The Golf GTI 1.8T offers the perfect combination of style, performance and comfort. Its distinctive interior is elegantly finished with black wood inserts to the centre console, ashtray lid, gear lever and inside door handles. And is complemented by the leather trimmed sports steering wheel, gear level surround and handbrake. The "Recaro" sports seats confirm the 1.8T's lively image and include lumbar adjustment for maximum comfort. External aesthetics are enhanced with 16 inch' "Montreal II" alloy wheels and 205/55 low profile tyres and colour co-ordinated bumper strip. But the heart of this GTI is its 1.8 litre, 20V 150 bhp engine boosted by the latest turbo-changing technology. The effect is dramatic. It accelerates the 1.8 from 0 - 62 mph in a mere 8.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 134 mph, where the law permits. To accommodate such impressive performance, the suspension is lowered and this plays a significant role in the 1.8T's adept handling and superb roadholding. On the open road, squeeze the throttle and you'll soon discover why the 1.8T has just redefined the GTI class.
Family hatchbacks: what are they? They’re cars like you and me buy, that’s what. One-point-fours. One-point-sixes. You get modest comfort, a fair but hardly lavish specification, and…well, that’s about it. The missing factor is fun. Can you enjoy driving these budget-busters, or are they just dull run-arounds for fetching sprogs from school? VW’s Golf, the car that can claim to have started the hatchback boom, is particularly disappointing funwise. The current 1.4 takes a leisurely 16.4 seconds to reach 60mph from rest, and this modest performance is further blunted by high fourth and fifth gears; an attempt to give the Golf motorway-cruising ability which it hasn’t the power to exploit. The 1.6 is not much better, either. The engine is generally smooth and quiet, although there was some very downmarket buzzing through the bulkhead when the clutch was depressed, which undermined the traditional solid VW feel. The gearchange itself is easy, but the spongy-feeling brake pedal travels a long way before much happens. Power steering is a must. Without it, the extra grip of the standard wide 175-section tyres makes the steering much too heavy. Which is a shame, because the chassis is well sorted and has enough grip to be almost sporting The cockpit is an exercise in simplicity. Superb fit and finish along with doors that shut with a satisfying clunk all help. Indeed, the VW has a real air of quality about its construction, but dismal acceleration, heavy steering and too much road noise in the cabin spoil an otherwise sound package.