Volkswagen Golf GTI review – is the hot hatch stalwart still the one to beat? - Performance

We can think of few more rounded, gratifying and superbly executed everyday performance cars. Classless, understated and utterly wonderful

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.

Performance and 0-60 time

The Golf GTI’s 242bhp figure might sound a little bit conservative in 2019, especially as rivals punch significantly harder, with lower price tags. So does the Golf GTI feel in any way slow? When it’s mated to 258lb ft, not in the slightest. It feels genuinely quick, with a delivery that’s really useable and meaty yet still much keener to rev out than expected.

> Also read: Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 road trip - Wolfsburg Calling

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The engine starts to pull hard from just 1500rpm and actually does its best work between 2500 and 4000rpm. But far from becoming breathless after that, it revs out sweetly to the red line, exhibiting extended powerband characteristics that suit the six-speed manual and double-clutch DSG semi-auto transmissions available equally well.

Naturally, with the Volkswagen Golf R as the alpha predator in VW’s hot hatch line-up, the GTI can only be allowed to excite and thrill up to a point. It can sometimes feel like a car that’s operating well within itself. It’s certainly possible to buy more bang for your buck, but a 0-62mph time of 6.4sec and 155mph top speed are respectable enough by class standards.  

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