Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
8
In this job, not loving a Golf GTI is a sin akin to a technology writer not instantly being over-awed by a new Apple product.

Confession: I’m among a very small group of motoring hacks who didn’t gush about the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI when it went on sale earlier this year. Well, I call it a group but I’ve only found one other so far who shares my view. In this job, not loving a Golf GTI is a sin akin to a technology writer not instantly being over-awed by a new Apple product. Ostracised much?

I can’t help it if the others got it wrong. I think difference of opinion is healthy. (Smiley face). In my view Volkswagen had dumbed down the Golf GTI slightly, deliberately holding back extra power, bigger brakes and a clever differential -- three key ingredients of a hot hatch. The basic Golf GTI drives so well that, to me, it feels like it has lost some of its character. So the arrival this week of the Volkswagen Golf GTI “Performance” edition was a chance for the car and me to redeem ourselves.

PRICE / FEATURES

For $48,490 -- an extra $4000 on top of the standard Golf GTI with DSG -- you get 7kW more power, bigger brakes front and rear, 19-inch wheels, and a tricky electronically controlled mechanical diff that acts like an LSD. The GTI “Performance” also comes with bi-xenon headlights, tinted LED tail-lights, tinted rear and side glass, and Alcantara on the side bolsters of the GTI-tartan seats. Leather is a $3150 option. Ouch.

The standard GTI already comes with navigation, a rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors. Tick. Manual transmission, however, is not available at any price on the “Performance” edition because VW Australia was only given one choice, and it opted for the DSG auto which accounts for 80 per cent of the sales mix of the regular GTI.

The price premium for the extra power may be difficult to justify (I challenge anyone to pick the difference of 7kW more power and peak torque arriving at 200rpm lower than before). Indeed, the 0 to 100km/h claim is the same as the regular model: 6.4 seconds. Perhaps that’s because the extra hardware and bigger wheels added 40kg to the GTI’s weight -- but it’s 40kg well worth having.

DRIVING

Unlike mechanical limited-slip differentials (such as those found on the epic Renault Megane RS) which prevent the inside wheel from slipping in tight corners, the VW-designed system sends drive to the outside wheel. It’s technically not a limited-slip diff but the net result is the same: it clambers out of corners with much more grip. So, we welcome wholeheartedly VW’s heavy duty hardware under the nose of the GTI “Performance”.

The other pleasant surprise is that it rides surprisingly well despite having 19-inch wheels and low profile (Pirelli P Zero, superb) tyres. The only downside: they don’t like expansion joins or sharp edges on the road; the suspension quickly runs out of travel and delivers a loud thump. The GTI’s adjustable suspension works a treat though (from comfort, normal, sport to an individual setting which also allows you to adjust steering feel).

I just wish the button was easier to see (it’s obscured by the gear lever) and you didn’t have to take your eyes off the road to change settings (you have to tap the touchscreen). Nevertheless, the GTI and I have made up, although in my opinion the “Performance” pack is the real one. The brakes and the tricky diff alone are worth the $4000 price hike. Can I have my navy blue Apple shirt now, please?

Pricing guides

$16,935
Based on 253 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,800
Highest Price
$32,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
77 TDI Trendline 1.6L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $10,450 – 14,300 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2014 77 TDI Trendline Pricing and Specs
90 TSI Trendline 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,470 – 11,990 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2014 90 TSI Trendline Pricing and Specs
90 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,020 – 12,650 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2014 90 TSI Pricing and Specs
103 TDI Comfortline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $11,550 – 15,400 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2014 103 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Joshua Dowling
National Motoring Editor

Share

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.