2015 Volkswagen Golf GTi

Burbles of exhaust, squeels of tires and some interesting sounds from the drivers all point to a successful reinterpretation of a ground-breaking and well-loved icon.

Words by Carl S. Cunanan & Kevin C. Limjoco    Photos by Jerel Fajardo

It is somewhat hard to determine exactly which “cat that ate the canary” grin you should use to define the new Golf GTI. There were so many of them. You start with the smile on your face that comes from just seeing the car, the icon that is now on its seventh generation, the icon that pretty much defined performance driving, hot hatches, front-wheel drive handling, affordable enthusiast wheels… And so on. Definitely a tough act to follow, and more often than not, these follow-ups fail. Happily, very happily indeed, the new GTI succeeds. But all that comes later. The first grin comes just because you see it and remember.

  

Volkswagen’s 210 bhp 2.0 liter direct injected turbo. Mobile hands free and audio controls. Drive mode selector, which includes Normal, Sport and Individual 

Next grin: getting inside and taking a seat. Rather, taking THE seat. The plaid cloth of the GTI seats manage to be playful but still not too flashy, though once again this may be a case of happy memories (or happy memories of unfulfilled desires) that skew judgement. Memories, though, don’t sway the butt, and further time on the road and on the track will prove that these seats are as pleasing and as cradling as you could wish for short of purpose-built chairs that give up too much one way or the other. The seats, like pretty much everything in the Golf GTI, are about finding the right balance. And no, they aren’t leather. And no, I didn’t miss it at all.

Bringing the bright-red hot hatch out of the showroom into city traffic brought further happiness. The car wasn’t skewed so hard towards enthusiasm that it made things uncomfortable or loud. Steering was easy in traffic, but not too light. Gearshifts were smooth and easy as well. As traffic opened up a bit, the little two liter TFSI engine proved that it was a happy little squirt, bringing us quickly though windows of urban opportunity. I started playing with the Driving Mode Selection adjustments as well. You could choose settings that would adjust throttle and sound, steering, air conditioning either generally based on Sport versus Normal parameters, or you could actually customize things. I can’t really think of what I would want outside their chosen settings other than perhaps have air conditioning at optimal when in Sport Mode (system default in Sport Mode is for aircon to demand less power). I have to say that upon seeing the adjustment choices, I thought, wow, if only I could change suspension settings on the fly as well. It turns out this is an option available in other countries. Having said that, I have to admit that the way everything rode on the street was just about spot-on. If things were made any softer, they really wouldn’t match the car, and as we have seen in other car models that soften up the suspension too much, it just puts the whole car out of whack.

  

It pleasantly gets the expected plaid seats, and better feeling push buttons all over. Interior is quiet and comfortable thanks to proper sound dampening.

The other adjustables will be appreciated. Making the steering more sporty gives you a nice tightness between the wheel in your hands and the ones at the front while keeping the drive calm and may make the more non-enthusiast passengers happier. Drivetrain adjustment makes the engine respond more quickly and more appropriately when you want to run the car a little harder, making everything nice and peppy. This is not a power monster though, rather it is a well-chosen well-tuned motor that pushes the GTI along as quickly as you would want yet still making it completely drivable in everyday traffic. Oh, and when you have the drivetrain in Sport mode, the engine makes a great burbling sound on hard downshifts. I first heard the popping and rumbling while driving in the city, but didn’t really have a way to recreate it reliably while sitting in traffic. The next time I got behind the wheel, I had a better chance. I was on the racetrack.

“Dude, this is where your 2.3 million bucks goes!” I actually said that. I got behind the wheel and took the GTI out on an open track, and it was glorious. It wasn’t harsh in the way that most overly-tuned track denizens would be. The four-cylinder turbocharged TFSI engine produced power smoothly throughout the range. On one hand, this means you don’t get the “shoved to the back” turbo feel in one hit; on the other hand, you have very smooth very predictable power on hand almost all the time, which means that you get no surprises when you change throttle position in a corner. The engine and the driving dynamics of the Golf GTI reward smoothness, and they reward you with exit speeds out of corners that may be far higher than you would expect. This isn’t a car for the two hundreds, though. It will definitely get there, but it is really at its best at more reasonable speeds on nice twisty roads.

