I was lucky enough to enjoy two days in Spain testing Volkswagen GTIs. Here is how the event unfolded, summarised in pictures.
Picked up a Golf DSG From the Airport to Travel to Hotel
We got the keys to a Golf GTI to travel around 50km across Spain to the hotel.
Arrived at The Villa Padierna Thermas Hotel
We parked at the front of the hotel and went inside.
Took Half an Hour To Watch The Other Cars Arrive From The Balcony
Attending The Presentation Before Dinner
Before dinner, we listened to a short presentation around the VW brand, and specifically the new up! GTI. The talk was complemented by having professional drivers in the room that have worked with VW in the past.
Drove From Hotel to Ascari Race Track In Polo GTI
This was the Polo GTI we chose for the morning’s travel of 50 km from the hotel to the Ascari race track.
Stopped While the Light Was Good To Take Pictures
As we were travelling, the sun began to rise and we could not resist the opportunity to stop and take a few pictures of the car in the morning light.
Arrived at the Ascari Race Track
We arrived at the Ascari race track, parked the cars and went inside.
Sat Through a Technical Talk Around VW GTIs
We had a technical briefing, giving us some background and understanding of the GTI range and also a deeper look at the Golf GTI TCR model.
Took an up! GTI Out on The Road Whilst Waiting For Track Time
Whilst I was waiting for my track time, I grabbed the chance to test the VW up! GTI for the first time on Spanish roads. The car was lots of fun to drive.
Grabbed A Few Images Track Side
On my way back, I looked for the best vantage points to take pictures of the cars going round the track.
Went For a Ride in the Golf GTI TCR
My first track session of the day was as a passenger in the VW Golf GTI TCR with a professional driver. This was an incredible experience. I was very impressed by the car’s level of grip and really enjoyed it.
Take a look at some rough footage from inside the car to give you some idea of the speed of the Golf GTI TCR.
Spent 20 Mins In The Pit Lane Watching The Session
Climbing out of the Golf GTI TCR, I had 20 mins to kill before my next track session so I spent time watching from the pit lane and took a few shots.
I Went Out On Track In the VW Golf GTI DSG
Next up was my first session driving on the Ascari circuit in the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a DSG gearbox. I really enjoyed seeing just how capable it was on the racetrack.
It’s clear I am no professional driver, but you can get a good idea of how handy the car is and of the size and speed of the circuit.
Went on the Handling Circuit With Both The up! and Polo GTI
Straight out of the Golf, I was next onto the handling circuit with both the up! and Polo GTI to get a feel for how nimble these vehicles are.
First up was the Polo. As you can see in the video below, a special circuit was created making the perfect test for this small, agile model. I did a couple of laps in both cars, allowing me to see the differences between them.
Next up, I was out on the handling circuit in both the up! and Polo GTI, doing my best to keep up with the instructor. Once again, this was a great opportunity for me to get a good understanding of the dynamics of each car and to be able to compare them to one another.
Took a Golf GTI on the Road for a Test Drive
Getting off the track, I had time to go and explore the roads with the Golf GTI. I only had 30 minutes so I made the most of my time there.
Track Tested the Polo GTI DSG
Next, was my last track session of the day in the Polo GTI DSG. It only has 200 PS but I was very impressed by how the car adapted to the circuit.
Looking back at my footage, I was able to complete faster lap times in the Polo GTI than in the more powerful Golf GTI. Is that because Polos are more supple and easier to drive for an amateur?
Headed Back to the Airport in the Golf GTI
Leaving the track, I jumped into a Volkswagen Golf GTI manual to complete the 90KM back to the airport.
Volkswagen GTI Performance Verdict
When it comes to submerging yourself in Volkswagen GTI cars, days don’t come much better than this! I learnt a lot from all the driving and back to back testing. What was most noticeable was just how far the brand has come from the initial model. All of the GTI vehicles are now very high performance and very credible drivers’ cars. The track driving gave me the authority to push them to the limit and explore the technical capabilities of each car – which was very rewarding as a driver!
The best thing I learnt about the Volkswagen GTI ethos is that VW wants to make everyday driving enjoyable for their customers. This shows as you can have just as much fun in a £14,000 up! GTI as you can in the £25,000 Golf GTI.