America and Europe are competing on many levels, including in terms of the best sleepers the automotive industry has to offer. Today we have a fine – 1, 152 hp-worth – example from the Old Continent.
The first generation VW Golf is the model that eponymously established the compact class in popular culture and comes now to serve as a pedigreed-example of what can be achieved with the right dose of flair, madness and most of all, technical prowess. Under the seemingly uninteresting hood of this classic compact hatch from Germany sits tucked neatly a 2-liter four-cylinder that has been treated to a huge Garrett turbocharger and the assembly has been mated to a six-speed sequential transmission, delivering the power to the ubiquitous 4Motion all-wheel drive system. This means pretty much everything about this car is not what it seems, from the engine that works at a monstrous 54 psi (3.7 bar), for a full 1,152 hp and 1,072 Nm. And we’re talking here about a very compact and light car that tips the scales at about 2,380 lbs (1,080 kg), meaning the classic 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) run will be dealt with in hypercar territory: a mere 2.6 seconds. Even the 62 to 124 mph run (100-200 km/h) is in the territory where plenty supercars only do the first part – just 3.28 seconds.
Since wheelspin can be present at speeds of 120 mph, no wonder the VW model also has a rollcage. And the best part is the Golf plays equally well the sleeper card – sure, you have the bigger wheels, but the definite giveaway only comes in the form of the 4-inch exhaust system, and by the time you notice it the Golf has pretty much left you in the dust and it’s already breaching the horizon.