Test Drive #16 - VW Golf MkVI GTI
15th April 2011

Well, now that the Golf has turned one, I thought it was time I got around to putting up some photos. And seeing that Jackieís got one too, we decided to do a double header.

My Golf at nearly 3 months of age (from manufacture) and geared up to jump out of the showroom.

Driving her out for the first time! Right after knock off the day after the Hindu New Year. I think I only got home around about midnight that night!

The Transformer shot!

We headed north to see if we could get some open space.

Donít be fooled by the badge! Walking into a VW dealership expecting to buy a GTI is like asking a wheat farmer for a pizza. All VW Australia can sell you is a basic shell and it really up to you to build a car worthy of the badge.

Starting from the wheels- VW supplied these things with the crap looking 17Ē Denvers. If you wanted something decent, you had to option the wheels up to the 18Ē BBS Detroits (as Jackie and I did). Mine came with some Potenza RE050As and are quite ok for the moment (and I am thankful that I didnít wind up with the Michelin Exaltos or the Dunlops). The next set of tyres will be some RE11s and they will ride on a forged set of 19Ē Rotiforms.

The MkVI GTI is fitted with the Audi-develped EA888 TSI engine. There are some refinement benefits that this unit enjoys over the older EA113 unit featured in the MKV GTI and in the current Golf R. My biggest gripe is that it is well and truly undercooked. Although the VW version of the EA888 puts out 210 horsepower with RON95 fuel, it is not as technologically advanced as the units seen in the Audis. We miss out on variable lift valves for example. So thatís a big thumbs down to VW for coming up short on engine performance. The plan is to get my GTI up and over 300HP in due course so that it can be a proper hot hatch.

My mods have begun and the first thing I did was ditch the disgusting OEM air intake system. This heavy chunk of plastic did little for the engineís ability to suck in air and also made the engine bay look rather Toyota-like.

My GTI now has a carbon fibre Stage 2 Carbonio short ram unit with a K&N filter. The unit is much lighter than the stock version and has improved fuel economy.

The plan is to keep everything looking like OEM. The current, tiny, Borg Warner K03 turbos will be ditched for the K04s in the coming years. A larger APR intercooler is already on the way and will be joined by a higher flow fuel pump. That along with forged internals and some ECU tuning should see the power figure keep up with the chassis.

The power gets put down via 6-speed double clutch gearbox. The lightning quick upshifts and automatically throttle blipped down changes won me over a long time ago. The latest iteration of the gearbox also lets you fly off the start line with launch control. The standard car uses the ABS system to stop power down wheelspin, but a proper 2-way mechanical limited slip differential is a must for proper driving.

One area I was happy with is the overall styling of the car. In fact, the car that I bought is almost identical in appearance to the hero car Austral VW had sitting in the middle of their showroom waaaay back when the MkVI GTI has its Australian debut.

The exterior features a lot of subtle differences when contrasted with the base model Golfs.

For the first time, the GTI now has installed split exhaust pipe tips. Although the standard hardware in my opinion is rubbish, this does allow one to fit some wonderful exhaust systems. The tiny OEM exhaust system in my GTI will be ditched for a 3Ē turbo back unit with a proper high flow catalytic converter in the coming 2 years. I am undecided on the final system but I am liking Milltek Sportsí 3Ē Race System. Another amazing looking setup is by Borla. Once the OEM exhaust is ditched, the engineís true performance can be tapped. The rumble will be greatly enhanced too.

Both cars clear most road hazards well. However, Jackieís has a greater scope for lowering. Her car didnít come with the adaptive chassis control option that I went for. I am able to select between three different damper settings depending on how aggressively I want to take corners. This means that I canít simply bolt on any set of aftermarket suspension bits in order to stiffen up or lower the car- I have more researching to do. However, my car will get a set of APR anti-roll bars as I begin to increase the power.

The console above the rear view mirror controls the map lights and provides a good spot to stash the driving glasses. From the lack of Bluetooth buttons, you can tell that this is an early edition MkVI GTI.

All German-specification cars require the fitment of fire extinguishers and I have had to source VWís fire extinguisher bracket to get my GTI up to standard. The Australian regulators do not have the foresight to require cars in Australia to carry such basic safety equipment.

The hatch can easily swallow two medium suitcases.

I have slapped in a waterproof tray with a lid rated to 20kg.

Spot the imposter.

We stopped for breakfast beside the bay.

I reckon all GTIs should come standard with Euro plates.

The rear diffuser is purely decorative and doesnít really help the aerodynamics. I just wished that VW provided something better than just plastic though. I think mine will be upgraded with a carbon fibre diffuser made by Osir.

The side skirts too are just unpainted plastic and are begging to be ditched for a set of Osir carbon fibre units.

Jackie and I both went for the 5-door versions. I will admit that the 3-door looks better, but is useless for everyday driving. A GTI is not a GTI it canít be used as a daily driver.

Siamese fighting GTIs!

Tight spots are no problems for the MkVI! This carís got a very tight turning circle and can manoeuvre just about any urban setting. My carís optioned up with Park Assist for when I am in a hurry to be parallel parked.

I had a difficult time to figure out where I was going to mount my little Ganesh statue. The dash was all too swoopy and smooth and offered no nooks where I could stick the statue to. I decided to tackle the problem another way. Instead of adding him to the car, I decided to make him a part of the car. And there was a perfect spot for him right next to all the carís other safety features (ESP, ACC, Park Assist and parking sensors).

Parking lot lines start looking like starting grid lines when looking at them though a GTI windscreen.

The carís got an extremely pointed front and is dramatically different to the rounded nose of the previous generation.

I love how the calipers stick out like dogís balls! The brakes are small though and once these set are worn, I will slap in the units used in the Golf R. VW should man up and fit decent brakes in the first place as the standard units take forever to stop.

We hit the Brighton Pier late in the morning.

It was the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs.

After that, Jackie bade me farewell and scooted off in her GTI.

On the topic of comfort, I had my GTI fitted with ECS Tuningís hatch pop. This was achieved via the use of some VAG struts used by Skoda.

My car was bought for the night. I agonised for the choice of colour and paid lots of visits to Austral, Highway and Norris VW at night to see which colours looked right. At the end, the Candy White won out. I also liked the fact that my GTI has got a proper German racing colour.

The tail lights are standard for the moment, but I will be upgrading these to the LED version VW fit on the Golf R.

Grand Touring Injected- into the mainline!

And after getting the car thoroughly dirty, I had to go home and get some rest, for the day after was all about washing the GTI!

And dream about the next upgradeÖ


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