After the "dark ages" of Volkswagen's mk3 and mk4-generation Golf GTIs, the mk5 GTI of 2004 came as something of a revelation. Punchy and dynamic, it belied slightly dumpy looks with a spirit recaptured from the first two generations of Golf GTI.
The mk6-generation GTI continued this when it launched in 2009. It was more of an evolution than anything else, but slightly sharper styling and small refinements throughout made it a great all-rounder.
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That hasn't changed now the car is a used buy. Our 'Should I keep it?' series isn't a buying guide as such - you can find a full run-down on the mk6 GTI in issue 189 - rather inspiration for owners perhaps tempted by newer, faster alternatives.
Golf GTI mk6 upgrade ideas
Superseded by the current Golf GTI and outpunched by the Golf R, the Mk6 GTI still has plenty of potential, and most of that is locked up in its 2-litre turbocharged engine.
Superchips’ popular Bluefin ‘plug-in’ ECU remap (superchips.co.uk) liberates an extra 75bhp and 113lb ft of torque in ‘Stage 2’ spec for outputs of 282bhp and 320lb ft. The company does, however, say you’ll need to install a quality replacement sports catalytic converter, a cat-back exhaust and cold-air intake system to realise those impressive figures.
Brake and suspension upgrades are also worthwhile. VW specialists Awesome GTI (awesomegti.com) will sell you Tarox front discs for £228, rear discs for £192 and a full set of Tarox pads for £134.40.
A set of KW coilovers comes in at £920, also from Awesome GTI. Then you’ll just need some tyres. We’d recommend Continental’s ContiSportContact 5s (our Tyre Test 2015 winners), at £279.60 delivered from blackcircles.com for 17-inch wheels.
Golf GTI mk6 key facts and figures
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo|
|Max power||207bhp @ 5300-6200rpm|
|Max torque||207lb ft @ 1700-5200rpm|
|Transmission||Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive|
|Power to weight||160bhp/ton|
|Top speed||148mph (claimed)|
|Price range now||£8500-£20,000|
Variable service interval: Up to 20,000 miles
Recommended service interval: 10,000 miles or annually
DSG service interval: 40,000 miles at the latest
What we said at the time
'There’s more grip than you might expect, so even when the car does slide you never feel like the slide is going to go on for hours and land you miles off line. And it slides neutrally rather than extravagantly, which makes the fact you can’t completely turn ESP off less of an issue. The fun comes in carrying speed and taking a road apart with the chassis, playing on a high-grip limit that feels tense but exploitable. From the first run through the corner I’m remembering why we rate the GTI so highly. By the fourth time through I’m turning in, the car’s sliding with all four wheels to the white-posted apex and then the XDS is helping to drag us out the other side. Then the road turns less interesting again and so does the GTI.' Henry Catchpole (evo 130) Read the full review here