There aren’t too many vehicles that have as long standing lineage as Volkswagen’s Golf which is now in it’s 7th generation. But ever since the introduction of the first generation, the Golf has been establishing its place in automotive history. Introduced to the world as a modern economical front wheel drive car, the Golf was created to be an everyday commuter providing ample space in a small package. At a time when emission regulations were becoming more stringent and performance automobiles were not the hot topic, a group skunkworks team was formed at Volkswagen who put in design, engineering and marketing time after-hours to create truly the first hot hatch in automotive history. Branded as the Golf GTI, the car was never thought to be a success story, but customer response proved otherwise.
The GTI first took to the public eye at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show. Keeping the recipe simple, the engineers at Volkswagen raided the parts bin and gave the light weight commuter Golf a sport tuned suspension and a bump in the horsepower department. Fitted up front in the mk1 GTI was a 1588cc four-cylinder engine with a ground breaking K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system which made 110hp. By today’s standards that is not a lot of power. However, big power was never in the design plans for the GTI. It was about creating a well rounded package resulting from the sum of its parts. The mk1 GTI, to this day, is still a highly sought after car because it defined simplicity in engineering. The car is forgiving on the road for a daily driver, but had just enough performance to make it one hell of a weekend canyon carver.
A group of 12 trainees got the internship of a lifetime working for Volkswagen. The job gets even better when they were tasked with creating their vision concept GTI which will get debuted at the Worthersee VW show in Austria. The Golf GTI Heartbeat is result of their hard work which is based on the current Mk7 generation two door hatchback.
Starting from the outside in, the GTI Heartbeat gets custom graphics, a custom body kit and a set of 20 inch wheels. Open the hood and you’ll be staring at the heart of the beast which pumps out a healthy 394hp. That puts the power output way ahead of the Golf R as well as the recently released Clubsport S.
Step inside the car and you’ll see the interns raided the VW parts bin, specifically the one that was set for the Clubsport S. The front seats are aggressive folding bucket seats that provide plenty of bolstering and support. The team then went to town on the in car electronics packing it with 1,360 watts of audio power.
The GTI heartbeat will remain a project concept from the student team and will not make it to the production lines. If you are interested in purchasing one, you’ll have to raid the parts bin yourself and build your own version.
As a Volkswagen enthusiast myself, I was pretty bummed to hear that the 395hp Golf R400 project got scrapped. Now to add insult to injury, the European market is going to get a GTI Clubsport that’s good for 305hp and it will be unveiled at Wörthersee on May 4.
Volkswagen has confirmed that the Clubsport GTI will be a full production car and will begin sales some time after September. The Clubsport is designed with the weekend racer in mind with more power and chassis tuning that makes this a track-focused version of the latest generation of Golfs and slots right between the standard Golf and the Golf R. The Clubsport will also feature custom aero.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a Canadian car maker with a more dedicated and loyal following than Honda. I don’t say that because the Civic has been the best selling passenger car in Canada for 5 years running. I say it because the Civic hasn’t been the best car in the segment for all of those 5 years, but people kept on buying them.
Prior to the global recession of 2007, Honda could boast a reputation of performance with cars like the NSX, Integra Type R and S2000. Unfortunately, once money became tight the name of game became selling as many cars as possible, and that meant putting performance and fun on the back-burner. Honda stopped making the S2000, pulled out of Formula 1 and began an era of cheap and boring vehicles for the everyman. They rode the 8th generation Civic for as long as they could before releasing arguably the worst Civic ever in the 2012 North American model. It felt cheap, it looked old and it handled worse than anything else in the class. The 2012 was so poorly received that they did a refresh the very next year. How often does that happen? During this downturn of fun (frownturn, if you will) they did their best to ride the NSXbuzz trying to convince people they still knew how to go fast. Sorry guys, but droning on about a prototype for 5 years doesn’t fool anybody.
Well lucky for the Honda fanboy, and the enthusiast in general, the company has clearly had a change of heart and decided that fun is back on the menu. The new NSX was finally unveiled in production trim and it looks stunning, but looks aren’t what we care about right now. The performance they’re claiming is on par with current exotics, and that’s right where it needed to be. Its hybrid powertrain, with electric motors individually powering the front wheels, is similar to the million dollar Porsche 918, though Honda’s version only makes about 550 horsepower. Speaking of hybrids, Honda also entered the new era of Formula 1 with some of the most complex energy recovery systems in the world. The results aren’t coming to them yet, but just the fact that they’re competing again is evidence that their attitude has changed for the better. It’s more than a step in the right direction, it’s leaps and bounds.
Volkswagen revealed a model of its Gran Turismo Vision GT here at the 2014 LA Auto Show. It packs a 3.0L twin-turbo VR6 engine, making 503HP and 491 lb-ft of torque. Not that it matters because the car only really exists in a video game. That said, it looks cool as hell, so check out the pictures after the break.