Updated: Jul 27, 2021
The Volkswagen Golf GTI, does the modern car live up to the heritage of its name? Is it "hot" enough to be considered a hot hatch anymore or is it too tame? Is it the perfect daily driver? In this feature we discuss this and more.
The Golf GTI was first introduced in 1976 in a revitalised version of the mark 1 Golf. Often referred to as the original “hot hatch”, it featured a 1.6L fuel injected engine that came with 80kw and 139nm of torque. At the time this was a lot for a small hatchback, especially one that only weighed 810kg. The car featured sporty highlights such as flared wheel arches, a chin spoiler and red accents to name a few. Pair all of this with fun handling and day to day practicality. It's easy to see why it sold very well and created the legacy that is the GTI badge.
The car as discussed is a 2015 model MK7 in the striking midnight blue fitted with Volkswagen's DSG dual clutch transmission. The car is fitted with the performance pack which adds upsized brakes, an extra 7kw, cornering xenon headlights, LED tail lights, 19 inch "Santiago" alloys and a magic (electric) locking front differential.
The power isn't going to break any records at 169kw however the engine is punchy with 350nm of torque. The turbo lag is minimal and the gear shifts are sharper than any race car driver could possibly hope to perform. This all results in a powertrain package that feels good in all scenarios. all the power you'd ever need in a daily driver.
Handling is phenomenal thanks to the car’s suspension design and grippy Michelin pilot sport 4s tyres. This vehicle has the optional dynamic chassis control which is Volkswagen for adaptive suspension which is a must have.
Steering is sharp, direct and provides good feedback for electrically assisted steering. The flat bottom steering wheel with shift paddles feels good, looks good and the diameter is millimetre perfect. In combination with the crisp steering, Volkswagen's limited slip differential makes torque steer and understeer almost imperceptible giving the car a true “point and shoot” driving experience.
The interior feels timeless and classy with features like red stitching and soft touch plastics. The all black trim looks and feels premium. The only giveaway of the age of the car being the dated infotainment screen. The leather sports seats are comfortable and hold you in well on a spirited drive with large side bolsters.
Exterior styling is aggressive but looks good. Compared to the standard Golf and even the GTI’s big brother the R; it's easy to choose the GTI as the most aggressively styled. The car is predominantly styled around a hexagon pattern featured in several places throughout the car, most noticeably the front grill and rear valance. The back of the car is decluttered with 1 simple GTI badge along with the centre VW badge. The front features the long standing tradition of red accents.
This Golf specifically is fitted with a Racingline r600 intake system, the sound of the intake needs to be heard to be believed. Its loud. Very loud. Simple upgrades like this bring out a deeper character from the car which adds to the overall fun of the driving experience. The potential for modding on this platform is huge. Both aesthetically and for performance gains. The range of parts and brands that support the platform is endless. Something as simple as an ECU tune could unlock another 30%+ power.
The driving experience in the car is fantastic. The overall package feels better than the sum of its parts. German engineers really know what they're doing, a stereotype that is excellently presented with the MK7 Golf GTI.
This iteration lives up to the heritage of its badge. The heritage of the combination of quality, fun and everyday practicality.
It lives up to its hot hatch ideologies and as a daily driver is concerned, it's all you could ever want and more.
I guess the last question left to answer is; how will the MK8 golf GTI compare when released in a few months here in Australia?
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All opinions are our own.
Photos by @jeremy.khuu and @intent_media | Article by @thebigboostclub
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