The earliest Mk7 GTIs start now at £13,000, although £15,000 will stretch to a newer car with fewer than 20,000 miles beneath it. Included in VW’s approved used scheme, called Das WeltAuto, is a 12-month unlimited-mileage warranty and roadside assistance over the same term. Every approved used VW undergoes a 142-point check by trained technicians, too.
Both versions of the GTI could be specified with a manual or DSG dual-clutch transmission – both very good in their own way – and with three or five doors. The GTI Performance isn’t quite so common so you’ll have to be less picky when it comes to paint colour and spec options, and their prices start at £16,000.
Perhaps the best argument for not spending that sum on a GTI Performance is the Golf R, which can be found for much the same money (albeit with higher mileage). When the Golf R arrived in 2014, prices started at a whisker under £30,000. With two extra driven wheels, 296bhp and superbly tuned suspension, the R was worth the extra outlay over the GTI back then, and with the price differential much slimmer now, the R looks even more attractive. Like the GTI, the R comes in both three and five-door configurations and you can choose between manual and DSG transmissions although, in this case, the DSG is preferable.
If you put down £2000 and sign up to a 36-month finance agreement, a £16,000, four-year-old Golf R will cost you £296 each month (with a £7470 optional final payment). However you pay for your Golf hot hatch, though, bagging a warrantied car at half the price of a brand-new one would be a winning move by anybody’s judgement.
Need to know
Wrapped in very low-profile rubber, the Golf R’s optional 19in wheels can be susceptible to pothole damage and are £800 a corner. Expect to pay £120 for each Bridgestone tyre, too.
The Golf R’s Haldex four-wheel-drive system will need oil changes every three years, as will the GTI Performance’s limited-slip differential. In many cases, the differential fluid and transmission fluid are one and the same, but not here.
Golf GTI owners have reported issues with rear dampers, which can begin weeping fluid after a number of years. A replacement VW part is an inexpensive fix, although some owners choose to upgrade to aftermarket Bilstein dampers all round.