Say what you will about the relevance of front-wheel drive hot hatches when faster all-wheel drive alternatives are on the market; there’s something uniquely appealing about a performance car that can put its power down efficiently through the front wheels alone.
Among the industry’s very finest FWD hot hatches is the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Named after the TCR racer that competes in the touring car series, the GTI TCR features an uprated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a bespoke remap and stainless steel exhaust system to deliver 286 HP, a serious upgrade over the 228 HP of the base GTI.
Complementing the engine upgrades are a locking front differential, drilled brake discs, bespoke brake pads and other tweaks for improved on-track performance. During a recent test, Sport Auto was able to lap the Nurburgring with the Golf GTI TCR in a mere 8:04.92.
Now before you exclaim that cars including the Honda Civic Type R and new Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R have both lapped the German circuit in the low 7 minute 40 second range, it’s important to note that those laps were both set by the manufacturers and not an independent party like Sport Auto. It’s not unusual for laps set by the publication to be 10 or more seconds slower than those timed by manufacturers under ideal conditions, and with drivers that know the car like the back of their hand, so that time is nothing to be sniffed at.