Golf 8 GTI Jacara: Two minor changes come with a lower price tag

The new Golf 8 GTI Jacara edition is more than R15,000 cheaper than the regular Golf GTI, with only two minor changes. It features brisk acceleration, go-kart-like handling, plenty of cargo space, and a broad range of standard features. But the question is: does the complete overhaul lives up to its legendary status? Let’s find out:

Volkswagen South Africa has been offering the Golf GTI in only one trim level (GTI) with leather seat upholstery for a long time (Mzansi buyers loved it!). However, recent supply constraints forced the German automaker to introduce another model, the Jacara Edition, including historic Clark Plaid Jacara fabric seats. It is R16,700 cheaper than the standard leather-furnished GTI. The lower price tag doesn’t mean the Jacara Edition is any lesser of a car than the original GTI.

The only difference between the two trims is the seat upholstery and the non-availability of electric seat adjustment functionality in the Jacara.

Under the hood of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI is an updated 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol mill offering 180kW and 370Nm of torque. It is 11kW and 20Nm more than the previous model and would feel much quicker than the Hyundai i30N with more power. The power goes to the front wheels only via a calibrated seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, allowing the car to hit a top speed of 250 km/h. VW says it will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is great for a car weighing 1463kg.

The eight-generation GTI features thin LED headlights, an impressively dynamic bumper, and stretched side skirts that add a touch of sportiness. The rear gets a roof spoiler, chrome-plated tailpipes, and LED tail light clusters, refining the hatchback’s exclusive look. Besides, 18" Richmond alloy wheels are standard across the lineup.

Like the exterior, the cabin emphasizes sportiness, featuring stainless steel pedals, decorative trims, characteristic stitching, and a black headliner. The LED background lighting offers a touch of elegance while the overall cabin feel exudes digital dominance.

Other standard amenities you can enjoy inside the original GTI comprise Vienna leather seat upholstery, cruise & park distance control, 30-shade ambient lighting, Composition Media Radio with App-Connect, inductive cellphone charging, keyless start, and a heated leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel. The Jacara edition has no electric seat adjustment functionality and the leather seats are replaced with fabric seats.

For a performance hatch, perhaps the practicality isn’t that important. Nevertheless, the Golf 8 GTI doesn’t disappoint here with 374 litre boot space, which is on par in the segment. The rear legroom is a little on the tighter side, yet entirely bearable for city commutes.

VW warrants safety through an array of airbags (driver, passenger, knee, side, and curtain), cruise control with speed limiter, fatigue detection "Rest Assist," High beam control "Light Assist," and Park Distance Control - warning alerts for obstacles in the front and rear. Besides, there are plenty of optional features like Parallel parking assistant "Park Assist," Blind Spot Detection with Rear Traffic warning, Lane Assist with electric folding mirrors, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist, an Autonomous Emergency Braking System, etc.

The GTI Jacara Edition starts from R71,650,000, while the regular GTI demands R73,320,000. Both come with a 3-year / 120,000 km manufacturer warranty, a 5-year / 90,000 km service contract, and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. (Prices correct at time of publication.)

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