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Volkswagen Golf GTI 2017 review

Volkswagen Golf GTi 2017
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Volkswagen has whipped the covers off an updated version of the Golf GTI and Golf R this week, as well as revealing a new, limited edition model known as the Performance Edition 1.

While everyone knows the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been around since 1975, what seems to have slipped away in the mists of time is that between the legendary MkI and the MkV of 2005, the GTI really wasn't taken that seriously.

Thankfully, VW saw the error of its ways and restored the famous badge back to hero status with the three-door MkV GTI of the mid-noughties.

Every since then, the GTI has been tweaked and fettled with every passing generation – and this mid-life freshen-up of the MkVII Golf is no exception.

Volkswagen Australia grabbed the opportunity to whip the covers off an updated version of the Golf GTI and Golf R this week in western NSW, as well as revealing a new, limited edition model known as the Performance Edition 1, or Performance 1 for short.

Volkswagen Golf 2017: GTI
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.2L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$32,440

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

In line with its more pedestrian brethren, the GTI line has been lightly tailored front and rear to give the 2013-vintage hatch a light makeover.

LED headlights replace xenons on the GTI, while the front bumper is new, mimicking the GTI '40 Years' limited edition rig from last year in its more overt aggressiveness.

  • The added herbs and spices in the Performance 1 don't turn the three-door into a feral livewire, but there's enough there to know you've bought something quicker than stock. The added herbs and spices in the Performance 1 don't turn the three-door into a feral livewire, but there's enough there to know you've bought something quicker than stock.
  • There are larger diameter twin exhaust tips and a new faux diffuser on the GTI. There are larger diameter twin exhaust tips and a new faux diffuser on the GTI.

New design 18-inch rims join larger diameter twin exhaust tips and a new faux diffuser.

Inside, it's all about the new multimedia system that we saw in the new Golf MkVII.5 in July. The GTI gets the smaller 8.0-inch screen that's set flush into the centre console, while the familiar 'Clark' tartan seat fabric and dimpled shifter (for the six-speed manual, at least) are present and correct.

The three-door GTI Performance 1, meanwhile, scores red GTI badges instead of chrome versions, and wears 19-inch 'Brescia' alloys in place of the GTI’s 18s. 

It uses a microfleece/leatherette combo for its interior treatment, while VW's Active Dash Display also makes its first appearance in the GTI range.

This is the first time VW's Active Dash Display is used throughout the GTI range. This is the first time VW's Active Dash Display is used throughout the GTI range.

I’m not as convinced by the styling of the 2017 three-door as I am by the 2005 original. Not sure why, but I feel the doors on the new car are perhaps a little small in proportion to the rest of the car.

The overall effect serves to give the GTI a swig of machismo and a dash more sophistication, with the LED lights all round multiplying that premium feel.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Golf hatchback already has a pretty handy reputation for being a pretty practical and roomy device, and the MkVII.5 continues the trend.

The five-door five-seater can carry four adults in comfort and five at a pinch, along with 380 litres of their stuff. Kick the passengers out and the space increases markedly to 1270 litres, which is enough to shuffle in a pushbike.

A pair of ISOFIX seat mounts is in place, with two rear cupholders in the centre armrest, bottle holders in the doors and air vents in the centre console. Large door card pockets that can hold 1.25-litre bottles complement another two cupholders up front.

There's only just enough storage in between the two front seats, with a relatively small space under the dash and a medium sized centre bin doing the job.

The driver's position is suitable for steerers of all sizes thanks to a big range of reach and height adjustment and low-slung seats. Tall rear seaters are fine, thanks to the Golf's relatively squared off side profile.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The manual GTI kicks things off at $41,490 before on-road costs, with the six-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch equipped version at $43,490. This is $500 more than the old car.

For your dough you get a well-equipped hot hatch that incudes the new flatscreen multimedia centre with sat nav, speed sign indicators and Apple Carplay/Android Auto capability, along with auto lights and wipers, LED headlights, DRLs and tail-lights, a reversing camera with parking sensors front and back, dual zone air and a smart key/push-button starter.

Every GTI also features a four-mode 'Drive Select' switch, low- and high-speed AEB and LED interior lighting.

The manual GTI kicks things off at $41,490 before on-road costs, with the six-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch equipped version at $43,490.

Step up to the $47,990 GTI Performance 1 and you'll add in a new seven-speed DSG, a trick front diff, a more powerful 180kW version of the 2.0-litre engine, and larger brakes. 

A 9.2-inch version of the new multimedia system, 19-inch rims (instead of 18s), premium LED tail-lights with dynamic indicators, 'Active Info Display' digital dash, lane keep assistadaptive cruise, third generation park assistblind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and tinted rear windows are also added.

