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A European Diary : 2004 Paris Motor Show Last Updated: Jan 30th, 2005 - 16:19:56

Paris2004: Volkswagen Golf GTi
By Mike Cervantes
Oct 1, 2004, 22:10

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VW GTi. Courtesy: Volkswagen AG
Almost thirty years since the launch of the original, Volkswagen is showing off their newest Golf GTi. Now in its fifth generation, VW is counting on the new Golf GTi to (re)ignite enthusiasm in their brand just as the first one did. It couldnt come at a better time, as the VW brand in the United States and to a lesser degree in Europe is in a bit of a dark period thanks to nagging quality issues, an aging lineup, escalating prices, and increased competition.


According to VW, 93.2 percent of Europeans and 98.5 percent of Germans associate the GTi with the Golf. About as many people associate the Golf with Volkswagen, as it should be, considering the Golf is often the top selling car on the continent. So it is clear that the GTi is fitting to be considered VWs halo car, the one to announce to the world that the brand is back. But does the Golf GTi have what it takes to make the splash VW needs right about now?


Powering the new Golf GTi will be an equally new 2.0 liter turbocharged FSI four cylinder engine capable of 200ps and over 205 ft-lbs of torque with direct injection and a high compression ratio of 10.5:1. When mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission, the new GTi can go from 0 to 62mph in about 7.2 seconds. If you pay extra and get the F1-style DSG transmission (along the lines of BMWs SMG unit), expect 62mph to arrive in less than seven seconds. Not too shabby, but then again the Dodge SRT-4 does is in under six seconds according to most magazine tests.


VW GTi. Courtesy: Volkswagen AG
Underpinning this FWD hatchback legend is a set of independent MacPherson struts up front and an all-new fully independent setup out back replacing the old beam suspension. Word is the GTi should be much improved over the current model, which often got panned by the media for being a bit on the soft side. Big 17-inch or 18-inch wheels should keep the new GTi planted firmly on the tarmac.


Unlike the MkIV GTi, nobody will be able to confuse the looks of this one with that of your ordinary Golf. Start off with the black grille (with red-painted surround) that dips down all the way to the lower portions of the bumper, flanked by large inlets below the smoked headlamps. New sideskirts, rear valance, the aforementioned wheels and tires, dual exhaust tips, and red-painted brake calipers round out the warmed-up look.


VW GTi. Courtesy: Volkswagen AG
Considering that the Volkswagen group is seen as a leader in automotive interior ambiance, its not at all surprising VW added a special touch to the GTis cockpit. The seats have been designed specifically for their use here, with sporty and supportive side bolstering. The leather-trimmed three-spoke steering wheel, shifter, trim inserts, and pedals are all highlighted with real aluminum accents. The GTi-trademark black headliner rounds out the special equipment.


What was supposed to be just a limited run of 5,000 models in June 1976 ended up being 1.5 million GTIs and counting. The fifth generation model goes on sale in Europe this fall while drivers in the United States can take one home sometime late 2005 or early 2006.

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