Driven - December 2017

We roadtrip with VW South Africa and visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum!

We visit the Gerhard Volksie Museum while road tripping with VW South Africa.

A few weeks back we embarked on a roadtrip with VW South Africa, encompassing historical landmarks and an interesting quiz. Our journey took place from JHB to Bloemfontein. This activation wasn’t really a launch, but more of a way to kick-back, relax and enjoy some great cars and have fun at the end of a long year.

The “Amazing Race” involved completing various tasks, finding the answers to certain questions and also capturing specific types of images, all while being as creative as possible. These activities needed to be completed on our way to bloemfontein as we were acquainted with VW’s new Golf range, the R, GTI and GTD.

With the first day spent behind the wheel of the GTD, it was good to reflect on what this car is all about. The statement of “ Diesel GTI” is a very bold one to make, and in my opinion, the GTD doesn’t live up to that title from a performance perspective. The performance figures are not bad at all however with 130kW and 350Nm, on top of that, the GTD pulls off nicely with a heap of low-end torque. It simply doesn’t have the exciting demeanor that a GTI possesses. It’s a much calmer experience, whilst the GTI is more of a boy racer.  

This doesn’t make the Golf GTD a bad car at all, in fact from a handling perspective, it’s right up there with a GTI. I feel many expected more from this car in terms of performance and when it didn’t give them what they wanted, they simple wrote it off. This isn’t a fair assumption in my book, if we take the GTD for what it is, it’s a fantastic vehicle. For starters, the aesthetics are on par with that of its more powerful siblings, it features the latest tech of the 7.5 which is a big improvement over the Golf 7. Overall, it’s a wonderful car to drive, especially on a long road. Smooth and comfortable are words that come to mind when it comes to the GTD. If you’ve experienced previous iterations of VW’s fast diesels you realise that the GTD is progression of that, with a GTI chassis fitted to it.  

So far so good, the Amazing race proving to be enjoyable. Things got livelier that evening as we headed to a local shabeen for a reflection on the day, with the rest of the group and much needed Chesa Nyama. As you can see, my pale British self has truly embraced South African culture.  

On our second day, we swapped the GTD for the R and headed towards the direction of Johannesburg. First things first though, we headed to a local Volkswagen museum. It seemed strange for all of us find a VW museum in the middle of nowhere, until we arrived and saw the vehicles on display. My word.

The Gerhard Volksie Museum situated in the Free State was one of amazement. Gerhard’s operation focuses on air-cooled VW’s such as original Beetles, Karmann Ghias and Kombi’s. The vehicles on display were fantastic, from fully restored Kombi’s to amazing Beetles in many colours. There was also some special treasures to be found such as an old-school ambulance with just 40,000kms on the clock and one of the last CITI Golf’s ever produced with a mere 1500 kms under its belt.

I personally took a liking to the many Kombi’s on offer, which were beautifully restored and ready to hit the road. Gerhard even mentioned that many of them would make it to Cape Town without skipping a beat – I’ve been negotiating with my wife ever since. To put the cherry on the cake, we all jumped at the option to sample a vehicle, I opted for the Kombi. I must say, I don’t think any other classic vehicle has put such a smile on my face. It featured on oversized steering wheel, a confusing 4 speed gearbox and no seatbelts, but yet it was such a pleasure to drive.

Our road trip came to an end with the last stretch of around 300kms in the Golf R – the most powerful of all the Golf variants on offer. I must be honest, the R maybe the fastest, but it certainly isn’t my favorite model in the range. Its quick and sounds great, but the four-wheel drive system has an ever so slight numbing effect, I would personally opt for a GTI if I had to pick from the three. it just offers more driving enjoyment and excitement for my hooligan tendencies.

Overall it has been a good year for the VW Brand, with the release of many models which have been a huge success for them. There have been hints of an even better 2018 with more new and exciting cars on the way, so we look forward to seeing what is literally just around the corner.

Also published on Medium.