HOT HATCH a great all rounder
The VW hot hatch has evolved into the thinking person’s sporty car, reports PETER BARNWELL.
NO beating about the bush here, we’d own a new Golf GTi in a blink – it’s that good. Which makes writing a review somewhat challenging – nothing to criticise.
Generation six of the German-built hot-hatch has evolved into the thinking person’s sporty car offering safety, style, sporty dynamics and performance in an affordable package priced from $38,990 for the three-door manual. But we’d go for the five-door version with optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) at around $43,000 plus on roads.
Not as outright powerful or torquey as the likes of Mazda3 MPS, Subaru WRX or Lancer Ralliart, front wheel drive Golf GTi is arguably a more engaging drive.
It features an electronic locker differential to aid cornering and has a sports calibrated suspension and lower ride height than standard Golf to keep it tracking true.
Plenty of power comes from the 2.0-litre, direct injection, turbo four cylinder that cranks out 155kW/280Nm, the former up from previous Golf GTi’s 147kW. Torque stays the same as VW decided to go for better fuel economy and lower emissions.
A modest power boost but definitely making its presence felt on the road, particularly when hustling from tight corner to tight corner.
The six-speed DSG ’box is party to the fun, firing in gears quick as a flash, adding to the overall sporty feel of the car. The manual wouldn’t be as much fun because you can’t change gears as quickly.
Our test car had the optional adaptive chassis control that offers Comfort, Normal and Sport modes to sharpen or soften ride, steering and throttle response.
It’s firm is Sport mode but appreciably softer in Normal so you can have the best of both worlds.
We took the new GTi for a decent spin south out of Sydney, through the winding roads of the Royal National Park, bypassing Wollongong and heading up the winding roads of Macquarie Pass to Robertson Pie Shop for lunch, then back down to the coast via the winding roads of Jamberoo Pass followed by a freeway blast back to “the Smoke”.
It was near perfect GTi territory with smooth tarmac and tight curves testing the car and driver’s reflexes.
The GTi made child’s play of the drive and underlined just how good it is.
While the exterior styling is somewhat reserved, you can’t miss the GTi’s athletic crouch on the road punctuated by selective use of “go fast” red striping around the grille and elsewhere.
Our car had the standard 17in alloys and we’d suggest they are the best compromise for everyday driving because the lower profile 18s would give a harsher ride.
The interior is typically high quality Volkswagen with a neat and functional layout and plenty of standard kit like rain sensing wipers, auto on headlights, auto dim rear view mirrors. Mind you, the options list is extensive.
It scores a five-star crash test rating but thankfully has stability control with a high threshold.
The WRC Rally car exhaust pop on upchanges is beguiling to the point where you put the windows down for some aural appreciation.
The new GTi is addictive regardless of where and how you drive it becuase it is so competent, a great all rounder and looks good into the bargain.
Sporty performer: Golf GTi starts from $38,990 for the three door to $43,000 for the five door.