The extra weight at the rear and thus the differently placed centre of gravity of the Jetta in both Mk1 and Mk2 forms creates a car with slightly different handling characteristics from the Golf. If you lift off on the limit in a Jetta, the oversteer tendency is greater, especially if the boot is loaded. Driving an empty Jetta GTi 16V back-to-back with a Golf GTI 16V at Donington circuit one morning, it quickly became apparent that the different balance of the Jetta in fact helped to cut understeer and made the car turn-in better. From a driver’s point of view, this can be quite desirable. In terms of grip, the tw o cars are pretty evenly matched but I suspect that in steady-state cornering on a skidpan, the Golf would ultimately produce a higher lateral g figure as it would not move into oversteer so quickly.
Driving both cars around Oulton Park, a hilly circuit with several fast dips and crests, I was impressed with how well the Golf and Jetta handled with four people on board. Both cars could comfortably be driven on the limit in this load configuration with extremely safe and stable track manners. Many good road cars lose their composure rapidly when subjected to the rigours of on-the-limit driving around a racing circuit. The Golf and Jetta and of course their Scirocco and Corrado stablemates are rare cars that offer equally exemplar} behaviour on both road and track, one-up or fully loaded.
©Ian Kuah. This article was published with explicit permission from author Ian Kuah