Written by: Adil Arif
Photography by: Adil Arif
When I found out I would be testing the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, I immediately became giddy with excitement. Picture a teenage girl winning VIP tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, yup same feeling. It's no secret I love hatchbacks. Ask around the office and I've owned quite a few. But, it’s also no secret that in Canada we've always only had a select few to choose from, let alone a proper "hot" hatch. Oddly enough, we've been lucky to witness the evolution of arguably one of the most iconic hot hatches ever, the Golf GTI.
Being first introduced to Canada in 1979, dubbed the Mk1, Volkswagen was pretty much the first kid on the block. Fast forward to 2015 and Volkswagen is doing very well in the segment. Welcome to the all-new 7th generation (Mk7) of the GTI - an enormous evolution from the Mk1, but park them next to each other and you can clearly see the resemblance.
I like how VW has managed to keep the soul of the car in tact with every generation, each being an updated version of the other, similar to maybe changing your hairstyle, or buying a new coat - still the same person, but just adjusting to the times. All while maintaining its integrity and paying homage to its predecessor. The new GTI is more powerful, more luxurious, lighter, and better in almost every way.
Inside our 4-door Tornado Red tester was a welcoming and comfortable cabin that GTI enthusiasts would enjoy – we’re happy to see the retro plaid seats making their return (all black leather is optional). We were spoiled with satellite navigation, Bluetooth, an upgraded Fender stereo system, a touch screen display and a refreshing panoramic sunroof that truly opens up the cabin. The seats hug you tight, fit like a glove and come heated. The driving position also gives great visibility. The gauges, instrument cluster, center console all have high quality finishes.
Everything is within a short reach and very easy to navigate whilst keeping your eyes on the road. And I forgot to mention the beautiful red stitching that's everywhere: the shifter, steering wheel, seats and dash. All in all, it’s a cabin where you can spend a lot of time in and genuinely feel special. Hands down, the Golf GTI has one of the best interiors at its $30,000 price point.
Volkswagen' s cheeky new ad campaign boldly states it's everything you'd expect from a GTI - only hotter. They really mean it. This hot little hatch is bonkers on performance. Sit inside and before even reaching for the ignition, you can almost hear the push-start button taunting you. Once fired up, the 2-litre turbo-four grunts and idles with a low and mean gurgle - a greeting that lets you know all 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque are just waiting to be unleashed. I engaged Sport mode and put my foot down hard and was immediately taken aback. The GTI is blisteringly quick, 0-100 km/h in just under 6 seconds. The ensuing engine soundtrack and accompaniment from the sports exhaust make it sound much beefier than a four cylinder - sounds more like a six. We never grew tired of it.
The GTI gives all this fun while still being able to maintain an actual fuel-efficiency of 9.4 L/100km in the city and 6.9 L/100km on the highway. Mind you like all manufacturers, those numbers are based on a much lighter foot and probably staying out of sport mode. But the beauty of this car is that you can treat it like two cars in one. Leave it in regular drive and the RPMs fight to stay within 2000, it's quiet, civilized and relaxed. The throttle response is turned down and shifts are smooth and silent. You would never even know what the car is capable of, perfect for when you want to lend the car out to your parents, they'll never know! Put the car in sport mode or manual mode however and man does this thing ever wake up.
The dynamics and response are mind blowing, taking a page out of the age old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde analogy. Power delivery is buttery smooth and right when you think you've hit that point of turbo lag, it just says nope and stomps on you with the power. There's virtually no turbo lag here. It never creeps up on you or catches you off guard; it's just so balanced and controlled. The new GTI also benefits from receiving an all-new chassis. It's lighter and stronger than previous version's. Body roll is virtually nil and corner entry and exit is go-kart-like. Working in unison with this great chassis is the suspension setup. Sport-tuned struts and springs in the front, a multi-link suspension in the back, and beefy anti-roll bars in the front and rear.
Our tester, the 5-door Autobahn trim, came equipped with the dual clutch DSG transmission, and I’m happy to report that it’s fantastic. The DSG is the clear winner and the obvious choice of a consumer living in downtown Toronto, but if you do feel like giving your left foot a workout, a 6-speed manual is also available. Realistically though, the DSG is the one to get. Shifts are lightning-quick in sport mode, the paddle shifters are perfectly placed and there is never lag, the Germans honestly can't be beat when it comes to making a proper dual clutch gearbox. For once I find myself choosing an automatic over a manual, downshifts are blipped and quicker than you could ever heel-toe.
The Suspension and handling is razor sharp with minimal under steer, which is amazing considering this is a front-wheel drive car. Mind you for daily driving the ride is a bit on the firm side but it's far more comfortable than I had expected, especially with the performance. In fact I'm currently in the market for a sports car and was previously dead set on an Audi S5, but after spending a couple days in the city with the GTI, I’ve started to see how much more practical it is a daily driver. Believe it or not you can fit 3 full size adults in the back. It's got a nice boot to fit all your golf clubs too, pardon the pun.
The GTI will run circles around any other front-wheel drive car in today’s market. Even at high speeds and with windy conditions, the wider wheelbase makes the car feel incredibly planted, despite the fact that the GTI weighs only 1403 kilograms. Steering is electric-assisted however razor sharp and provides ample feedback for the driver. It adjusts and becomes light as a feather at low speeds making parking a breeze, then stiffens up as you build up speed.
In summary the GTI is a beautiful reminder of how to build a hot hatch. There's no question that this car is the benchmark when it comes to the category. Pricing for the 3-Door starts at just $27,995, 5-Door Autobahn Trim at $32,895, and $35,150 for the 5-Door Performance trim. All come with one engine option, the 2-litre inline-4 cylinder turbo with the exception of the Performance trim that receives an additional 10 hp for a total of 220 hp. It is an absolute thrill to drive, and puts a smile on my face every time I paddle through the gears. I kept looking for ridiculous reasons just so I could get back behind the wheel, and that to me says a lot about a car. All this performance and fun can be had while still being comfortable and practical, making it one of our more memorable driving experiences. I really had a hard time parting with this one, I really did. Thank you VW for reminding us of the age old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
型号 Model: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 5-Door Autobahn
顏色 Paint Type: Tornado Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,895
試車售價 Price as Tested: $32,895
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,631
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,268 / 1,799 / 1,442
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,403
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre inline-4 16V TSI
最大馬力 Horsepower: 210 hp @ 4,300 - 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,600 - 4,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic DSG with TipTronic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent wheel suspension, coil springs, telescopic dampers, 24 x 3.8mm stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multilink rear suspension, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, 20 mm stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented 312 mm discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid 272 mm discs
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 9.4 / 6.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: ContiWinterContact - 225/40 R18