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Used car buying guide: VW Golf GTI Mk3

Our quick poll of three leading used car classification websites found that the most expensive Mk1 and Mk2 Golf GTIs are advertised for up to £ 24,000. In contrast, the most expensive Mk3, a Japanese 2.0-liter 16V import with 36,000 miles, costs £ 8,995, and most cars of this generation cost around £ 1,500.

What’s the problem with the Mk3? After all, it’s a Golf GTI and almost 30 years old (launched in 1992, replaced by the Mk4 in 1997). Ergo, it’s a modern classic that people should be lining up around the block for.

Unfortunately, almost from the start, the Mk3 was dismissed as the unsuccessful successor to its brilliant predecessors. Heavy, powerless and dull, said the critics. Its cause was not aided by the arrival of fiercer competitors like the Peugeot 306 GTi-6 towards the end of its life. Introduced in 1996, this model was powered by a 2.0 liter engine with 165 hp compared to the Golf 2.0 GTI 16v with 148 hp. In addition, it had a six-speed gearbox with a close gear ratio, while the Golf only had five gears. In short, the 306 GTi-6 seemed to have caught the Golf GTI napping.

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GTi-6 survivors are rare today, but there are plenty of Golf GTI Mk3s available in a range of conditions and at reasonable prices. Fortunately, the model seems to have escaped the curse of the modern classic and its inflated price, which is why now is a good time to ignore the naysayers and discover the Golf GTI Mk3 for yourself.

Its history begins in 1992 with the introduction of the 2.0-liter 8-V model. With just 113 horsepower in its name, it took a lazy 9.6 seconds to get 0-100 km / h. On the positive side, the standard equipment includes light alloy wheels, a color-coded radiator grille, black wheel arch linings, a rear spoiler and twin tailpipes. Inside there were sports seats, split folding rear seats, power windows and a height-adjustable sports steering wheel. At least in the showroom, the new model was everything a GTI buyer could wish for, but aside from the potted palms, there were rumors about its lack of fizz. Accordingly, in the following year, Volkswagen expanded its range to include the 148 hp 2.0-liter 16-V engine. This reduced the GTI’s sprint from 0 to 100 km / h to a sportier eight seconds. In addition to its subtle “16v” emblem, the new model had traction control, a bee sting antenna and a brake wear indicator. It was more like that

In 1996, the 20th anniversary of the GTI was celebrated with the introduction of a few limited versions: the anniversary and color concept with Recaro seats that were color-coordinated with the body. In the following year, the eight-valve engine was taken out of the range. Today, eight-valve Mk3s dominate classifieds. Of course, the 16v is the better and better car, but at that distance we would argue that the condition should be your guiding star. After all, you want to be ready when the market turns and finally decides that, you know what, maybe the Mk3 wasn’t that bad after all.

Here’s how to get one in your garage

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