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
11 July 2018

  • 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 12,445 Official fuel economy 44.1mpg Test economy 40.0mpg 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)


11 July 2018 – the perfect all-rounder?

Lunch with some colleagues, and conversation comes around to the Volkswagen Golf. One has just bought a one-year-old 1.5 TSI petrol model with his wife; another plans to order a GTI of their own. Me? Sums are already being done in the Tisshaw household as to how the Golf GTI currently on loan to us at What Car? can become our own when it’s due back at VW.

So what is it about the Mk7 Golf GTI that is so appealing to car buyers? The concurrence around the lunch table was that this is simply one of the finest engineered cars of all time, without any of the kinds of flaws, quirks and peculiarities that can become a deal-breaker when it’s your own hard-earned cash at stake.

This is a car that exudes class and quality in almost everything it does. A large part of that is in the way it drives and the (so far) flawless way it has been to run (we’ve not had even the slightest whiff of a reliability niggle, while fuel economy is now improving to above 40mpg). And that also extends to the place where you spend your time in the car: the interior.

I’ve racked up some serious miles and, after every journey, still emerge in admiration for how the car gets the basics so right in how comfortable it is to sit in for covering any kind of distance.

A comfortable driving position is very easy to find, with lots of adjustment in the reach and rake of the steering wheel, the angle and positioning of the pedals and the height you’re able to rest your elbows on armrests either side of the steering wheel, and then there's the sculpting and comfort of the seat itself. The controls are easy to reach, too, and logically laid out, although as I’ve said before the amount of touch-only buttons for the infotainment goes too far and it could do with some proper switches and buttons.

Other than that? There’s not a numb bum or dodgy knee in sight from spending any length of time in the car. That’s what good engineering will do for you.

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