VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
The benchmark hot hatch takes on its “liftback” cousin in a fun-factor test.
GTI is the benchmark for hot hatches. It will have better resale than the Skoda but that’s about all. It’s smaller and misses out on auto braking, adaptive cruise and rear side airbags. The touchscreen is smaller and it rides on smaller rims. Warranty is three years/ unlimited kilometres. Service is $1429 for three years/45,000km.
It’s all very familiar. Simple elegant design. Uncluttered white-on-black instruments, trademark tartan trim, flat-bottomed steering wheel and gearshift topped by a golf ball. You need to be a believer that less is more, because the 6.5-inch touchscreen, even with satnav, looks painfully small. The next update , about mid-year is
expected to bring a larger screen.
Standard GTI develops 162kW/350Nm and is has sixspeed manual — easy to use with well spaced ratios — or DSG transmission, with auto engine stopstart. At 6.5 seconds it’s a couple of tenths quicker to 100km/h than the RS and drinks 98 RON at the rate of 6.2L/100km.
Five stars with a score of 35.92/37 from ANCAP. Comes with seven airbags and a reverse camera, but auto emergency braking is part of a $1500 driver assist pack that includes blind spot alert, adaptive cruise control and automatic parking assistance.
Driving the GTI is always a treat. We’d take the manual every day, even if it is marginally slower, simply because it’s more fun to drive. Adaptive chassis control is standard. The car is balanced, goes exactly where you point it and the suspension firms up remarkably well in corners, with an almost perfect balance between ride and handling.