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Aug 30 2009

Every man’s ride

Posted by volkszone

It started as a blue-collar sports car. The Mk 5 was superb but the latest Golf GTI is truly astonishing, writes Thomas Falkiner of The  Times Za.

If there was an award for the most politically correct car, it would probably be handed to the legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI. A snappy performance hatchback, born classless and strangely free from the elitism that usually manifests itself in machines of such superior stature, the Golf GTI is the original auto diplomat; an everyday motoring icon with an uncanny ability to hit home with an unbelievably wide spectrum of petrolheads.

Seriously, whether you’re a bling- packing wheeler-dealer from the Cape Flats, a black-diamond businessman with a taste for tailored suits or a peroxided brawler from the bad side of Boksburg, those three letters — GTI — shatter the cultural divide and stir up driving hopes and aspirations. It’s an impressive automotive feat that’s long been imitated by many of VW’s rivals and, more importantly, one that’s been going strong since the spirited original upset the motoring status quo back in 1976.

The MK1 Golf GTI — boxy, upright and relatively uncom- promising by today’s standards — was one of the most significant cars to emerge from the ’70s. Conceived in secret over beer and sandwiches by a handful of Volkswagen engineers who felt the company needed a proper sports model, this hot version of the Giugiaro- designed Beetle replacement offered the masses sports-car performance on a blue- collar budget. Almost overnight, the feisty little German vehicle made comparatively “exotic” performance coupés like Britain’s MGB seem slow, clunky and about as involving to drive as a horse-drawn trap. A German car magazine, Auto Motor & Sport, said: “Climbing up an Alpine pass in the GTI is one of the most exciting driving tasks a car enthusiast can have.”

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