Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance Pack

22 Apr, 2013 12:15am Mat Watson

We drive the all-new VW Golf GTI, which is available with a Performance Pack for a total power output of 227bhp


Volkswagen has done a fabulous job with the new Golf GTI. It’s comfortable, fast and, when fitted with the Performance Pack, it serves up enough fun to satisfy any hot hatch buyer. Factor in more generous standard equipment, lower running costs and the kind of evergreen desirability that transcends all demographics, and what we have here is the best all-round hot hatch ever created.

Faster, comfier and, most importantly of all, more fun – that’s what VW is promising with the new Golf GTI. Auto Express headed to the south of France to put those claims to the test by trying the new Mk7 on a variety of roads and a track.

However, before being handed the keys to our five-door model – which is likely to account for 70 per cent of all GTI sales in the UK – we were first given the inevitable briefing on the nuances of the newcomer’s technical details.

Through the medium of graphs, charts, diagrams and numbers, three German technicians set about explaining that they had indeed made the new Golf GTI faster, comfier and more fun.

It all sounded very impressive – but not until an hour later, when we were finally let loose in the car, did we realise the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

The performance is truly sensational. The new Golf GTI uses a modified version of the old car’s 2.0-litre petrol turbo – now started by pressing a button instead of turning a key. Power is up from 207bhp to 217bhp, which seems a little off the pace when you consider that the cheaper Ford Focus ST has 247bhp. But on the road, the GTI feels far quicker than the numbers suggest.

The reason for this is the 70Nm increase in torque. Plus, the 350Nm peak – the same, incidentally, as the Scirocco R has – comes in 300rpm sooner, at just 1,500rpm. As a result, the GTI pulls cleanly and strongly from anywhere in the rev range and in almost any gear, making overtaking a breeze and the claimed 0-62mph sprint time of 6.5 seconds totally believable.

That time is four-tenths up on the old car’s, but if you’d prefer to round it up to a neater half-a-second faster, you can always upgrade to the Performance Pack. This gives the engine an extra 10bhp and cuts the sprint time by a further tenth, while increasing top speed by 3mph to 155mph.

Whether you would notice the added performance is questionable – but you won’t be able to miss the other mechanical upgrades the Performance Pack brings, such as the bigger front brakes with GTI-badged red calipers, ventilated discs and a limited-slip differential.

This final addition is a first for the Golf GTI, and it’s no normal mechanical limited-slip diff – it’s far cleverer than that (see panel, above). It makes the new Golf GTI seem keyed in to the road like none of its predecessors, yet it manages to achieve this without feeling unruly like some other cars with limited-slip diffs do.

The system is so good, it seems strange that VW predicts only a third of all GTI buyers will opt for the Performance Pack. But really, it’s a no-brainer when you bear in mind that the £980 premium it carries is pretty much what you’d pay for an upgrade to a set of 19-inch alloy wheels.

Another upgrade worth considering is the adaptive chassis control fitted to our test car. It’s an extra £795, but gives the hot hatch limousine-like comfort. VW has overhauled the system for the Mk7 with new, beefier, faster-acting dampers, which can now operate independently across an axle, unlike those on the previous-generation GTI.

With the system set in Comfort mode, the Golf smoothed out the bumpy access road to our racing circuit. Yet even in Sport mode, the car felt far comfier than rivals.

Don’t go thinking this means the GTI is soft, though. The Golf’s MQB platform is a great starting point for a fine-handling car, but the GTI is lowered by 15mm and has 30 per cent stiffer springs and larger anti-roll bars.

It also features faster-acting variable-rate steering, which means the angle of the front wheels increases progressively the more lock you apply. So there are now just two turns of the wheel from lock to lock, instead of three turns on the Mk6.

The new steering does take a few minutes to get used to. After that, it feels totally natural and enables you to stitch together a series of bends with minimal fuss – and it makes the new GTI feel more agile than the old car.

Thankfully, VW has managed to achieve this without affecting stability. Some people may prefer the looser feeling of a Focus ST – especially as you can turn this car’s electronic stability program all the way off, unlike in the GTI. But the unflappable Golf feels like the faster point-to-point car.

And it will get you where you want to go in greater style. A subtle bodykit means it looks suitably sporty, but it manages to have an air of class which no other hot hatch can match.

Inside are all the creature comforts you’d expect from a Golf, plus sporty extras like aluminium pedals, a golf ball gearknob, GTI sports steering wheel and those classic tartan-patterned cloth seats. Why anyone would upgrade to leather we’ll never know – especially as the new Golf GTI is expensive enough to begin with. The five-door starts at £26,825, which is about £285 more than before.

Yet it’s better value, as this time round it gets stuff like 18-inch alloys, DAB radio and bi-xenon headlamps as standard. VW’s City Emergency Braking is also included, and means the car is cheaper to insure than the Mk6. Fuel bills will be lower, too. VW claims 47mpg economy, plus the same 139g/km emissions as Peugeot’s lighter, less powerful 208 GTi.

All this makes the car an even better ownership proposition. In fact, we’d go as far as to say the Mk7 is the best GTI ever. We knew VW could make it faster and more comfortable, but there was always a question mark over the fun factor. Not any more.

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Sounds a brilliant car, looks great too. Want one!

Brilliant all round car and my favourite hot hatch by some margin, if I didn't do the high mileage I do & if VW dealers weren't so useless then I would have one of these over just about anything sub 40k! VW definitely stole those angel eyes from BMW though!

