Posted on May 21, 2018
Date of Release: April 2017
Number of Reviews 2
Can something that is already exceptionally good get any better? When it comes to the new Volkswagen Golf 7.5 GTI, it seems so. Following in the tyre tracks of some prestigious predecessors that managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of many, VW’s newest GTI has the looks, performance and all-round aura of a future legend.
The Golf 7.5 GTI is everything a hot hatch should be – sleek, sexy and ridiculously good looking. It seems to get more irresistible with each generation, while still retaining those signature features that let you, and everyone around you, know that this is a GTI. That familiar red chrome strip, the iconic honeycomb grille, and those attention grabbing twin pipe exhausts all shout “GTI!”
The GTI’s performance is powered by an impressive 2.0 petrol-turbo engine. That, coupled with its exceptional build quality and impeccable engineering, result in a car that offers plenty of excitement, countless thrills, exceptional handling, and the comfort of knowing that you are always is control.
In 2017, even the most exciting cars need to offer dependable safety. The GTI ticks the exciting box, but what about safety? Some of its safety features include Fatigue detection, Progressive steering, Park distance control and a High level brake light. The Golf 7.5 GTI isn’t just a thrilling ride, it is a safe one too.
South Africans love their Vrrrr Pha’s! So much so that, since its launch back in June 2013, the GTI has been the top selling model variant out of the entire Golf 7 range. But now, as you surely know, the facelifted model range is out, and that means there’s a new boss on the block.
The first impression you get is, WOW! The exterior styling on this car is simply stunning! It truly does look good from a number of angles, day or night. The GTI doesn’t just look good, it IS good; in every way! Put shortly, it’s an engineering masterpiece.
In our VW Golf 7.5 1.0TSI Comfortline review, one of our biggest criticisms of that great car was that it looked fairly plain. This is definitely not the case with the GTI. Sure, there are some that prefer the exaggerated styling accustomed to hot hatches such as the Honda Type-R, the Focus RS and the A-Class AMG. In the case of the GTI, though, VW has struck a great balance between understated and premium.
Exterior styling standouts include:
In terms of the interior, the build quality and infotainment systems truly shine. Our model was also fitted with VW’s new Active Info digital instrument cluster – a nice touch indeed.
With the large windows and sunroof, the cabin feels spacious, yet the build is tight, with no large gaps or horrible squeaks and rattles. Rear passenger space is not amazing, but standard for this size car. Differentiating itself from the rest of the range, the GTI includes red stitching, perforated red dots in the black leather seats, illuminated red trim and GTI badges.
Under the hood, power is up, albeit slightly. The 2.0 petrol-turbo pushes out 169kW (up from 162kW) and 350Nm of torque. A few motoring journalists have already pointed out that they can’t feel a difference from the extra 7kW, but the car feels quicker to us, particularly in 2nd and 3rd gears. Amazingly, the car doesn’t actually feel super quick; it’s not hooligan, edge of your seat stuff. In reality, it is. The speedo climbs faster than expected and you might find yourself accidently speeding in this car, as it is so well built and so planted that you don’t actually feel like you are going that fast. It’s a good thing it comes standard with a speed limiter!
We were lucky enough to really put the GTI through its paces on the Zwartkops race track. That is where you realise how much engineering has actually gone into the performance factors of this great car. It uses something called torque vectoring to send power to the front wheel which has the most traction. The net effect is that you are able to “fling” yourself around corners. If you are brave enough to push the car past its limits, the Electronic Skid Protection (ESP) software saves the day in a brisk, yet cool, calm and collected manner.
Back on the road, the sublime DSG autobox makes even the most mundane driving activities an absolute pleasure. We found that the traction control did step in quite a lot during 1st and 2nd gears, but thankfully it engages in such a way that you don’t really notice it. The only time you do definitely notice it is when you engage launch control…
The car initially moves forward, struggling for traction. It feels like it then dips the clutch in a bit and quickly re-engages – we are talking split seconds here. After that, you hurtle forward at an alarming rate. It’s only during that small dip when you are able to really feel the traction control kick in. Something we would love to organise in the near future is a head-to-head drag race with the GTI and the Clio RS Trophy. VW claims a 0 - 100Km/h sprint time of just 6.4 seconds.
The GTI is packed full of brilliant tech. Starting off with something new to the Golf range; our car was equipped with a driver aid called “Front Assist”. It has a radar-type device fitted at the front of the car that monitors the road ahead. You’ll notice it actually manipulates the car’s auto engine start/stop, as it knows when the car in front has pulled away, pre-empting your pull-away and starting the engine at that point instead of waiting for you to press the accelerator pedal. On the highway, activate the cruise control and set your following distance. The car will automatically slow down and accelerate, mimicking the car in front’s behaviour. The GTI is not the first car to feature this tech, but what we like most about it is how it integrates with the Active Info display – especially how you can intuitively override certain auto stop gaps by tapping the accelerator pedal.
The LED headlamps know where you are pointing the car via the steering wheel and actively lights up the curves’ apex for improved visibility at night.
A bit of tech you may not know about is something called brake skimming. If you happen to be driving along a straight road in the rain, the GTI knows that the brake discs are busy collecting water droplets. Without you knowing, it’s actually half engaging the brake callipers so that the pads come close the discs, skimming off excess water. It does this on a regular basis so that when you do need to hit the brakes, they are ready and waiting for you, good to perform at 100%.
An impressive car indeed. Let’s see how it stacks up against our hatch lifestyle rating criteria:
So in summary, is the GTI worth it? Starting at R545 800, which quickly starts to rise due to you wanting to tick-off a lot of exciting optional extras, the common consensus is that the GTI is expensive. However, when you have a product that’s this aspirational, that’s this good… wouldn’t you also charge a slight premium?
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