Volkswagen Golf GTI review - Interior, design and technology

Volkswagen has equipped the Golf GTI with generous levels of standard kit, although some of the on-board tech isn’t all that user friendly

Volkswagen has taken a familiar evolutionary design approach to the Mk8 Golf GTI, with an understated exterior style that isn’t too dissimilar to the previous model. It’s a world away from the aggressive addenda seen on rivals such as the Civic Type R, but the GTI’s appeal is all about being sporty yet subtle at the same time.

The redesigned front bumper incorporates new LED foglights, while a full width light strip sits just below the bonnet line, along with the famous GTI red pinstripe. In truth, it’s easy to mistake the hot hatch for a standard Golf model, such is its minimalist design, although the dual exhausts at the rear give the game away.

The cabin includes the classic GTI tartan-trimmed sports seats, but is actually rather disappointing in places with cheaper plastics and materials in use where you’d expect to see softer, plusher finishes. Another small gripe we had was the manual car’s gearknob now taking on a squarish shape, rather than the more tactile classic golf ball version.

Standard kit, however, is a real plus point of Golf GTI ownership. Equipment includes 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, three-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and a host of infotainment tech.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The GTI’s infotainment system is largely the same as the regular Golf, which means there is a 10-inch touchscreen display as standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, integrated sat-nav and a wireless charging function. The graphics are clear, but we found the system a little awkward to use via its fussy sub-menu that requires too many inputs to access certain features.

The 10-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument screen works well and features bespoke GTI graphics, although one downside to the move to digitisation is that the climate controls are operated by touch sliders which can be fiddly to use. Volkswagen has responded to concerns about the Golf's digital setup by bringing in an updated version of its MIB infotainment system (for 2022 production), with quicker voice control, enhanced accidental-touch recognition and improved processing power.

There is the £1,200 option to upgrade to the Pro touchscreen set-up which includes internet streaming, voice activation and gesture control. A nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is also available on the options list for an extra £625.

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