Volkswagen Golf 7 GTI review (2012-2020) – design

The typically polished and understated design keeps the GTI desirable, even as it enters its twilight years

Evo rating
  • Superbly rounded. Fast yet frugal, fun to drive yet shows no form of compromise on the road
  • Edgier, faster rivals more exciting to drive. Expensive.

The Golf GTI is the little black dress of the car world. It suits all occasions; sophisticated, but not sterile, sporty, but not garish. It’s more inventive and distinctive than the Golf R, and executed almost perfectly.

Like all GTIs, the aesthetic is highlighted by the red stripe that runs along the grille line and into the headlights. Although the lights themselves don’t look as clean as the pre-facelift model, it’s not night and day (no pun intended). 

But overall VW has played things relatively safe and you’ll go hunting for the details which set the Mk7.5 apart as opposed to being overawed by new looks. Still, neat touches like the petrol cap, the lines of which sit in parallel with the kick of the rear window and the tail light, emit a sense of attention to detail that helps set the Golf apart from its mechanically similar relations. Quite important when that Skoda is so much bigger and so much cheaper…

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