Hello and welcome to the mark 7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI. It has 245hp at its disposal, a mechanical limited slip diff at the front and a wonderful six speed manual transmission.
Not only is it a more powerful Golf but this car is basically the one that brought this whole hot hatch deal to the masses with the first ever Golf GTI. It debuted in 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and it featured subtle design changes, like the chin spoiler, the wheels, the upholstery and the red lipstick on the front grille. It was powered by a 1.6l petrol engine, it did the 0 to 100km/h dash in about nine seconds and despite what the figures suggest, it was pretty fast for that time.
So this is a pretty special car I’m driving here and this manual transmission, although it’s not ideal for daily use, makes it even more special to drive. But the best thing about a Golf GTI is not the way it drives, nor is its practicality or how comfortable it is. It’s the way it manages to perfectly combine all of those into one car. So let’s see if this new one is still the best all around hot hatch on the market.
So let’s start with the practicality
This is the mark 7.5 Golf GTI, which is sort of a facelift for the mark seven and as with any GTI product, you can’t really go wrong when buying one. It has four doors, a big boot and it can seat four people with easy inside. The seats are excellent, they feature the iconic fabric design that every GTI sported so far and headroom and legroom is plenty.
Technology is also up to par. The Golf GTI I’ve tested featured the fully digital instrument cluster, the button-less infotainment-system, Apple car play and the absolutely fabulous eight speaker Dynaudio Excite sound system.
On the outside the car is equipped with the optional 19” Brescia alloys, the full LED headlights, also an option and it’s finished in the Tornado Red free color choice.
Not only are these seats lovely to look at they’re also very comfortable to sit it. They have great side support, they’re made out of soft fabrics and well, they’re just great to sit it. And this interior is absolutely lovely. Everything in here is setup to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
So it’s practical, it’s comfortable so I guess it’s time to find out how it drives!
Well, it’s good, it’s very good actually! But first, the numbers. Two litre petrol engine at the front, 245hp and 370Nm of torque. 0 to 100km/h in dealt with in 6.2seconds. There’s a six speed manual in the middle and drives goes to the front wheels.
The car I’m driving here has one option that I highly recommend you spec on your GTI. Dynamic Chassis Control, that’s VW’s version of adaptive dampers.
And that allows you to soften the suspension at the touch of a button. You won’t notice a huge difference between the Comfort and Sport settings in every day use, but on a bumpy B-road, Comfort mode makes the ride more compliant without introducing too much body roll.
But even in sport mode, the suspension glides over bumps and at first you might be thinking, hey, this sport mode doesn’t really make any difference suspension wise. But tackle a few corners and you’ll most definitely feel the difference. And this is where the Golf GTI’s character coming into play again. It’s being sporty but at the same time it’s trying to keep the ride as smooth as possible.
Limited slip differential at the front…
Because this car is the Performance variant of the GTI, the only one that’s sold in Sweden actually, it also has a electronically controlled limited slip differential. The diff can push up to 100% of the torque to one of the front wheels, which drastically reduces understeer by feeding power to the wheel on the outside of the turn, but at the same time, it also gives the car more grip which in turn allows you to go around a corner faster.
And you can really feel it work. You can really feel it pulling the car to the inside of the corner. It’s really good this diff. There’s very little understeer in the car and so is the case of torque steer in brutal accelerations.
I love the way the steering feels in Sport mode. It’s pretty precise and direct and it just ads a lot to the driving experience. If you wrestle the steering a bit around tight corners, you can even get the back to step out of line a bit.
Four cylinder engine
This is one of the best four cylinder petrol engines I’ve driven. The power delivery is almost as smooth as that of a naturally aspirated engine but it still has the punch that a turbocharged unit provides at low RPMs. It pulls really well of the line and the acceleration is relentless.
It is an absolute pleasure to keep the throttle buried until the engine reaches the red line as it seems like the engine never really runs out of puff. I really love this power unit. It’s spot on!
And having this stick here in the middle to help you run though the gears, I’m telling you, is such a great feeling. I don’t really care if this is not the best manual transmission out there, as long as I get to enjoy changing gears myself.
And I’ll be the first to admit that the DSG automatic transmission is far superior in every way compared to a manual. It’s faster, it’s smoother and it’s more fuel efficient. But for these 5 days in which I drove this car, mostly around fun roads like this one, the manual transmission was perfect!
Three things I love about the new Golf GTI and a couple I didn’t really like
I love the technology inside it, I adore the way the car looks and all the small design details sprinkled everywhere and finally, I also really enjoyed the way it drives.
But there’s also a couple of things I didn’t really like about the car. The seating position is a bit high for my taste. I have the same problem with my M2 actually. If the seats could go down by two centimetres that would’ve been perfect. And then there are some cheap looking plastics on the door panels, which really contrast with the rest of the materials inside the car. But that’s kind of it. I’ve had a real hard time trying to find faults with it.
I was going to list price as a downside as well because you can get more performance for less money from this car’s competitors but then again, you don’t get the other stuff, like the tech, the quality interior and the smooth ride, so I’ve decided against that.
Prices start at 314.900sek (30.527EUR) and the Golf GTI I drove today costs 393.100sek (38.108EUR).
Is it still the best all-arounder?
I love this car, I really do and I still think it’s the best all around hot hatch at the moment. I’ve really enjoyed driving it for the past 5 days. Huge thanks to Volkswagen Sweden for making this video possible.