Volkswagen’s Golf Sport models have traditionally benefitted from sharper looks, but the stiffened and lowered suspension often made the ride uncomfortable. Sporty 2.0-litre Golfs wear GT badges, but now there’s a Sport version (sports suspension, sports seats and 16-inch alloys) of the 1.9 TDi diesel and 1.6 FSI petrol, will it be the same old story?
On twisty roads the Sport feels better tied down than the standard car. With little roll, body control is improved, yet the chassis retains sufficient suppleness to deal with undulations smoothly. Lower-profile tyres and stiffer springs give the steering crisper turn-in and, although the handling retains a neutral bias, the broader tyres give greater grip. They do produce more road noise, however. In town, ride quality suffers from the firmer springs, but it never becomes uncomfortable or crashy.
Visual changes – body-coloured bumper strips and new alloys – are stylish and discreet. Inside, comfort is enhanced by supportive sports seats and a tactile leather steering wheel.
The £740 premium over the SE buys a set-up that allows you to better exploit the talented chassis and makes the cabin feel more special, but you have to put up with a slightly less cosseting ride and more road noise. While the Sport mods are great on the right road, the SE makes more sense more of the time.