20 January 2017
The Mk 1 Golf GTi first went on sale in the UK in 1976. With 108bhp, 0-60 in 9 seconds and a 113mph top speed, the 1.6-litre 3-door hatch soon became a cult classic and effectively usurped the conventional, affordable sportscar market for years. Sportscars returned, while the GTI, now in Mk 6 guise, is better than ever.
The new GTI’s 2-litre, 4cyl petrol engine makes a comparatively whopping 207bhp (210PS) from 5,300-6,200rpm, along with 206lb/ft (280Nm) of torque all the way from 1,750 to 5,200rpm. Before I give you the performance figures, let me tell you it goes like stink. It catapults away from a standstill, rockets out of roundabouts and stomps along motorways with huge authority. Aided by a slick 6-speed manual (6sp DSG auto is an option) and a crisp engine/exhaust note (courtesy of a new electronic ‘sound generator’) the GTI has all the speed and more that you’ll ever need on the public road, but for the record it does 0-62mph in 6.9secs and a max of 149mph.
The Mk 6 Golf’s underpinnings are similar to the Mk 5’s, and that’s no bad thing. It’s composed, steers precisely and, despite lowered suspension, it rides comfortably in two of the three selectable suspension settings (Comfort, Normal and Sport). With the optional Adaptive Chassis Control system (£730) body roll is barely evident while understeer is hard to provoke. If you do push it to the limit then the electronic diff lock and latest-generation ESP should take good care of things. There are one or two harder-edged, hooligan hot-hatches available, but they lack the comfort and civility of this VW GTI.
I’ve now driven five different Mk 6 Golfs, and all have been near impossible to fault. On the road they feel quiet and exceptionally refined, and none have had even a hint of a squeak or rattle from anywhere. Inside the soft-touch plastics and trim are of top quality and everything appears to be finished immaculately, although I hope that this new ‘plastiminium’ (as found on the GTI’s steering wheel spokes) keeps its looks after prolonged use. In the ’09 JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction survey VW achieved a score comfortably above the industry average.
In the Euro NCAP crash tests the Mk 6 Golf achieved the top 5-star award for occupant protection (scoring 36 points out of a max of 37). It also scored 4 and 3 stars for child and pedestrian safety respectively. Two front, two side and two side-curtain airbags all come as standard, as does a driver’s-side knee airbag. It’s also equipped with sensors that instantly measure crash intensity and adjust airbag inflation and seatbelt pretensioning accordingly. The new GTI also features WOKS (Whiplash Optimised Head Restraint System) and over half a dozen dynamic safety systems, plus Isofix child seat mountings, an engine immobiliser, alarm and remote central locking.
Despite a few changes to exterior dimensions it’s basically business as usual. Interior headroom is ample for my 6ft+ frame in either front or rear. The Mk 6’s extra 27mm in width isn’t obvious but, according to VW, there’s now more room inside for five. Most GTI buyers may opt for the sportier-looking 3-door, but, as before, there’s also the 5-door version. The GTI’s sports front seats keep you firmly held in place while the ‘Jacara’ tartan seat cloth harks back to the Mk 1 GTi. Luggage space is a decent 350-litres, extending to 1,305-litres with the rear seats folded.
In addition to the standard climate control, dusk and rain sensors, cruise control and more, my GTI also boasted optional 18-inch alloys (£430), a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen DVD navigation/audio system with 30GB hard drive, SD card reader and 8-channel, 300-watt Dynaudio amplifier (£1,960), front/rear parking sensors with rear camera (£555) and bi-Xenon headlamps with auto range and curve adjustment (£1.060). All this and more bumps the price up considerably from the basic £23,015 otr for the manual 3-door. Fuel consumption at 38.7mpg (combined) isn’t at all bad for a near 150mph car, and nor is £175 VED, ‘though insurance group 17 could be a stinger. This latest model won’t have the resounding impact of the Mk 1 GTi, but it’s a great car nonetheless.
Submitted: 02/10/2009 13:27:02
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