VW Golf GTI TCR is a 326-hp forbidden track beast

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The three images of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR racecar that the company released earlier this month got us psyched for the track-honed hatchback, even if we can't watch it compete on circuits in the US. New shots of this cool machine rub it in even more, but at least let us enjoy seeing testing in Europe. The neon blue and white Leopard Racing livery is especially eye catching.

The GTI is an attractive hot hatch to begin with, but this version's wider fenders and big wing look perfect for the track. We would love to see a limited run of production examples that are this wild. Power comes from the Golf R's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but the tuning here pushes the output to 326 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed sequential gearbox sends the muscle to the front wheels. The car costs 110,000 euros ($124,000 at current exchange rates) before applicable taxes. If that seems high, keep in mind quicker GT3 class racers like the McLaren 650S GT3 are the equivalent of $560,000 or the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 for $427,000.

VW Motorsport already delivered five of the 20 examples of the GTI TCR for this season. The TCR International Series focuses on affordability by limiting competitors to production-based, front-wheel drive models. The GTI's challengers this season include vehicles like the SEAT Leon, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and Honda Civic. We hope to see some of the online highlights from close races when the championship begins In Bahrain on April 2. Until then, we'll swoon from afar.

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The first five of 20 production-based touring cars have already been delivered to customers

Difficult weather conditions at Balance-of-Performance test (BOP) in Valencia

Eight teams are putting their faith in the 330-hp Golf GTI TCR in 2016

Wolfsburg (18th March 2016). The stage is set for the new circuit racer: the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR successfully completed the official TCR comparison tests in Valencia (E). Prior to this, the first five of 20 cars were delivered to two customers. The cars were then put through their paces during two days of testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Engstler Motorsport from Germany and the W-Racing Team from Belgium, who line up in the TCR International Series in 2016, took to the racetrack for the first time with the new 330-hp touring car.

As well as familiarising themselves with the new car, the test programme also included the obligatory Balance-of-Performance test (BOP). This meant performance tests on the test stand, car measurements to determine the car's centre of gravity, acceleration and deceleration tests with varying amounts of ballast and an official TCR driver at the wheel. The data gathered in the BOP is analysed and used to achieve a similar level of performance between the cars of different manufacturers, thus ensuring everyone has the same chance of winning. However, this task proved far from easy for the powers that be: heavy rain in Valencia repeatedly disrupted the two test days.

In total, eight customer sports teams will field the Golf GTI TCR in 2016: Engstler Motorsport, Kai Jordan, D&T Drive & Training (all Germany), W-Racing Team, Gtps Delahaye Racing Team (both Belgium), Milo Racing (Luxembourg), Gusto Technik Performance (Hong Kong) and Novaplus Gestão Desportiva (Portugal). The racing Golf will start in five TCR championships: in the international series, the Benelux and Asia series as well as in the German and Portuguese championships.

Quotes after the comparison tests with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR

Eduard Weidl, Head of Customer Sports
"The comparison tests with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR went well. We are happy, but we also know that we still have some work ahead of us – particularly when it comes to the cars' traction. As such, the tests were very helpful and revealing. The Engstler team completed more than 50 laps with its three cars on both days, allowing it to make some valuable findings. The feedback received from the customer sports teams and drivers on the Golf GTI TCR was certainly very positive."

Jordi Gené, test and development driver
"The Golf GTI TCR is a real racer. Compared to last year's concept car, we have made good progress in many areas. Thanks to the new six-speed sequential racing gearbox, an improved braking system, and modifications to the aerodynamics, the Golf is now even better to drive. We will obviously continue to work on the car throughout the season, where the regulations allow it, in order to ensure that we improve continuously. As far as performance is concerned, I am sure that the customer sports teams will be able to challenge for the championship in the various TCR series."

Volkswagen GTI Information

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