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Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VI

Driven March 2009

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With the incoming Focus RS monopolising REM sleep for most of our hot hatch devotees, the Mk VI VW Golf GTI might have slipped unnoticed onto our streets this summer. But it won't for two reasons. The first is that it is very good. The other, that it's been styled in the way that an RS aficionado would approve of. That he might have done himself, in fact, through mail order catalogues and Superglue.

Volkswagen has taken the truly excellent Mk V GTI and tweaked it in various vital respects. The engine is slightly lighter, but provides more power with better economy. It now has a limited slip diff to better harness that extra power, and an adaptive chassis that does comfy, not so comfy, and sporty at the touch of a button. The exhaust note is also astonishing and surely unprecedented in a 2.0-litre German hatchback.

So far so good. Positive progress. But the new GTI has also been restyled in a fashion that seems intended to deprive the aftermarket modders of much in the way of Sunday afternoon fun. New grille, headlights and fog lights at the front, new side skirts and wider, symmetrical exhausts at the rear. The wheels have also had their inserts painted black. None of this looks bad per se, but it's all a teeny bit like a first date in Nandos. Mind you, the Focus RS driver is in the Chicken Cottage.

Matt Master

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