The new Golf GTI continues to deliver what the iconic hot hatch does best. But is that still enough?
MAJORCA, SPAIN — Maybe the new Golf 1.5 TSI is coming on a bit too strong, but driving the new GTI at the launch of the facelifted VW Golf I expected, well, more.
Or maybe the performance hatch landscape has changed a bit, with cars like the Seat Leon Cupra or upcoming Honda Civic Type R now offering serious horsepower figures closer to the 300 zone.
I suppose cars like that are for the facelifted Golf R to tackle, with Singapore-bound editions powered by a 280hp engine (detuned from 310 hp for hot climate reliability, incidentally).
Whatever it is, the GTI itself has had a mild hike in power, from 220hp to 230hp.
Liberating the extra power invovled more than a few keyboard taps. There’s been some ECU reprogramming, of course, and higher turbo boost pressure, but really raised the power threshold was a tweak to the engine’s cooling system.
Can you feel the extra power? It’s hard to judge, really. The GTI’s engine punches hard, of course, and there’s enough muscle from it to make the front wheels scrabble a bit for traction when you lean on the loud pedal hard. The engine note sounds little more throbby than I remember, and It feels like there’s just a smidgen more top end pull, maybe. But the acceleration does begin to taper off noticeably once you’re past 190km/h, if that’s something you reckon is worth noting.
The six-speed DSG is starting to feel its age, too. Compared to the latest seven-speeder in the Golf 1.5 TSI Evo, it’s noticeably less smooth and even a bit ponderous.
There isn’t a frantic quality to the acceleration, so expect to be pleased rather than thrilled by the performance.
But that’s something of a GTI hallmark now. It’s fast and fun but without being scary or uncomfortable.
The Golf still lets you pounce at bends with a high degree of accuracy, and even though it’s firmly suspended the ride quality never feels like something only a teenager could live with.
There’s a usefully-sized boot while adults fit into the back, which means this continues to be a car that you would happily live with daily. Toying with it on the right road is fun, but it’s no toy.
The Golf GTI gets a slew of changes in line with the introduction of the Mk7.5, so there are new full-LED lamps front and rear, along with subtly restyled bumpers.
But it’s the interior that benefits the most, particularly with the bright, clear digital instruments (that’s called Active Info Display, in case you want to sound in-the-know) and the 9.2-inch Discover Pro touchscreen system.
Both have beautiful high-res graphics, and they both add to the GTI’s executive feel.
The changes that come with the facelift aren’t major enough to redefine the Golf GTI, of course, but they do keep it fresh, and they play up the car’s basic strengths. Some hatchbacks may be faster, but few are as suave.
NEED TO KNOW Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 TSI (facelift)
Engine 1,984cc, 16V, turbo, in-line 4
Power 230hp at 4,700 to 6,200rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,500 to 4,600rp
Gearbox Six-speed Dual-clutch
Top Speed 248km/h
0-100km/h 6.4 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.4L/100km (est.)
CO2 148g/km (est.)
Price To Be Announced
Availability 4Q 2017 (est)
Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo — The Golf gets new lamps, new bumpers, a new engine and, perhaps crucially, a new gearbox…