Volkswagen Golf GTI MK8 review – performance and 0-60

A strong, broad torque curve helps, with good performance on paper and on the road

Evo rating

Volkswagen quotes a top speed of 155mph, with the 0-62mph sprint dispatched in 6.2sec for the base GTI. This isn’t far off more powerful rivals, due largely to the fact this power is so easy to come by in the rev band. It’s a feeling that’s reflected in everyday driving, with torque plentiful in any gear accessed with minimal turbo lag.

GTI Clubsport models shave the 0-62mph time down to 5.6sec, taking a further 0.6sec off the base GTI. This is an impressive gain in isolation, but Hyundai’s lesser-powered i30 N as fitted with the dual-clutch transmission will do the same sprint in just 5.4sec – something that can be attributed to a more effective launch control function and shorter gearing on its eight-speed ’box (one up on the seven-speed DSG).

On the road, the Clubsport’s bigger outputs do compromise slightly in terms of response, but the differences are subtle. Yet ignore the on-paper figures for the moment and it’s worth remembering that the EA888 still is an inherently sweet engine, preferable to all main rivals. Its tenaciousness towards the red line is still apparent, and it has a responsive nature, even at very high revs.

In comparison, the Ford ST’s engine feels like it’s been pulled out of a truck (it sort of has), with a big block of torque in the mid-range capped by a laggy bottom end and breathless top. The Hyundai’s ‘Theta’ engine is better, with a more responsive lower rev band and brighter top end, but can’t disguise its origins in mid-size American market saloons, and doesn’t hit quite as hard as either the Ford or Volkswagen in the mid-range, either.

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