his friend Arpi (of RS Tuning fame) in Hungary...

    It takes a lot to surprise a close knit group of car enthusiasts, particularly in this liking, sharing, commenting and following day and age of social media, so to be able to genuinely do so come that first public outing of the year is quite the valuable tool to have in a car owner’s arsenal – particularly when the car being exhibited is tasked with advertising the owner’s business, as Andy’s is. For demo cars it’s all about making a scene on the scene, and maximising the attention they get is of paramount importance – and not just for the good of a business but, let’s be honest here, also the owner’s ego.

    Well, Andy’s ego must still be bulging large even as you read this because, as you’ll already know if you went to ‘The Lake’ this year, his car was pretty much the talking point of the event. That is undoubtedly because of the carbon fibre which adorns it. And when we say adorns, what we really mean is envelopes, like a (nice) parasite that has (pleasantly) infected its host to such an extent that it has taken over its body and now calls the place its home.


    Arpi and Zsolt, of www.rs-tuning.hu and www.rs-carbon.hu, had covered a Mk3 VR6 in carbon years ago, so they had some previous experience with this kind of undertaking. Even so, it wasn’t ever going to be the work of a moment, the car eventually staying with them for six months. Literally every external component that didn’t have to flex or be seen through has been covered (except for those red mirror caps and grille slat details), even down to the internals of the headlights.

    “We’ve made a huge amount of carbon parts for different cars, a lot of carbon fronts (hood, bumper, fender), but this is only our second full carbon car,” Zsolt tells us. “Carbon covering requires a lot of patience and very detailed work. A full carbon car needs approximately two months of solid work.

    “The most difficult and the least enjoyable part is to really pay attention during the covering to the carbon direction, to make the chassis and edges with the least cutting or, when it’s possible, without any cutting. Detail is very important on these cars, so it must be perfect down to the last centimetres as well. It needs a lot of time!” All of you who saw the car for yourselves at the show will know that the result of Arpi and Zsolt’s patience and attention to detail is nothing short of stunning.

    All other bodywork mods – the Mücke front wings that provide an additional 25mm of clearance (the rears remain standard, just copious amounts of camber achieving the required clearance), the cleaned bootlid and bonnet and the removal of the VW emblems – had been carried out for the previous iteration of the car, so there was little else to do to the outside. Save for the rims, of course...

    They are one-offs, made by Wheelworkx and based on OEM Q7 BBS Speedlines. A substantial change in construction has seen them transformed from two-piece to three-piece, with half-inch negative outer lips and custom dishes narrowing the 10x20 ET44 wheels to an 8.5x20 ET70 fitment. With the centres painted BBS gold crackle finish and the lips polished for the timehonoured, classic motorsport look, details like the BBS logos sandblasted into the outer rims finish them off.

    The inside has seen its fair share of carbon laminated into its surface area too, though these add up to mere details rather than the main event; dash inlays, the seat backs of the Recaro buckets and the Wiechers roll-cage are all covered in the glossy grey weave, just as they were in the car’s previous guise.

    As with all of Andy’s cars, the brakes are what is known – technically speaking – as ‘whopping’. Previous setups have been: 400mm A8 W12 discs with C63 six-pots on the Dixie GTI; 390mm RS6 discs, again with AMG six-pots, on the Dixie cab; those 390mm RS6 discs again, this time clamped by 997 GT3 calipers on the Martini Mk7. The latter combination has been retained for this iteration of the car as well, with the same rear setup consisting of 356mm Audi RS6 discs and Porsche Panamera fourpots. Of course, all editions of Pfeffer Golf have featured his company’s own modified KWs, along with a hydraulic lift system, and this version is no different.


    It may not be an actual R, but it has the performance to match the R facade thanks to a remap by HGR, an HJS downpipe and a F-Town Streetmachines system with Golf R-style quad pipe outlet. All of which Andy says is good for 309bhp. The DSG has also been remapped by HGR for faster shifts.


    The really observant amongst you might have noticed something specific about this car by now. That is, if Andy so wished, he could return it to stock without much effort at all – it would just be a case of swapping over the relatively uncomplicated aftermarket parts for their stock counterparts. He has always followed this ethos with his cars, evidenced in practices such as using adjustable camber plates rather than pulling arches out.

    Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this car, however, and indeed all the best cars that appear at the start of a new show season, is where the owner can go next. It’s certainly going to take something pretty damn special to trump this Mk7. It goes without saying we really can’t wait to see what that something is, and what it is that Andy has done to it. Just as it goes without saying, of course, that we didn’t even bother asking him for clues to either…

    Andy was a carpenter before he got involved in cars professionally. Modifying them in his spare time, it soon became apparent that he could make a living from it, and thus he started in a small workshop at his parents’ place. In just a few years the company had grown big enough for him to relocate into a bigger, better-equipped workshop, and now Gepfeffert is a well known brand not only in Germany but also in Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, the UK and many more countries besides.


    Dub Details / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TSI-VII /

    ENGINE: 2.0 TSI , Golf 7 R engine cover, remapped by #HGR , #HJS downpipe, exhaust by #F-Town Streetmachines with Golf R-style quad tail pipes, #DSG remapped by HGR for faster gear change

    CHASSIS: Gepfeffert.com #KW / #KW-V3-Clubsport coilovers with adjustable camber mounts and #HLS for 3cm lift, 390mm Audi RS6 discs with six-pot 997 GT3 calipers up front and 356mm Audi RS6 discs with four-pot Porsche Panamera calipers at the rear, adapters and custom handbrake by #Vandit-Performance , steel brake lines, custom Audi Q7 BBS Speedline rims modified from two-piece 10x20 ET44 to 8.5x20 ET70 three-piece fitment, centres painted in BBS gold crackle finish, BBS logo sandblasted in outer lip, 18mm front and 15mm rear 5x115 to 5x130 adapters, Nankang 215/30/20 tyres

    EXTERIOR: #3Mücke-GFK front wings, VW badges removed, bonnet smoothed, custom grille, Golf 7 R body kit with front and rear bumpers and side skirts, smoothened bootlid, complete car coated in carbon fibre done by www.rs-carbon.hu

    INTERIOR: Carbon fibre dash inlays, carbonbacked Recaros custom trimmed with R logos, Wiechers carbon-covered roll-cage, rear seat bench removed, BBS spare wheel, original Discover Pro Navigation with Dynaudio audio system and DVD

    SHOUT: Simon Stracker, Jacko, Andy (Sehrgeijfährlich), Steve Danzer, Bernd Seiler at Vandit Performance, Stephan at F-Town, Autolackiererei Sitter Andreas, Arpi at rs-carbon.hu, AVP-Gruppe Roman Müller, my wife Tanja and daughter Amelie Pfeffer

    Carbon-coated bodywork took two solid months of hard graft by the guys at RS Tuning in Hungary and is a work of art. It’s hard to believe this car is running static suspension, although the #KW HLS hydraulic lift kit up front enables Andy to take it on all roads, even those with speed bumps. A crazy car that is totally usable. This is the future…

    Interior is pretty low-key on first impression but look closer and you’ll see a whole host of carbon goodies!
    One-off wheels are based on 20” Q7 #BBS / Speedlines narrowed to 8.5” and converted from two- to three-piece.
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  •   David Kennedy reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    FIRST DRIVE VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTE #Volkswagen-Golf-GTE-VII

    The sister car to Audi’s A3 e-tron – #2015 #Volkswagen-Golf-GTE#Volkswagen-Golf-VII based, could this be a revolutionary plug-in hybrid? Perhaps the most important new Golf in the badge’s 40 year history, the first plug-in hybrid Golf mates a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine to a powerful electric motor. Together, they provide an outstanding package fit to wear the eponymous ‘GT’ badge. The question is, how does it compare to other plug-ins and its immediate brotherly rival, the Audi A3 e-tron? WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk.

    Golf GTi. It’s a name that commands respect and evokes images of country lanes, dynamic driving and a sporting prowess. Replacing the ‘i’ with an ‘e’ ensures Volkswagen keeps the enticing GT nomenclature, yet differentiates this latest GTE model, a plug-in hybrid, from its sports hatch sibling.

    However, by replacing the ‘i’ with an ‘e’, don’t think for a moment the GTE has lost any of its credibility as a GT car. VW have named it thus for a reason and that is due to the way it drives.

    Headline figures like a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.6 seconds show the GTE means business. It is no slouch. What’s not told, is the way it gets there. By combining its 1.4 litre direct injection turbo engine with a powerful electric motor, VW have managed to give this car a twin personality, in the very best way. Should the driver wish to potter about a town using electric power only, they can – and they won’t be left lacking power at any stage. In pure electric mode, the GTE is rapid enough to put a smile on one’s face yet adequately efficient to offer this serenity for 31 miles via its 8.7kWh battery.

    In GTE mode, the full 201bhp from both the petrol unit and electric motor combined, are shoved through the six-speed DSG gearbox with 258 lb ft maximum torque, providing an experience that offers punchy performance and idyllic driving pleasure. Modes are selected via neat buttons beside the gearstick, although they are strangely within easier reach of the front passenger, rather than the driver. We foresee many little fingers pressing the enticing ‘GTE’ while an unknowing driver goes to press the accelerator.

    There are five modes in total, with pure EV and GTE being at the two extremes. Auto-hybrid, hybrid save and hybrid charge are the three others. These are standard fare on nearly all plug-in hybrids and essentially offer ways to charge the battery using petrol power – not something we recommend. Instead, charging the car is done via the neatly hidden charge port located beneath the front badge.

    Unfortunately, no rapid charging is possible, so you will be relegated to a couple of hours to charge from empty using a 3.6kW charge point. This will likely suit the majority of drivers who use the car for shorter return journeys and commutes to work, although it is a shame there is no CCS option to allow for rapid charging and extended use of electric driving, without starting up the petrol engine. Plug-in hybrid competitors, for example the best-selling Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, offers #CHAdeMO as standard and many Outlander drivers use this feature to great effect, significantly reducing their overall fuel bill.

    That said, the petrol #Volkswagen #TSI unit is a delight to operate. With the electric motor cooperating, it doesn’t feel as though the engine lacks any performance at lower revs, as the electric drive fills the gap in the engine’s power curve, much like a low-speed turbo might. By itself, it is a fun and fizzy engine, which is a delight to operate through the six-speed DSG gearbox. However, this is what it is best used for – fun and exuberant driving in combination with the electric motor, or range extension after the battery has depleted - rather than charging up the electric battery, which sees economy figures drop dramatically. It is nice to have the option, but well worth steering clear of using it.

    Whereas some early DSG gearboxes might not have found favour with anyone but repair shops, in #Volkswagen-Golf GTE hybrid guise it makes for sublimely smooth changes. Volkswagen has installed the electric motor between the petrol unit and gearbox. Resultantly, engine braking and regeneration upon deceleration can be controlled using the paddle shift on the steering column. In GTE mode, this means full manual gear-changes are offered with rapid race-like shifting. In EV mode, shifting the paddles controls regeneration and should EV-only acceleration be required, kick down of the physical gears can be felt before the car lurches forward. This compares to the usual phenomenon of EVs accelerating in a single gear, without any kick-down. At the other end of the spectrum, when in fully automatic ‘D’ mode, the GTE is able to coast, which allows for a great number of miles to be travelled with very little resistance aside from the tyres on the road. In practice, this means knowing the road ahead can reap economical dividends as if travelling downhill, the car can glide along without using a drop of fuel or electric power. Some cars, including the BMW i3 lack this ability, instead favouring maximum regeneration whenever possible. In the Golf GTE, the ability to have both a strong regenerative effect and coasting means it is more adaptable to different situations. Motorway driving, as an example, becomes rewardingly economical.

    Unfortunately, road noise is louder than it should be for a car of this quality. It is a shame VW has not installed more insulation around the rear wheel arches in particular. There is a distinct drumming noise, although this does vary depending on the road surface. The ride itself is excellent, well composed and with no hint of it being too firm, even with the GT badge staring back at you.

    The cabin itself is typical Golf; beautifully put together with quality materials. The GTE comes fully kitted as standard, although disappointingly, an EV oriented and useful in-built sat nav system is an optional extra, which is a miserly shame. Tartan is the name of the game with the interior featuring accents of blue, where the GTi would feature red. Subtlety is the order of the day with the GTE, just as it is with the GTi and e-Golf too. Badging is kept tastefully discreet and there is no real indication to outsiders that you’re in anything other than an ordinary Golf, aside from the subtle blue lines that run around the car, the ‘Serron’ 18” alloys come fitted as standard. There are no statements of PHEV or plug-in hybrid badging anywhere to be seen and as such the GTE is a car that blends easily into a petrol society despite its whisper-like EV drive and it won’t even attract a single glance.

    There in lies this cars appeal. It is a great compromise between sports hatchback and family city car. As an electric vehicle, it has plenty of power for any type of driving style and the 31 mile range is ample for the majority of local journeys one might want to make. With the petrol engine used as a reserve for longer journeys, the Golf GTE is ideally suited for longer journeys where time is of the essence, rather than requiring stops at charge points as the e-Golf does.

    However, instead of being merely a range extender, the 1.4 petrol unit has an enjoyable character that combines with the electric motor to provide tonnes of heavy-footed thrills just as the excellent Golf GTi always has. Consequently, the GTE is hard to find fault with. It will likely win sales from both those in the market for a normal GTi, but don’t want the fuel outlay that comes with it and also those who are tempted by the e-Golf, but are anxious of electric car ownership. The icing on the cake is the price. The Golf GTE is essentially the same car as the A3 e-tron, which is no bad thing. And, at £28,035 after the plug-in car grant, the GTE is a thousand pounds cheaper on the road too. After this taster, we’re looking forward to our full test, due later in the year.

    CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Tartan interior trim has accents of blue in place of the GTi’s red. Brake calipers continue the blue theme and add a touch of subtle sportiness as does the GTE nameplate on the bonnet. Looks are a cross between the GTi and e-Golf, with ‘C’ shaped lights at the base. ‘ #VW ’ nose badge hides the seven-pin charge port. Interior is usual Golf, but kitted out with plenty of toys.

    MAIN Blue is the colour of the new GTE, the first plug-in hybrid Golf.
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