THE D_TRB REVIEW: 2017 VW Golf GTI
Meet the new GTI, same as the old GTI
This is the VW Golf GTI. As if you need me to tell you that. I may as well mention that the sun is going to rise in the east tomorrow. So we’ll skip the bit about how iconic it is, and get straight on to what’s new.
This 2017 refresh has upped power to 227bhp from 217bhp, dropping the 0-62mph sprint time by a tenth to 6.4sec. The Performance Pack is still offered, too, if you were wondering - it now ups power to 242bhp, but here we’re testing the standard GTi.
There’s also the inevitable nip and tuck to the styling, not to mention sweeping indicator lights, and an upgraded (but optional) 10.0in touchscreen that you can control by making weird, Matrix-style hand gestures at it.
Get the GTI out on the road and, let’s be honest, unless your brain is calibrated to the nearest millisecond then you’re not going to notice that fraction of time saved in the Mk7.5 over its predecessor.
The GTI feels just the same, and that’s no bad thing.
That 2.0-litre turbocharged motor feels as vigorous as ever, ripping cleanly up the rev range to the soundtrack of the rasping engine note, before you punch into the next ratio with a booming exhalation from the engine. Perhaps there’s an iota more feverishness at high revs, but it’s pretty marginal.
And regardless - the GTI was wicked fun before, and so this sharpened version remains.
It also remains the case that you’d be wise to add adaptive dampers. Our test car rode on standard 18in alloys and passive suspension, which is still a pretty good setup. There’s massive grip, a keen front end that begs to be chucked into corners aggressively but then generally gets you out of trouble without much thought or skill needed on the driver’s part.
Even ride comfort is acceptable, if quite choppy, meaning that it can interrupt the car’s composure and trigger the dreaded ESP light if you hit a mid-corner rut.
Experience of the pre-facelift GTI, which has identical chassis and suspension according to VW, proves that adding the adaptive dampers adds a bit more breadth of ability. More comfortable in everyday stuff. More focus when you want to find the hot in your hatch. And who doesn’t want that?
Ultimately, the GTI remains a joy. As ever, if there are any quibbles, it’s just a bit too good. A bit too willing to make everything easy for the driver no matter how hard you drive it. You don’t get the gritty, hands-on, almost race car feel of the recently departed Honda Civic Type R, or the playful, junior sports car like feel of the BMW M140i.
Still, the legendary GTI is one of those cars that, as a journo, you get out of wondering what on earth you can complain about. It’s so capable, so well finished inside and out, and it’s even reasonable value.
Boxes ticked. Job done. You want a classy hot hatch that’s effortless to live with? The GTI still deserves to be the default choice.
2017 VW Golf GTI
Engine: 4cyl, 1984cc, turbocharged petrol
Layout: Front-engined, FWD
Gearbox: 6spd manual
Power: 227bhp at 4700-6200rpm
Torque: 258lb ft at 1500-4600rpm
Top speed: 155mph
Economy: 44.8mpg (combined)