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VW Golf GTI Edition 35

We blast off in Volkswagen's scorching GTI 35th anniversary special edition

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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The Edition 35 captures much of the spirit of the original GTI, thanks to its slightly rawer-sounding engine and the extra 22bhp at the top of the rev range. Of course, it can’t hope to  recreate the agility of the Seventies legend, but this is a much more grown-up car, and still one of the most capable Golf GTIs VW has ever made. For the way it drives alone, it’s worth the premium over the regular model.

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Volkswagen is celebrating 35 years of the GTI with the fastest, most powerful example of the famous hot hatch yet. The new Golf GTI Edition 35 benefits from an updated look and an extra 22bhp of power. But can it live up to the legend? We took to the road to find out.

To achieve the power hike, the company hasn’t uprated the standard GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo; instead, it’s detuned the 267bhp 2.0-litre turbo used in the Golf R. In the Edition 35, the unit offers 232bhp – but it’s the way this urge is delivered which is most notable. While the regular GTI serves up its peak power at 5,300rpm, the Edition 35 gives you a surge of acceleration just as you approach the 6,300rpm red line. The result is a similar feeling from behind the wheel to the original 1976 GTI – both cars thrive on revs.

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The engine makes a new, rawer noise, too. VW has tuned the soundtrack so that it’s slightly more rorty at high revs, although the unit remains impressively refined when you want it to be.

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 6.6 seconds – that’s three-tenths quicker than the GTI – and the top speed is 149mph. The model we drove was equipped with a manual gearbox, which provided accurate, snappy changes. The six-speed DSG is bound to impress, too, with smooth and quick shifts.

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Engineers have left the suspension unchanged – not that it needed any fettling. On the twisty, damp roads of our route, the newcomer produced huge amounts of grip, while body control was taut.

The Edition 35 features the XDS electronic limited-slip differential, which did a superb job of minimising understeer in tight corners, too. The steering is as direct and sharp as ever.

Despite sitting 15mm lower than a normal Golf, this model rides comfortably enough, and soaks up lumps and bumps with ease. To mark the new Edition 35 out from the standard car, the designers have restyled the front bumper and added a subtle front splitter, as well as black wing mirror housings, side skirts from the Golf R and ‘35’ badging on the flanks.

There’s a choice of two sets of alloys, too – the 18-inch rims fitted to our car provide a good mix of style and comfort – while a set of LED daytime running lights comes as part of the optional bi-xenon package.

Inside, there are a couple of nods to the original GTI, including a dimpled golfball gearlever and tartan seats with ‘35’ stitched into the headrests. The seats can be ordered in full leather, or with a honeycomb pattern that matches the GTI grille.

There are a few drawbacks over the standard car, though. The newcomer isn’t as efficient, returning 3.3mpg less on the combined cycle, with a figure of 34.9mpg. Also, CO2 emissions rise by 16g/km to 189g/km, which hikes the annual road tax bill by £55 to £245 a year.

As well as being costlier to run, the Edition 35 will be more expensive to buy. While VW has yet to announce official pricing, a spokesman told us to expect a premium of around £1,500 over the standard GTI. That would bring the total to £26,500.

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