The vehicle that essentially created the hot hatch category, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is capable of carrying up to five passengers and their things, while allowing the driver to have fun doing it. A version of it has been around for quite a few years and while it’s no Hellcat or GT350, it’s still one of the most energetic cars on the road today.
As an originator, the Golf GTI is part of a family that stretches back seven generations and 44 years. Still, it shows no signs of slowing down. But even more, we like it for what it can be. It’s the perfect blank palette for an artist to have their way with.
This enthusiast’s car enables you to get where you want to, when you want to, in no time flat. But what if you want to go further?
A five-passenger, four-door hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is powered by a 2.0-liter EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder engine that manages to pump up the jam to a more than acceptable 228 horsepower at 4,700 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,800 rpm.
That’s 8 more horsepower than the previous version, and while eight more might not seem like quite a lot, it’s a feeling that is quantifiable especially in one’s nether regions, or as we call them, the seat of the pants. If it’s still not enough, there’s always the VW Golf R waiting in the wings.
Golf GTIs are available with a pair of transmissions that enable you to let your fingers do the walking or for you to row it yourself. With the Volkswagen six-speed manual gearbox or the optional seven-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic, the choice is yours. But here’s the thing: If you don’t buy the manual transmission, VW will likely discontinue it. It’s all about supply and demand. If you provide the demand, VW will provide the supply. If not, it will disappear like a dinosaur. Extinct. Kaput. G as in Gone.
Available in several trim levels including the base S, SE, a special “Rabbit” edition and a limited Autobahn edition that ticks all the boxes. The Autobahn’s bottom line: there are no options. Overall, the EA888 provides performance, refinement, drivability and fuel economy in one compact package. Speaking of Fuel Economy, the EPA estimates the GTI with its DSG automatic transmission, will achieve 25 mpg city / 31 mpg highway with 27 mpg combined.
The Golf GTI is built atop Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform, which does duty on several cars in the VW portfolio, including the Jetta, the Golf GTI and with the Golf Sportwagen. From a suspension standpoint, the GTI includes all sorts of features and conveniences for all types of enthusiast drivers. A MacPherson strut-based front suspension with lower control arms is at the leading edge, followed by a multi-link kit at the rear. Both feature a lowered ride and are controlled with coil springs, performance dampers and an anti-roll bar that helps tie things up in the back. Stepping up a notch, the GTI Autobahn provides adaptive chassis control to help transform the GTI’s chassis dynamics on the fly.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the driver’s seat, Volkswagen’s power rack and pinion steering system offers a good, go-kart-like feel with excellent feedback. A standard torque-sensing limited-slip differential (LSD) is included to help improve traction and performance. Take it from us, not many cars today can claim to get their suspension profiles calibrated on the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. It was here that VW test pilots were able to complete the circuit eight seconds faster than those driving the same course with cars that did not feature the LSD.
In addition to the suspension bits and high-performance brake kit, the VW Golf GTI includes a Drive Mode Select to help you personalize your GTI to a favorite driving style. Settings include Normal, Sport and Individual clicks that adjust the GTI dampers, steering heft and throttle response for better driving dynamics, more aggressive shifts and better cornering performance.
This seventh-generation Golf GTI has been updated to reflect the new modern look of its silhouette. The special edition GTI Rabbit version pays homage to its VW Rabbit heritage. You remember the Rabbit, don’t you? This limited-edition special includes 18-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels, a black rear spoiler, LED headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting, Rabbit badge-embroidered seating, keyless entry, Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert. SE Models receive more standard equipment including leather seating surfaces, plus a new optional Experience Package which includes the Premium Fender Audio System and DCC Chassis Control.
An entirely new front end lets viewers know this is not an ordinary Volkswagen Golf. The GTI includes a striking new, steeply-sloped hood that leaves no doubt of this fact. All models include LED daylight running lights. SE and above include LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) as standard. Red accent stripes cut across the grille and bumper. A modified lower front fascia includes LED fog lights that are nearly as vibrant as the bright red brake calipers peering behind custom wheels. And if the Volkswagen Golf GTI appears to be sitting lower than a standard Golf, you would be right. With its lower center of gravity and performance suspension, the Golf GTI sits 0.6 inches lower than its more vanilla brother.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI’s interior includes a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle-shift levers for automatic transmission cars. Designed to be driver-centric, it consists of a soft-touch dashboard, with trim pieces in chrome, aluminum and piano black finishes. Although it can be ordered with V-Tex leatherette seating with classic GTI “Clark” plaid fabric, our tester included full leather seating instead. It’s the perfect ka-bam-a-lama for a bunch of regular-sized people and their things to drive across town or more. Speaking of those things, behind the rear seat, you’ll find 16.5 cubic feet of storage space. Make your friends drive their own car, fold the rear (60:40) seats forward and that number climbs to 52.7 cubic feet.
The Dashboard is strictly business as usual and canted towards the driver for a perfect view from the captain’s seat. On the floor, gas, brake and clutch (if equipped) pedals are ideally placed for enthusiast drivers. The GTI interior displays its sporting pretentions by red ambient lighting and illuminated door sill panels, while a sporty gauge cluster help to set this pocket rocket apart from the also-rans.
From an infotainment standpoint, the GTI S and Rabbit editions feature a 6.5-inch Composition Color Unit touchscreen display. All other models feature an 8.0-inch Composition Media infotainment unit with a capacitive touchscreen display, USB port, JPEG viewer, Sirius XM radio and HD Radio. Bluetooth and SMS (Text) messaging is also part of the mix through compatible smartphones, which can be paired two at a time. VW’s App-Connect is also on board, to connect your smartphone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as needed.
Feeling just like a go-kart, the Volkswagen Golf GTI allowed us to play speedhunters without a cause. Yes, we are mixing metaphors because we had so much fun behind the wheel of this GTI. The original pocket rocket, the Volkswagen GTI is one of those cars that is well sorted right out of the box. It’s kind of like when you ordered your favorite color of Fender Stratocaster guitar and the big brown truck guy delivers it to your house and it doesn’t require any set up at all. It’s literally just plug and play. That’s the desired goal every time. In this case, the Volkswagen Golf GT delivers.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Specifications
Type: Five Passenger, four-door hatchback
Power: 2.0-liter Turbocharged four-cylinder engine/Direct Injection
Horsepower: 228 Horsepower at 4,700 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm
Fuel Requirement: Regular Unleaded
Arrangement: Front, Transverse-Mounted engine/ Front Wheel Drive
Transmission: Seven-speed DSG Automatic with Tiptronic
Steering: Rack and Pinion Electric Power Assist
Suspension Front: Strut type with lower control arms
Suspension Rear: Multilink with coil springs
Suspension Springs: Four-mode Adaptive Chassis Control
Cargo Trunk: 22.8 cubic feet
Cargo Rear Seat Folded: 52.7 cubic feet
Length: 168.0 inches
Wheelbase: 103.6 inches
Width: 70.8 inches
Height: 57.8 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,256 pounds[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]