What is it?
This is the facelifted version of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI. VW's European outright sales champion hatchback, the Golf has just received new styling, new engines, new-to-segment in-car technology and a slightly lower price.
Elsewhere in the range, the revision’s headline changes are new 1.0 and 1.5-litre TSI petrol engines that give better fuel economy and lower emissions to the petrol side of the car’s armoury. There are new infotainment, active safety and semi-autonomous driving technologies, too; new equipment; and some pretty minor exterior and interior design tweaks restricted mainly to the bumpers and lights.
Had the dieselgate scandal not forced VW to slash at least a billion euros in annual R&D spending just over a year ago, of course, you wonder if we’d be looking at a more widely revised car here. Handily for VW, there wasn’t much wrong with Golf Mk7 in the first place, the car having been immovable from top spot in our family hatchback class rankings since its introduction in the UK in 2013.
And, since VW was good enough to include it as part of its European press launch this week, the revised Golf GTI provided our introduction to the various new components of the revised Golf range. The formative, original hot hatch has been a useful telltale for the general wellbeing of the fast front-driver since its introduction four decades ago. It’s also the Golf that most of us most care about.