2010 VW GTI: Greatx4 Grandfather Alive in South Africa
December 02, 2010
Imagine waking up one day and finding out you could meet your great-great-great-great grandfather. It would be pretty cool, though I'm not sure how I'd converse with a mid-19th-Century Dutch baker. Well, if we were to send our GTI to South Africa, it would have that very opportunity.
Featured in the August issue of CAR, the 2009 Volkswagen Citi MK1 is a brand-new old car produced in South Africa until August 2009. In total, 377,484 were produced there since 1984 when the original first-generation Golf bowed out in favor of the bigger and more sophisticated second generation. That second-generation Golf was consequently also more expensive, which is why VW South Africa desired a new entry-level model for its lower income market and looked no further than the outgoing model. The original sales target for the Citi Golf was 300 units per month, but at the car's sales peak in 2006, the factory in Uitenhage was producing 131 cars per day.
The Citi changed very little over the years, but as time in production tends to do, was made cheaper to repair, more reliable and easier to live with, such as when air-conditioning was added for 1989, requiring the compressor to intrude into the passenger footwell. The front fascia was given a more MK2 look early on (seriously, doesn't it look fantastic?) and the cabin was overhauled for 2004 with the dashboard of a Skoda Fabia and the three-spoke airbag steering wheel of the MK4 GTI and Jetta. The four-cylinder engine was also left-be until 1999 when it received fuel injection and 2008 when emissions regulations required EU2-compliant alterations.
That final Citi Golf engine was a 1.6-liter, 8-valve four-cylinder that produced 99 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. With a five-speed manual and only 1,891 pounds to lug about, VW says the Citi would go from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.
Since this began with a discussion of the GTI rather than a regular-old Golf, VW SA actually produced the CTI from 1990 to 2006 featuring the original car's 1.8-liter engine with mechanical fuel injection. That car's successor, the limited-edition 1.8 R-Line for 2006 had 121 hp.
This idea of Volkswagen continuing to sell old models is not something exclusive to South Africa -- many other regions and countries do the same with other models. The fourth-generation Golf is still sold in Canada as the Golf City, while Mexico sells three generations of Jetta side-by-side -- the last-generation is the Bora, while the MK4 is the Classico. You can even get a 180-hp Classico GLI (right).
So for all those people clamoring that the current GTI has become too fat, too luxurious and too indignant when it comes to shutting off the traction control, may I suggest visiting South Africa, where you might be able to find a nearly-new old GTI with no traction control, no ABS and not a lot of luxury.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 17,020 miles