Review: Volkswagen Golf GTI

Can Volkswagen do no wrong?

The German giant’s run of red-hot form continues with the Golf GTI, which goes on sale in Europe in May.

As with the regular Golf, weight is down and tech is up. But more than the 42kg that’s been subtracted and the host of electronic safety and driver aid systems that have been added, it’s the new GTI’s great leap forward in driving pleasure that makes it special.

There has never been a hot hatch so refined and comfortable, agile and fast.

Significantly updated, Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre turbo engine now belts out 162kW. Or, for the new GTI Performance version, 169kW.

Both feature a torque curve 70Nm fatter than before and a 350Nm maximum.

The difference between the two is hard to pick. Volkswagen claims 0-100km/h in 6.5sec for the regular engine and 6.4sec for the Performance, with the choice six-speed manual or six-speed DSG making no difference in either engine’s case.

Where the big advances are to be found are the new GTI’s chassis.

Both versions feature a new variable-ratio steering rack that’s much more direct than the standard Golf, just 2.1 turns lock-to-lock. Volkswagen has also expanded the capabilities of the suspension’s variable dampers, with more driver-selectable options and greater operational flexibility.

The result is a hot hatch without match for breadth of capability. It’s not only more agile, but also more comfortable.

The previous GTI’s reputation was built on the way it blended doing the backroad business with pleasure in daily use.

The new GTI is the same, only better. Much better…

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