The Hot Hatch of Hot Hatches – The GOLF GTI

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1976, that is when is all began, the birth of the GOLF. Now in its seventh incarnation, it has been honed, tuned, and refined into the machine it is today. The GOLF is the people’s car for the 21st century, much like the Beetle was when it was launched in 1938. But the GTI is much more.

The term ‘hot hatch’ gets thrown around a lot these days, with a host of vehicles deserving the title. But in the 1970’s, there was really only one ‘hot hatch’, and that was the GOLF GTI 1. Though it was launched in ’76, it only arrived in South Africa in 1982. Seven generations on, and 36 years to prefect brilliance, means one thing- a grown up GTI.


If money talks then GTI’s are the customers’ choices in the GOLF range, making up 55% to 60% of all GOLF’s sales annually in South Africa. Andile Dlamini, VW South Africa’s PR manager, says they sell 250 GTI’s a month on average. Like the GOLF, the GTI is a brand within itself, embodying a liberal spirit for fast paced driving, with an exhilarating motoring experience. In order to enthral a driver, a car needs to be quick, light and agile. It is hard to pinpoint which of these combined engineering and technological innovations that make for a perfect mix, but when you drive it the feeling leaves you knowing.


The GTI features a 2.0 litre TSI turbo engine which shoves out 162kW of power. To put this into perspective that is double the output of the first GTI. The new generation GTI is also 42kg lighter than the model before it. It is also bigger, making it roomier. These two facts can be felt through the steering wheel, it feels light and wide, which leads to a feeling of driver certainty on the road. It has a progressive steering system that makes manoeuvring the car a breeze, in fact you only have to turn the wheel 2.1 times to get a full turn. The driving experience is mature in its exhilaration. This isn’t a wild boy racer, but rather a very well planned and thought out ‘hot hatch’. It doesn’t have the most powerful engine in comparison to its competition, and it is also not as racer taut as say, the Renault. But it is bloody brilliant, because even through the above mentioned deficits sound like they detract from the GTI’s benchmark status in reality they don’t.


The facts

The highlights

  • Understated good looks

  • Practical

  • Functional

  • Fast

  • Very enjoyable to drive

  • Great quality

The lowlights

  • Not much really but if I must niggle, the DSG gearbox can be a tad jerky on pull offs.

  • If you option a few extra gadgets like the panoramic sunroof, Dynamic Chassis Control, DYNAUDIO sound system, and Park Assist, etc. You can get the GTI well into the R400k price range which is too expensive for this type of vehicle.


The figures



The extra stuff

All VW GOLF’s including the GTI come standard with a 5 year/90 000km service plan. The GOLF received 5 stars in the EuroNCAP crash test.


The verdict

The A-Class is prettier, the ST sounds better and the OPC and the Renault are both better suited to a race track, but there is a reason that everyone knows what a GTI is. Those letters may sit on the bodywork of other great cars but they belong to the GOLF. This car is unashamedly brilliant and the king of the ‘hot hatches’.

It is all the car you would or could ever need.

My advice, buy one!


Weblink to VW's GTI

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