Powered by a 147 kW two-litre FSI powerplant, the Volkswagen Golf 5 GTI is an impressive combination of a swift corporate suit and tar-shredding hot hatch.Powered by a 147 kW two-litre FSI powerplant, the Volkswagen Golf 5 GTI is an impressive combination of a swift corporate suit and tar-shredding hot hatch.


Unlike the two previous generation GTIs, the new car – which was recently launched in South Africa - is immediately distinguishable from the rest of the range. Available only in five-door guise on the local market, the GTI gets an aggressive new grille that flows into a bigger front airdam, double exhaust pipes at the rear and stunning 17-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers. Suspension is lowered by 15 centimetres, giving the car a hunkered-down stance.


The interior is smartly detailed. Black leather Recaro seats are standard, the steering wheel has a square section at the bottom, the rev counter now goes up to 8 000 r/min and the speedometer extends to 300 km/h. Aluminium-look pedals and foot rest, radio/CD, cruise control, two-zone Climatronic air-conditioning and front foglights are offered over and above the standard luxury and safety features fitted to the rest of the Golf 5 range.


The New GTI weighs just under 1,4-tonnes, almost 500 kg heavier than the original. But with 147 kW from the turbocharged 2,0-litre FSI engine, the power/weight ratio is actually quite similar to the original’s. Volkswagen claims the six-speed manual version will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 7,2 seconds and reach a top speed of 235 km/h.


The GTI certainly is brisk, but because the engine is so smooth and refined, with no obvious turbo kick, it doesn’t actually feel that fast. The engine emits a meaty growl and, on the DSG (direct shift gearbox) model, there is a lovely throttle blip during ‘shifts.


The six-speed DSG can be operated via the gear-selection lever and its double clutch comprises two wet clutches whose pressure is regulated electro-hydraulically. You’ll have to search far to find a gearbox that offers a better combination manual and automatic.


The advantages of the new multi-link rear suspension are really brought to the fore in a sporting car such as this. There are 20 per cent stronger stabilisers and firmer springs and dampers. The electro-mechanical power steering has been “reprogrammed” to give it more feel. This is probably the one aspect that could be further improved - driver feedback through the steering wheel is still not to the levels the real enthusiast would approve of.


To cope with the extra performance, the braking system has been upgraded. Ventilated discs are used all-round and measure 312 mm in front and 286 mm at the rear. ABS with EBD and dual brake assist are fitted, as well as ESP. Thankfully, the ESP on the GTI is not as obtrusive as some of these systems can be.


First impressions are that the GTI is a fast, refined and forgiving car. Grip levels are high and turn-in fast and accurate. This could be the best-handling hatchback currently on the market…


With 147 kW going to the front wheels only, you would expect some torque steer, but this remains absent if the ESP is activated. In fact, to get the car to misbehave, you have to be really wild at the wheel. And despite its weight, new GTI is much more agile than its predecessor. Sure, there are cars that feel sharper (especially on the track), but very few offer such an attractive blend of comfort, speed and dynamic ability on real-world roads.


This then, seems to be a proper GTI, but it is a modern interpretation, with all the pluses (safety, comfort) and minuses (extra weight) that it brings.


Prices:

GTI Manual R240 000

GTI DSG R253 500

Original article from Car