In Motor Sport for March last year J.W. wrote an enthusiastic report on the VW Golf GTi. I have since had some experience of it and can add this reminder of whit an excellent car this is. in almost every way. It is a surprising performer for a 1.588-c.c. saloon. even allowing for fuel-injection. It handles well (the test car was Pirelli-shod), has a nice gear change – I was delighted to find an oversize “golf ball” as the knob!—there is turbine-smoothness from the power-unit, and prompt winter starting is a further bonus. It was odd, however, to find windscreen-wipers on a car obviously intended for a r.h.d. model. At present this fast Volkswagen is only available with the controls on the left. This did not trouble me at all, and I regard this Golf GTi as a very worthwhile purchase at £4,858. J.W. got 25 m.p.g. and in more gentle (snow) driving I recorded 33.1 m.p.g. and, as expected, no oil was required in 635 miles.
The Golf has certainly grown up. from being a replacement for the Beetle, although it is obviously of very different specification! It was followed in my road-test curriculum by a smart black Audi 100L Avant. I liked this one also in a different way. It is exceedingly roomy, the boot included, comfortable, has a nice gear change from a short lever sprung to the right of the gate, although this change can baulk at times and could do with a heavier reverse-guard spring. The movements are pleasantly short, however. I was glad of the front-wheel-drive on snow-coated roads and this, and the Michelin tyres, got the Avant hatchback up gradients which, in my experience, defeat many cars at this time of the year. The hatchback opens easily and does not need a key, but the cover over the luggage does not rise with the lid, as on most other cars. There is ample performance, especially bearing in mind that the 1,5887-c.c. engine consumes two-star petrol. It seemed to be doing this at better than 30 m.p.g. on quite fast runs but the shortage of the stuff in the time of the test (due to the tanker-drivers’ strike) precluded a proper check.
This Avant is another car which should boost VW?Audi sales. It has nice instrumentation, rather low-geared but light steering, it started instantly in sub-zero temperatures, and it runs at around 3,800 r.p.m. at an indicated 70 m.p.h. The off-side rear passenger’s door was a bit sticky to open, and although the wipers swept an effective are on this car, they seemed intended for a l.h.d version. Until one is accustomed to this Avant the use of two very short stalk-controls, one for the lamps, the other for the hazard-flashers, can be a trifle confusing. At £5,099 this seems to me to be another good move by Volkswagen in the intense “chess-game” of Import sales to this country.—W.B.