It’s always weird to write a review about a race car because they’re never as good as you want them to be.
They are living and breathing organisms that are constantly being improved, no matter how happy you are with the handling or the power output.
Sometimes you’re given 2 laps in a beast of a car and then have to write a piece about it when you have barely scratched the surface. Or you’re the 6th journalist to drive it on the day and the tires are completely shot, giving you a radically different impression compared to journalist number 1 who had the new boots.
The list goes on but at the end of the day a racing car is not a refined machine in the same way a road car is. There’s always something you can improve upon.
Case in point is the Golf GTI TCR race car I drove this week. Judging by the dirty sidewalls on the tires it was clear someone had been off prior to me driving it and track conditions were the kind of cold which robs a tire of any temperature.
But I’m complaining about small things here because the truth is the TCR was a brilliantly fun car to hammer around the track.
I had the added benefit of being able to chase my instructor who was also in a TCR, as opposed to the Golf R pace maker that everyone else had to deal with.
This meant I was not slowed by the car infront for safety reasons. I already have extensive experience in racing cars and the guys at VW were kind enough to acknowledge that and accommodate me. Kudos.
Once the tires were up to some kind of temperature we really started to push on track and it immediately struck me how difficult it is to compare a road car to a race car. Even if they carry similar DNA, like engine, differential and gearbox, you are still dealing with a machine which has no ABS, traction control or stability control and those systems make a huge difference to how the car behaves.
Whereas in the road car you could easily rotate around an apex while smashing the throttle, if you did that in the race car you would understeer off the track. It was challenging but utterly engrossing. During my time in the car I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to get to the airport or the eggs I had for breakfast. Instead I was totally engaged in the task of keeping up with VW factory driver Benjamin Leuchter.
READ MORE: VW Golf GT TCR Road Car Review
After I got out the car all I wanted to do was get back out there and do it again. With the sensation of the chassis being transported straight to my hands and backside without any insulation I got closer to the car after every corner.
The brakes, steering and power delivery were very well balanced and even though I had crazy exit understeer, that was more down to my exclusive experience driving rear wheel drive race cars as opposed to the ability of the car itself.
As I’ve already mentioned it was difficult to feel any direct comparison to the road going TCR but I could definitely sense the DNA. A lively rear-end on corner entry was apparent and despite the used tires the race car still had a super responsive steering rack which was very reminiscent of it’s road going cousin.
Despite having the privilege of racing Ferrari’s in the biggest GT3 races in the world it was this plucky little TCR car which had me dreaming of the next time I could drive it.