It's limited to 150 cars, and it's only offered in two colours; 'White Silver' metallic and 'Dark Iron Blue' metallic.

The Performance 1 is limited to 150 cars, and is offered in two colours; 'White Silver' metallic and 'Dark Iron Blue' metallic. The Performance 1 is limited to 150 cars, and is offered in two colours; 'White Silver' metallic and 'Dark Iron Blue' metallic.

An interesting addition to the multimedia system on both cars is the ability to control audio and sat nav functions via an optional tablet, which can even send media from the head unit to more than one device in the rear.
 
A range of packages can be added to the GTI, as well.

A 'Driver Assistance Package' costs $1600 for the GTI, and includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, park assist, a proactive occupant protection system and the new dynamic light assist system.

An 'Infotainment Package' at $2300 tips GTI owners into the Active Info Display digital dash, a larger 9.2-inch satellite navigation system with gesture control and voice control, and a 400W audio system with 10-channel digital amplifier and subwoofer.

Finally, the 'Luxury Package' at $3900 adds a panoramic electric glass sunroof, 'Vienna' leather seats, electric driver's seat with memory, heated front seats, and power folding door mirrors with memory functio

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The GTI's (EA888) engine scores a re-tune to earn an extra seven kilowatts, bumping it to 169kW.

Incidentally, this is the same output as the former GTI Performance, which has now essentially disappeared from the range. Its peak torque of 350Nm is available from a low 1500rpm, all the way to 4600rpm.

A six-speed manual is standard, and a six-speed DSG is $2500 more.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Volkswagen claims combined cycle fuel economy figures of 6.6 and 6.7L/100km for GTI dual-clutch and manual respectively, and we noted a dash-indicated average (in the DSG) of 7.8L/100km over 120km.

We didn’t spend long enough in the Performance 1 to record a figure, but VW claims 6.5L/100km.

Both cars have a 50-litre fuel tank, and 95RON premium fuel is suggested as a minimum.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

The new base GTI moves the game along again for Volkswagen, by dint of the fact the company hasn't ruined it with overt fiddling.

The GTI's abilities lie in its honesty; a mechanically constant variable steering rack means the GTI turns with a confidence and accuracy most front-drivers can’t manage. Beautifully modulated brakes feel as good underfoot washing off great slabs of speed as they do trickling up to a traffic light.

The new base GTI moves the game along again for Volkswagen, by dint of the fact the company hasn't ruined it with overt fiddling. The new base GTI moves the game along again for Volkswagen, by dint of the fact the company hasn't ruined it with overt fiddling.

And the flexible nature of the EA888 gives the GTI a character all of its own – and let's face it, a 2.0-litre engine is the equivalent of a 'big block' V8 these days.

The added herbs and spices in the Performance 1 don't turn the three-door into a feral livewire, as per my all-time favourite GTI, the 40 Years edition of 2016. But there's enough there to know you've bought something quicker than stock.

The new seven-speeder is a good match for the tractable engine – even though the masses of torque actually mean fewer gears would work just as well – and the uptick on the brakes and diff also add an extra layer of talen

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Seven airbags, standard high and low speed AEB and high-strength steel in key areas of the bodyshell combine to give the Golf a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.

The standard GTI doesn't get all the driver aid toys as standard; rather, a $1600 kit is needed to get items like blind spot warning and radar cruise control.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

There is a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty on the GTI range, while service intervals of 15,000km or 12 months are recommended. 

Capped price servicing is available, peaking at $1211 for a 60,000km/four-year service. Pollen filters and brake fluid are not included in that price, though.

Verdict

Volkswagen's mid-life facelift for the Golf range will take the company through to 2020 – and the GTI isn't even close to feeling its age yet.

With VW promising a bigger range of performance hatches to come in the next 18 months, the smart money is still on the entry level GTI, especially now it's had a tickle-up.

It's quick, comfortable and more practical than the potent Performance 1, and the physical updates have taken away some of its previously soft demeanour. In short, it's still the hot hatch to beat, no matter where you look.

Also, check out Malcom Flynn's thoughts on the Golf GTI from its international launch.

Do you reckon the GTI is still the hot hatch to beat? Or does your heart yearn for another? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$21,990
Based on 275 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,125
Highest Price
$58,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
110 TDI Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $26,950 – 27,888 2017 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2017 110 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs
110 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $18,888 – 21,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2017 110 TSI Pricing and Specs
110 TSI COMFORTLINE 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $17,990 – 23,880 2017 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2017 110 TSI COMFORTLINE Pricing and Specs
110 TSI Highline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $21,990 – 32,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 2017 110 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.1
Design8
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Driving9
Safety8
Ownership7
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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