Golf GTI not the quickest 1600 saloon?'


Thank you for your always good magazine, which I have the pleasure to read (and collect) since June 1967.

In the issue of March 1977 you deal with the new Golf GTI, a quite good car by all standards. And you say (page 289): "... 0-60 m.p.h. in 9.6 sec., which is still faster than any mass production 1600 I can recall".

I would like to remind you of the mass production 1,565 c.c. Renault 12 Gordini, built between 1971 and 1974, one of which I own, after one Mini Cooper and one Mini Cooper S.

Here are a few figures: 400 metres standing start: Golf GTI 17.5 sec., R12 G17 sec. 1000 metres standing start: Golf GTI 32.5 sec., R12 G31 sec. Despite the extra weight oft full 4 seats, 4 doors, large-boot saloon the R12 G achieved these figures by the virtue of a 113 b.h.p. at 6,200 r.p.m. and a five-speed gearbox, against 110 b.h.p. at 6,100 r.p.m. and a four-speed gearbox in the less spacious Golf GTI.

If we take tho figures given by Volkswagen the top speed is still, although fractionally, to the benefit of the R12 G, 185 k.p.h. (115 m.p.h.) to 182 k.p.h.(113 m.p.h.) to the Golf GTI. However it appears that your car on test was not the only one to "disgrace itself" with only 108 m.p.h. (174 k.p.h., as tho GTIs tested by the French magazines Echappentent and Sport Auto could not produce more than 175 k.p.h. (109 m.p.h.) top speed. If we gather these figures with the fact that the Renault 12 Gordini, weighed 940 kilos, and the Golf GTI weighs only 810 kilos, we are lead to wonder if to-day's brake horse powers are as strong as they used to be a few years ago.

About 8000 Renault 12 Gordini had been built when the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault stopped the production. This fantastic farnily saloon car was too sporty for Mr. and Mrs. Anybody, and failed to convince the young French "amateurs de vitesse" for it was of f.w.d. conception.

And, looking further up the ladder of evolution, do you remember the power-at-the-back Renault 8 Gordini, built between 1967 and 1970? The R8 G was not a one off, special-built light car (it was the standard body shell of the then-actual Regie's car, the R8 weighing 850 kilos) nor a Porsche-like attempt to get FIA homologation. Close to 10,000 have been produced. It was rather a "Triumph Dolomite "Sprint" than a "Cortina Lotus", if you allow me the comparison. It had a 1,255 c.c. engine. Then what about it? With 88 b.h.p. at 6,750 r.p.m. it was able to achieve (and factually did) a top speed of "only" 173 k.p.h. ( 107 m.p.h.), was worth 33 sec. on 1000 metres standing start, and did a 400 metres standing start in . . . 16.9 sec.

Does not it remind you of something?

Our cars are not that much faster nowadays. Let's comfort ourselves with the thought that they cause less pollution. Maybe this will make some happy...


(The R12G was never sold in Britain, whereas the 8G was attempted for a time. We would have needed to drive a production 12G for me to have altered by statement, which I therefore stand by.

So far as the Eulogy of support provided for the 12 is concerned should be interested to know the source of Daniel Nottets convincing figures. I should also point out in the VW's defence that it was the combination of high performance and completely civilised handling, ride and braking that really was the car's outstanding quality. J.W.)