The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay News | Latest Industry News

The first convertible in GTI history arrives in Singapore

No other sporting label in the compact class is as familiar or as successful as Volkswagen’s ‘GTI’ signature. When the first Golf GTI made its debut 37 years ago, the letter combination became – almost overnight – the definition of a new vehicle segment. Since that time, only the GTI has been considered the original among compact sports cars.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet

After selling over 1.9 million Golf GTI cars, Volkswagen is now launching the first open top version of the icon: the Golf GTI Cabriolet with 210 bhp. Despite a clear performance advantage over its direct competitors, the new Golf GTI Cabriolet is the most economical model in its class.

Driving performance of the GTI. Powered by a 2.0-litre TSI engine, the most powerful Golf Cabriolet ever accelerates from 0 – 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is 235 km/h. This contrasts with a combined fuel consumption of just 7.7 L/100km and CO2 emissions of 180 g/km.

Insignias of the GTI. Visually, the convertible is distinguished by typical GTI features. Exterior GTI trademarks include the red-framed radiator grille with honeycomb structure and GTI signature, the front GTI bumper, a new rear diffuser, chrome tailpipes, LED rear lights, side sill extensions and standard 18-inch ‘Detroit’ alloy wheels.

Soft top of the GTI. The soft top of the Golf Cabriolet, with a basic construction already designed for high speeds, was adopted 1:1 for the GTI. Its standard electro-hydraulic drive opens the top in just 9.0 seconds. It can also be operated while driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h.

Safety in the GTI. Providing an optimal level of all-round protection in the new Golf GTI Cabriolet are: a roll-over protection system that rapidly deploys in fractions of a second; a reinforced windscreen frame; and numerous other structural modifications (underbody, side parts, sills, rear bulkhead, doors). Front and side head/thorax airbags, a knee airbag on the driver’s side and ESP complete the safety package. In addition, the convertible’s standard equipment includes an electronic transverse differential lock (XDS), which further improves vehicle dynamics and safety when accelerating through bends.

Everyday practicality of the GTI. When the new Golf GTI Cabriolet’s roof is closed, conditions are exceptionally quiet inside. What remains is the sonorous sound of the turbocharged engine. In addition, the Golf GTI Cabriolet offers one of the most spacious interiors in its class and thanks to the soft top – a 250 litre boot which is fully usable even when the top is down. In addition, the split rear bench backrest can be folded, which significantly increases cargo capacity. This high degree of everyday utility was always a great strength of the GTI – sporting appeal without compromising practicality. And this is also true of the first convertible in GTI history!

The Golf GTI Cabriolet will be officially launched in Singapore on 22 June 2013. It is priced at $206,800 with COE.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet

The Golf GTI Cabriolet in detail

Golf GTI – for 37 years now, this vehicle designation has been the benchmark icon of all sporty compact models. Over 1.9 million Golf GTI cars have been sold to date. Launched initially as a young and wild car, Volkswagen’s GTI has long graduated to become a highly respected classic. One aspect that has remained constant from its inception to the current generation GTI is a sporty yet economical engine and very dynamically designed running gear. However, what never existed before under the GTI label was an open-top version. But this has now changed.

Engine – GTI dynamics
The 210 bhp TSI engine which lies at the heart of the new Golf GTI Cabriolet is of the EA888 series. The turbocharged 16-valve four-cylinder powerplant develops a maximum torque of 280 Newton metres at a low 1,700 rpm. And this torque remains available at a constant level up to 5,200 rpm – an ideal plateau for a torque curve, which is actually not curved any longer.

The engine and exhaust system of the Golf GTI Cabriolet are making their appearance accompanied by a very unique yet typical sound. A sound that, on the one hand, sounds extremely sporty, yet is not at all irritating over long drives. The GTI exhaust system also regulates the noise level outside the vehicle.

All that can be seen of the exhaust system are two chrome tailpipes that are integrated in the convertible’s black diffuser, one on the right and one on the left. Inside, a complex exhaust line system propagates the typical GTI sound. In addition, a sound generator ensures that the sonorous engine tone also enters the closed interior perfectly ‘mixed’.

Running gear – GTI precision
Like all GTIs, the convertible is equipped with a sport chassis; it was lowered 22 mm at the front axle and 15 mm at the rear axle. In front, the familiar MacPherson type suspension operates with helical springs and telescopic dampers. At the rear, an innovative multi-link rear suspension ensures that the ESP seldom needs to be activated. Also extremely durable is the brake system. A distinctive visual feature: the red painted brake callipers.

The XDS electronic differential lock as a standard feature to improve traction and handling properties. Technically, XDS is a functional
extension of the electronic differential lock (EDS) integrated into the car’s ESP. As soon as the electronics detect that the driven front wheel at the inside of a bend is losing grip, the ESP hydraulics build up brake pressure at this wheel to restore optimal traction. In this way, the XDS acts as a transverse differential lock, compensating for the typical understeer of front-wheel drive cars when driving through bends at higher speeds. The result: thanks to XDS, driving behaviour is significantly more precise and neutral.