Speaking of changing throttle positions in corners, everything was going so smoothly that we decided to try to make things go astray. We went into corners hotter than we should, and then tried to over-correct to see what would happen. It was pretty point and shoot really, no major drama. The car just seemed to change line and position and kept going. So came another quote of the day: “This is what happens when you get front wheel drive RIGHT!” And on a track, you will end up trying to go into that corner faster and faster because it allows you to downshift more aggressively, which in turn brings out that really nice exhaust burble you normally hear from cars built in Stuttgart. The burbling here in the GTI is not as aggressively loud as on the sportscars; it is more subdued, but it really does bring a big smile to your face and a pressure to your foot.

The thing to remember here is that this is really an everyday driver. True, it is the seventh generation of what many see as the very definition of the hot hatch, and in many ways it is a way more civilized drive than the original GTI. It is larger than the original, and carries more weight around, but it also brings with it a more mature consolidation of all things good. It would be wrong to look at the GTI based on all the parts and numbers and specs, because it isn’t merely a sum of its parts. The new Golf GTI is a truly well thought out, well-balanced front wheel drive enthusiast car. It costs more than cars that are bigger, go faster, have leather, but it justifies every cent if you understand and appreciate just what it offers. Quite frankly, I can’t see them staying at their pricing for very long if demand is as it should be.

 

Engine: Inline-4 Location: Front, Transverse Displacement: 1,984 cc
Cylinder block: Cast Grey Iron Cylinder head: Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, 2-stage Variable Intake Valve Timing, 17.4 psi Maximum Boost Intercooled IHI Turbo Fuel Injection: Direct Fuel Injection
Max power: 217 bhp @ 4,500 – 6,200 rpm Max torque: 258 lb ft @ 1,500 – 4,400 rpm Transmission: 6-speed DSG (Dual Clutch) automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode and with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Front-Wheel-Drive, XDS+ Cross Differential System
Drag Coefficient: 0.29 cd Suspension: (Front) Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar, Sport-tuned, (Rear) Independent 4-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar, Sport-tuned Fuel Capacity: 50 liters (13.2 gallons)
L x W x H: 4,255 mm x 1,799 mm x 1,452 mm Wheelbase: 2,637 mm
Brakes: (Front) 12.3” (312 mm) ventilated discs with 1-piston red-painted aluminum fixed calipers / Rear 10.7” (272 mm) solid discs with 1-piston redpainted aluminum floating calipers, ABS, EBD, Traction & Stability Controls
Wheels: 7.5J x 18” Aluminum Alloy
Tires: P225/40R18 92Y Bridgestone Potenza S001 Weight [Kerb] (kg) (lbs): 1,402 kg. (3,085 lbs.)
Weight Distribution F/R: 60.7:39.3
Quarter Mile: 14.2 seconds @ 166.4 km/h (104 mph) 0-100 km/h [0-62 mph] (sec): 6.4 seconds
Braking (112 km/h-0): 168 feet (56 meters)
Top Speed (km/h): 246 km/h (154 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 25 mpg City / 33 mpg Highway
Price as tested: PhP 2,290,000.00
+: The hot hatch standard reestablished
-: No Performance Pack option. No Fender audio system option. No Dynamic Chassis Control Package option
Rating: 9.5/10

 

