Volkswagen Golf GTI review – still the hot hatch yardstick?

Antony Ingram
19 Mar 2018

A hugely talented all-rounder, possibly a bit too grown up

Evo Rating: 
Even balance of virtues, image, quality
Safe rather than sexy, quite pricey

There isn't a name more synonomous with the hot hatch genre than the Volkswagen Golf GTI. While the Mk1 version isn't necessarily the first ever hot hatch, it's most definitely the vehicle that excited the public's imagination and built the template for virtually every car worthy of the epithet ever since.

The Mk7.5 Golf is a full rounded, honed and fine-tooth-combed deal boasting exemplary levels of comfort, refinement, efficiency and technology. It also boasts excellent real world pace, although more performance can be had cheaper elsewhere, but to the detriment of build quality. Where the Golf GTI does fall behind rivals is when it comes to outright excitement, but very few, if any, can match it for all-round excellence. As modern hot hatches go, the Golf GTI is the ultimate safe pair of hands.

> Click here for our group test between the i30 N, the Golf GTI and Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport

Volkswagen Golf GTI: in detail

Performance and 0-60 time > With a 0-62mph time of 6.4sec and a 155mph top speed, the GTI delivers performance worthy of the badge. Read about the Golf GTI's performance here

Engine and gearbox > The Golf GTI has the 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine found in many other VWs. A performance pack boosts power to 242bhp and adds an electronic differential and bigger brakes. Read about the Golf GTI's engine and transmission here

Ride and handling > British B-roads can be the making and undoing of a car. The GTI however is perfectly suited to them, with top of the line chassis control and balance. Read about the Golf GTI's ride and handling here

MPG and running costs > The Golf GTI now consumes less fuel and has lower road tax. It has dropped five insurance groups due to better safety systems, which include emergency city braking. Read about the Golf GTI's mpg and running costs

Interior and tech > The GTI being the same size as the standard Golf means it’s a very practical car. Standard tech includes DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and, perhaps most impressively, adaptive cruise control. Read about the Golf GTI's interior and tech here

Design > The Mk7.5 shares the various styling tweaks that the core Golf range has recently enjoyed; so that's new LED headlights in place of the old bi-xenon units and tweaked front and rear styling amongst other changes. Read about the Golf GTI's design here

Prices, Specs and Rivals

The GTI’s list price reaches from £28k-£31k depending on the model, body style and gearbox. The basic configuration is a manual three-door with the EA288 (engine) rated at 227bhp and 258lb ft of torque. Opting for the Performance pack (which a sizeable number of UK buyers do) boosts power and torque to 242bhp and 273lb ft respectively – at a price – a whisker under £1500. It is certainly something we’d condone though given the tangible on- road gains.

If practically is king you’ll be parting with about £700 more for the five-door body, and while the dual-clutch transmission fits well with the GTI character it adds almost £1500 to the final price. You can fish through the options list for three alternate alloy designs and five different paint jobs, all at a price. In place of the classic tartan upholstered seats you can have faux leather or the real thing – the latter quite pricey at almost £2k.

> Read our Ford Focus ST review

The hot hatch segment is fraught with competitors that all depart from the GTI’s trailblazed path in some way or another. Trading looks for practicality Skoda’s Octavia vRS shares the GTI’s platform and engines whilst undercutting it by a considerable £3k. It’s also available as an estate unlike the GTI. Such practicality from a performance Golf would require you to go for the Golf R. Another enemy from within (the VW Group) is the SEAT Leon Cupra 300 which squeezes 296bhp from the EA888 and starts at just over £30k.  

Outside the VW conglomerate you have the Honda Civic Type R which is similarly priced to the SEAT. The jury is still out on the Honda’s exterior, but there’s no question over what’s under the outlandish skin, it’s a return to form for the Type R division. The Ford Focus RS is a bit more expensive – the wrong side of £32k – but it offers substantially more performance that elevates it well above the Golf R let alone the GTI.

Hyundai's first ever N division creation arguably poses the greatest threat to the GTI. The Hyundai i30 N possesses all the everyday friendliness the GTI is famed for while offering dynamics that not only trump the GTI’s, but possibly the whole class. It looks like it’ll be good value, too.

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Фонари Киев

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