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2009 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

An iconic car that created the idea of hot hatchbacks, the Golf GTI might no longer be the quickest or most entertaining in the class it created, but it’s still the king. That’s thanks to its tremendously well-rounded ability, high quality, class and a good balance of performance and poise.

Review

INTRODUCTION:

Six generations back this car’s relation re-wrote the rulebook, creating a fun-t0-drive, sporting car from a relatively ordinary hatchback. The hot hatch was born, and for six generations of Golf the GTI has been the car to beat. It retains its predecessors’ ability to thrill, but also goes about daily life skilfully, its performance not limiting practicality. A consummate all-rounder, the Golf GTI might be bettered in pace and power by many, but none beat it for class.
 

MODEL RANGE:

That the GTI justifies its own special mention here underlines the desirability of this hot hatch icon. The red pinstripes of the original mk1 Golf GT remain - albeit more subtly - as do the ‘tartan’ seats; the GTI stays remarkably faithful to its roots. That’s also true of its performance, which is adequate rather than shocking. It’s the GTI’s rounded ability that really impresses, with its relatively modest 210hp output backed up by a fine handling and riding chassis. Based on the standard Volkswagen Golf, the GTI rides on lower, more focused suspension and is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. Both three- and five-door versions are available. The GTI’s range-topping status - if you ignore the big-money, Golf R - means it comes comprehensively equipped; air conditioning, sports seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and Volkswagen’s XDS electronic differential lock (to improve traction and handling) are all standard equipment. ESP electronic stability control is standard, too. A choice of manual or twin-clutch, paddle-shifted automatic transmissions are available - both being six-speeders and driving the front wheels. Occasional special editions like the Edition 35 - celebrating 35 years of Golf GTIs - come with power boosted to 235hp as well as extra equipment.

BEST BUY:

A three-door manual Golf GTI is the simplest and cheapest model in the line-up new and it’s arguably the best. While it’s tempting to go for one with optionally equipped bigger alloy wheels doing so only makes for a harsher ride quality. It looks better as a three-door, even if it’s slightly more practical as a five-door - particularly if you have children or need to use the rear seats often.

THE NUMBERS:

Volkswagen Golf GTI 3dr Manual

Engines: 1,984 four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 210hp
Maximum speed: 240km/h
0-100km/h: 6.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7.3 litres/100km
CO2: 170g/km

Euro NCAP:  five stars

GOOD POINTS:
• Smart looks inside and out
• Rounded day-to-day ability
• Classy

BAD POINTS:
• Not as quick as many rivals
• Expensive
• Ride suffers on bigger alloy wheels

SUMMARY:
An iconic car that created the idea of hot hatchbacks, the Golf GTI might no longer be the quickest or most entertaining in the class it created, but it’s still the king. That’s thanks to its tremendously well-rounded ability, high quality, class and a good balance of performance and poise.