‘R’ might stand for Racing in Volkswagen parlance, but it’s VW’s Golf GTI that has the longer competition heritage and it’s the GTI that forms the basis of a new race car developed by Volkswagen Motorsport.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR is eligible for sixteen TCR touring car championships worldwide, which feature production-based racers built to strict regulations.
Subscribe to evo magazine
A cost-effective alternative to existing touring car series, competing vehicles must be based on a four- or five-door shell, have a minimum weight of 1250kg if the production gearbox is retained (1280kg with a racing ‘box), develop around 325bhp and have regulated aerodynamics.
The GTI TCR is based on the five-door Golf GTI shell, and while the profile is instantly recognisable as a Golf the front and rear views are dominated by bodywork 40cm wider than standard, and an enormous rear wing sprouting from the tailgate. There’s a deep front splitter too, and safety modifications such as a roll cage, full racing seat and FIA-approved fual tank are mandatory.
Wheels are 18-inches in diameter, and suspension layout largely follows that of the road car: McPherson struts at the front and multi-link at the rear, albeit with a greater range of adjustment than the standard GTI. The car’s electric power steering features both modified software and hardware.
Volkswagen Motorsport has drawn experience from its partner SEAT, and the SEAT Leon Cup Racer, which won the international TCR series’ inaugural season in 2015.
Both cars use a tuned version of the EA888 engine used across the Volkswagen Group, developing 325bhp and 302lb ft of torque – 31bhp and 22lb ft more than the same engine in a Golf R. As VW has chosen a six-speed sequential for its TCR, its weight-with-driver ascribes to the higher limit.
Unlike the Golf R, the race car is two-wheel drive, as mandated by the regulations, which draws closer parallel to the highest-performance GTI on sale: The GTI Clubsport.
With 261bhp, and a 286bhp output over brief periods, it’s the hottest GTI short of the racer – and a car that, when we drove it in November, impressed us with a more adjustable chassis and pointier responses than the standard car.