Volkswagen Golf GTI first drive - On the road
For the first time in a GTI, Volkswagen is also offering its Adaptive Chassis Control system (ACC), which lets you change the stiffness of the suspension, the weighting of the steering and the speed of the throttle responses at the touch of a button.
Sure enough, this £700 option – which was fitted to all the cars we drove – makes the GTI progressively sharper as you switch from Comfort, to Normal to Sport. However, the differences aren’t huge, so regardless of setting, it feels poised and alert, with loads of grip and little body lean.
The steering adds to the fun, letting you know how the front wheels are fairing, without any nasty kickback.
Meanwhile the ride was amazingly forgiving and controlled on the French roads of our test route, only becoming a little jiggly in the Sport setting.
Our one big complaint is that ACC costs extra, when it’s standard on the cheaper Scirocco coupé. That said, if the standard suspension set-up is much like leaving ACC in Normal, as Volkswagen claims, it’s an option we’d happily do without.
Refinement is another GTI strength. It’s quieter than some executive cars when you’re cruising on the motorway, but crack open the throttle and you’ll unleash a glorious, rasping exhaust note.
A six-speed manual gearbox that works best when you stroke it from gear to gear is standard, while Volkswagen’s DSG paddle-shift ’box will be available as a £1305 option. Choose the latter and the GTI pops and bangs like its celebrating Guy Fawkes Night every time you shift gear at high revs. It’s utterly addictive.