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Volkswagen Golf GTi 2013 review

What better place in the world to test drive VW's new Golf GTi than on the twisting, tortured back roads that make up Targa Tasmania. It's a driving environment that is engaging and challenging but with the new GTi in hand, the experience moves to a higher plane.

That's because this new GTi is arguably the best Golf ever built offering superlative dynamics, new technologies, higher levels of safety and standard equipment along with a distinctive Golf DNA. They put an emphasis on performance and efficiency with this model as well as making it practical and sporty.


In terms of value, you can get into the generously equipped manual five door GTi for $41,490 with the six speed DSG gearbox adding $2500. A "Performance" model with extra power and kit arrives later in the year at $47,990. VW has rationalised the range this time around to just two models and also cut options back to five.


It's powered by a new 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder with variable valve timing on the inlet and exhaust sides along with variable valve lift on the exhaust side. This is in addition to the twin scroll turbo closely attached to the exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head. It runs a dual fuel injection system like the Toyota 86 delivering its mixture directly into the combustion chamber and also into the inlet port. Internals are friction modified and the engine weighs 7.8kg less than the previous GTi unit. 

Drive is to the front wheels via a limited slip differential that has a torque vectoring function. Both transmissions are six speed. The new GTi is capable of putting away a 0-100kmh sprint in 6.5 seconds while sipping fuel at 6.2-litres/100km. The engine is good for 162kW (169Kw in the Performance model) and 350Nm for a low 1500rpm.


Dynamic aspects of the new GTi have been significantly improved including the adoption of larger brakes, a new progressive electric steering system with quicker action, adaptive chassis control select and two stage stability control.


GTi gets a five star safety rating thanks in part to seven air bags and a host of other crash protection and avoidance systems. Driver assistance features include fatigue detection, multi collision braking, electric parking brake and daytime running lights.

VW has been generous with equipment this time around including satnav as standard along with a reversing camera, 18-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, flat bottom sports wheel, paddle shift with the DSG transmission, multi function display, tartan seats, lap timer and LED interior lights. Bluemotion technology has been used throughout to minimise emissions and optimise performance.

Though the new Golf 7 styling could be described as being a bit too Golf derivative, the GTi cuts a handsome profile on the street with a lower stance, bigger wheels, select use of red body hardware highlights and the iconic honeycomb grille.


It's a fabulous drive offering superlative throttle response from the lag-less turbo 2.0-litre engine all to the accompaniment of possibly the best four pot exhaust note going around. We drove manual and DSG models in Tassy and can't really pick between the two suffice to say the DSG would be a better city car and offers rapid fire gear changes with both hands on the wheel all the time.

In Sport mode, the GTi retains a large measure of comfort but still holds the five door hatch comfortably through fast corners even on bumpy roads. The brakes are strong, the steering is precise and the chassis feels rock solid. Best of all is the car's roll-on acceleration. We clocked plenty of fast kilometres in the new GTi including a rapid 140km stretch with former F1 driver and multi Lemans 24 Hour winner Jacky Ickx. What a treat.

There's plenty of competition in this segment notably Ford's Focus ST, and other sporty models around the same money. Few carry it off as well as the finely honed Golf GTi.


A special car. Practical, sporty, economical, affordable, well featured, engaging and responsive. Did we mention the quality interior. Could be a little bland on the outside in white.

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