The VW Golf GTI has always been one of the staples of the hot hatch segment and the time has come to find out if the new eighth-generation model is up to the task.
VW has resisted the horsepower wars in the hot hatch segment, opting instead for further refinement of the Golf GTI’s oily bits. It’s safe to say that the headline figures fail to impress among the current crop of hot hatches, with the sportiest Golf offering 242 HP (245 PS) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque out of its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
That’s the updated Evo4 version of the familiar EA888 TSI unit as used in previous Golf GTIs and comes paired to a standard six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the latter being the only one available during the initial launch phase.
The revised engine now offers its maximum torque on a wider rev band, namely between 1,600 and 4,300 rpm. The updates include new fuel injectors, a higher injection pressure and smaller improvements in areas like internal friction and acoustic, in addition to the necessary petrol particulate filter and a bigger catalytic converter to comply with the latest emissions in Europe.
The new Golf GTI is capable of a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.3 seconds when fitted with the DSG ‘box and tops out at an electronically limited 155 mph (250 km/h).
Driving enthusiasts will be mostly interested in the chassis. Upfront there’s a new lighter aluminum subframe, five percent stiffer springs and new dampers, in addition to reconfigured wishbone bearings and buffer stops. At the rear, there are 15 percent stiffer springs together with new dampers.
Moreover, VW has added the new Vehicle Dynamics Manager, which controls the ESP, the electronic limited-slip differential and the optional active DCC dampers with much greater precision and adjustability.
In the video that follows, Top Gear tests it in order to find out if there’s a great hot hatch underneath the high-tech skin of the new VW Golf GTI.