The Volkswagen Golf GTi Timeline – Kevin C. Limjoco

Essentially the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed first generation Volkswagen Golf model was the replacement for the original Beetle back in 1974. Since then and now there has only been two basic platforms used, from Mk.1 to 6 it was the Volkswagen Group A and for the latest, biggest, most full featured, and fastest Mk.7, the new Volkswagen Group MQB. The Golf evolved in every way from its humble beginnings as an inexpensive and economical small family transport to its current state of high technology, elegance, and refinement. But when the first GTi was born in 1975, that little high performance car defined the mass-market hot hatch forever changing the automotive enthusiast landscape. My personal favorite GTi was the late model Mk.2 with the 134 bhp 2.0-liter 16V engine, Recaro front seats, quad staggered round headlights, facelifted full bumpers with integrated foglamps, and standard BBS alloys. When I was at university, that was the fun car to have that genuinely had it all: versatility, fuel efficiency, pride of ownership, great looks, abundant details, and hugely rewarding to drive at a very affordable price tag. The all-new Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.7 brings me back to those festive wanton days of my youth which the previous versions (Mk.1, 3, 4, 5, and 6) fell short of doing. I literally have had to wait a quarter of a century to own a GTi, and I assure you that after even a short test drive of the new model, you too will covet it and appreciate its very deep dynamic abilities. I reckon the Golf GTi is as iconic and important to Volkswagen as the 911 is to Porsche. Volkswagen has built a large array of variants of the Golf from fuel efficiency and budget models that include the diesel and EV products to special models using the odd G60 supercharged powerplants to the VR6 engines like the 250 bhp R32 and 300 bhp R36. The current Mk.7 Golf also has 300 bhp R model too with all-wheel-drive 4Motion and a heavily upgraded EA888 2.0-liter four sourced from the Audi S3 (same basic engine used in the GTi) but for our comparison purposes, we present the primary pure GTi model generations through the years.

Specification – 1975 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.1 (1975-1984)
Engine: Inline-4, 1781 cc, SOHC, 8V, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, 5-Speed MT
Max power: 110 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Max torque: 113 lb ft @ 3500 rpm
L x W x H: 3820 mm x 1610 mm x 1410 mm
Wheelbase: 2400 mm
Weight: (kerb) 840 kg. (1805 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.2 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 187 km/h (117 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 25.4 mpg (8.5 L/100Km) Overall

 

Specification – 1991 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.2 (1984-1992)
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, DOHC, 16V, 5-Speed MT
Max power: 134 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Max torque: 133 lb ft @ 4400 rpm
L x W x H: 4013 mm x 1664 mm x 1415 mm
Wheelbase: 2471 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1028 kg. (2262 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.7 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 214 km/h (134 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 18 mpg City / 26 mpg Highway

Specification – 1997 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.3 (1992-1997)
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, DOHC, 16V, 5-Speed MT
Max power: 148 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max torque: 133 lb ft @ 4800 rpm
L x W x H: 4077 mm x 1694 mm x 1420 mm
Wheelbase: 2471 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1110 kg. (2442 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.4 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 224 km/h (140 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 20 mpg City / 36 mpg Highway

Specification – 2004 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.4 (1997-2004)
Engine: Inline-5, 1781 cc, DOHC, 20V, Intercooled Turbo, 5-Speed MT
Max power: 180 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max torque: 175 lb ft @ 1950-4700 rpm
L x W x H: 4188 mm x 1735 mm x 1440 mm
Wheelbase: 2512 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1310 kg. (2882 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 7.1 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 230 km/h (143 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 22 mpg City / 34 mpg Highway

Specification – 2008 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.5 (2004-2008)
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, DOHC, 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 6-Speed DSG
Max power: 200 bhp @ 5100-6000 rpm
Max torque: 207 lb ft @ 1700-5000 rpm
L x W x H: 4216 mm x 1759 mm x 1469 mm
Wheelbase: 2578 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1340 kg. (2948 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.9 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 235 km/h (147 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 23 mpg City / 32 mpg Highway

Specification – 2011 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.6 (2008-2013)
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, DOHC, 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 6-Speed DSG
Max power: 210 bhp @ 5300-6200 rpm
Max torque: 207 lb ft @ 1700-5200 rpm
L x W x H: 4214 mm x 1779 mm x 1468 mm
Wheelbase: 2578 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1441 kg. (3171 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.7 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 240 km/h (149 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 24 mpg City / 32 mpg Highway

Specification – 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk.7 (2013-Present)
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, DOHC, 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, 6-Speed DSG
Max power: 217 bhp @ 4500-6200 rpm
Max torque: 258 lb ft @ 1500-4400 rpm
L x W x H: 4255 mm x 1799 mm x 1452 mm
Wheelbase: 2637 mm
Weight: (kerb) 1402 kg. (3085 lbs.)
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 6.4 seconds
Top Speed (mph): 246 km/h (154 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 25 mpg City / 33 mpg Highway

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