A concept car in name only, VW’s Golf GTI TCR Concept will reach showrooms in late 2018

Volkswagen has revealed its new harcore GTI TCR Concept model at the Wörthersee show in Austria. But you can ignore the concept tag as we’ll be seeing it in VW showrooms later this year.

Wörthersee is one of the world’s biggest single-make car shows, and like every year, VW brings a selection of concepts to whet the appetites of enthusiasts at the show and beyond. The new GTI TCR Concept is just such a car, but in VW’s words is ‘very near production’.

> Click here to read our review of the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S

The new TCR’s recipe is one we have seen before: take a Golf GTI and turn up the performance wick. As proven with the previous Golf GTI Clubsport and Clubsport S, this often resulted in a brilliant mix of GTI usability with an added bump in performance and capability. The new GTI TCR should be little different, featuring a 213kW version of the same EA888 2-litre turbocharged engine (32kW up on the current GTI Performance).

> Click here for all the latest on the new VW Mk8 Golf

Unlike the previous Clubsport, however, the TCR’s close-quarter connection to the Golf GTI TCR racing car means that Volkswagen will only offer a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, and not the slick-shifting manual previously offered on the Clubsport.

In addition to the mechanical upgrades, the TCR also rides some 20mm lower than the standard GTI, integrating adaptive dampers as standard on 18-inch, or new 19-inch alloy wheels. The latter are bespoke to the TCR and only available in a gloss black finish. The bodywork has also been subtly revised, with an extended front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser.

Golf GTI

Hidden underneath the new rear bumper is a stainless steel exhaust system, with a further option of a titanium system by Slovenian firm Akrapovič. The brakes have also been upgraded, while the GTI Performance’s limited-slip differential also ensures front traction will be adequately handled.

Inside the cabin Volkswagen has applied a range of bespoke finishes to the seats and steering wheel, the latter with a red 12 O’clock stripe to remind you that you’re in something a little more special than a ‘normal’ GTI.

We’re excited with the prospect of a new flagship Golf GTI model, but we can’t help but feel the lack of a manual gearbox might set the tone of the TCR being less involving than the previous Clubsport.

Another issue is whether a spiritual successor to the fabulous Clubsport S might be on the cards. With a power output of 235kW, the Clubsport S still holds the candle as the most powerful production Golf GTI ever, while its unmatched combination of tenacious, grippy, yet thrilling handling, augmented by Volkswagen’s typical polish, made it one of the true stars of the hot hatch genre. With an all-new Mk8 Golf on the horizon, the gap left to produce a follow-up to one of our favourite ever hot hatchbacks is quickly closing, making it even more imperative that the new GTI TCR doesn’t disappoint as the Mk7 Golf’s final hurrah.