In addition, DCC adaptive chassis control is a standard feature on the new Golf GTI Cabriolet. It continually reacts to the roadway and driving situation and modifies the damper characteristics accordingly. The driver experiences this directly through significant improvements in comfort and dynamic performance. To let drivers modify system behaviour according to their preferences, DCC offers, in addition to the ‘Normal’ program with a moderate base setting for damping, both ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’ modes.

These are activated by a button above the gear shift gate. In ‘Sport’ mode, the power steering is adjusted for more dynamic tuning.

Roof – the GTI soft top
Although Volkswagen employs a fabric roof for the Golf GTI Cabriolet, the sporty four-seater is one of the quietest convertibles available. Its soothing, quiet ride is attributable to the sophisticated design of the fabric roof as well as special window and door seals. The top itself consists of the linkage, a roofliner, insulating filler layer throughout and exterior cover.

The joining longitudinal seams of the exterior cover fabric were designed to serve in addition as a drip rail. Mounted between the longitudinal frames of the top linkage are a total of four roof cross bows and the socalled front roof bow (the first large transverse element behind the windscreen frame). In turn, the soft top is joined to the roof bows by screw-fastened fabric retention strips.
Consequently, even at higher speeds – which can theoretically reach over 230 km/h in the Golf GTI Cabriolet – the fabric roof does not fill with air.

And that has a positive effect on aerodynamics. When the roof is stowed, the upper surface of the front roof bow covers the top surface of the roof storage box. This eliminates the need for a separate cover. The results: the standard fully-automatic electro-hydraulic top opens faster, because there is no additional box cover to be swung upward. The fully automatic electro-hydraulic cover opens in 9.0 seconds and closes in 11.0 seconds. The top is operated from a switch on the centre console. Opening and closing are even possible while driving – at speeds up to 30 km/h.

Safety – GTI protective systems
A roll-over protection system is included in the Golf GTI Cabriolet as a standard safety feature. The roll-over protection element shoots up behind the rear headrests within 0.25 seconds of the vehicle exceeding a predefined transverse acceleration or tilt angle. The Golf GTI Cabriolet offers maximum all-round safety thanks to its roll-over protection system, a reinforced windscreen frame and numerous other structural modifications (underbody, side panels, cross members, doors). Due to its numerous reinforcements, the open-top GTI also exhibits extreme torsional rigidity.

The protective systems in the Golf GTI Cabriolet are completed by reinforcements in the doors and standard front and side head-thorax airbags. The latter are specially designed for a convertible, since of course it is impossible to mount side head airbags in the roof area. The head-thorax airbags integrated in the lateral sections of the seatbacks therefore deploy next to the driver and front passenger over the entire interior height of the Golf GTI Cabriolet.

A standard knee airbag has also been incorporated on the driver’s side. In conjunction with the safety belt, this airbag absorbs energy from the pelvic area and the legs, which leads to reduced occupant loading.

Exterior features – GTI insignia
Like the classic Golf GTI with a fixed steel roof, the new convertible also exhibits visual trademarks of the GTI. They are the typical GTI insignia that have made their way into the collective memory of all car drivers over the past 37 years. At the front, they are the red framing of the radiator grille with its honeycomb structure and GTI signature, the honeycomb structure of the lower air inlets, the front GTI bumper and the GTI-specific fog lights with chrome surrounds.

At the rear, the Golf GTI Cabriolet is distinguished by a new diffuser design, the typical chrome tailpipes (one on the left and one on the right) and smoked LED rear lights. The licence plate at the rear is also illuminated by LEDs.

Interior features – GTI feeling
Inside, the GTI Cabriolet has sport seats upholstered in ‘Vienna’ cool leather. The GTI Cabriolet naturally has pedals with brushed stainless steel caps, a unique GTI gear shift lever in aluminium look and a leathertrimmed steering wheel with grip recesses and a GTI emblem. The steering wheel, gear shift cover and leather trim of the parking brake lever have decorative red seams; and the interior lining of the soft top is black as are the trim covers of the roof pillars.

The decorative inlays in the doors and instrument panels in ‘Black Stripe’ design are GTI-specific as well: black, high-gloss accents with a metallic look. Also standard: the automatic climate control system and RNS 510 audio system with navigation. As standard, the Golf GTI Cabriolet also has a practical Easy Entry function for the front seats, making it easier for rear passengers to enter and exit the vehicle.

In the side walls of the 250 litre boot there are practical bag hooks; right next to the hooks are the remote unlatching switches for folding the 50:50 split rear bench seat. When the backrest is folded, the very large passthrough opening provides additional cargo space.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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