Famous automotive journalist and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has turned 50 today!
This week, although a bit late, we have one of those great originals in the Car of the Week section – the VW Golf GTI. This is a car that revolutionised the world of hatchbacks, the very first hot-hatch. The GTI badge has been taken since then by a million companies and all the other tried to emulate the brilliance of the Golf GTI but none of them succeeded.
As it is a bit special this week, we won’t designate a specific Golf generations as the winner but 3: The GTI Mark I, V and VI – all of them brilliant, all of them worthy of the mighty GTI badge. You might wonder why? Why not all of them? Why just these random numbers: 1,5 and 6. Well, let me explain why. First of all, the Golf Mk. I was the original, the very first hot hatchback, one of the fastest cars at its time. It’s just brilliant: practical, good-looking in a subtle kind of way and fast like stink. However the next generations, the 2,3 and 4, all become more civilised and slower, eventually ending no longer as a hot hatchback but just as a normal one with a bit more power. VW got their act together though and the last 2 GTI’s, the 5 and the 6 were absolutely brilliant. Not the fastest anymore, but the best overall. Being the fastest today with cars like the Renault Megane R26.R is very hard while trying to keep practicality, so bear in mind the Renault is a hot-hatch, but transformed into a track day car.
The Golf GTI offers you quite literally everything: from tedious practicality to insane speed, all in this decent, quite cheap package. The most amazing thing however is that the Mk. I Golf is one of the longest lasting cars in history having being produced from 1984 to 2009. Yup, until this year they were still making them in South Africa. It’s that good. And the fast, hot version is the best. It handles like a dream as it is quite a small car so weight isn’t a problem. Even though it’s front-wheel drive it’s responsive and accurate and corners neat and flat. Just brilliant. The first one may have been cheap at its time and sold like hot cakes, but it’s already a classic today, and a good one will set you back quite a lot more than you’d think for such a small car. Anyway, this is one of the best cars ever made so it’s definitely worth a shout in our Car of the Week section.
You don’t believe me? Then watch Jeremy Clarkson being seduced by the Golf in this classic video:
So then, this is our second car of the week, this time done by Igor (Blog doesn’t show the author of the posts, I’m aware and working on getting this fixed).
The car I’ve chosen is Mercedes’ CLK Black, my favourite car. I’ll start you off with some facts. They based it on the CLK63 AMG. They pulled out some unnecessary parts though, changed the body, modified the engine and a few other things. The result is that they’ve turned the fairly civilized CLK63 AMG into a full on road warrior. That 6.2L V8, standard issue on most AMGs, is putting out 507hp and 465lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty of power. It’s sent to the rear wheels through a 7-gear flappy-paddle gearbox, which also has an automatic mode when you just want to relax. The car weighs just under 2 metric tonnes, which seems like plenty, but the power compensates, resulting in a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, and it’ll keep on going up to 186mph.
These figures can’t explain why this car is so great though. Many people have blamed it for being overpriced. You have to look beyond the figures to figure out the appeal though and why it’s worth the price. This car is all about the driving experience. It’s a joy to drive and the engine makes an absolutely fantastic noise. Once you’re done having fun, it’ll take you comfortably home. The gearbox has got an automatic mode, there’s a phone, radio, sat-nav, air-con, and though the ride isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, it’s tolerable. Practicality isn’t too bad either, while there aren’t any rear seats, the trunk is fairly spacious, and you can always use that space where the seats used to be if something doesn’t fit in the trunk. So then, to finish this off, here’s a video review done by Jeremy Clarkson to demonstrate the noise, and sum up everything I just said.