2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance
VW adds a few hot peppers to a deliciously familiar recipe
What’s the deal with the VW GTI? Why does everyone love it so much?
There are many ways to answer to this question, but most people would agree that the following pretty much sums it up- It’s the car that created the hot hatch genre. There are others like it but none have been able to hit that magic balance of the ability to have serious fun while swallowing up a surprising amount of say, IKEA furniture. It’s priced at a threshold some would say is a bargain, and it caters to those who demand high levels of safety and efficiency in whatever they drive in one total package.
Got it. What makes this particular one so special?
The GTI you see here is different because of the Performance Package, a series of hardware upgrades that make the GTI experience even more rewarding. The first thing the PP does is turn up the wick a bit under the hood, lending a total horsepower count to 220, an increase of 10. Unless your butt dyno is extremely sensitive, you won’t much notice the difference (torque output continues unchanged at 258 lbs/ft.) So, if you’re plunking down the $4,000 for the upgrade in the name of quicker sprints to 100km/h, don’t expect to blow the doors of your neighbour’s example. What you will feel is the shocking amount of front end grip afforded by the limited slip differential and the confident bite of the upsized brakes. Around a track the extra suds won’t do much to lower lap times, but the trick diff coupled with the bigger anchors should allow you to find seconds to lop off your time.
Does the DSG transmission make it even faster?
There is no question that VW’s DSG gets better with every generation, and anyone who tells you they can shift faster or smoother than this setup is lying. Those who spend the majority of their commute inching along in traffic or those who just aren’t comfortable with a manual gearbox should tick this box. This time around, they’ve managed to make Sport mode much less frenetic and busy, and shifts around town are more heard than felt. The way it creeps forward feels almost as natural as a conventional automatic gearbox. Despite this, VW hasn’t been able to get rid of a dead spot in the systems programming which catches it off guard intermittently. Unfortunately, these intermittent situations present themselves when merging into moving traffic or passing on a two lane rural road. While you don’t find yourself in either scenario terribly much during your day, expecting to summon full snort to get out of the way of the transport truck bearing down on you and having the car take a worrying amount of time to provide it is a pressing concern. The manual gearbox VW makes is such a joy to use that Carpages staffers almost unanimously prefer this setup.
Anything else stick in your craw?
It’s hard to find stuff to complain about with the GTI. The biggest issue for us is the fact that the stability control system still cannot be fully deactivated- this, on a hot hatch with performance hardware upgrades. While we’re griping, the first thing we’d do is check out YouTube for the quickest way to disable the Soundaktor, a piece of hardware mounted to the firewall that aims to pipe in engine noise into the cockpit. If it’s there to make the car sound better, it doesn’t succeed- we are still not sure about what to make of the quasi-Subaru boxer soundtrack.
So what’s the verdict?
The last time we drove the GTI, we tried to take the slothful route of summing up the Road Test as such: “The Volkswagen GTI is the best front wheel drive car there is, period. You should buy it.” Although this no frills approach to reviewing the car didn’t go over well with the editors, it is the easiest and most accurate way to sum up Volkswagen’s greatest product. Even if you elect to go for the regular Golf that slots in below the GTI or if you step up to the full-zoot Golf R, you will definitely not be disappointed in whichever model you decide on.
2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance – Specifications
- Price as tested: $39,495
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbo inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 220 @ 4,700 rpm
- Torque (lbs.-ft.): 258 @ 1,500 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed Dual Clutch automatic
- Curb weight: 1,400kg (3,086 lbs.)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 9.2L/100 km (25mpg)