Extra power, limited-slip diff and bigger brakes to become standard fit... and the manual is gone
Volkswagen Australia has announced the Golf GTI Performance will return in October, becoming standard fitment across the GTI range as part of a forthcoming 2019 model-year update.
After hinting at plans to release a Performance Edition 2 in the third quarter of this year, a global move to discontinue the 169kW engine tune in the current Golf GTI led the local arm to specify the 'Performance' package for all MY19 Golf GTIs in Australia – meaning the 'standard' car will get more than just a power bump.
In addition to the uprated 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, all Australian-delivered GTIs will get a seven-speed wet-clutch DSG transmission, an electro-mechanical front differential lock, along with uprated ventilated front and rear brakes from the Golf R.
That's right, the car is a seven-speed dual-clutch only, although the current model – now in runout – is still offered with three pedals.
Paul Pottinger, general manager for communications for Volkswagen Australia, told CarAdvice the decision was driven by market demand, with more than 90 per cent of buyers opting for the dual-clutch transmission.
"We're quite open about it," Pottinger told CarAdvice. "You can get a manual now, while stocks last, but there's no manual forthcoming."
Pottinger didn't rule out three-pedal special editions in future, although what they might look like remains to be seen. At the moment, the GTI Original – intended as a back-to-basics homage to the first-generation car – is imported as a 50/50 manual/DSG split.
"We make cars our customers want, and our customers are telling us this is what they want," Pottinger went on, at pains to highlight the difference between enthusiast media and the wider buying public.
"Second-time buyers for these cars, for GTIs and Rs, have had a manual are coming back to get DSG because it's quicker, it's more efficient and on the move we as humans just can't change gears as quickly as that – whatever tactile enjoyment... we might derive from it."
The extra grunt should see the GTI Performance sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the 169kW model, on its way to a top speed of 250km/h.
Meanwhile fuel use drops marginally to 6.5L/100km – down from 6.6L/100km – likely due to the extra cog in the newer wet-clutch transmission.
"Change brought about by the advent of Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) in Europe is one of the major challenges confronting European brands in this market, but we were able to take advantage of this situation to improve the best-selling car of its type," said Ben Wilks, Volkswagen Australia's general manager of marketing.
"Such has been the demand for Performance Editions that making its specification standard is a logical progression, especially in terms of DSG, a transmission others are either trying to copy or cannot."
"Volkswagen has the unique ability to adapt and upgrade in this way, as opposed to carmakers that seek to emulate the GTI paradigm,” he added, taking another swipe at competitors.
Final pricing and specifications for the MY19 Golf GTI Performance are still to be confirmed, though local communications boss, Paul Pottinger, says: "Pricing will be sharp. It will meet customer expectations".
Currently, the manual Golf GTI kicks off at $41,990 before on-road costs. The lack of a manual option in the updated range could see the GTI Performance kicking off closer to the $44,490 mark of the current GTI with DSG.
Volkswagen Australia says the current GTI range "remains on drive-away", meaning customers can still get their hands on a manual or three-door GTI Original while stocks last.
Beyond the Volkswagen stable, that could mean similar changes are in store for the related Skoda Octavia RS – though Skoda Australia couldn't confirm this.
However, clues could be found in the fact that the Czech brand presented an upgraded version of the GTI-based liftback and wagon at the Geneva motor show in March, featuring the same specification as the hotter RS245 – itself in line with the GTI Performance.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest Volkswagen Golf updates over the coming months. Note: Overseas model pictured.
UPDATE, 9:20am: We've added more specific sales split numbers, and additional quotes, surrounding the dual-clutch and manual split.
Are you excited to hear about the upcoming changes for the Golf GTI?
MORE: Everything Volkswagen