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Road Test: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 GTi 3dr (1992-1998)

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Golf GTi, so you’d think that after a quarter of a century of development the car would still be the hot hatch of choice. For some it is, while for others it’s just a shadow of its former self.

While you can’t deny the Mk4 GTi is much larger than its Mk1 ancestor, it’s not necessarily any less fun. Unless you opt for the 2.0-litre version rather than the 1.8T.

At the risk of getting into cliches involving chalk and cheese, the fact that there are two different versions of the Golf GTi, which are so different means it’s impossible to simply give a verdict on whether or not the Golf GTi is any good any more.

While the 1.8T is wieldy, responsive, accelerative and generally great fun to pilot, the 2.0-litre feels disappointingly lethargic and not a car that’s worthy of that hallowed GTi badge on its rump. Indeed, a top speed of just 121mph and a 0-60 time of over 10 seconds feels as quick as it sounds: not very.

Of course whichever version you opt for, you know you’re going to get a great driving position, excellent build quality, superb ergonomics and strong residuals. But in the turbocharged car you also get higher levels of kit, which it should, considering it costs over #2000 more than its normally aspirated counterpart.

So if you opt for the 1.8T it’s brilliant and if you opt for the 2.0-litre it isn’t brilliant at all. But now that the turbodiesel GTi is upon us things are even less clear, as the oil-burner offers more torque, much greater fuel economy and just as much performance as its petrol-fired counterpart. Oh dear, this Golf GTi debate really is a lot more complicated than it first appears…

Richard Dredge

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