Why the Golf GTI is Always the #1 Sport Compact
Forty years after it was introduced, one vehicle still captures the hearts and feet of hot-hatch and sport compact fans worldwide. The Golf GTI, the original hot hatchback, has never let up since its introduction in 1976, and today it is still the number one sport compact across the globe. Plenty of opponents have cropped up over the years, but none have been able to mix up the right formula to knock the GTI off the top of the hill. So what is it that makes the GTI so desirable?
It starts with power – not too much, but just enough. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine turns out 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque in the S trim, while all other versions hit 220 horsepower. Select from a manual or automated manual transmission on any trim level, as there is no reason why you shouldn’t have the level of control you desire regardless of the level of comfort you choose. Either way, the GTI can make it to 60 miles per hour from a standing start in under 6 seconds, and has a top speed of 126 miles per hour. It’s power that doesn’t drain the wallet either – all versions are rated at 24 miles per gallon around town, and 34 miles per gallon out on the open road.
Power is a wonderful thing, but without control, all it will do is get you into trouble. The Volkswagen GTI isn’t the most powerful sport compact on the market, but even in the base S trim, it is the most controllable and responsive compact around. Drive Mode Selection helps to set the car for performance driving or just daily driving, while the suspension is finely weighted between ride and performance. The brakes are firm, able to bring the Golf to a stop from 70 miles per hour in under 160 feet. Stepping up to the Sport trim adds on the VAQ differential and upgraded brakes, for improved control, while the Autobahn edition adds in Dynamic Chassis Control.
It’s not just performance that the Volkswagen GTI excels at – it also manages to hold onto a feel of sophistication. While some sport compacts will throw you around in the name of performance, the GTI does not beat up on the driver. The cabin is quiet, the seats are incredibly comfortable yet supportive, and the interior has a certain premium feeling, including the trademark plaid seats. The driver is treated to great visibility and simple, easy to use controls, while state-of-the-art technology is worked into the infotainment system. Features such as Car-Net App-connect and heated front seats are standard on all models, while upper-level trims get nifty features including navigation, a 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and dual-zone climate control.
Wrapping up the entire package is a certain level of functionality that few sport compacts can reach. You don’t often think of “sport” and “cargo capacity” in the same vehicle, but then again, the Golf GTI isn’t just any vehicle. With the rear seats in place, there is 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space, while lowering the rear seats offers up to 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. More room than a compact SUV, yet more fun to drive? That’s what makes the GTI a winner.
Here at Volkswagen of South Charlotte, we always have a number of Golf GTI models on hand, alongside the other Golf models available. Of course, everyone ends up asking about the GTI – its reputation is just that impressive. So stop down and take the GTI out for a test drive, and see for yourself why it has been the top sport compact in the world for four decades!