The Golf GTI helped popularize the hot hatchback when it was introduced in 1976 with its combination of the sporty and practical. The car changed the face of motoring by killing off so many British roadsters of the decade, by providing not only performance but also enough room and a rear door for those who wanted to move a bit of furniture or take along the dogs on the weekend.
Weighing in at 2,978 pounds (1,351 kg), the latest iteration of the Golf GTI has the same practical lines of previous ones, though Volkswagen does try to keep the “sporty” cues in with red-painted brake calipers, chrome tailpipes and a sport suspension. There’s also a sport steering wheel, smoked LED rear lights and stainless steel pedals and foot support.
The more obviously sporty part comes under the bonnet with the four-cylinder, two-liter turbocharged direct petrol injection front transverse engine, with the standard 220 PS punching 217 bhp (162 kW) and 258 ft-lb (350 Nm) of torque. Top speed is 154 mph (246 km/h) with an acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 seconds.
The GTI Performance version steps things up a bit with 226 bhp (169 kW) and the same 258 ft-lb (350 Nm) of torque. This give it a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) and it does 0 to 100 km/h in 6.4 seconds with the manual gearbox.
According to Volkswagen, the seventh-generation Golf GTI enjoys an 18 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over previous models. Both versions are front-wheel drive with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
Volkswagen is currently taking orders for the new Golf GTI in Germany, with a market launch scheduled for May of this year. Prices start at €28,350 (about US$37,800)
The Geneva Motor Show ran from March 7 to 17.