Since the Volkswagen Golf GTI debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 1975, the hatch immediately gained popularity not only because of its unassuming looks, but also of the superb driving experience one gains from it. Back then, the GTI, which stands for Gran Turismo-Injected, was powered by a 1,600cc four-cylinder engine with K-Jetronic fuel injection system that developed 110 PS and 140 Nm torque—allowing the 810-kilogram hatch to sprint from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 9.0 seconds before reaching a top speed of 176 kph.
Forty years after, and now on its seventh-generation, the all-new Golf GTI MkVii has finally landed on Philippine shores and ready to give Filipinos a taste of its iconic performance and fuel economy.
Recently, Fast Times had the chance to take the Golf GTI for a week-long spin and boy, it didn’t fail to impress!
Loaned to us for a week was a Golf GTI in its iconic-red color. The hatch is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-charged, stratified-injection petrol engine, with a maximum output of 220 PS and an amazing torque of 350 Nm. The power-plant is mated to a quick-shifting six-speed DSG (dual shift gear) dual-clutch gearbox.
The Philippine-spec GTI comes with all the options made available by VW for this model. Aside from the sports suspension, the GTI also comes with ESP, ASR, EDL with XDS plus technology, MSR, electronic parking brake with auto hold, rear-assist rear-view camera with eight-channel park distance control, driver alert system, airbags (driver, passenger, driver knee, front side and curtain) and a lot more.
Driving the Golf GTI is extremely fun! The 2.0-turbo propels the GTI similar to a golf ball being hit by Tiger Woods with a Big Bertha driver; 0-100 kph in just over six seconds. Although power is a major attribute of the GTI, its superb handling just makes the car shine, even more. With a stiffer and lighter chassis, which provides 10 percent more torsional rigidity, the MkVii handles like a performance go-kart on the road, enabling it to take tight corners as if it were on tracks. The GTI’s fuel efficiency is also remarkable—we were able to post a consumption of 7.5 kilometers per liter in highly-spirited driving and averaged 14.5 kpl on somber highway driving (at 90 kph). On city driving conditions, we managed to post an average consumption of 9.8 kpl.
Other new-technologies applied on the GTI include the new-generation XDS or extension of electronic differential lock. The XDS is an extension of the familiar EDL function. XDS, however, responds not to loss of traction but to the unloading of the front wheel on the inside of the corner when cornering fast. XDS applies pressure from the ESC hydraulics to the inside wheel to prevent it from spinning. This improves traction and reduces the tendency to understeer. The precise, one-sided build-up of brake pressure makes cornering even sportier, quicker and more accurate. The GTI also comes with an ESC Sport function, which allows the driver to dictate the level of traction control intervention, as well as the level of stability control, in the event that experienced drivers desire more control than the VW’s electronics will otherwise allow.
Providing better road feedback to the driver is the GTI’s progressive electric power steering system. Depending on the speed of the car, the system provides just the right amount of weight to the steering wheel, making it extremely responsive. Three different driving modes – Normal, Sport and Individual – adjusts the steering weight accordingly.
From the outside, the GTI looks clean and unassuming. And even as it is already the seventh-generation of the iconic model, it still maintains a striking appearance as its forebearer, albeit with a little bit of maturity. Eighteen-inch Austin alloy wheels give the GTI a fast-moving look even while standing still. The GTI has a new fascia, with slimmer grille, angular headlights and an unassertive spoiler. At the back are dual tailpipes that aid in giving the GTI a low-pitch growl during acceleration. Helping provide visibility at night are Bi-Xenon headlamps with dynamic headlamp control. This system activates whenever the steering wheel is turned to the left or to the right. A light activates in the direction of the turn to help the driver see in dark corners.
Inside, the Golf looks very sporty, with red ambient lighting, illuminated scuff plates, GTI flat-bottomed steering-wheel with paddle shifters, GTI shift knob, stainless-steel foot pedals, keyless-go entry/exit with push start, a climatronic two-zone air-conditioning system, premium sport seats with “Clark” material, a GTI-specific instrument cluster with the Composition Media System (CMS).
The CMS features a 5.8-inch touch-screen color-display with easy-to-use car menus. With the CMS, passengers have the flexibility to play CDs as well as MP3, WMA, AAC audio files through the USB, SD and AUX IN, or listen to the Digital Audio/FM/AM radio. The GTI has an excellent sounding system with its eight-speaker, front and rear system, that will put even home HiFi systems to shame.
Bluetooth telephony is also available on the GTI allowing drivers to place and receive calls, hands-free. The best thing is, one can connect, charge and control an iPod to the CMS.
The Philippine-spec GTI has more safety features to brag about including Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) with XDS plus technology, engine drag torque control (MSR), electronic parking brake with auto hold, rear assist rear view camera with eight-channel park distance control, driver alert system and airbags (driver, passenger, driver knee, front side and curtain) are some of the safety features of the Golf GTI.
With the flexibility of being a high-performance car and that of fuel-miser, not to mention all the safety and security features it comes with, the GTI truly offers the best value for money one can ever get for such a great car. With the more than 2 million GTI owners, four decades of history and the legendary VW quality, how can you go wrong?
The Golf GTI is reasonably priced at P2.290 million. With all the fun one can get from owning this car, as well as all German technology that comes with it, the Golf GTI is truly one hot hatch that car lovers should truly consider.