The Golf GTI driving experience is still here in full potency. The punchy turbo engine delivers a mighty kick and the car’s electronic traction assistants work to make the whole package more agile than ever. The XDS electronic differential lock for example, is an active system that really comes on its own when you put the power down when exiting corners. There’s not a hint of understeer that’s typical in front-wheel driven cars, and the GTI goes exactly where you point it.
The car’s Dynamic Chassis Manager is constantly monitoring all aspects of direction and tyre rotation, and one neat trick is that it can selectively apply braking force on the inside wheel mid-corner if the car appears likely to understeer. This pirouettes the car around just enough to let it trace a more neutral steering line through the corner.
They are next exploited on a closed race track, but on the street they do have their moments as they can almost be considered part of the car’s active safety suite that allows the driver to steer out of trouble accurately.
While petrol-electric hybrid cars and the less useful mild hybrids are all the rage now, the GTI remains staunchly petrol-powered only. The reason, according to Volkswagen, is that 48-volt mild hybrid drives work best in delivering an additional burst of torque for more efficient acceleration in less powerful cars, and the GTI is already plenty powerful with a torque output of 370NM from just 1,500rpm.
The weight penalty incurred by the inclusion of any form of mild hybrid drive would have also upset the GTI’s balance, so the idea never made it past the drawing board.
The 0 to 100km/h sprint is dashed off in just 6.4 seconds, and though there’s a lot of talk about electric Teslas outrunning supercars, in real-world terms the Golf GTI is already as fast as you will realistically want a car to be. Not to mention that electric cars all handle like sleds – we think a truly keen driver will still be looking for the thrills of a proper performance car like this.
There are plenty of fuel saving measures built in the GTI though, including the clever ability to automatically shut off the engine and coast along the highway whenever you take your foot off the accelerator at medium to high speeds. The engagement is seamless and only a glance at the dashboard will confirm that the engine has switched off. Get on the throttle, and the engine restarts just as seamlessly.
Official fuel economy is rated at 6.5l/100km, and three days of mixed driving returned us an average of 7.5L/100km, which is impressive considering the performance on hand.