Selling different versions of the GTI isn’t quite as novel as VW makes out. Although it may have fallen out of fashion in the past couple of generations, the difference between owning an 8v or 16v GTI was a topic for heavy discussion 15 years ago.
Granted, this is the first time that the firm has offered anything as mechanically enticing as a limited-slip diff, but with the final price for the Performance edition bumped close to some serious rivals, the car will arguably need all the sweeteners it can muster. And although the Golf is no stranger to the more expensive end of the hot hatch niche, the Ford Focus ST-1 is substantially cheaper, which will no doubt cause some brows to furrow.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to be cheerful. The three-door, non-Performance variant starts at a far more reasonable price.
For value retention, the Golf GTI trounces the competition from Ford and Renault three years out, plus decent dealer service standards and good reliability should ensure minimal fuss during your ownership.
It’s also impressively lean on emissions. Even if you opt for the Performance pack (but stick with the six-speed manual), the Volkswagen's CO2 emissions are just 139g/km – only 1g/km more than the far smaller Ford Fiesta ST.
Even with the dirtier DSG, it dips under 149g/km, which, when taken with claimed economy of 47.1mpg (manual) or 44.1mpg (DSG), makes the Golf just about the most efficient hot hatch money can buy.