Volkswagen Golf GTI
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Volkswagen Golf GTI Overall verdict
An epically good car. Probably all the vehicle you’ll ever need.
Give it the beans - feel the tsunami of torque
What is it?
Ah, the GTI, past master of hot hatches, a car so good in every respect that it brings motoring journalists to tears of boredom. Every time another manufacturer launches a new hot hatch it is eagerly compared to the Golf as an entire profession prays for a new yardstick by which every car must be compared. Rarely happens.
But now Ford has come along with the new Focus ST, which nudges it for our vote of Best In Class. Luckily, Volkswagen has an answer: the Golf GTI Mk7. We’ve already seen it previewed and it will be ready for launch by the summer this year. Ford’s current leadership of the hot hatch sector may now be on countdown...
This, the Mk VI GTI, is a subtle evolution of the superb Mk V that appeared to such acclaim in 2006. The engine is lighter, more powerful and more economical, and there’s an electronic limited-slip diff to better harness that power. Coupled with an optional adaptive chassis that will stiffen the suspension at the touch of a button, it’s now possible to Jekyll and Hyde the GTI from ultra-refined GT into the asphalt-addicted super hatch that it was born to be. With a massively wide band of torque, the GTI can be driven serenely at high speed, or worked hard through either a manual or DSG auto ’box and nailed to its redline through a series of twisting B-roads. Truly a car for all occasions.
On the inside
Much positive murmuring always accompanies Golf interiors because they just seem to have that edge over the competition, even as the competition goes out of its way to emulate VW. And, sure enough, the MkVI GTI is no exception, with its bombproof build, wonderfully tactile sport steering wheel, figure-hugging sports seats trimmed as standard in leather for the latest cars, and the subtlest of GTI detailing around that smart, understated cabin.
Available in three- and five-door, this is a spacious, comfortable and practical way to travel, and there’s always that sorely tempting option to do so at warp speed.
The GTI is fast and highly desirable, meaning hefty insurance costs whatever your age. It’s built like a high-performance tank, however, so you feel where your money is going with a car like this. And don’t begrudge it that not-exactly -brilliant 38mpg as you squeeze the throttle into the plush GTI-monikered carpets.
Strong resale values notwithstanding, this is not cheap transport, but it’s no pricier than its inferior rivals in this niche of the C-segment. So don’t shop around. This is where your money needs to be.