The VW Golf GTI 1800

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

The majority of people rate the Volkswagen Golf GTi, dating from 1976, as one of the best, if not the top small car. Some 10,000 RHD Golf GTi’s have been sold in Britain since 1979, and over 330,000 have been produced. Now we have the Golf GTI 1800, which is indeed gilding refined gold. In the former bodyshell, the three-door hatchback, an engine of greater power has been installed, an increase of two b.h.p. but accomplished at 300 fewer r.p.m., and an improvement in maximum torque of 6 lb./ft., but at 1,500 lower r.p.m., over that of the 1600 Golf GTi’s engine. It is this better spread of power and torque that has truly put the latest 1.8-litre Golf GTI in a class of its own.

The power and torque increases have been achieved by using a 1½ mm. bigger cylinder bore, 6.4 mm. on the piston stroke, increasing the swept volume by 193 c.c. and incorporating bigger valves, lighter pistons, a new crankshaft with a torsional vibration damper, and other internal changes, and a higher (3.65 to 1, against 3.89 to 1) final drive. The result is a captivating little car, of very significant performance. It retains the former five-speed gearbox and otherwise is much the same as the Golf 1600 (or 1500, as VAG call it) — until you drive it!

At first, emerging into the dusk and the London snarl-ups, I felt the little VW to be a thought rorty — fierce clutch, fast sporty tick-over, sports-type bucket driving-seat. This impression soon evaporated, as I discovered how very smooth the transverse 81 x 86.4 mm. (1,781 c.c.) four-cylinder overhead-camshaft fuel-injection engine is, in spite of its 10 to 1 compression-ratio, 112 (DIN) b.h.p. output at 5,800 r.p.m., and its delivery of 109 lb./ft. torque at only 3,500 r.p.m. It really is a remarkably smooth power-unit and quiet with it, at fast cruising speeds, and can be revved safely to 6,300 r.p.m. What is more, the improved torque characteristic enables it to pull away in fifth gear from below the legal town speed-limit (1,500 r.p.m.), so that one normally uses only that, normal top and third gear most of the time, engaging the two remaining lower gears in the box only for motoring in earnest, after starting off. The clutch has a rather long travel, which I noticed even though I tend to drive at far less than the full arms-stretch position, but with care it engages smoothly and any “kangaroo take-off” is obviated. The gearbox was a trifle notchy unless the clutch was fully depressed but was otherwise a delight to use, as its ratios (3.48, 2.12, 1.44, 1.13 and 0.912 to 1) are so well related.

As for performance, so smoothly and eagerly delivered, what can I say? It was not possible to check for absolute top pace, but you can put it at some 115 m.p.h. On accleration, here was a very compact 1.8-litre car that would out-pace many far bigger ones, doing 0-60 m.p.h. in about eight seconds for example, topping the performance aspirations of such as the Renault 5 Gordini Turbo, the Alfasud TiX, the Colt 1400 Turbo, the Fiat Strada 105TC, the Volvo 360GTL, the BMW 316 and what have you, apart from being faster than these and just about as economical. Marvellous!

From a personal point of view, this made a day’s journey of over 330 miles from Wales to the English Midlands and back to look at some pre-war motor-racing photographs an easy accomplishment, and it was noticeable that with four adults in the VW the excellent handling was not one whit impaired — mark you, those in the back hadn’t much footroom. The return run embraced traffic running through fairly congested towns, a good deal of Motorway driving, two brief stops, one to refuel, and then fast stuff along deserted Welsh A-roads. That the VW Golf GTI was able to average in the region of 48 m.p.h. overall, at a fuel consumption of 33.7 m.p.g. is a measure of the abilities of this excellent little hatchback. The cornering is predictable, with very little lean, and in this context it is significant that Volkswagen contrive a good ride from their rear suspension, when Ford and to a lesser extent Vauxhall have (until the former’s Sierra) never been good at this. Only when accelerating hard did the Fulda 175/70HR13 Rasant Steel 411 radial ply tyres of the test car lose front-drive grip, while the understeer is very mild and does not embarrass the somewhat low-geared (3.3 turns, lock-to-lock) manual, rack-and-pinion steering, which is light with excellent castor-return.

