Drivers Republic League – GTI Project: The Competition Winner’s Story

Our competition to win a day out at Millbrook proving ground drivng the new Mk6 Golf GTI at its UK press launch was won by DR member Darren Mitchell. The following is his story, both of the track experience prize and the competition itself.

I would just like to start off by saying thank you all at DR for running the Golf GTI competition, giving myself and the rest of the DR readers the chance to join Jethro and Allan at the Golf GTI track experience at Millbrook proving ground.

I know there was a lot of talk on the DR discussion board about how to get the fastest lap time in the game, even Jethro and Allan quizzed me on how I managed to get a 13.25 second lap time? Well the secret is that there isn’t one, well not that I know of anyway. I just had my three year old laptop, which isn’t that powerful, and a USB mouse.

It was just the matter of going full pelt around the track, then lifting as little as possible for a spilt second, just before you entered the corners to get round them as quickly as possible, without crashing! That’s it, no super computer, or turbo codes, just a responsive mouse and quick reactions.

Darren was only a few tenths away from the overall GTI Project fastest time

Anyway, back to the big day of test driving the New Mk6 Golf GTI. Millbrook was the ideal place for a test, as it is used by all the car manufactures, to test their vehicles either in prototype form, or their current model range, on various types of road surfaces and road conditions.

My first impression of seeing the Mk6 Golf in the metal is that has taken a step forward from the Mk5 by using the style from the Scirocco. The overall design gives the GTI that more aggressive sportier look, which is a big improvement over the Mk5, which I felt couldn’t really standout out from the rest of the lower Mk5 Golf range.

The big difference that I did notice behind the wheel of the Mk6 is the level in build quality has been raised again. Even thought the interior hasn’t been totally over hauled from the Mk5, the materials used, and feel of the interior is long gone of those days of cheaper grey plastics that some of it hot hatch rivals may have had.

Darren liked the Mk6 GTI's more aggressive sportier look

We had four various test areas available to us at Millbrook where we could put the GTI through its paces, to see how much of the sportier look, transferred to the road.

The Alpine circuit, as the name suggest, simulates driving in the Swiss mountains. It’s a good test of the cars road handling, made up of winding hillside driving roads with tight right and left hander’s, drops and steep hill climbs, and odd camber changes. The high speed bowl was a two mile circular banked circuit, where we could test the GTI near to its top speed limit, and cruising environment.

The famous handling circuit was next. A good test of handling at speed on a track, accessing grip levels, braking performance, body roll and any over and under steer. The final test was the mile long straight, were we was able to test the acceleration whilst trying out the various braking and safety systems on the GTI.

The Mk6 GTI will happily glide along any ‘A’ and ‘B’ road, or cruise on the motorway; quietly with hardly any wind or road noise inside, whilst still feeling planted when you pass triple figures, knowing in the back of your mind, that it will stop quickly and safely without any bother, due to all the braking and traction control systems bringing you to a halt.

But if you press the right pedal little bit more, the GTI is more than happy to respond. The exhaust gives a nice low deep pop every time you back off, from hard acceleration. It lets you play with it the corners, with the high levels of grip and controllable handling it has, and an engine that is responsive to pull you out of them. What was surprising, was how much it would let you play with it before any of the traction control systems would start to intervene.

Even thought this was the first time I had driven a car with a DSG gearbox, I can see why everyone raves about them. It was quick and responsive, either in full auto or changing manually with the paddles behind the steering wheel.

Confirming all this was a surprise visit from Guinness World Record Holder Russ Swift, who put on a small demonstration, showing how responsive and controllable the GTI was by performing a number of his world famous movers like parallel parking and J Turns in the tightest of spaces.

Stunt-driving legend Russ Swift demonstrates the art of inner-city parking

The GTI is an enjoyable car to drive around town and on the motorway, and is always ready to respond when you want to put your foot down and play. With the styling borrowed from the Scirocco, I’m sure the all New Golf GTI will be a big seller and another Golf GTI classic.

It just leaves me to say thanks again to the DR team for running the competition, to Jethro and Allan for letting me join them and feel welcome on the day, and finally to VW for putting on a brilliant day.

Words and pictures: Darren Mitchell