The facelifted Volkswagen Golf 7.5 arrived earlier this year, but part of the (expansive) hatchback lineup missed out on a refresh. After a championship-winning season, the Golf GTI TCR has finally been given its ‘7.5’ makeover, bringing the entry-level racer into line with the road car range.
Although it’s an altogether more serious proposition than the regular GTI, the TCR is directly linked to its road-going brethren in a few key ways. The two cars actually share the same base engine, for example, although the racer makes 261kW instead of the 180kW offered in the GTI Performance.
Coupled with a six-speed sequential gearbox and sticky rubber, the extra power helps the TCR sprint to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds, on the way to a top speed of around 260km/h.
As you’d imagine, the body-shell of the TCR has been strengthened to meet FIA standards, and there’s a proper roll-cage inside as well. But beyond the engine and safety improvements, the first thing you notice about the racing Golf is the massive aerodynamics package.
Where the standard GTI is understated and plain, the racer is full of pumped-up aggression, like the skinny kid from school who developed a taste for protein shakes at university. The front fenders have been flared to house a 15cm-wider track, and the deep splitter on the nose helps squish the car into the road at high speed.
Add the aluminium rear wing to the mix, and you’re left with a seriously purposeful package, albeit one that is (obviously) not road legal.
The GTI TCR competes in the TCR International Series, which sees racers with a direct link to production vehicles rubbing paint around circuits in China, Europe and Bahrain. Along with the hotter GTI, there are race-ready Audi RS3s and Honda Civic Type Rs on the grid. The Euro-only Seat Leon and Kia Cee’d also feature, while the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Opel (Holden) Astra round out the grid.