END OF AN ERA: 2020 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI MANUAL
Like an old pair of our favorite blue jeans, the Golf GTI is this gentle sanctuary of untainted idyllic entertainment. Hugging the curves, feeling the crisp sensation of the steering and tires connecting the driver to the road – this is what driving is all about. Considering its life of over 8-years, this iconic fashion statement of the automotive industry has run its course and this marks the end of an era. With a whole new Golf GTI in the works for 2021, we’re joyful to have one final goodbye at the seventh-gen, MK7.
With pricing starting at $28,595, the entry ‘S’ still marks itself has one of the most pleasurable, hot hatches money can buy for under 30-grand. Fitted with passion and style, the only real way to experience a GTI is with its Clark plaid interior and golf-ball manual transmission. Stepping up to the SE and Autobahn series loses out on the plaid for the sake of leather seats and can see a hard to swallow price upwards of $37,000. True to its core values however, it remains as one slick cookie in any form. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is just an absolute peach, producing 228-horsepower. While the manual transmission may not be as quick as the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, there is more pleasure in playing with its lively third pedal and silky-smooth stick shift as it sprints to 60-mph in about 6.5-seconds.
Being quick enough to chase its own tail, the sweet spot to the GTI is its swift demeanor. Its perfectly balanced manual transmission is the cream of the crop when it comes down to the driving enjoyments – it allocates enough thrills to enjoy the cars fundamentals, but not too much that it can get you into “too” much trouble. Its limited-slip differential is one of the better suits in the business too, it applies its power evenly boosting a sharp acceleration response with absolutely no torque steer and very little under-steer when push came to shove.
But with great power comes great sacrifice. For its price, there is quite a bit of forfeiting compared to other brands. Cutting out LED headlights for halogens may not seem like a big deal; however, the Honda Civic Si and Hyundai Veloster N both comes with LED headlights as standard equipment. Despite featuring blind spot monitoring and a forward collision avoidance system on the entry model, it doesn’t quite match up to the standard safety equipment of its competitors. Even the 6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system is falling towards the smaller end of the spectrum and doesn’t offer Satellite Radio on the entry base model. Thankfully, VW offers the functionality of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to fill that music gap.
In any form of fashion, sacrifices have to be made to enjoy the art of sinful desires. With the Golf GTI being one of our absolute favorite hot hatches, we’re willing to sacrifice the creatures of comfort and safety for some old school driving pleasures.
Model: 2020 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
Base Price: $28,595
Starting Trim Price: $28,595
As Tested: $29,515
Color: PURE WHITE
Engine: 2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 228-HORSEPOWER / 258 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 6-SPEED MANUAL
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE WITH VAQ LIMITED-SLIP FRONT DIFFERENTIAL
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 24-CITY / 32-HWY / 27-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 28.8-MPG COMBINED | 35.3-MPG HIGHWAY (200 MILE TEST)
Fuel Range: 400 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS