VW’s Golf GTi goes soft

3 April, 2013 | by Lance Branquinho

There is no hot hatch that even begins to rival the branding cachet of VW’s Golf GTi. Along all six of its generations, GTi has been the standard to which all others are measured, judged, aspire to.

Interesting, then, that VW would risk contaminating this lineage of pure hot hatch excellence by introducing a soft-top version of GTi. Yes, that’s right: a soft-top.

Let’s consider the consequences of all this. With a folding roof the GTi’s structural rigidity is reduced (marshmallowing dynamics) and its boot capacity truncated, and that’s silly because practicality is a cornerstone of any hot hatch, that’s why even the three-door versions are not referred to as coupes.

One really does wonder what the purpose of Golf6 GTi is, especially when Golf7 has just been launched in South Africa and the GTi derivative is only months away.

Well, perhaps there is a peculiar customer (and VW is masterful at profiteering from niche markets) who desires a Golf6 soft-top, from whom the 1.4 TSI Golf cabriolet’s 118kW/240Nm simply does not yield swift enough performance. The problem is that when you add the GTi drivetrain, with its 155kW and 280Nm, you’re arriving at  - and as a consequence sweeping through – corners that much quicker, which is when you’re also bound to notice the foldaway roof addled handling softness that’s not really an issue in the slower 1.4 TSI cabriolet.

Why would you want to do that to yourself? Who rationally purchases a car with an ace engine and six-speed DSG transmission, knowing its performance outstrips the design’s ultimate dynamic poise, all because you want a silly fabric-roof that folds down – a feature you’ll use only a dozen days a year? We don’t have an answer for that either.

Fact remains: the Golf6 GTi cabriolet is now available in South Africa. Sure, it’s quick (0-100kph 7.3 sec, 235kph) despite being a touch more than 100kg heavier than the five-door GTi. Then again, you also lose 100-litres of bootsapce, which completely ruins any semblance of Golf GTi-like hatchback practicality. Particularly pointless then, but, if you want open-top motoring with a VW badge, post-Eos, Golf6 GTi is your only choice.

Fortunately we won’t be getting the R version, which available is Europe. Honestly, can you imagine what GolfR cabriolet says about your perceived automotive knowledge?

Now, if only they’d build a Scirocco soft-top. Now that would be something not at all undesirable…

Golf6 GTi DSG

R397 000



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