The next Golf GTI will still enjoy a reasonable price when it arrives in Thailand mid-2013
Why is it dubbed a concept?
That has been the tradition of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The concept version you see here has been previewed just as the seventh-generation Golf has been making its first public appearance in France earlier this month.
Ignore the concept moniker: this is practically the 99.9% finished article for the showroom due in mid-2013. That's right, no show wheels or glitzy mirrors usually beautifying concept cars.
The GTI has even been previewed in production form down to the smallest details like the classic kilted seat upholstery. Plus, the specs have already been revealed.
And why has it got perfect power?
In order to please motorheads, the GTI now gets a new and more powerful engine based on the EA888 block first used by the just-revealed Audi S3; the sixth-gen GTI used the EA113 unit instead.
One of the key differences between these two engines is the use of chain-driven camshafts in the EA888, whereas the older one stuck to the belt-driven type.
But here's why the GTI has got perfect power. While torque has risen from 280Nm to 350, power has climbed from 210hp to 220hp. This means that the GTI can still enjoy a low 30% excise tax in Thailand as its output hasn't exceeded 220hp.
What happens if it exceeds it?
The rate instantly jumps to 50% _ a very annoying, vintage tax barrier. In price terms, that means the GTI could still be reasonably priced (okay, as an import) at some 2.5 million baht.
You wouldn't want to bother with the Power Pack that takes power up by another 10hp because the price would stupidly jump to over 4 million baht.
As well, the Power Pack only shaves a tenth of second off the standard 0-100kph acceleration time of 6.5sec _ 0.3sec quicker than the Mk6 GTI.
The GTI sounds good value, then...
It does. Better even is the fact that potential rivals in the C-segment can't find a level game in the tax-bewildering Thai car market.
The Ford Focus ST and Mazda 3 MPS, as such, have small engines but with power over 220hp.
Worse, these two hot hatches don't have an automatic gearbox; the GTI gets a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. You might ask about the Subaru Impreza WRX which has a 220hp engine and five-speed auto 'box. But trust us: the current Scooby is such a soft car to drive, while the previous GTI was already an all-time favourite of Life.
Volkswagen promises the GTI will drive better than before, thanks to a steering wheel that is said to require less turning input.
Concept GTI is practically ready to hit showrooms.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor