A car like the Volkswagen Golf GTI needs little introduction. A mainstay in the motoring world for decades, the GTI has become the performance car for all people, offering practicality with enough excitement to spice up the daily drive.
Now, as the latest Golf moves into its eighth generation, we have the latest GTI. But can this car live up to its already fearsome reputation? Let’s find out.
This latest GTI boasts a striking new interior, as well as a new platform which also underpins the latest Golf. As a result, it’s spacious and practical - as you’d expect a Golf to be - while the exterior looks distinctly different from the outgoing Golf.
It’s had a major revamp in terms of chassis, too, but we’ll get onto that shortly.
What’s under the bonnet?
The GTI uses a tried-and-tested 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which sends 242bhp and 370Nm of torque through a seven-speed automatic gearbox - though a six-speed manual comes as standard.
The sprint from 0-60mph takes six seconds while flat-out it’ll hit 155mph. Despite this brisk performance, Volkswagen says that the GTI will return up to 38.2mpg while emitting 168g/km CO2.
What’s it like to drive?
The driving experience you get from behind the wheel of the GTI is critically important, which is why Volkswagen has tried as hard as it can to bring as sharp a drive as possible. It’s why a locking front differential is fitted as standard - having only been available on Performance and TCR models previously - which in turn makes the GTI exceptionally eager through the bends.
Accelerate hard in first and second gear and the tyres can scrabble for traction - particularly in the wet - but the level of grip on offer is good overall. The ride is firm indeed, but a by-product of this is that body roll is brilliantly well managed.
How does it look?
The latest Golf GTI is a far angrier, sharper thing to look at than the older car was. The razor-thin headlights combine with a full-width light bar at the front to give it a space-age look. It’s a feature which makes the GTI particularly striking at night.
Around the back, the relation to the previous GTI is more noticeable, though the GTI badging has now migrated to the centre of the boot door rather than the side.
What’s it like inside?
Volkswagen has thrown plenty of high-quality materials at the GTI’s interior, while the numerous screens and displays help to increase that space-age feeling you get from the exterior. However, the fundamentals - such as the seating position - are spot on, while there’s plenty of space for those sitting in the back too.
There’s also 374 litres of boot space, though you can extend this by folding down the rear seats.
What’s the spec like?
The main technology offering is centred around a 10-inch display in the centre of the dashboard which features all of the main media and connectivity functions. This is added to by another 10-inch display ahead of the driver and this features pleasantly clear graphics which are easy to read at night.
Some of the major controls - like the rear screen heater - aren’t as logically placed as you’d expect, but these are likely to be issues which would resolve themselves as you get used to the car.
This latest Golf GTI moves the game forward but in an unexpected way. It’s certainly harder and more focused than the car it replaces, forsaking some comfort in favour of a more involving drive. To many, that’ll be a worthwhile trade-off for a more exciting mode of transport.
This is one seriously capable hot-hatch, however, and one which will no doubt prove appealing to many.