I'd be thinking about this car right up until I pulled into the Renault or Vauxhall dealership.

Sorry VW but it's another underpowered, rather boring Golf. So 5 stars then (obviously)?

great posts by vw employees, keep up the good work ;)

As a vw employee I love to describe our dealers as useless, not to mention pointing out how we stole the headlights from BMW. My manager is going to be so proud...

The gti is an icon, something you won't find in any Vauxhall dealership, only a queue of chavs waiting to test drive a VXR they can't afford until a few years down the line when it has depreciated like a stone.

Still looks like a van though!

Great car, hope they give the same performance pack to the Skoda Octavia vRS too.

Renault = semi chav, naff plastics and debatable looks, poor depreciation etc.
Vauxhall = Full on council house chav, crap build, crap looks just like a Kia cee'd and woeful depreciation and bottom of the reliability charts.
WV/Audi/SEAT/Skoda = Quality, great allrounders, fast, fun, timeless designs and a more desireable clientele.

Was llistening to all this in detail and waiting for the punchline ..."but it costs 35k" like Audi do with their TT so when he says 26k all up...totally agree - no brainer. Interior is pure class.

£27k for a Golf??? They are having a laugh!! Nope, the Skoda Octavia VRS is bigger and more useable and just as quick. No VW, you won't be getting your mitts on my hard earned cash!

I'll take a GT86.....cheaper and a proper sports car.
By the way, the whole 'I'll wait for the Skoda VRS' argument is are still playing into VW's filthy fact they will be laughing at you! I'll wait for the same car assembled in Spain with an FR badge! LOL, or a lower, rounder version with TT written on it, or a more boring version that costs more called an A3.
Put your money into a car that was designed to be individual rather than spend a fortune on VW's generic products......PLEASE! Better still buy a car that's manufactured in Great Britain, namely Japanese companies....far more reliable, better value for money and you will be helping to put this country back where it belongs.
I'll climb down off the soap box now......

Won't sell that many at nearly £30,000.

Skoda No 1, VW No 18, not brilliant manufacturers then?

Congratulations, Mr Watson, on landing the job of the VW salesman! You almost convinced me to spend more of my hard earned cash on the extras which should be standard on a car that costs well over 25 grand.
Since you're the editor of the "" I was hoping you'd put up a moan as to why the VW didn't fit the adaptive chasis control and the diff control as standard?

The number of 'special' Golfs you see these days, I suspect that the Vauxhall And Renault modifiers are not the only chavs.

As for the quality, check out this publications Driver Power from last year. VW =18, Audi = 15, Seat = 24 and Vauxhall = 13. Only Skoda seem to be doing the job properly.

Hate to break it to you, but if you buy the Skoda then yes they will!! All part of the VAG group - doesn't matter if you buy a VW, Skoda, Audi, Seat... its all going to the Volkswagen group

love it, hate it... doesn't matter, but one thing is sure, they will sell lots. Its only a couple of hundred quid more expensive than the mk6 and that sold like hotcakes

A nice car made slightly better until the next mk comes out thats slighly better than this, Seriously what's with the chinese girls ads there seriously distasteful to say the least, if wanted to see half naked women on the internet i'd go on another website not a car wesite, No Thank You Very Much.

Are you really using fun and Skoda in the same sentence - you've obviously got a sense of humour - I'll give you that!!

I'm close to ordering.

I really hope they'll introduce additional interior trim options this time, to allow people to tone down the boy racer image if they want to - as I do. Yes, the iconic plaid seats are iconic, but they're not to everyone's taste, and when I looked at the last GTi it was either that or leather. I wish they had a suede option, as per the GT, which feels much nicer to the touch, and to be able to change the red stripes to the colour choice of the buyer. Personally, I'd also like a few more wheel choices as I've never been a fan of the standard GTi wheels. Other than than, it looks superb value for a car of this quality, but I still haven't made up my mind about the new "slanted" styling yet.

The A3 is not more expensive than the Golf - in fact the Golf can be more expensive than the A3 for the same engine & spec. Go into the configurators and you'll see this. Some options are more expensive on the Golf, some options are more expensive on the A3. VW are just giving a choice of slightly different takes of the same car.


The seats and red stripe are GTI trademark, change them and you may as well buy an Astra VXR, the GTI is so great because it has traditional values which the competition can't match

"change the seats on a VW GTi and you may as well have an Astra VXR" LOL!!

Yes, that is correct - you pay just as much for a VW Golf as an Audi A3. They compete directly on price. Check it out, image conscious fools, rather than ignorantly marking down that factual information.

i recenly sold one of the best condition mk4 anniversarys you will ever see last year, I now have a ed30 manual with a bluefin map and a im a VW nut! the ed30 goes but the economy is a little dissapointing. I will wait a year and see if the mk7 can achieve somewhere near what they claim on paper, then I will get one in manual with the PP.....looks like the best HH ever made to brainer. I wonder what the engine can be mapped up to safely? anyone know the answer?

Key specs

  • Price: £27,480
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power/torque: 227bhp/350Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 6.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 47.1mpg
  • CO2: 139g/km
  • Equipment: Active cruise control, City Emergency Braking, bi-xenon lights, tartan seats, DAB, dual-zone climate control, limited-slip diff
  • On sale: Now