The Golf Rallye Is A Forgotten Homologation Special
How could we forget the performance Golf that let VW go rallying?
Great cars get forgotten. It's not intentional but it's impossible to remember every single performance variant of a car. With the endless stream of new cars filling our brains older models easily escape our memory. Today we're going to right some wrongs and talk about the Golf Rallye. Better known as the grandfather of all high-performance Golfs. Consider this a Golf renaissance back to 1988 when VW wanted their hatchback to go rallying.
The Golf Rally was built to meet the homologation rules for Group A rally. VW needed to sell 5,000 of these hot rodded Golfs to allow it to take on cars like Lancia's Integrale and BMW's E30 M3. To distinguish the Golf Rallye from other Golfs massive changes to the drivetrain and exterior took place.
To start, VW added their Syncro AWD system which used a fluid coupling to shift power to the rear wheels when needed. VW's decision to add this system made the Golf Rallye almost double the price of the normal GTI. The AWD also added weight and dramatically effected the driving experience. AWD was needed to compete successfully in Group A rallying but the impacts to the road car were mostly negative.
Second, power was added via the 8 valve G60 1.8-liter engine. This engine was a supercharged version of the GTI's engine. It produced 160horse power and 166 lb-ft torque or almost double the power of a GTI. It used VW's G-Lader supercharger which uses witchcraft and moving spirals of metal to make boost. Unfortunately, this power was not able to overcome the added weight of the AWD system. The Golf Rallye had trouble cracking 9 seconds to 60.
These handbuilt Golfs were far more special than your average GTI. The dramatic box flares are the best part of the Golf Rally. This exterior feature defines this era and makes the Rallye a very special car. In addition to the box flares, the Rallye featured unique square projector headlights and a revised front end.
Thanks to the limited production numbers used Golf Rallyes are extremely hard to find. Thier association to motorsport also meant many cars were raced, modified, and then destroyed. However, if you can find a clean one buy it! This obscure piece of VW history, box flares and all, must be treasured.
Although it was considered a flop upon its release, the Golf Rallye successfully changed the world of hot hatches. VW's willingness to push their lowly Golf to compete with far more expensive performance cars elevated the hot hatch segment.