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Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR

Married? Yes. Got two children? Yes. Need a practical family car? Yes.

Then I’ve got just the motor for you … a Volkswagen Golf.

What, I hear you say? A boring dullsville Golf? Who do you think I am? A dreary, grey, middle aged accountant? For God’s sake put some fun into my life. It’s drab enough as it is.

Oh don’t worry. This Golf will provide all the excitement you’ll ever need.

You see, the one I’ve picked especially for you, dear reader, someone who wants waking up with a kick of passion and thrills, is called the Golf GTI TCR.

TCR, by the way, stands for Touring Car Racing and this particular Golf GTI takes its name from the car that won the TCR series not once, but twice.

On sale now, this top spec Golf GTI features VW’s 290hp, 2.0-litre turbo and a seven-speed DSG (dual clutch) auto box which rockets it from 0-62mph in 5.6s and on to a limited 155mph.

This can be raised to 164mph with a £2,000 option pack which replaces its 18-inch Quaranta alloys with 19-inch Reifnitz wheels, below, lowers suspension by 20mm and includes Dynamic Chassis Control.

Personally, I’d save £1,125 by just settling for Dynamic Chassis control (£875) because it delivers a ride that is near perfect for a car like this. It’s astonishingly comfortable yet offers stunningly good grip and handling.

The TCR’s full 290hp arrives at 5,400rpm (max 6,500) while all 380Nm (281lb) of torque is on offer from just 1,800 rpm. In fact an incredible 200Nm (148lb) of torque is available almost immediately – at 1,000rpm – which is why the car takes off like a bullet from the moment you put your foot down.

And that’s something you’re more likely to do all the time, such is the TCR’s magnetic appeal.

It’s one of those cars that looks fantastic the moment you see it.

One of its most eye-catching features has to be its upgraded brakes.

Fitted with a high-performance braking system as standard, you look at its massive 13in drilled discs, with huge bright red brake callipers (9in at front) and special brake pads, and you know they’re there for a reason.

The TCR also gets an ungraded cooling system featuring two extra water radiators in the front, from the 300hp 4Motion four-wheel drive Golf R.

That’s a blast, too, but this is more fun. No doubt about it.

The TCR doesn’t just impress with its performance, though. It looks the business, too.

Personally I could have done without its optional spotty “look at me now” decals that ran almost the full length of both its doors on each side and would have just settled for its laid back, smaller, TCR decals set low down by the wheel arches.

Even so, its sticky-out, highly visible, piano black, front, rear, roof and side spoilers are impressive, as is its message sending rear diffuser.

Here’s a car that lives right up to its looks with a stunning combination of speed and handling.

But there’s more to this Golf GTI with a difference than just its looks. It’s luxurious, but in a racy way, too.

Step inside and you’ll be met by red stitched, black leather and light grey Alcantara sports seats topped with GTI logos.

The main feature of the dashboard, with its silver-topped, knurled for grip, black switches and black, grey and white speedo and rev counter, is its 12.3in piano black MMI display.

And if that’s still not posh enough, speckled black and silver metal slashes run along the tops of its soft-touch door trim.

If your perfect family car has to transport your kids to school there’s room enough for adults in the back, while on those days when you need extra space the boot stretches from 74cms (2ft 5in) deep to 155cm (5ft 1in) by folding down the rear seat backs.

So there it is: practical, posh and stunningly fast.

Thought you didn’t want a Golf?

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IMAGE RATING

VW Golf GTI TCR.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: Extremely smart, with lots of honeycomb, piano black and headlights matched to the body colour, but still a Golf. Not in the least scary until it blasts past.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: Huge exhausts on each side of a visible diffuser mark it out as something special, while smoked tail lights add lustre to what is, after all, still a Golf.

PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen full European sat nav with speed limit display, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera, trip computer, leather seats, heated at front, keyless entry, heated, auto folding door mirrors, auto lights and wipers with heated jets, DAB stereo with single CD player, MP3, Bluetooth, SD card reader and aux.

NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Red 12 o’clock tipped “racing style” steering wheel is extremely annoying and takes your eyes off the road.

TASTY TOUCHES: Space saver spare tyre is standard. Twin cup holders are each lined with four spring loaded clips to hold cups and bottles in place.

FAST OR LAST: The past year or so has seen a rash of fast cars and this is a perfect example.

WONGA WONDA: Lots of performance and kit for the cash.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Chantelle would be just as happy with a normal VW Golf.

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