The Volkswagen Golf is the original hot hatch and is still the benchmark when it comes to the finest balance between pure driving dynamics and family practicality. It’s the ultimate all rounder.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is fitted with a turbo charged 2.0 litre four cylinder engine producing 220bhp. It is mated to a slick 6-speed manual gearbox as standard with the option of the DSG semi-automatic with flappy paddles. It accelerates from 0-100 in 7.2 seconds, but in the real world, it feels quicker. There is also the Performance Pack GTI which offers 230bhp, bigger brakes and a limited slip differential lending more power grip in and out of corners. It produces 230bhp and is marginally quicker from a standstill to 100kmh, getting there in 6.3 seconds. Both variants are good fun to drive, but the Performance Pack is more focused.
This is one of the reasons why the Golf GTI has always been so popular among small families. It strikes the perfect compromise between a comfortable ride and performance dynamics. Whether you choose manual or DSG, you can literally drive the GTI as fast or slow as you want to, it is impeccably behaved. At speed, the steering is precise and it feels agile and is a lot of fun to drive. It does have some stiff competition however in the shape of the Ford Focus ST and its own SEAT Leon Cupra cousin. Both of these pack more power as standard and like the GTI, both are available in five door guise too.
Like all hot hatches, the Golf gets its own unique styling pack. It is one of the more subtle hot hatches which adds to its family appeal. It gets slightly more aggressive styling with unique front and rear bumpers, a rear boot lid spoiler, side skirts, a stainless steel exhaust at either side, GTI badging and a defining red pin stripe and 18 inch alloy wheels. Inside looks and feels different to the standard Golf too with tartan bucket seats with embossed GTI logo, fat bottomed GTI sports steering wheel and Golf ball gear knob complete with contrast red stitching throughout. It’s just enough to make it feel that bit more special.
The Volkswagen Golf has always been the benchmark when it comes to family hatchbacks and the GTI is no different. The interior design and quality of the Golf is second to none. The use of quality materials and contrast piano black inserts and chrome trims ooze quality and sophistication. The Golf GTI is one of the most understated hot hatches on the market, but when it comes to interior style and quality, no rivals come close. From the steering wheel and seats to the high standard of quality of materials used, everything feels solid and superior to the touch.
The standard Golf on which the GTI is based, scored highly in Euro NCAP crash testing with a full five star rating. The GTI is kitted with similar safety technology as standard that includes features like bigger brakes for additional stopping power, electronic stability control, post-collision braking system stopping the car from carrying on into a second collision, tyre pressure monitor, ISO-FIX and a full set of airbags. Further optional safety items include, hill assist, emergency braking system, seat belt tensioners and auto close of windows and sunroof if a collision is detected.
The Golf GTI is available in three or five door guise. All models are sitting on the MQB platform which means space is good inside too. There is generous head and legroom for rear seat passengers fitting three adults. Cabin storage space is good too with a central cubby, cooled glovebox and storage beneath the front seats. Boot space is a healthy 380 litres which extends to 1270 litres with the rear bench folded flat.