Volkswagen has officially rounded the G, crossed the T and dotted the i; the fifth generation of the definitive hot Golf will be shown in its final production form at the Paris show later this month. Priced from £19,995, the first UK buyers will take delivery from next January.
Although it is a long-held view that the Golf GTi has been in terminal decline as a driver’s car since the Mk2 bowed out in 1991, this Mk5 version demonstrates a sea-change in approach by offering a healthy 197bhp, a striking (if typically subtle) body kit, a bespoke interior and the option of VW’s excellent dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox.
The GTi’s headline figures benefit from the turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-litre’s flat torque curve, with the peak 207lb ft of twist available as low as 1800rpm. Stir the six-speed ’box and the 0-62mph dash can be dispatched in 7.2sec; the DSG version pares this back to just 6.9sec. Maximum speed is 146mph. A 160bhp diesel-powered GTi is rumoured to go on sale later next year.
All GTis will have 17in alloys as standard (18-inchers are an option), red brake callipers, twin exhaust pipes, blue-tinted heat-reflective windows and a roof spoiler. Inside, the interior is probably the most impressive of any hot hatch with bespoke seats and a flat-bottomed suede-trimmed wheel. Both three- and five-door versions will be available.
However, the biggest step towards driving pleasure is found under the skin. Unlike the previous four generations, this GTi is fitted with sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and the chassis has also been extensively tuned on UK roads. The Mk5 chassis is also a massive 80 per cent stiffer than the outgoing Golf’s – an improvement that will deliver much better safety as well as making it much easier for the chassis engineers to fine tune the damper and spring settings.