Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 – 2020) Review
Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 – 2020) At A Glance
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a constant of the hot hatch sector. Where others have waxed and waned with their offerings, Volkswagen has consistently offered drivers a hot version of its hatch and they have, generally, repaid this by choosing the GTI in large numbers. That has been the case with the seventh generation GTI, which grew in power from an initial 220PS to an end of the line 245PS, with the 265PS Clubsport thrown in for good measure.
While some manufacturers may have pinched the GTI badge for sporty versions of their hatchbacks, the fact is that there is only one true claimant to the name and that’s the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The seventh generation Golf GTI follows the now familiar formula with a turbocharged 2.0 TSI petrol engine, with power steadily increased during its lifetime, a front-wheel drive layout and, we're pleased to say, those much loved checker cloth seats.
Of course, it's a very different car from the original 1976 Golf GTI, but it's great to see this hot hatch survived the doldrums of the Mk4 from the late 1990s when there were some frankly terrible versions, the worst of which used a 2.0-litre engine with just 115PS. Not what you'd call fast.
Fortunately, those days are long gone. The fightback started with the fifth-generation model that set the template for what we have now and the Golf GTI is once again a bona fide performance machine. It looks the part too. The sharp lines of the new Golf lend themselves perfectly to the GTI and it sits lower with those lovely gloss 18-inch alloys now a GTI trademark bit of design.
There are plenty of nods to the past with the red stripe across the grille that now continues across the headlights which are xenon as standard. At the back there's a tailgate spoiler and dual exhausts giving it a purposeful but understated look. It's the antithesis of the brash Honda Civic Type R.
Under the bonnet, the Golf GTI in its seventh outing has had its power output steadily improved from launch in 2013. Back then, it was offered with 220PS as standard or you could upgrade to the Performance model with 230PS. A limited edition Clubsport model arrived in 2016 with up to 265PS on tap, while the standard GTI grew to 245PS.
The final fling for this Golf GTI was the TCR, which stand for Touring Car Racing, and has 290PS. That bridges the gap between the GTI and Golf R, so it tells you where the TCR’s performance lies with 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds but still with front-wheel drive rather than the R’s all-wheel drive set-up.
The interior of the GTI combines the high quality of the rest of Golf range with some nice touches including the checked cloth seats, red stitching on the lovely flat-bottomed steering wheel and of course the golf-ball style gear lever. It feels special from behind the wheel with superb fit and finish and a perfect driving position. Those sports seats provide excellent side and under thigh support too.
As an all-round hot hatch, the Golf GTI is easily the best on the market. Sure, rival cars may have more power or be quicker accelerating in a straight line, but nothing can match the superb ability and combination of power and finesse that the GTI offers. It's a car that's going to tick a lot of hot hatch buyers’ boxes.