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The new Clubsport fits the anniversary GTI mould perfectly - but it's still not the best Golf on sale.

It's a limited-run, lightened, bhp hot hatchback that its maker says is the fastest front-driver of all. More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal. Outrageously entertaining bhp, four-wheel-drive show car offers some pointers to the future for VW's iconic Golf GTI. The new Golf GTI is doubtless a capable piece of kit, but will it appeal to true enthusiasts? We put it to the test on UK roads to find out.

Google Tag Manager. Login Register. Volkswagen Golf GTI review. Gearbox options remain a six-speed manual or a DSG twin-clutch auto, but the latter gets another pair of ratios for seven in total. The bhp engine had an easy time bringing to life a kg crackerjack which made history for its amazing handling, roadholding and performance.

The most telling number, however, is the midrange in-gear urge. Put your foot down hard in fifth and the GTI lunges from 50 to 75mph. Although the GTD fields an extra 22lb ft of torque, it loses that particular fraternal feud by 1. Unlike the equally cult BMW M3, which has journeyed from four-cylinder to straight-six to V8 and back to six, the engineering fundamentals of the Golf GTI have not changed much over the decades.

The latest metamorphosis is into GTI in the purest sense of the acronym; a gran turismo powered by a feisty fuel-injected and turbocharged engine. Instead, this is now the most refined and effortless hot hatch on the market. The Peugeot GTI is rawer and more chuckable, the Astra has a good deal more power, the ill-mannered Honda Civic Type R appeals to a different audience and the BMW i is underwhelming and overpriced — twist things however you like but there still is no better all-rounder than the GTI.

It emits marginally less CO2 through marginally larger-diameter tailpipes, humming along happily at idle speed. For a loop of wild Spanish C-roads, I lock the shocks in Comfort and leave the other elements in Sport.

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Although there is an ESP button, you can only deactivate traction control. Nail-biting excitement and pulse-quickening emotion are not really what this car is about. Like its predecessor, the new Golf GTI is no rock-solid, screaming-at-the-world street racer. While you might think you want a roadgoing BTCC racer that hops sideways on solid springs and offers a powerband just rpm wide, Volkswagen knows that you really want is a relaxed mile-eater with long legs, longer service intervals and plenty of low-end grunt. After all, this Golf no longer needs to prove anything. A true Volkswagen in the Winterkorn and Hackenberg tradition, the best-seller remains built like a vault — kind of a Golf with Phaeton genes, not vice-versa.

I think some of the criticism of the Golf GTI not being fun enough lies in those first impressions. Its comfortable ride and driving position, its quality both perceived and in how good it is to use cabin, its ability to just blend in and not have everyone try to race you away from the traffic lights. Miss it I shall, as no doubt will dealerships and potential customers.

For VW has slimmed down the Golf range due to a combination of the imminent arrival of the Mk8 model and the trouble in squeezing its vast range through the new WLTP economy tests. Like a great rock band, the encore never gets old, and the show will continue to go on. I love the interior, too, but not the electronic handbrake…. A car that encourages you to rev it. But I can see why the game is up for three-door hatches. There are few better views out from there in the UK, nor many better cars from which to enjoy it. Yet diesel hot hatches still exist, most famously with the Golf GTD.

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Volkswagen Golf GTI review

A week in a GTD left me scratching my head, to be honest. Surely, it must be the fuel economy, the reason so many buyers have flocked to diesel for a generation? It has a tendency to fidget around the gears and a reluctance to go into top gear, as well as a low-speed jerkiness in stop-start traffic that two passengers also noticed. And at least you can buy one. The tissues are ready. For me, the future is instead in voice command, mixed with steering wheel controls. The GTI has both, neither of which I have complaints about.

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Mileage: 11, Trip to Cornwall elicits interesting and positive discoveries - 20th June Forty-one point eight miles per gallon. Not my words, Lynn, but that of the fuel card we fill here in for our Autocar long-term test cars to keep track of the fuel used. No, this is not a case of me having nothing more interesting to talk about, but a quite remarkable story in its own right. Think about that figure: In a hot hatch. The bhp application of this 2. Although so many turbocharged cars look good on the official figures, their boosting is such that you never get anywhere close to their claimed economy in real-world use.

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Sometimes cars have claimed miles per gallon in the 60s but you end up in the 40s. A few more new discoveries emerged on the trip. Meeting a car coming the other way can be intimidating on these roads. It took a few months, but for the first time I craved an extra pair of doors. The cause was a constant getting in and out of the car in changeable spring weather conditions.

Which is better? Only one way to find out - 11th April A similar gap exists between the GTI and the next petrol Golf below it in the range. For that extra, you get significantly more power bhp plays bhp as well as two extra driven wheels.

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And power is, of course, everything in the world of hot hatches these days. The GTI, remember, is the performance Golf, and indeed the hot hatch, that has endured longest of all, no matter how many different flavours of hot Golf have been above it in the range at various points. The R that has turned up for this exercise is a five-door, which also makes for an interesting initial comparison with our three-door GTI.

Someone asked me the other day how I was getting on with the bigger, heavier doors of a three-door. The five-door hatch is definitely more suited to tighter spaces and has all the practical advantages. Looks aside, I can see why the days of the three-door hatchback are numbered. Of greater intrigue to me initially is that this R has a six-speed manual gearbox, as does the GTI in our possession.

It feels in keeping with its brief as the kind of all-weather, everyday hot hatch that prides itself on usability equally as much as being a performance tool. I still think that now. A DSG-equipped Golf R feels noticeably quicker off the line than the manual, which is reflected in the 4. You can simply concentrate on braking later and getting on the power earlier in the DSG variant and revel in its rapid cross-country pace.

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It just keeps going, most devastatingly off the line. The GTI is not as quick from a standstill but comes alive halfway up the rev range. It rewards you for getting it going and is actually quite unassuming to drive at low revs, whereas you feel like the R is constantly goading you to go faster. In the handling stakes, GTI turns in to corners better and feels more agile. What the R lacks in finesse, it makes up for in grip and traction. The GTI darts around a corner, whereas the R barges its way around.

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If a GTI is quicker on the way in, then the R is undoubtedly quicker on the way out of the corner. So R or GTI? Before spending this extended period of time with the GTI, the R was my favourite all-round hot hatch. Yet the GTI plays that all-rounder card even more effectively.

Brilliant low-speed ride, fun higher-speed handling. It just looks racier. Mileage: Chief among them at Tisshaw headquarters was an upcoming trip to Bruges and a Volkswagen Golf GTI in which to tackle the leftovers of the Beast from the East and get me to the Eurotunnel for 8. The Golf GTI had shown itself to not be the most willing of companions in these conditions earlier in the week when ice caused a wheelspin-induced halt a metre short of the exit of the underground car park below my flats. Three more unsuccessful attempts were made, each employing a slightly different technique and each a more dismal failure than the last — a lack of grip from the tyres a limiting factor that could not be overcome until that evening, when the surface had been gritted.

By Saturday morning, most people had abandoned the roads, the gritters had done their job and the temperature had nudged above freezing, all of which paved the way for a clear, fuss-free dawn run down to the Eurotunnel in the newly liberated Golf GTI. It proved to be a fine continentcrossing companion. My previous car, a BMW d xDrive , was so good at covering big miles that last summer I based my whole holiday on it doing just that.

But given how fine an all-rounder itself the Golf GTI has proven in its first three months with me, not once have I pined for the 3 Series — until, that is, it came to booking this trip to Bruges. The engine remains flexible and responsive even in top gear at 80mph, without a change down needed. This is not a car that delivers big power at the expense of drivability, day-to-day usability or comfort.

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