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
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