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A marvellous car all-round

By Phuti Mpyane | Jul 01, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IMAGINE attending the launch of a new car having seen a few on the road already. That's the measure of the popularity of VW's Golf GTI.

IMAGINE attending the launch of a new car having seen a few on the road already. That's the measure of the popularity of VW's Golf GTI.

The Golf VI was launched recently and already there is quite a substantial number of them on our roads. But the model motoring fanatics have been eagerly waiting for is the GTI.

Last week VW invited us to sample the car - not on the public roads of Jozi but on the twisted, conveniently traffic-free bends of Kyalami racetrack.

As with all previous GTIs this five-seater is a sensible package for family use, with its generous luggage space, stylish appearance, safety and economical running.

The new GTI has all this covered but VW intended exposing us to the vehicle's performance. We gladly obliged by focusing solely on that.

At the heart of the new car is a turbo-charged 2,0-litre, four-cylinder motor, as with the previous GTI, power has been upped - from148kW to 155kW. But torque is unchanged at 280Nm. The zesty motor is quieter and noticeably more responsive to accelerator inputs at any point of the rev range. There are two gearbox choices: a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gears) automatic with steering wheel mounted control. The manual shift-paddles are on the plate and truly, the self-shifting car is ideal for our country's congestion problems. The stick-shifter is suitable, if you have the commitment and financial means to explore high speeds.

It will be a revelation, judging by the manner in which the cars responded to some solid trashing at the hands of enthusiastic journalists. They remained wonderfully stable thanks to engineering architecture and new stability enhancing XDS technology; an electronic limited-slip differential. This GTI is meant to be enjoyed thoroughly but safely, which is why its ESP (Electronic Stability Program) can never be turned off fully.

To be fair, there can be no perfect car and our gripes are with the loss of the compartment under the seat, which is highly appreciated by GTI 5 owners.

The new air-conditioning system is also no longer digital.

VW has opted to paint the temperature variables with blue and red dots and this I feel is a step back.

But be under no illusions, the Mk 5 GTI sets a benchmark for rivals and is a marvellous car all-round.


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