For many of us the decision would be not whether to buy a Golf GTi, but what gearbox it should have. But at least the choice isn’t too extensive. There’s the six-speed manual or the optional £1325 DSG ’box.
Your extra money gets you the same clever dual-clutch ’box first fitted to the Audi TT 3.2 V6. Its key trick is that it promises either sweet sequential manual shifts or a conventional auto-style shift when the lever’s jammed in ‘D’.
When it’s not, you can shift up and down through ratios yourself by nudging the lever backwards and forwards or, more satisfyingly, spend an extra £515 to change with steering wheel-mounted paddles: pull the right-hand one to change up and left-hand one to change down.
Is it worth the money? More or less. It is as engaging to use as a stick and clutch pedal and as adept at swapping cogs as an expert driver – even giving you a throttle blip on downchanges.
According to VW’s own performance figures opting for the DSG ’box also gets you a quicker 0-62mph sprint time (6.9 plays 7.2sec), but our figures revealed that the robotised ’box is actually half a second slower. It is, however, a whisker more economical, with a combined mpg figure of 35.3, 0.4mpg better than the manual car.
Not everything’s rosy, however. Leaving it in D means that shifts aren’t perfectly executed and there’s a little lurching at manoeuvring pace. We also wish that the ’box didn’t nanny so much, automatically changing up at the red line and kicking down if the electronics consider that you’re in too high a gear for optimal thrust. But automatically dropping to first when you’re coming to a standstill is useful.
These are minor irritations, however. The three-pedalled Golf is still the purist’s choice, but you wouldn’t be going wrong with the DSG.