In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Golf GTI review

The Volkswagen Golf GTI remains a tremendous all-rounder with its typically sophisticated take on the hot hatch formula

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

  • Still great to drive
  • Decent efficiency
  • Easy to live with
  • Expensive options
  • Some dubious cabin materials
  • Fussy infotainment system

The Mk8 Golf GTI continues to deliver the perfect balance between day-to-day usability and hot hatch performance thrills. Other rivals offer more power and driver focus, but the truth is the latest iteration of the GTI will be quick enough for most and brings a level of comfort that elevates it above the competition.

The iconic GTI badge still counts for a lot these days, but buyers will have to weigh-up their priorities as to whether they are seeking a more visceral driving experience or something easier to use as a daily driver. The hot Golf, as usual, has the day-to-day usability side of things sewn-up. Beware though; perceived quality in the cabin isn’t as good as you might expect, while just a few choice options will see the Golf GTI’s price rise quickly towards the £40,000 mark.

About the Volkswagen Golf GTI

What can you say about the Volkswagen Golf GTI that hasn’t already been said before? After eight generations spanning over 45 years, the GTI remains the default choice if you’re after something quick and classy that can still take care of most families' everyday motoring needs.

As Volkswagen heads towards an electrified future, the Mk8 Golf GTI arrived using the same MQB architecture and 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as its predecessor. That’s no bad thing, though, because the 7th generation car proved itself to be a pretty complete performer and one of the more highly regarded models to have worn the iconic GTI badge.

VW has bestowed the latest GTI with the same 242bhp output as the Mk7’s Performance Pack version, the extra 20 or so horses helping to keep the Golf competitive with a slew of talented hot hatch rivals waiting in the wings.

The MINI JCW offers plenty of driving fun, but its compact three-door body and firm ride might be too much of a compromise for buyers seeking a little more day-to-day practicality. Meanwhile, the five-door Ford Focus ST and Skoda Octavia vRS offer more space and enough dynamic ability to live up to the ‘all the car you could ever need’ billing.

More powerful hatches such as the Renault Megane R.S., Hyundai i30N, Cupra Leon and Honda Civic Type R are likely to go head-to-head with the 296bhp Golf GTI Clubsport model. If you’re after the advantages of two extra driven wheels, then you also have the Mercedes AMG A 35 4Matic, BMW M135i xDrive and Audi S3 quattro to consider alongside the even more potent 316bhp, four-wheel-drive Golf R. There is, of course, the obvious hefty price premium to pay for these models over the standard front-wheel-drive GTI.

The decline in sales of the three-door Golf GTI model means VW has opted not to offer that bodystyle for the five-door only Mk8 lineup. The six-speed manual gearbox is still present, while versions equipped with the DSG auto transmission will cost a further £1,500. 

The Golf GTI features generous levels of standard kit, including 18-inch alloys, integrated sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, climate control, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry. You’ll need around £34,000 to put the standard car on your drive, while the more powerful GTI Clubsport costs an extra £4,000.

If you're looking to buy a VW Golf GTI, why not visit our sister site buyacar.co.uk for the latest deals...

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