What is it?

Following hot on the heels – quite literally – of the new Volkswagen Golf comes the brand’s sixth generation hot hatch, the Golf GTI.

Like the standard Golf, this GTI isn’t entirely new. The body shell remains largely the same as the mk V and the front retains the classic GTI honeycomb grille from the previous model. But there’s is a new- look bumper, while the rear now sports dual exit chrome tail pipes and a rear spoiler.

Inside, you’ll find an updated version of the previous GTI’s interior with sculpted and supportive sports seats and the familiar tartan cloth upholstery. As the saying goes “if it aint broke…”

Beneath the GTI’s skin is where most of the changes have taken place. A revised engine offers more power than the outgoing model, up 10bhp to 207bhp. Torque is the same with 206lb ft of shove right through from 1,700rpm to 5,200rpm. The extra power means the GTI will now hit 62mph in 6.9seconds and go on to an increased top speed of 149mph.

As with the rest of the Golf range, Volkswagen has been meticulous with the GTI’s soundproofing. The cabin is almost free of road roar or wind noise, leaving the driver able to fully enjoy the raspy burbling of the GTI’s fantastic exhaust note.

Is it any good?
With such a return to form with the mk5 GTI, we wondered whether it was really possible to make this new GTI any better. But we’re pleased to say, it’s superb.

The first thing you’ll notice stepping into the GTI is how good the driving position is. It’s not as low slung as the Scirocco but there’s an excellent range of adjustment so the driver can sit deeply enough within the car to feel well connected with it.

What’s staggering is how well the GTI suits a range of uses in everyday life. The wide torque curve makes the engine incredibly flexible and the car is as happy trundling through town as it is wafting along the motorway or sprinting down a winding B-road.

And on a B-road is where the GTI shines. Enhancements to the car’s chassis includes the addition of DCC (dynamic chassis control) which modifies the damper characteristics according to what the driver is doing with the throttle, brakes and steering. The result is reduced body movement and stiffer damper rates when cornering, without compromising the ride the rest of the time. There are three settings: ‘Normal’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’. In the latter setting the GTI’s steering becomes sharper, more precise and super responsive.

The latest GTI also features XDS – an electronic version of a limited slip differential. This system helps improve handling by braking either of the driven wheels if they lose traction. The result is excellent grip and stability.

Should I give it garage space?
We can’t think of many reasons why not. The Golf GTI is a great all-rounder offering real world, useable performance. The downside is the expensive price, although we reckon the small premium over other hot-hatches rivals is worth it. The GTI punches well above its class in terms of finish and finesse.

The biggest competition for the GTI is in-house, where the three-door version goes head to head with the Scirocco – its sleek-looking and slightly cheaper sister car. VW admits that it expects the Scirocco to take sales away from the three-door GTI, but Volkswagen is at least keeping its rivals close to home.

Model: Volkswagen Golf GTI
Engine: 1984cc four cylinder petrol turbo
Power: 210bhp
Torque: 206lb ft at 1,700 – 5,200rpm
Performance: 0-62mph in 6.9seconds, 149mph top speed
CO2 emissions: 170g/km
On sale: 22nd May

VW Golf GTI Front

By Claire Edwards

Via: Fifth Gear