The VW Golf GTi MK7
It’s probably fair to say from the off, that I am a huge fan of the Golf GTi in all of it’s guises. In fact, when the car on test turned up, I was up to my elbows in my Mk1 20v Turbo project. Now, whilst I love my Mk1 Rabbit and I also loved the Mk5 GTI we had on long term test a few years ago..it was with much excitement that I snatched up the keys of this new model and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel on some of my favorite driving roads.
So, everything started off as expected. The car looks fantastic in white with 18″ alloys, the interior has the traditional and familiar tartan pattern sports seats and a distinctive looking, flat bottomed three spoke leather steering wheel. The dash is well laid out with alloy trimming the instrument bezels and door tops as well as the pedals. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the interior is everything we’ve come to expect of a Golf GTi, quality, sporty but unfortunately…a little…predictable.
Still, this is a GTi we’re talking about here, why shouldn’t it look as expected? So..on to driving the car. The trouble with the Golf GTi is quite simply it’s own heritage. It has been a bench mark car for over 30 years and with the possible exception of the Mk3 or non-turbo Mk4, it really has been the one to beat in just about every road test. So…what exactly are we expecting of the Mk7. Performance wise, it’s got heaps of power, especially as the car on test had the optional Performance pack with around 230bhp on offer. The engine is powerful, full of torque, smooth, and produces a satisfying, if not addictive exhaust note. At 47.1 mpg combined, it’s also fairly economical for a car in this class. As usual on all VW’s, the GTi has a top 5 star rating from EuroNCAP, with 94% in the adult occupant safety category and 89% in the child equivalent. So, it’s safe, frugal ( up to a point ) fast enough to see off most things on the road and classically good looking. The problem is…it’s just not that sexy or exciting, especially when you compare it to the quick Renault’s and Ford’s on offer.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, it’s a very fast car! It can out handle most track day focused toys and it does it all whilst offering an amazing level of build quality and finesse. It comes alive between 2500 and 4000 rpm which to be fair, is exactly where you need the power band to be for day to day driving. The performance pack even gives you an electronically controlled rear diff to keep the back end in check when your luck out runs your talent!
But another problem here is the ride..it’s firm, but not focused. Comfortable, but not relaxing. In short, it’s quite difficult to categorize, which is very much not “Golf-like” at all. At the top end of £25,000 before getting into the options catalog, the Golf GTI is certainly at the higher-end of the hot hatchback class. That may sound like a great deal to you, especially if you’re more interested in the GTI’s heritage and quality, but at this price, the GTI is in some pretty good company and is not just competing with Megane’s and Focus’s, but BMW’s amazing M135i.
So, in conclusion. This new generation Golf GTI is still one of the best cars in it’s class and in some circles it will be heralded as the best…but for me…it’s good, very very good, but not great. It’s a perfectly well put together sports hatch back….it’s just not quite Golf GTi enough. I guess i can sum it up by saying that when I took it back, the guy at the garage joked that I’d rather have it than my Mk1, and whilst in the real world that would of course be true…in the world of the Golf GTi, I’ll stick with the one I’ve got thanks!