What is it?
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI, of course. On UK soil for the first time. Which, considering this nation’s penchant for hot hatches (and the hot Golf in particular), is virtually a homecoming.
As we found out when we first drove the GTI on the continent, there is much to rejoice at. Volkswagen’s fettling of its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine has rendered modest power gains, but a whole heap more torque. In fact, the new GTI produces 37lb ft more than even the previous Golf GTI Edition 35 managed from its detuned Golf R engine.
This extra torque comes regardless of whether you opt for the £980 Performance Pack or not, although we’d recommend you do, because while the 10bhp gain may be negligible, the tick also gets you Volkswagen’s new electronically activated mechanical limited-slip differential and uprated brakes.
The Performance Pack also has no effect on the car’s claimed economy, which has increased to an admirable 44.1mpg combined with the six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox-equipped car tested here (the manual manages a claimed 47.1mpg). The GTI’s CO2 emissions – 149g/km for the DSG, 139g/km in manual guise – keep it several handy VED bands ahead of its rivals, too.
Being at the top of the current range guarantees a decent amount of kit. Dual-zone climate, 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlights, tinted rear glass, parking sensors and the upgraded 5.8-inch touchscreen media system are all standard, and all UK-bound GTIs will get the Automatic Distance Control radar monitoring system responsible for automatic emergency braking, and a subsequent five-group insurance saving.
It’s well that the Golf can boast such savings because it remains a pricy option, with the range-topping five-door model tested here starting at £28,895. Tot up its options and you won’t get much change from £33,000, which makes the car arguably a closer rival to the BMW M135i than it is to the Ford Focus ST.