VW Golf GT | Shed of the Week

The Twincharger motor has a noisy reputation in some corners. Does Shed care?

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, July 9, 2021 / Loading comments

Words. What would we do without them? Well, Shed would be out of work for a start, and there would be an awful lot of random grunting going on too.

Some words are more meaningful than others. Often, one word is all you need to put across a powerful message. Help. That’s one. No. That’s another, unless you’re talking to a telemarketer of course.

‘Golf’ is a word that, for many, conjures up stupid trousers and shiny metal sticks. For people who aren’t particularly bothered about cars and who haven’t suffered from a succession of blown ignition coils it stands for German dependability. Few would associate this second kind of Golf with risk-taking, but in the case of this week’s shed you really do have to, because of one scary-sounding word in the ad description: ‘knocking’. That’s not what you want to hear in any engine.

What you do want to see however is a low-mileage, high-performance DSG twin-clutch gearboxed Golf for just £990. Here’s another word you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Golfs. Coolness. It’s only a small thing, as Mrs Shed was heard to shout in the village caff the other day while discussing her husband with her hooting coven of mates, but sometimes small things are cool precisely because they are small.

In the much-anticipated Ineos Grenadier, for example, it’s the button on the steering wheel that’s inscribed with a bicycle graphic and the word ‘toot’. In the Golf TSi, it’s the left-hand of the two minor inner gauges. Normally this instrument would be used to supply you with a largely irrelevant number about the temperature of something or other, but in the TSi it’s a thickening orange arc swept by a needle with just one word quietly written on the side: ‘boost’. There are no numbers to tell how much boost you’re getting, but who cared about that, all you needed to do was get that needle far enough over to the right to turn ‘boost’ into ‘oost’, or on a good day ‘ost’.

Knocking apart, the car is in good condition and has a clean MOT certificate from February. Thing is though, with the knocking and everything, you might not be inclined to bury the throttle in the approved manner lest it should result in expensive mechanical mayhem. But the knocking. Hmm.

Before we look into just how much of a gamble it would be to take this one on, let’s take a squint at what you got for your money when the TSi GT first arrived in 2005. The EA111 engine displaced just 1.4 litres but it pumped out the best part of 170hp thanks to its novel Twincharger blend of forced aspiration. Besides the normal turbocharger it also had a supercharger. The idea was to rule out the lag inherent in an exhaust-driven turbo by complementing it with the always-available poke of a crank-driven supercharger. A supercharger had to nick some power from the engine in order to work, but the Golf’s one was disconnected by an electromagnetic clutch at 3,000rpm so it wasn’t a constant burden.

With FSI direct injection the TSi provided instant urge on demand and a good wodge of torque from little more than idling revs. The numbers were 168hp at 6,000rpm and 177lb ft between 1,750 and 4,500rpm, with 148lb ft from just 1,250rpm. It was nearly a second quicker through the 0-62 run than the normally aspirated 2.0 FSI (7.9s vs 8.8s), and had a similar advantage over the 2.0 on the fifth gear 50-75mph test. The official combined fuel consumption was 39mpg, a commonplace figure now but pretty exceptional in 2005 for a car offering that sort of performance. No wonder it was described as a class leader and ‘the future’ by motoring scribblers.

Yes, yes, but what about the knocking? We can’t get away from the elephant in the room any longer. The first EA111 high-output Twincharger unit did have its fair share of foibles, some of which were signalled by knocking, or rattling at least. It used a camchain and a less than brilliant tensioner (timing was by belt on the superseding 211 engines from 2012 on). Issues here would cause a rattle at idle. The turbo wastegate might stick open, also causing a rattle.

High oil consumption was a thing too. Warmup was slow on these engines so you had to use the right oil (and good petrol too) and you had to be patient. If that wasn’t part of your personality, a holed piston might ensue. Water pumps, clutch slave cylinders and headbolts could go. And if none of that lot went wrong you could generally rely on the coilpacks for a letdown.

In short, these Twinchargers have the potential to be major moneypits. It sort of depends on whether the vendor means knocking or rattling. To find out, rattle over to their place and give them a knock.

See the full ad here

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