The seventh-generation Golf GTI left us feeling a touch lukewarm on its introduction in 2012.
It was decent, of course: good looking, well made, capable and brisk, but Volkswagen equipped it with too little horsepower, too high a list price and too anonymous a front differential – and then compounded it all by introducing a four-wheel-drive R model that was plainly superior in every way and for not a whole heap more cash.
In the past six months, though, and to coincide with the GTI’s 40th anniversary, Wolfsburg has sought to rectify the so-so-ness of its most famous performance model line.
First, we’ve had the Clubsport edition – a revised trim level prospect that belatedly put the GTI’s output (albeit in overboosted form) at the same level as the Seat Leon Cupra while tweaking the bodykit volume up a notch or two.
A birthday needs a proper celebration, though. So rather than merrily stopping there, Volkswagen has taken a leaf from Renault’s book, ripped the back seats out of the GTI Clubsport, turned up the EA888 engine’s wick a bit more and duly delivered a Golf GTI capable of ascending to hot hatch heaven: top spot on the front-wheel drive lap time leaderboard at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.