VW Golf GTI Edition 35 review

  • Special-edition Golf GTI
  • 232bhp engine, cosmetic upgrades
  • On sale now
What is it? A special-edition Golf GTI, built to celebrate the model’s 35th anniversary.

It has a 232bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine (24bhp more than the standard GTI), a range of cosmetic upgrades and extra standard equipment.

Although VW calls it a special-edition model, there’s no limit on how many will be produced: it will be part of the range for the foreseeable future. As with any Golf GTI, there’s the choice of three- or five-door bodystyles and a six-speed manual or DSG semi-auto gearbox.

What’s it like to drive? In a word, brilliant. There are no chassis changes, so the Edition 35 delivers the same beguiling blend of thrills and refinement as a standard Golf GTI.

The Edition 35’s engine isn’t simply a more powerful version of the standard car’s. It’s actually based on the previous-generation Golf GTI's engine, which, in a higher tune, is also used for the current Golf R.

The extra power is noticeable, but only just. VW quotes a 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds for the Edition 35, a 0.3 second improvement over the standard GTI. In reality, it doesn’t feel much quicker, partly because peak power and torque arrive 200rpm and 500rpm later, respectively.

Performance is never less than strong, but the Edition 35 isn’t as rapid as a Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 Cup.

Although you need to work the Edition 35’s engine slightly harder than a standard GTI’s to get the best from it, it’s hardly a chore. It’s free-revving and responsive, with a slightly rawer exhaust note that will appeal to hot hatch fans who think the standard car is just too civilised. That said, the Edition 35 remains one of the most refined hot hatches around.

It’s one of the most enjoyable to drive, too. Don’t let the supple ride fool you – up the ante and the Edition 35 is an incredibly talented hot hatch, with incredible grip and poise through corners, and steering that feeds everything back through your palms.

What’s it like inside? The Edition 35 has a few interior upgrades over the standard GTI, with ‘35’ badges on the head restraints, door sills and floor mats, a red stripe on the seatbelts and a modern interpretation of the classic ‘golf ball’ gearknob.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual, which means an excellent driving position, supportive seats and a dashboard that could hardly be clearer or easier to use. The fit and finish are all but impossible to fault.

Whether you go for the three- or five-door version, there’s decent space for four adults and their luggage.

Should I buy one? Prices start at £27,525, so there’s a £2220 premium over the standard GTI. As well as the extra power and interior trim upgrades, the Edition 35 has a number of exterior modifications. There’s a bespoke front bumper and sideskirts, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, unique 18-inch alloys, gloss black door mirror housings, darker-tinted rear windows and darkened LED rear lights.

The bi-xenon headlights alone are a £1160 option on the regular car, so the Edition 35 represents reasonable value for money. Running costs are higher than a standard GTI’s, though. Average fuel economy is 3.8mpg down at 34.9mpg, while CO2 emissions (for manual versions) are 19g/km higher, at 189g/km, pushing the Edition 35 three categories higher up the company car tax scale.

As appealing as the Edition 35 is, we’d still plump for the standard GTI. It’s more affordable and just as sensational to drive. Alternatively, if you’re after the most exciting hot hatch around, go for the Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 Cup, which costs more than £3000 less.

Audi S3
Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 Cup

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