Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI 333 R 20 Years 4MOTION 5DR DSG
The Mk7 GTI uses the same 2.0-litre petrol engine as literally every other even moderately brisk VW. You can find it in the Skoda Octavia vRS, the Leon and Ateca Cupra, Audi S3 and SQ2 and of course the Golf and T-Roc R among others. In the GTI Performance it produces 242bhp (in the Cupra it makes as much as 345bhp).
While the Mk7 GTI was certainly quick enough when it was launched five years ago, nowadays when it comes to outright power it’s some way behind similarly-priced rivals such as the 270bhp-odd Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane RS, and Hyundai i30N. But despite being down on power, it’s still quick enough - 0-62mph takes 6.2 seconds and it has a top speed of 155mph.
This is a very good engine - no wonder why VW sticks it in so many different cars. But it’s capable of so much more than what’s on offer here - drive a 300bhp-plus Golf R or Leon Cupra and you’ll soon see - meaning the GTI at times feels arbitrarily hamstrung. If you haven’t driven or been in a Cupra or Golf R then you won’t notice, but if you have there’s really no going back.
Of course those cars are all-wheel drive, while in the GTI power is sent to the front wheels only via a largely fine seven-speed DSG gearbox (the six-speed manual, our preferred transmission, is no longer available) and clever electro-hydraulic diff, which gives good turn-in and grip. Our test car had the adaptive dampers, meaning the ride is supple even on those chintzy 19-inch alloy wheels.
The GTI is fun to drive, make no mistake, arguably more so than the heavier all-wheel drive Golf R, but it’s hardly the most engaging car in its class. It grips and goes and feels light on its feet, but the Ford, Hyundai and Megane are livelier and more engaging at road speeds. What they lack, though, is the Golf’s quality and day-to-day comfort, its feeling of sophistication and classiness. They simply aren’t as desirable.
If you want to read about the slightly more hardcore, more powerful Golf GTI TCR, click on these words.
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