VW GTIs: 110 b.h.p. sports saloons
As discussed in July’s test of the Scirocco 1600TS, VW are to produce fuel-injected versions of the Scirocco and Golf, which we were recently privileged to try in Germany. To be known under the GTI designation these special Golfs and Sciroccos share suspension, braking and the Heron pattern combustion chamber layout of their identical 1,588-c.c. motors. Unlike the Audi 80 GTE, which is available in Britain in RHD form with the same 110 injected four-cylinder, the VW GTIs will he sold only with left-hand drive. Production, following an announcement of the Golf GTI a trifle prematurely at the Frankfurt Show, should commence in August and the cars will be available in Britain with LHD. If the E can maintain anything like present abysmal levels, prices would be £3,300 for the Golf GTI and £400 more for the Scirocco GTI.
The engine shares the same bore and stroke as the lesser VW 1600s (79.5 mm. by 80 mm.), but is radically different in that the cylinder heads have no combustion chambers at all. Operating on a 9.5 to 1 c.r. the pistons carry the necessary depressions to accommodate the combustion process, the development team discovering an extra 5 horsepower on the Heron head principle, compared to more conventional combustion chamber development.
Despite the extra piston weight, VW have not found it necessary to inflict any extra engine vibration on their customers. Possibly this is due to the continuous injection of fuel via the Bosch K-Jetronic (K stands for the German equivalent of continually, kontinuierlich), for the engines provide lots of smoothly delivered power throughout the range. For example, peak torque is 14 mkg. at 5,000 r.p.m., but there is 12 mkg. available from 2-6,500 r.p.m. Peak horsepower of 110 b.h.p. is delivered at 6,100 r.p.m. and there are 90 b.h.p., or more, from 4.750 r.p.m.
Apart from the combustion arrangements, the s.o.h.c. engine differs from the TS in the adoption of 2 mm. bigger intake valves, an oil cooler and a larger diameter clutch. Both GTIs share substantially altered suspension arrangements (though the 0.8 in lower ride height is for Golf GTI only), on comparatively soft springs, front and rear antiroll bars, an increase in wheel rim width to 5 1/2 in., revised shock-absorber settings (“tougher”, said a spokesman !) making the car wider in track and lower. The changes are said to have boosted cornering speed to 0.82G, though due credit has to go to the Continental and Pirelli tyres of 175 SR13 section, instead of the basic model’s 155 radials.
Also very useful in a car that weighs only 1,764 lbs. (Scirocco GTI) and 1,786 lbs. (Golf GTI) arc brakes to match the outstanding performance. VW have fitted ventilated front discs, retaining production drums at the lightly-laden rear. Aerodynamic aid is improved too as the spoiler has been scaled up considerably, though retaining a similar appearance to that of TS models.
The Scirocco’s better shape and lighter weight give it a performance advantage that was imperceptible on the Hockenheim section of the test route. Maximum speed for Scirocco GTI is quoted at 114.95 m.p.h. while the Golf is reportedly capable of 113.1 m.p.h. In fact, our Scirocco cruised contentedly at 5,000 r.p.m. and 100 m.p.h. indicated in fourth gear, with a distinct interference from the rev-limited engine when 125 m.p.h. was being indicated on the motorway! The Golf was slower on the speedometer, but its track performance seemed, if anything, slightly quicker, or perhaps we were just more used to Hockenheim at this stage? Acceleration from rest to 62 m.p.h. is said to occupy 8.8 sec. for Scirocco GTI and 0.2 sec. longer for the Golf version.
On the road that performance is certainly delivered without vice, the cars sweeping past other traffic very smoothly and handling with very little exhibition that the front wheels are driven. The brakes also proved very capable in normal road use.
When we got to Hockenheim the Scandinavian specialist press were in full flight around the club circuit, and it took a few laps to struggle onto even terms. Under such hard use both the Scirocco and Golf GTIs will lift rear wheels pretty readily, often accompanied by puffs of smoke as they go into a corner with the rear brakes locking as they begin to aviate. The faster the corner, the more neutrally the GTIs behave, but one delight was the second gear Sachs U-bend in front of the main stadium (the 120,000 capacity stands bare concrete dazzlingly empty in the June sun) where the GTIs could swish round under full power, to reach the kerbing in precisely the same spot for lap after lap.
The Scirocco has a virtually standard TS interior, but the Golf is considerably improved over lesser models with new seating that has considerably more support of the sides of the torso: both models have strong, thick, rim sports steering wheels and extra instrumentation that includes a central oil temperature gauge and a clock : neither has an oil pressure gauge, but water temperature is included, as is a 220 k.p.h. (136.70 m.p.h.) speedometer and tachometer with a limit of 6,600 r.p.m. indicated by a red zone.—J.W.