Golf is a game enjoyed by all, and as such Volkswagen offers many flavors of the original German hot hatch bearing the sport’s name. Back in March we spent a week with the 2015 Golf TSI, and discovered how versatile the seventh generation has become.
In the meantime, Wolfsburg began production of the new Golf R with almost 300 hp. Try as we might, they are selling too fast for us to test drive. Instead, VW sent us the next best thing, and they call it the Golf GTI SE.
For many years the GTI has been their premier model. With a dedicated following, enthusiasts quickly discovered that the turbocharged four-cylinder is capable of big power thanks to German engineering. Their tendency to overbuild has resulted in a powertrain that can outlive the body around it. While the TSI had amazing handling characteristics, the 1.8-liter engine made only 170 hp and 200 lb-ft, which is not able to reach safe highway speeds before the end of an onramp.
Our GTI tester was equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo engine and the optional Performance Package. This boosts output to 220 hp and 258 lb-ft. Performance of this caliber required a V6 just a few years ago, but coupled with the light and nimble chassis of the Golf it can create more speed with less power.
In addition to the peppy power, our GTI was blessed with the six-speed manual transmission. Normally manual transmissions and front wheel drive equate to a numb and sloppy shifter, but not here. Shifts are short and solid with a strong return to the center 3-4 gates. The third pedal is on the numb side, but is light enough for rush hour traffic.
While we impatiently wait for our turn with the Golf R, fond memories of the GTI will keep us entertained. Haggling on this hot hatch starts at $31,695. Considering the solid quality, six-speed manual and slot-car handling, it’s a steal. For more VW news and reviews stay tuned to Autofluence.
(Images courtesy of Volkswagen)