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VW Golf GTi: Test Drive

Date: 02 April 2009   |   Author:

Category: Lower medium
P11D: £22,995
Key rival: Ford Focus ST

Now in its sixth generation, the king of the hot hatch is back.

However, the latest Golf GTi is kind of a mk5.5 rather than an all-new model. That's because while engineering changes have improved everything from power and acceleration to economy and emissions, the exterior looks like it's been facelifted rather than redesigned.

CO2 is down to 170g/km from the previous model's 189g/km, which is low for a hot hatch, with the Ford Focus ST at 224g/km and the Honda Civic Type-R's 215g/km, but still over the magic 160g/km capital allowance threshold. Meanwhile average fuel economy has improved 3.5mpg to 38.7.

On the road, the GTi is more civilised than any other quick hatchback, but it's still plenty fun enough to be a GTi, while on the inside the big things that mark out the GTi are the unmistakable tartan sports seats, which also featured on the mk5 GTi, and the pleasantly chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel. Standard equipment is reasonably generous, with seven airbags, two-zone climate control and 17-inch alloys thrown in.

VW reckons three-quarters of Golf GTi sales will be the five-door that carries a £585 premium over the less practical three-door, and is looking at a 50:50 split between the manual gearbox, and the DSG automatic, which costs an extra £1305. It's a good gearbox that only worsens economy by 0.5mpg and has no BIK penalty, but there's nothing wrong with the manual so the extra cost could be difficult to justify.

The new Golf GTi is a very, very good car, if not cheap at a shade under £23,000 for the five-door driven here, however the cost per mile figures are likely to be promising thanks to good RVs and fuel economy way in advance of its rivals.

The challenge, though, will be getting a car in the higher capital allowance band past the finance bosses, particularly if you buy outright.

As a perk car the GTi will keep drivers more than happy, but there's a 139g/km GTD version coming this summer that could be the fleet GTi.

Volkswagen Golf GTi 5dr manual
P11D price£22,995
Price range£22,410-£24,300
Fuel consumption38.7mpg
CO2 (tax)170g/km (22%)
BIK 20/40% per month£84/£169
Service intervalvariable or 10,000mls fixed
Boot space min/max350/1305 litres
Engine size/power1984cc/210PS
Top speed/0-62mph149mpg/6.9secs
On sale22 May 2009
VerdictHugely appealing, if expensive.
Offers class-leading mpg and
CO2 figures and should be
cheaper to run than its rivals


Hugely appealing, if expensive. Offers class-leading mpg and CO2 figures and should be cheaper to run than its rivals