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Road Test

Volkswagen Golf GTI

by Stephen Walker

26th September, 2008

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The Volkswagen Golf GTI came to Australia in mid-2005, just as the then new Golf was starting to improve Volkswagen's sales numbers. The GTI was an immediate success on the showroom floor. During those early times, VW could not even meet the demand for the GTI for some time. In fact, numerous Next Car readers told us that they were willing to wait. The car was well worthy of a clear demonstration of patience.

However, that backlog disappeared quite some time ago now. Volkswagen Australia secured a larger supply of the production and a three door model (from a different factory) was introduced. These days, satisfied customers can get their Golf GTI promptly.

We recently reacquainted ourselves with this very appealing model in Perth, WA, where we drove some 491 kilometres.

It was the same old story though. The Golf GTI just demands the driver take the 'scenic route' every time. Even a specific drive to the Swan Valley meant we "accidentally" took the wrong turn ..... often! Even a quick trip for some photographs meant a drive from Perth to Fremantle then onto Rockingham (can you believe that?).

The Volkswagen Golf GTI has compelling driving dynamics which ensures every kilometre is an enjoyable experience. Then there is the build quality and the attractive presentation. But another highlight is the starting price. The cost of a VW Golf GTI begins from the high 30s. That puts it right in the middle of cars which feature 'lifestyle' as a major contributor to their sales success.

One theory worthy of being espoused is that if you're going to drive, then you might as well enjoy the experience. Few cars offer the unqualified driving pleasure as the turbocharged GTI.

There is just so much that appeals with this car. For example, electronic stabilisation programme, driver's footrest, alloy-look pedals, self-locking doors, 4-way adjustable steering wheel, leather wrapped steering wheel, power windows (auto up/down x 4), dual zone air conditioning, matching headlining, front door pockets (with a bottle holder), automatically dimming interior rear view mirror, lumbar support for the front occupants, six airbags, six disc CD player, 17" alloy wheels, cruise control together with steering wheel controls for the trip computer and audio system.

Other delights include predictable handling, firm but pleasant ride, roomy interior (for a small car), quite suitable boot (for a hatchback), performance from the 2 litre turbocharged engine and the exhaust note (when the revs are up just a little).

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The test car featured the superb DSG automatic transmission. Words fail to describe the brilliance of this technical marvel. It is an absolute highlight amongst a myriad of highlights.

The VW Golf GTI is priced from $38,490 (RRP) for the 6-speed manual 3 door model. The DSG adds $2,300. The 5 door adds $1,500. Numerous options are available. The most popular include sunroof ($1,890), satellite navigation ($2,490), leather trim ($2,990) and metallic/pearl effect paint ($690).

The test car, a 5 door GTI fitted with the standard cloth trim (sports style seats) and standard paint, therefore has a RRP of $42,290. A very reasonable price for such a well equipped car with the driving dynamics which are so much appreciated in the Golf GTI.

The DSG version of the Golf GTI has a combined fuel usage rating of just 8 litres per 100 kilometres. This is a very acceptable figure.

So the admirable attributes of the Golf GTI still command the same degree of respect today as it did when the model was introduced in 2005.

In fact, it is no wonder that the Volkswagen Golf GTI was named as Next Car's "Top Drive" back in 2005. And nothing has changed since then!

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Other Volkswagen content: here.

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