All hail the mighty GTI

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By: Charles Molefe

The first half of this year has placed me in a very fortunate situation. I have been experiencing a lot of products from the Volkswagen brand. This has been a very, very good couple of months, first by attending my first official vehicle launch and secondly having the opportunity to sample one of the finest products on our road right now. The product I’m talking about has had several attempted mutineers who have tried to dethrone it, many have tried but have subsequently, failed. Some manufacturers have come very close, but somehow they lack many aspects that the GTI has. The next couple of words will give you my experience of the hallowed GTI.

Aesthetics, comfort and features.

The big aesthetic upgrades come in the form of a new front end reminiscent of the Clubsport, a new set of day time running lights and the ever-charming LED rear indicators that run across the LED panel to signify your intentions and lastly the larger diameter exhaust pipes. Now that I had completed my vehicle inspection, it was time to acquaint myself with the interior.

As I stepped into the GTI many questions I had were immediately answered, the interior is like no other vehicle in its segment, you can easily compare it to the likes of the premium sedans that we are often charmed into purchasing. This is a very nice place to be, the seats provide ample comfort, space and most importantly, support. Several people often asked, why is support so important in a seat?

Let me explain, some cars surprise you so much that you begin to ask yourself some pertinent questions, such as, will I be able to hang onto the steering wheel whilst hurtling down through some technical corners? This is where the importance of support comes in, you are in the fortunate position to fling the car around corners whilst being firmly strapped into your seat and not being hurled around like a rag doll. This makes a great deal of difference and enhances your confidence behind the wheel, especially if you are a spirited driver.

Not only are the seats near perfect, but they are also heated, this is a feature that I used all the time, Winter has not been very good to us this season, so, I was not perplexed at this seasons effort of simulating arctic conditions.

Many manufacturers have the opportunity to claw back some ground when it comes to the in-car entertainment commonly known as (ICE). Unfortunately, many don’t, and this is why people will flock to the likes of the GTI. I was presented with a digital interface that had a host of features such as the audio, connectivity and dynamic chassis control settings. You also can connect to Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and even the mirror link application, so, you will never run out of options when it comes to the entertainment front. One other option that I had in the test car was the acclaimed DynAudio system that would easily please the fussiest of prospective buyers.

Included in the interactive touch screen you can control the dual-zone climate control settings and the performance monitor, the performance monitor screen displays three graphs that give you a graphical display of the oil temperature, g force meter and an indication of how much power is being generated at any given time. This can be a bit distracting but I guarantee you that your passengers will quickly fall in love with it.

Performance

One option that is a must irrespective of the cost is the dynamic chassis control, I have never driven a front-wheel-drive car that can put down the power and steer whilst maintaining its composure. The magicians at Wolfsburg have somehow managed to give you the best of both worlds by a mere click on a screen. If you have ticked the optional DCC feature, you are presented with a host of options to select.

Eco: In this mode, you are really not expecting the vehicle to be a no holds barred tool that will easily dispatch of many unsuspecting pretenders. If you are aiming to be more conservative, this is the mode to be in. When Eco mode is selected, the car relaxes, becomes a little more supple and turns the car down a notch. I spent a couple of hours using this mode and it is rewarding, you can save precious liters of fuel and experience a more comfortable ride.

Comfort: This is very similar to ECO mode, you experience a more sedate ride with the option of blasting past dawdling traffic with ease.

Sport: This is my favorite driving mode, it certainly needs no introduction, in Sport mode, you begin to realize why the GTI is the Hot Hatch King. The steering feels a lot more direct, the suspension feels more responsive and throttle response is immediate. This is where you can string out the GTI’s performance credentials and damn does it perform, many times I tried to unsettle this car just to see how good it was,  and every time I tried, I came off second best, it almost felt as though I was not working the car hard enough. Paired with the DSG option, there is nothing as immersive as the exhaust pops “Vrrrrrr Phhhhhh” as you rapidly slot through the automated cogs, it really doesn’t matter which gear you are in, the GTI pulls so hard that very often I wondered why many owners still try and get more performance out of it. What makes the GTI special is perhaps how it manages to carve up corners especially since this is a front-wheel-drive car, other manufacturers often have to unveil special editions to keep up with the GTI, however, they tend to implement some cost-saving measures that end up skimping up on one aspect of their product.

Individual: In this mode, you can mix and match the different options to your heart’s content. You can select a comfort biased steering feel whilst having the suspension in its sportiest setting. I didn’t fret about this mode, Sport mode did all that I needed in all situations irrespective of the situation.

Summary 

I could go on forever about this car, my experience with it has set a new goal post, I have not experienced a vehicle that has such history and stature behind it that you are expecting to be disappointed at your first attempt at enjoying the experience. Disappointments, I have none and this is possibly a first with any test car I have had the privilege of driving.

Just to give you a snippet of my week-long experience with the GTi, I ended up in Rustenburg after my initial intention was to have a quick dash to the local store. This is a car that will conjure several feelings and emotions every time you set foot in it or as you walk away to a dreary activity. It’s not often I stare at a car and smile, I tend to avoid forming an emotional bond with an inanimate object, in this case, the saddest time of my test was when it was time for the vehicle to be collected. I could hardly stand the call notifying me that the fleet team was outside to collect, but watching it drive away as it popped from gear to gear was a little too much, a subtle reminder of what I’ll be missing out on for a reasonable period.

I often ask myself, would I get rid of my daily drive for the current test car? Well, I guess the above review will answer that question and to those who are skeptical of the GTI, do yourself a favor, buy one, you’ll thank me later.

Gottagged Rating

9.2/10

Recommended Retail Price
R 548 600.00

Optional extra’s

• Panoramic Sunroof (Tilt & Slide)

• Park Distance Control (Front & Rear)

• Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System

• Adaptive Chassis Control including Driving Profile Selection

• DynAudio Sound System

The new Golf model range comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.

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