Volkswagen knows how to make a good hot hatch. For over 42 years the Golf GTI has taken on an army of imitators and always emerged victorious; its combination of performance, value and quality rarely being matched.
This new GTI is based on the recently updated Golf. It features a mildly tweaked front and rear end, new LED headlamps and some fancy interior tech that allows you to control some basic function inside using gesture control. Of course, it till looks very much like a Golf, but being VW’s global best seller it’d be a brave designer who radically changes a winning formula.
The subtle new look also brings with it more power. The 2.0-litre turbo now develops 227bhp – a 10bhp boost over the old model. Despite that what you may have noticed is that the GTI is looking a bit weedy in the performance department up against the 296bhp SEAT Leon Cupra and 306bhp Honda Civic Type R. Lets not even mention the 345bhp Focus RS and 370bhp Mercedes-AMG A45.
But you would be a fool to write the GTI off from the spec sheet alone. Sure, it isn’t as fast as any of its rivals, but the GTI is about more than just outright grunt. Firstly, a tweaked exhaust system means it sounds rorty, while a slick six-speed dual clutch gearbox glides its way through the gears.
Find yourself on a bit of taxing B-road and the GTI feels right at home. Around 42 years of development means VW knows how to make the GTI handle- a string of tight and technical corners are dispatched with the poise and precision of a rhythmic gymnast. Still, if its more performance you demand VW has an in-house alternative: the Golf R. The Germans really do have an answer for everything.
Golf GTI, from £27,495 OTR by VOLKSWAGEN