Australian buyers purchase more Volkswagen hot hatches per capita than almost every other market worldwide, giving the company’s local arm an excuse to roll out new models and special editions over the next year or so.
Around 25 per cent of all Golfs sold here, for instance, wear GTI or R badges. In response, the company is about to launch the cheapest Golf GTI in 14 years, and a new entry stripped-back grade of the R.
This planned run of special editions – unique to Australia for the most part – follow on from the recently launched mid-life (Mk 7.5) updates to the GTI and R in their regular forms.
Pictured: GTI Performance Edition 1
We’re already familiar with the limited edition Golf GTI Performance Edition 1 three-door (reviewed here). In a few months time we will then see the Golf GTI Original, a stripped-back three-door priced at what we believe will be a sharp $36,990 before on-roads with a manual gearbox.
That’d be the same price as a Mk4 Golf GTI was in 2003.
Up a step we find the Golf R range, recently upgraded as well, complemented by additional limited edition Golf R Wolfsburg hatch and wagon derivatives, limited to 300 units apiece (details here).
The Golf R wagon Wolfsburg Edition foreshadows the arrival of the Golf R wagon as a fully fledged member of the VW range from the beginning of 2018, priced at $57,490 with a DSG and reviewed here.
But slightly before this, probably in late November, we’re going to see a new special Australian-named offering called the Golf R Grid (more here), which ditches the normal car’s leather seats (instead getting Alcantara and cloth), the 9.2-inch screen (to be 8.0″) and Active Info Display, and adding black mirrors.
Pictured: Golf R wagon
This model will kick off at $47,490 in manual hatch guise, which is cheaper than even the MY10 original of seven years ago, with an extra $2500 for the DSG and a further $2000 if you want it in the more practical wagon body.
So, total, that makes it the regular Mk7.5 Golf GTI plus the limited edition Performance Edition 1 and Original, then the Golf R hatch, Golf R wagon, Golf R Wolfsburg hatch and wagon, and Golf R Grid hatch and wagon. Like we said, ‘onslaught’.
Beyond the Golf, June/July 2018 should see the arrival of the brand new and significantly bigger/roomier Polo GTI, with 147kW (the same as a Mk5 Golf GTI) and a heap of new cabin technology. You can read our recent review of the regular 85kW Polo here, ahead of its March launch.
Pictured: MY18 Polo GTI
You can expect this new model to be a little pricier than the outgoing car, which kicks off at $27,690 with a manual ‘box.
Unfortunately, the car that’d be an ideal candidate to slip beneath it – the recently revealed Volkswagen Up! GTI – is almost certain to be bypassed for Australia, because the price can’t be negotiated down to palatable sub-$25k levels.
The Up! GTI packs a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine punching out 85kW and 230Nm through a six-speed manual, weighs 997kg, has a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of 8.8 seconds, and is similarly sized to the Golf Mk1 GTI of the ’70s.
The other piece in the puzzle – though there’ll no doubt be other special edition Golf GTI and R models eventually – is the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, due here in the second half of 2018 priced around $53,000.
The Golf GTE combines the company’s familiar 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and a 75kW/330Nm electric motor, fed by a series of lithium-ion batteries stored beneath the boot floor.
Combined outputs are 150kW and 350Nm, with drive sent to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.
Volkswagen claims an electric-only driving range of 50 kilometres, at speeds up to 130km/h. Fuel consumption for the petrol-electric hybrid EV is listed at 1.5L/100km on the European test cycle, and a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds is claimed.
It is worth noting that, thanks to its hefty battery packs, the GTE is 270kg heavier than its GTI hot-hatch sibling. Read this author’s review of the pre-facelift GTE here.