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Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR delayed for Australia until 2020


The misalignment between Australian and European emissions standards is the cause of a delay to the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR arriving in Australia, with separate retesting and certification for Australian emissions laws yet to take place.

The launch of the final seventh-generation Golf GTI special edition will now likely take place in the first quarter of 2020 – between January and March. We’d previously reported that the GTI TCR would arrive in Australia in the first half of 2019.

Once it does arrive, though, it is likely that 300 examples of the high-performance TCR will be available to Australian buyers. The TCR will be five-door only for Australia.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR red
The (optional) sticker packs may not do it for everyone.

Speaking with Chasing Cars on the sidelines of the launch of the 2019 Volkswagen Touareg SUV, the brand’s Australian product marketing manager Jeff Shafer said 300 was the target number. “It’s a very specific community of customers, and I think there is likely to be good takeup,” he said.

“That’s a big allocation, globally speaking,” said Volkswagen Australia general manager of corporate communications Paul Pottinger.

Australia has not adopted Europe’s newer, more realistic standards for rating emissions and fuel consumption – a process known as the Worldwide Hamonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, but more commonly referred to as WLTP.

Waiting in a parking lot for Australian certification, probably

Because Australia still relies upon Europe’s previous system – the New European Drive Cycle test, or NEDC, every variant of every European car needs to be certified at least twice. Given the small size of the Australian market, the second round of testing done for us is a low priority.

Mr Shafer said said GTI TCR “has significant driveline changes which require testing for our market – it’s an NEDC vs WLTP thing.”

With evident frustration, Mr Shafer chalked up the delay to “WLTP – our favourite four letters”, referring to the significant disruption caused to the brand’s Australian range in the past 18 months, first by the adoption of the WLTP programme in Europe and the ongoing problem of Australia’s unaligned testing procedure.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR grey
The GTI TCR is modelled on the motorsport version of the vehicle.

The GTI TCR is modelled on Volkswagen’s entrant into the Touring Car Racing series – a beefed-up version of the front-drive GTI hot hatch. “We are quite excited about it still, and we’re looking forward to getting it next year,” Mr Shafer said.

The 257kW engine in the race car is whittled back to 213kW/380Nm, but that’s still enough to make it the most powerful of any Mk 7 Golf GTI. Those outputs are sent to the front wheels by way of a seven-speed wet clutch DSG automatic gearbox and a limited slip differential.

“They’ll be special, they’ll be noticeable,” Mr Shafer said. “You’ll be able to pick them on the street.” Mr Pottinger added: “you’ll certainly be able to hear them on the street.”

This three-door variant won’t come to Australia, sadly.

Despite the relatively proximate arrival of the Golf Mk 8, which Volkswagen Australia have confirmed will launch before Christmas 2020, Messrs Shafer and Pottinger denied the suggestion that the TCR could end up being cut entirely if the delay was extended further.

“The Golf Mk 8 is still coming at the end of next year. There’s enough time, at the moment, for us to bring the TCR in,” Mr Shafer said.

“The Mk 8 is comfortably further away,” Mr Pottinger added, comparing the GTI TCR to the first Golf R32, which arrived in the Mk 4 Golf’s final year. “The comparative lateness in the life cycle doesn’t matter. There are plenty of historical precedents. Special editions work for us in that way.”