The VW Golf GTI: 7 reasons why it’s still the best

Published on June 26th, 2015

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This piece could have been another mediocre review where I tell you what the GTI has, and can do… but just like you, I already know what I need to know about the Golf GTI. Let’s be honest – the Mk7 has been around long enough now that a few of your neighbours probably have one. But unmistakably, we’ve not seen enough of it out on the roads.

Do you know why the Golf GTI is so annoyingly successful? It’s because it does so many things that you could possibly need a car to do, so correctly. And I’ve chosen the word “Correctly” and not “Perfectly” because… there is no such thing as ‘PERFECT’ in the real world. Let’s keep it real fellas.

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We know of Volkswagen as a brand that gave the Beetle and the Combi bus over the years, and we’d say that’s VWs most iconic cars. To a certain extent, it’s true but only as a conceptual ideology. I’d disagree with the mainstream theory though because I believe that the Golf is the brand’s true icon.

It’s the one car that defines Volkswagen. Descriptive words like “well-made” and “quintessentially German” is all actually thanks to the Golf. I’ve driven the GTI7 multiple times now over the years, yet I still stand amazed everytime I get in one. The Golf has been the true people’s car over the years as it has served families for over generations. It has made a mark in the eyes of the masses as the one car to truly own. So here it goes – 7 reasons why it’s still the best. 

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Reason #1 – The one that does it all.

It’s difficult to make a car that does everything you could possibly need from one, but the Germans surely gave it a go. The recipe of the hothatch was defined by the Mk1 Rabbit/Golf in the early days, where any moments, any mood, any situations; it’ll deliver without a cry. Hatchbacks are just absolutely brilliant. And with the tech-pack – everything between comfort, practicality, spirited driving and frugality, the Mk7 GTI can do it all.

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Reason #2Two-wheel-drive fun.

The internet has made just-a-little-too-many new carthusiasts delusional. The new spectrum are so consumed by the concept of going sideways that it is made to believe that FWDs are for grannies to go to the supermarket safely. There are some serious fun that FWD cars can offer; and all within the confines of an average driver’s limit. I still enjoy how predictable and adjustable front-wheel driven cars are on the limit, and the GTI is also the perfect tool to learn driving concepts such as “lift-off oversteer”. Don’t cut them off just yet…

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Reason #3Three letters – D.S.G

Let’s not call it a misconception, because despite the reliability issues that VWs Direct-Shift Gearbox (or more popularly known as DSG) are famous for; it is still unquestionably brilliant. We’ve seen multiple dual-clutch gearboxes come and go over the years, yet VW Group’s iteration is still the one that stands to amaze. The crisp, quick shifts are so lovely; and on manual mode, it calls for gears as and when you want it to. Of couse – let’s not forget those signature, blissful pop sounds that they make when the change gears! Certainly hope that the reliability issues are a thing of the past with the latest Mk7, but we still stand skeptical.

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Reason #4Four-ty miles per gallon.

40 miles per gallon – or 17km per litre of fuel. These are hybrid like figures on a hot-hatch, and I call that impressive. We Malaysians, we’ve not taken the fuel economy of a car seriously just yet, despite the rise and fall of fuel prices. I’ve managed over 600kms on a tank of fuel with the Mk7 GTI on a mixed cycle, and I’d like to know what else with the same performance figures can deliver such numbers. And that’s on a standard 55-litre tank bee-tee-dubs.

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Reason #5 – Seats Five grown adults when you need to.

It could, if you needed it to. But this situation only comes once in a while. So for other times, you could carry things by just pulling those rear seats. Sure, almost all modern hatchbacks has this function, but the Mk7 already comes with a decently large boot space so when you bring those seats down, it’s really to carry something huge/long like a mini-fridge or a sofa. Though I’m still bumped that a car that carries the name “Golf” will not fit a Golf Bag in the boot. Care to fix this VW on the next gen?

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Reason #6 – The haloed six-seconds to sixty.

Don’t think I’ve missed performance. 220bhp on taps with 350nm from VW’s EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged unit puts the GTI within the hot-hatch hall of fame. Yes, we can argue that it’s been doing the 6-seconds to sixty yardstick since the Mk5 GTI, but the years has shown improvement. It started on the high side of sixties, but the Mk7 brings it down to just a mere 6.2 seconds to the sprint. Thanks to launch control, and the Mk7s weight-shedding, this is all made possible.

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Reason #7 – The Seventh Generation

Since I first drove the 1.4 TSI Mk7 back in 2013 – I found that the car has leaped ahead by a milestone for multiple reasons. Chief amongst which is the MQB platform. In the 7th generation, the Golf has had an identity change and although old-skool GOLFers dont’ fancy this change very much… I was in the pool of few that did. This gen evolved the Golf from a teenager to a more poised grown-up, which did remove many of its rebellious traits but transformed it into a more mature little toy.

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Surely those are not the words you’d like to hear about a hot-hatch; but I have no complains on a car that has the ability to tickle your funny bone around a bend, yet be a comfortable cruiser for the family 90% of the time. It has not lost it’s character, but instead created a new one that takes from each and every generation of the Golf’s blood-line and revolutionised the brand name into a whole new benchmark.

Sure, there are other hatchbacks around that you can own and be happy about; but everyone knows the benchmark is still the Golf GTI. Despite the DSG Gearbox malfunction malarky that has befallen too many Volkswagen owners over the years, in the end it is still undeniably THE true “People’s Car”.

Words & Photos: Qhalis Najmi

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