Volkswagen Golf GTI

And there’s also the ever present threat from that cuckoo in the nest: the Golf R. Not only has it displaced the GTI as the high performance flagship, it’s also usurped it in the sales charts thanks to the prevalence of PCP deals that make the faster car barely any more expensive when it comes to the monthly payments. It rather drops the GTI into a bit of a no-man’s land in VW’s fast family hach pecking order.

As with its predecessor, this MK8 GTI is based on the same MQB architecture that underpins almost half of the Volkswagen Group’s output, from the most basic Seat Leon through to the seven seat Skoda Kodiaq. And while the turbocharged 2.0-litre is also carried over, it now produces 241bhp in basic guise as tested here, the same amount that was reserved for the previous generation’s Performance Pack upgrade. There are also chassis tweaks, including the now standard inclusion of the clever electromechanical limited slip differential.

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Yet as ever, there’s more to a Golf GTI than raw statistics. Yes it needs to tear-up tarmac when you’re in the mood, but it also needs to be cosseting when you just want to cruise, with just enough of a soft edge that it can slip into daily duties without the need for regular trips to the chiropractor or a family-sized box of Nurofen: a GTI should be fast but never frantic. And of course there’s the desirability angle – cliche klaxon, but so few cars can manage the Golf’s trick of being classy yet classless, it’s cloak of maturity making it an acceptable choice no matter what the occasion. So does the new arrival deliver?


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