The driver is held securely by the rally-type seat, and all the former good and less-good Golf aspects are unchanged, including the ugly steering-wheel with its four horn-pushes. The fascia contains the Motormeter speedometer and tachometer, the latter with fuel and heat gauges. The 1800 cruises at 3,526 r.p.m. at 70 m.p.h. in fifth gear. After switching-on the ignition little lights flash for a time and then go out, to indicate services in order, and there is a neat computer panel which will apparently tell you what your journey time, journey distance, average speed, m.p.g., oil and outside temperatures are, by pressing a button on the end of the r.h. control stalk. It also incorporates a memory-bank, for recording up to 6,200 miles, etc., I never got this right, perhaps because of inadvertently depressing the button when using the screen-wipers, and as another tester found the computer’s fuel-consumption readings optimistic, I preferred to ignore it, but its easily-read, non-dazzle digital clock was appreciated. Less so was a tiny light that came on if it thought you were being unsparing of petrol — I did tend to drive to its ministrations, with a little coasting as well, but it can curb the delights of extending to the full this very lively 1800 Golf, which can improve on the acceleration of the 1600 GTi model by as much as 1.8 sec. from 50 to 70 m.p.h. and by 2.7 sec. from 60 to 80 m.p.h., in fifth-speed, for instance. In normal fast driving, however, the “econ” warning is not particularly inhibiting, but the needle that swept back and forth across the dial calibrated from 25 to 55 m.p.g. when you were in fifth gear, I also ignored. As an aside, I note that the golf-ball gear-lever knob, rather rough to handle, is retained, a nice touch of Teutonic humour. Nor did I like the screen-washers which did not clean the base-area in the driver’s line of vision. On the other hand, what could be more convenient than a wash-wipe response to a flick of the r.h. stalk (turn-indicators and flick dipper from the I.h. stalk) and rear window wash-wipe by pressing on the same stalk? This underlines the fact that this latest Golf GTI is a very convenient fast car to drive. It has the expected Golf amenities of easily-read instruments, a well-sealed body asking for a window to be opened for easy-closing of its doors, nicely contrived door handles, effective door “keeps”, plenty of stowages including a lockable lid to the cubbyhole, useful rigid door pockets, a notably steady-reading fuel gauge accurate even down to the gallon or as of petrol left at the red warning mark, a lockable fuel filler-cap, and Hella headlamps good on main beam, less good when dipped. There was too much wind-roar in the region of the near-side door, however. The ride, as I have said, is very good indeed for a small car, comfortable in spite of obviously stiffish suspension, which did not quell a modicum of float once or twice over undulations, although this is of no consequence at all. Indeed, this is a beautifully balanced little car in which to put up good average speeds. For its type the heater (with three-speed fan) works well, and the services beneath the prop-up rear-hinged bonnet are all accessible, as is the VW 12-volt, 54-amp. / hr. battery.

Overall consumption of 4-star was 33.5 m.p.g., a very commendable figure considering the performance available, the nine gallon tank giving a practical range of some 300 miles. The vacuum-servo disc/drum brakes have a rather long pedal travel, but are otherwise perfectly satisfactory. It is this splendid, effortless performance that makes this THE outstanding small-car, for it goes like a little racer yet has little of the punchy, detuned rally-car aspects that might have gone with it. The Bosch fuel-injection ensured a prompt hot or cold start, and there is almost nothing to fault. At a whisker under £6,500 and that without some of the equipment most users will want as extras, the big-engined Golf GTI costs more than some cars in this class, but you get excellent value if you enjoy driving, and alloy-wheels, rear seat-belts, front air darn and two external mirrors, both adjustable from within, are provided. Servicing intervals are now at 10,000 miles. VW have, with this newest Golf, showed, once again, how best to play the small-car game. — W.B.

You may also like

Related products