Driven: Volkswagen Golf GTI Edition 35

We review the new special 35th birthday edition of the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatchback

Evo rating
  • A welcome dose of power
  • Still not a firecracker

What is it?Subtly styled hotter version of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, produced to celebrate 35 years of the iconic GTI badge. Technical highlights?The in-line, turbocharged four cylinder is actually a detuned version of the Golf R’s engine rather than a tweaked version of the standard GTI’s motor. It puts out 232bhp (25bhp more than the standard car), which makes it the fastest production GTI ever. Happy Birthday indeed. What’s it like to drive?The most noticeable thing about the new engine is how it really likes to be revved – unusual for a turbocharged unit. It is, as you’d expect, also slightly quicker. In these days of RS500 Foci, the 35 doesn’t feel like a fireball, but where the standard car felt just a little lacklustre for a modern hot hatch, the 35 feels more on the current pace. The 35 will be offered with either a manual or DSG twin-clutch gearbox and in both three- and five-door variants. The gearbox choice is really down to personal preference (I’d have the manual, but the DSG works fantastically and I can see the appeal), however things are a little more clear-cut when it comes to body styles. Get the three-door if you can because it feels noticeably stiffer and slightly sharper to drive. There’s a lovely polish to the manners of the GTI with steering, pedal weight and ride all smooth and precise. Occasionally you feel it would benefit from a few more teeth in the way it handles but it’s still a great thing to dissect a good piece of road with. How does it compare?Overall it is probably the most everyday of the hot hatch class. This will obviously appeal to some and not to others. At around £27,000 it is about £2000 more expensive than a standard GTI and about £3000 more expensive than a standard (but more powerful) Renaultsport Megane 250 Cup. However, it should be slightly cheaper than the new Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy. Anything else I should know?The golf ball gearknob is back! (and it feels great) The rest of the ‘35’ branding is nicely subdued with just small badges on the kickplates, headrest and front wings.

Specifications

EngineIn-line, 4cyl 1984cc, turbocharged
Max power232bhp @ 5500-6300rpm
Max torque221lb ft @ 2200-5500rpm
0-606.4sec (est)
Top speed154mph
On saleLate 2011, c£27K

Most Popular

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road
11 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder
Posaidon Mercedes-AMG E63
Mercedes E63 AMG

Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder

Three new Posaidon power upgrades are now available for Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S, bringing hypercar numbers to the four door supersaloon
9 Jun 2021
2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched
2021 Maserati GranTurismo spy – track
Maserati

2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched

GranTurismo coupe and its soft-top GranCabrio sibling to be reborn later this year, but controversially without the proposed combustion alternative...…
11 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals 11 June 21
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
11 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – front
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
9 Jun 2021
Cheap fast cars 2021 – the best budget performance cars on the market
Cheap fast cars 2021
used cars

Cheap fast cars 2021 – the best budget performance cars on the market

If you buy right and do your research, the cheap fast car is a wonderful thing. Here are our top picks between £1000 and £10,000
25 May 2021
HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86
HKS Toyota GR 86
Toyota

HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86

Japanese tuner HKS is in development of a supercharger upgrade package for the new GR 86
9 Jun 2021
2021 Alpina XD3 and XD4 update revealed – extra torque from Alpine’s quad-turbo diesel SUV
Alpina XD3 and XD4 2021 – header
Alpina XD3

2021 Alpina XD3 and XD4 update revealed – extra torque from Alpine’s quad-turbo diesel SUV

The updates to the Alpina XD3 and XD4 are largely of the aesthetic kind, but more torque and new chassis calibrations are also part of the package
10 Jun 2021
Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated
Best small cars 2021
Best cars

Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated

You don’t need 200bhp or more in a small hatchback to have fun – these ‘warm’ small cars are the proof
7 Jun 2021
2022 BMW X3 and X4 M Competition pricing announced
2022 BMW X3 and X4 M Competitions
BMW

2022 BMW X3 and X4 M Competition pricing announced

Engine upgrades, a chassis recalibration and some striking new visuals for BMW’s hot midsize SUVs
11 Jun 2021
The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is an 818bhp track-only hypercar
Lamborghini SCV12
Lamborghini

The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is an 818bhp track-only hypercar

Lamborghini Squadra Corse is taking the V12 to the racetrack with the limited-run Essenza SCV12
9 Jun 2021
2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost review
2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Rolls-Royce Ghost

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost review

Latest Ghost gets a new platform, four-wheel steering and fresh looks, and continues to set the luxury saloon bar
5 Jun 2021