PH Project Car vs VW Golf R (Mk8) 20 Years

How great is the gulf between Golfs? | Promoted

By Cam Tait / Sunday, 21 May 2023 / Loading comments

No, this isn’t the usual sort of twin test we do here at PH. Though these two may be related by blood, they couldn’t be more different. One is brand-new, all-wheel-drive rocket ship that’s jam-packed with all the latest and greatest hot hatch technology; the other a slightly leggy, 17-year-old, front-wheel-drive lump with brakes that are fast approaching their best before date.

There is method behind the madness here, though. You’ll likely be familiar with PH Project Car now, and the fact that we’re working with eBay to turn this well-used (but surprisingly well-loved) Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5 into a Mk8 Golf R beater for just £10,000 – car included. We’ve already seen what the car’s capable of in isolation, taking it for a few runs up the Prescott Hill Climb in the first episode, but now it’s time to see just how much time we need to make up against the Golf R on a proper circuit.

Now, a small disclaimer: bar a Milltek sports exhaust, our GTI is completely stock (that we’re aware of). But before taking it out on track, we thought it’d be a good idea to ask Pip Simcoe of BRS Automotive – who’ll be in charge of putting all the go-faster bits on it later down the line – to give the car a once-over to make sure it doesn’t fall apart/ blow up the moment it exits the pit lane. Pip goes over some of the key areas to look out for when running a Mk5 GTI, so it’s well worth a watch if you’re in the market for one.

After picking up a new DV, PCV and service kit from eBay, it was time to hit the track. Specifically, the tight and twisty Curborough Sprint Course near Lichfield. It’s a simple figure of eight, which should help reduce the Golf R’s straight-line advantage. That may sound a little unfair, but we’re going to need all the help we can get. Not only did VW give us the keys to the Golf R 20 Years – it packing 13hp more than the regular R at 333hp – but the bosses at PH thought they’d make this seemingly impossible challenge even harder by enlisting the services of 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-AM champion, Charles Rainford.

With Charles in the Golf R and me in the GTI, we put the two cars through acceleration and braking tests, before setting a benchmark lap time around Curborough. Obviously, the Golf R comes out on top, but I was pleasantly surprised that the gulf between the two cars wasn’t nearly as big as I had feared. That was until Charles revealed that the GTI was 20 per cent slower than the R, which, to put it in context, is a bit like trying to race a GT3 car against a Le Mans Hypercar.

Thankfully, eBay is brimmed with everything from used OEM parts to high-end aftermarket components, so finding the right bits for our GTI ought to be a doddle. More on that next time! Don’t forget that you can win the PH Project Car – just enter the competition here and you could be in with a chance of landing a (potential) Golf R-beater. The serious business of achieving that transformation has just begun, so stay tuned!

This video is presented in partnership with eBay. Shop for motoring parts and accessories here. To be in with a chance of winning our project car, click here, answer the question and cross your fingers. You’ve got until 11:59 on 5th November to get your answer in. Good luck!

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