Volkswagen Golf GTI long-term test review

It was one of the original hot hatches, but is the Volkswagen Golf GTI still one of the best? We're living with one to find out...

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Mark Tisshaw
19 Apr 2018 12:52 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Volkswagen Golf GTI long-term test review
  • The car Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Run by Mark Tisshaw, special contributor
  • Why it’s here In the face of newer, better-value and often more powerful competition, let's see if the case can still be made for the original hot hatch
  • Needs to Be the consummate all-rounder, living up to both the ‘hot’ and ‘hatch’ part of its job description

Price £28,320 Price as tested £32,520 Miles covered 8322 Official fuel economy 44.1mpg Test economy 36.2mpg CO2 148g/km Options Discover Navigation Pro (£1325), climate windscreen (£295), Dynamic Chassis Control (£830), rear-view camera (£265), Seville Dark Graphite alloy wheels (£495), Onyx White Premium Signature paint (£990)

22 March 2018 – Golf GTI vs Hyundai i30N

We live in a golden age for hot hatches, with not only more new examples of the breed than ever before, but some of the all-time greats among them.

One interesting recent addition to the hot hatch stable has been the Hyundai i30N, which is aimed squarely at the Volkswagen Golf GTI end of the class rather than the more powerful 300bhp-plus brigade populated with cars such as the Honda Civic Type R. That’s quite a recipe for Hyundai to try and replicate for its first-ever hot hatch, but perhaps to be expected given the rapid rate of progress made in Korea in recent years.

With both in for testing, it’s made for an interesting day-to-day comparison. The i30N is the more exciting to drive most of the time in everyday driving, with the power under your right foot a boon around town and when driving away from junctions. In the i30N, there is 271bhp from a 2.0-litre turbo with the optional Performance Pack selected, playing against 227bhp in our Golf GTI (although 242bhp is offered with its own performance pack).

Volkswagen Golf GTI long-term test review

But while the i30N drives harder and faster, it’s the GTI that’s actually the more intuitive and involving car to drive when you really get going. That’s because it has greater delicacy in its handling and is a lighter car. You really feel the lower weight when you’re flowing down a B-road, and are involved more in the feel of the car than the i30N, decent though its own chassis still is.

The Golf GTI scores another point over the Hyundai with the overall quality of its interior. The GTI is based on a Golf whereas the N is based on an i30; obvious, I know, but that’s the difference here – the GTI exudes quality and intuitive use, whereas the N isn’t as plush or pleasant an environment to be with some of the feel of the materials, for example.

Yet perhaps in part because of that, where the i30 really trumps the Golf is for value – a traditional Hyundai calling card. The Golf GTI costs from £28,465 in its most basic three-door manual guise but for that money you’ll still have change from buying the i30 N in top-spec £28,010 i30 N Performance.

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