Really, the Golf GTI Performance is a bit stiff getting the smaller story on this page. It really is a fantastic car and if it wasn't being launched at the same time as its R brethren it'd be a far bigger deal.
Unfortunately, though, it is competing with not just the R but the excellent performance hatch it's based on.
In fact, it's so close to its GTI forebear that it's a bit of a problem. Overseas, customers can instead buy a Performance Pack for the standard GTI; however, here it will be offered as a stand-alone model.
Volkswagen HQ also only made the car available with the choice of one transmission - understandably, given Australian tastes, VW Australia opted for a DSG automatic, despite the car's performance angle.
So we have what is technically a different model but one that is very close to the GTI.
There is little on the outside to tell the difference between the two, save mainly for GTI-branded red brake callipers and 19-inch wheels - one inch bigger than the GTI's.
Each has the same-sized engine, torque output and six-speed DSG gearbox and fuel consumption, while the Performance maintains all of the GTI's tech and creature comforts.
The Performance will beat the GTI to 100km/h by 0.1 seconds though, thanks to an extra 7kW at its disposal and its maximum torque being available for 200rpm longer.
The Performance is more about tinkering with what the package can do rather than reinventing things, and a new electronically controlled front differential lock.
Essentially, when cornering hard and fast it sends all of the action to the outside wheel. This helps to pretty well eliminate understeer, the bane of front-wheel-drives.
As well as the front diff lock, the Performance has bigger brakes than the GTI: 340mm at the front and 310mm at the rear (increases of 28mm and 10mm respectively).
Do these tweaks improve on the GTI's driveability? Absolutely - it's amazing how easy it is to keep the Performance's nose exactly where you want it through corners.
But does it do things so much better than the already-great GTI to justify the $4000 price hike? Unless you're an obsessive, most people won't truly notice all that much improvement in steering or power than the GTI and those racer types who are looking for the best VW hot hatch they can get will go for the far more hardcore Golf R.
So while the GTI Performance might be better than the GTI, it might be asking for punters to pay too much for the benefits.
- VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI PERFORMANCE *
- Price *$48,490
- Engine * 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Outputs * 169kW/350Nm
- Transmission *Six-speed automatic
- Thirst * 6.6L/100km
- 0-100km/h *6.4 seconds
If it wasn't being launched at the same time as its R brethren it'd be a far bigger deal.