Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback (2009-2012)
"For over thirty years the Golf GTI has been synonymous with performance, style and quality. It's still a great package today"
- Impressive ride/performance balance
- Stylish image
- Strong residual values
- Pricey DSG gearbox
- Not as sporty as some rivals
- Too understated for some
The latest Volkswagen Golf GTI is a lesson to other hot hatch makers in design, build quality and image. Factor in impressive performance and genuine day-to-day practicality, and it's no wonder the famous GTI badge still proves so popular. It's available as a three or five-door hatchback, and is based on the standard Golf. The GTI has recently faced tough competition in the form of the Renaultsport Megane 265 and Ford Focus ST. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine has 207bhp in standard guise, while the limited-run Edition 35 comes with 232bhp, although that's not as much power as the Megane or Focus. Performance is strong and the handling sporty, but it's more comfortable than its rivals and boasts a high-quality interior.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Combined fuel consumption of 38.7mpg is impressive for a high-performance hot hatch, and beats the Renaultsport Megane. The DSG automatic gearbox has only a minor impact on fuel economy, but is still fairly reasonable. The standard GTI sits in the same road tax band as the Ford Focus ST, while the GTI Edition 35 is in the same band as the Renaultsport Megane. Volkswagen's fixed-price 20,000 mile service intervals seem good value however, priced at £249.
Engines, drive & performance
An excellent driving position and well weighted controls contribute to a highly rewarding driving experience. The GTI is happy to cruise over long distances, potter around town or seek-out favourite back roads. The 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine found in the GTI produces 207bhp which is enough power to propel it from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. It's not as quick as the Renaultsport Megane or Ford Focus ST, but the Golf is also less attention seeking but still takes corners with huge confidence. Selecting the optional Adaptive Chassis Control system allows fine tuning of the suspension, engine and steering. The Edition 35 model is a combination of the more powerful Golf R's engine but with the front-wheel-drive chassis of the GTI.
Interior & comfort
Fitted with VW's sports suspension, the GTI is firmer than the rest of the Golf range, but unlike rivals such as the Renaultsport Megane, it rarely feels harsh or too compromised, while the seats are comfortable and supportive. Class-leading interior quality is a stand-out feature of the Volkswagen Golf, and in the GTI the understated cabins successfully manage to inject enough excitement without being gaudy.
Practicality & boot space
The five door model is more practical, providing easy passenger access to the rear cabin, and the larger windows also make for a lighter cabin. The rear seats can easily take three adults and have plenty of leg and headroom. The boot has a wide opening and measures 350 litres which is bigger than the Focus ST. Useful flat-folding rear seats create a huge 1,300 litres of space. Handy cubbies, door bins and bottle holders are also provided.
Reliability & safety
Excellent, class-leading build quality and an almost faultless reliability record provides buyers with total piece of mind and a genuinely attractive ownership propostion. Recent Euro NCAP crash testing resulted in the latest Golf receiving the full five stars, scoring 97% for adults and 84% for children, so it's very safe in the event of an accident.
Price, value for money & options
The VW Golf GTI is a premium product, but it is well priced to compete with other up-market hatchbacks from BMW and Audi. Strong resale values make owning a GTI an attractive proposition too. Buyers wanting an automatic should select the DSG option, which along with steering wheel mounted gearshift paddles, carries a £1,295 premium. Standard kit isn't that impressive, but air-conditioning and leather trim is included in the asking price. Optional extras to condsider include parking sensors (£440), Bluetooth (£225), DVD touch-screen radio/navigation system (£1,750) and a sunroof (£630). The useful Winter Pack (£380) represents good value if you do lots of cold weather driving.