The Hot Hatch with plenty of space and a dash of high performance

Everybody seems to love the VW GTI. I like it, but there is no way I love it. I respect it and understand why people buy them. But for me I can’t get beyond the lackluster styling.

Ok….. the Golf is a multi awarding winning vehicle and like the Prius within Toyota the Golf has become a brand within the VW Brand. The seventh generation of the VW Golf represents a major turning point in the car’s history: No longer is it simply a model – the Golf – but rather a family of vehicles that includes 2-door and 4-doorhatchbacks, performance variants like the Golf GTI and Golf R, the Golf SportWagen, and an EV in the form of the e-Golf. Not only does the Golf family offer a little bit of something for everyone, but in its most basic hatchback form, it has grown larger, offers a new family of gasoline, diesel and electric power plants, while still retaining the practical and fun-to-drive attributes that have served a loyal customer base well.

The GTI is the go-to hatchback for people who enjoy a dash of performance in a front drive platform and don’t want to sacrifice practicality for sportiness. My wife loves VW’s so I have grown to enjoy the brand. At one time, we even considered a GTI purchase on the home front.

This weeks test vehicle is a 2015 Golf GTI SE with the Performance package painted in vibrant Tornado Red. The vehicle is pretty loaded with base of $29, 839 and an out the door MSRP of $31,695

Among the standard features are power windows and door locks, air conditioning, a touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius XM satellite radio, and a media-device interface with iPod integration. S models feature aluminum-alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating, steering wheel controls, and cruise control. Four-door models also have partial-power front seats. Golf SE models add a rearview camera and Fender Premium Audio System. My test vehicle had the excellent performance package that transforms the GTI. Click the sport mode and… Wow this thing can hunker down and handle! The combination of an active damping system and larger brakes make for a decent ride.

When pushed hard, the front drive platform will do a not so nice axle hop, but only few true performance geeks like myself will notice that issue.

Styling-wise, I can’t help go back in time to the mid 70’s and the original VW Rabbit a much more refined and upscale Rabbit, but the look remains. The car is instantly recognizable as Golf. While the 2-box profile is the same, all the surfaces appear to be highly tailored with crisp character lines that start at the base of the steeper hood and new narrow horizontal grille, which is flanked by sharper headlight clusters. The distinctive C-pillar treatment recalls earlier Golf generations, adding to the familiarity of the overall look. The car is about 1.1 inches lower in overall height, and the wider track gives it a more muscular, purposeful appearance. It’s so practical -but not sexy or sporty enough for me.

Inside, the Sport SE package gives you great seats and a wonderful Fender audio system with well-thought-out media interface. Good Job, VW!

Under the hood, the award winning 2.0-liter Turbo has found 10 more ponies so now stands at 210 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque. EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25 City and 34Highway mpg with my test cars 6 speed manual.

You can’t argue with the car’s practicality. The cargo volume is 16.5 cubic feet below the parcel shelf and 22.8 cubic feet to the roof. Loading is easier thanks to lower lift over in the rear hatch. The rear seat has a 60/40 split rear-folding back, expanding the load space to 52.7 cubic feet when lowered. There’s plenty of front-seat storage in the center console and door panels, and a nice mini glove box to the left of the steering column.

The VWI GTI is no question “a hot hatch,” but I’ll out I hold for the all wheel Drive and more expensive Golf R performance variant. And I still long for a new look that is real head turner like the VW CC sedan.

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68.4

Comfort

7/10

    Styling

    5/10

      Engine

      7/10

        Handling

        8/10

          Fuel Economy

          8/10

            Pros

            • Performance Package
            • Front Seats
            • Fender Audio
            • Great 2.0 Liter Turbo Engine

            Cons

            • Boring 1970's Styling
            • Axle Hop when driven like you stole it
            • Price/Value