It may surprise many people to learn that the G60 GTI is actually slower than the 16V to 60mph although it has a higher top speed. Unlike the aftermarket turbocharged cars, the factory-super-charged GTI does not greet your depressed right foot with an intoxicating rush of power; it is a far more progressive beast than that. For those who have revelled in the characteristics of a powerful turbocharged car, the rather laid-back G60 may well come as a disappointment. It is smooth and progressive and totally unobtrusive, although if you wind down the window you can share the odd-sounding whine with onlookers, for the G60-powered VWs sound like no other cars. Where the supercharger scores is in intermediate-gear acceleration and tractability.
With its lowered suspension and big wheels and tyres, the G60 has a higher level of grip on a smooth road than the 16-valve, and the latest power-steering set-up is a far cry from the over-light arrangement offered on the very early 16V cars. The smooth surge of power from the G60 engine is very satisfying as you blast from corner to corner on a twisty road, and there is the feel, as with all GTIs , that the basic chassis is capable of handling even more power.
An interesting technical innovation VW launched with the Golf G60 was their Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) which uses the ABS sensors to detect variations in wheel speed. Unlike the BMW and Mercedes-Benz ASD systems which reduce engine power to compensate for lack of traction, the VW system works by slow ing the wheels down. If you should encounter a puddle of water or loose gravel mid-bend, you will not get the dramatic loss of composure you might in a standard car. The system only works if there is a difference in speed between the driven wheels. So it is still possible to spin the wheels if both are on a surface of equal frictional coefficient. If you were to launch the car on a loose surface, you would thus spin the wheels, but the moment one wheel reached a grippv surface, the antics would be called to a halt.
The chassis of the GTI G60 is firm, make no mistake. This is not a soft-riding motorcar, and yet it never really jars your sensibilities. On a rough surface, you are left in no doubt that the car is firm, and the power steering provides plenty of feedback of information. The car’s handling and grip are simply phenomenal. Helped by the EDL, it puts every one of the 160bhp down convincingly. If anything, grip with EDL has changed the handling of the standard car from understeer and lift-off tuck-in to understeer and then neutral. Those used to deliberately using the lift-off tuck-in of the normal GTI as a driving technique will get a fright the first time they try to induce that effect on an EDL-equipped G60. The only way to bring the tail round is to take a stab at the brakes to alter the weight transfer more dramatically.
©Ian Kuah. This article was published with explicit permission from author Ian Kuah