Sunday 18 March 2018

Legend lives on

Golf GTi
Golf GTi

There's nothing like a great big political U-turn to deliver an “I told you so” to the mandarins who run traffic and motoring in this country.

This week it comes in the form of a rather embarrassing “Yes, we were wrong on that one” from Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, who has announced swinging changes to how clampers operate.

In fairness to Leo, it wasn’t he who gave a green light to the general terrorism of motorists in towns and cities at the hands f rogue clampers. He is merely trying to clean up the sector.

Like every industry, there are a few bad eggs in this particular basket. One of them plies its trade on the misery of motorists who rightly or wrongly deserve to have clamps attached to the wheels of their cars in order to prohibit their onward journey.


The Regulation of Vehicle Immobilisation Bill will also regulate the practice of clamping vehicles parked on private property, as well as limiting the release fee to €80.

There will also be a code of practice for clamping operators in which the good ones will be regarded and the bad ones booted out of the trade.

All of which goes to prove that the practice of clamping has got out of hand in recent times, with horror stories of motorists preyed on by certain individuals who will now have to check their shiny new charter before attaching that big lump of steel to cars in future.

I suspect after the week I’ve just had that four clamps attached to the wheels of the beautiful new Golf GTi couldn’t keep this baby still for a second.

Perhaps unbelievably, the GTi is almost 40 years old. It was planned way back in 1976 to release just 5,000 of them to the world and then shut down the project.

However, so successful was the venture that we are now in the seventh generation, with the latest the best-looking yet.

There are chrome GTi badges, a beautiful low-hanging chrome front grille and, most beautiful of all, a rather peachy and innovative red strip across the nose which runs over both sets of headlights.

The new Golf GTI
The new Golf GTI

As ever, though, the story of the GTi is in the performance, and this is incredible - it’s stunning; in fact, it’s jaw-dropping in the extreme. The 2.0 litre turbo-injected engine fuels a paint-stripping 230bhps which in turn produces a speed of 250kph, or a 0-100 of 6.4 seconds.

Throw down the hammer on take-off and the wheels are just too fast for the amount of road it can cover. It’s utterly ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. Acceleration and speed are what this car is all about, but it’s also about the look, and this is a thing of real beauty. I couldn’t stop looking at this car, losing myself in a pool of munificence, those chrome exhausts, that Burberry-style Jacara Red tartan upholstery, those lovely red GTi XDS brakes behind those gorgeous Austin 18-inch alloys.

Other racing touches include instrument cluster, golf ball gear knob, leather-embossed steering wheel and stainless steel pedals. The GTi is simply the complete car. It’s big enough for a small family, gorgeous enough for the high rollers and performs as well as if not better than cars twice the price.

Another big surprise is how efficient and frugal this beast is.

Thanks to the Stop-Start system, the GTi is returning an impressive 39mpg or 6.0 l/100km while emissions are kept to 139g/km, meaning annual tax of just €280.

Prices for the new Golf GTi start at €33,595.


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