Articles, Blog

Golf GTI Mk.VII Road Test. – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

September 8, 2019


CHRIS HARRIS: The new Golf GTI
doesn’t have a beard, but it is lighter, faster,
and more efficient than the car it replaces. Now, many enthusiasts have
always thought that this car is just too boring to wear the
GTI badge, but I’ve always disagreed with that. Does this Mark 7 version
change anything? The Golf GTI is quite a simple
car, but it’s one with a complicated history and
a complicated set of responsibilities. On the one hand, it’s the car
that should be everything to all people. It’s the classless performance
car that does everything all the time for all people. But on the other hand, it’s
a car that was once an enthusiast’s object,
a car that people like me lusted after. And then it became a car that
people like me slightly laughed at. And then more recently
again, it became a car that we respected. So within that, there’s the
full range of emotions. So when I come to test a car
like the Golf GTI, it’s quite difficult, really. Who am I speaking to? Am I speaking to the full
hardcore enthusiast? I’m not sure that person
buys a Golf GTI. Am I speaking to the casual
driver, the person who doesn’t really care? Well, they wouldn’t be watching
one of my videos. I don’t really know. Actually, do you know what? I think a lot of people that
know a lot about cars quietly respect the Golf GTI. And if they were given the
chance to own one car year round, I think they’d look long
and hard at one of these. So let’s have a look
at the Golf GTI. First of all, some numbers. This car has 220 horsepower,
because it’s the base GTI. It doesn’t have the performance
pack, which costs another about 1,000 pounds
and gives you another 10 horsepower. So we have 220. We have 250 foot-pounds of
torque, a maximum speed claimed at 152 miles an hour,
0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. It all seems entirely
reasonable and acceptable to me. Basic setup of the Golf? Well, the Golf body, independent
suspension all the way around, electric power
steering, and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s becoming a kind of normal
recipe, isn’t it? But Volkswagen reckons
they’ve added some abnormal stuff to this. They’ve brought in people from
other projects, let’s say, within the Volkswagen group, a
man who was involved with the GT3 RS, 3.8-liter version, the
Gen 2 one that we all loved. Carsten Schebstat, he has
worked on this car. And to me, initially, it feels
like a clever car on the road. It feels nice and supple. They haven’t gone down the
crazy, hardcore, overdamped, oversprung route. And that has to be
a great start. Now, even though we have an
open differential, you can turn off the traction
control in this. And it scrabbles its way
out of second gear turns pretty well. I wouldn’t really miss
the diff on the road. It’s got a really
nice front end. It’s accurate. Steering, as ever in the
electric way, doesn’t have any great sense of connection
to it. But they’re getting good
at this stuff. I think we’re going to be at a
point fairly soon where they can start to replicate the feel
of hydraulic steering. I think the actual weighting is
good, even though it does shunt around a bit according
to speed. It’s an enjoyable car to drive
fast, but it’s not a kind of car that you decide to grow
horns and drive too hard. However, if you do, its
competence comes through and through and through. This has been developed to the
nth degree in this car. You can just tell they’ve spent
time getting all the performance from it that
they possibly can. There are three driving
modes in this new GTI. Normally, this stuff doesn’t
interest me because I think you should just have
a suspension setup and deal with it. But this car’s quite
interesting. We start out in Comfort. And I like cars in Comfort,
even cars with badges like GTI, because they tend to
work better on the road. So we’ve got this quite
long travel feel. It’s supple. It feels really, really nicely
damped over these roads– and comfortable. It’s not sort of irritating me,
but it doesn’t feel too sloppy and lazy. It wants to change direction. It’s an agile car like this. But it’s rolling enough
to give me an idea of what’s going on. If I go to Normal,
I don’t have a profoundly different car. In fact, I still seem to retain
90% of that comfort, maybe more, and I just
lose a bit of roll. The steering remains sharp. It’s a variable ratio rack, so
I’ve got 2.1 turns, much more resistance at low speed than
I have at high speed. So in Normal, I think it’s
rather nicely balanced. In fact, I might leave
it in Normal. This is the interesting
one for me, though. If I go into Sport, normally
when I press the Sport button in car, it’s a button that
says, I’ll tell you what. Let’s totally [BLEEP] the dynamics of the car and
make it horrible to drive unless you’re on a really
flat racing track. But no one drives a Golf
GTI on a really flat racing track, do they? But I’m now in Sport mode, and
this car has not been shafted. I’ve got flatter cornering, but
I’ve retained a sort of supple edge to the suspension. It feels like that initial
spring rate, that initial amount of spring, isn’t too
harsh, almost like there’s a variable rate spring
on the car. And so I’m cushioned. And it’s not unpleasant. Yes, it’s firmer. Yes, I’ve got more control. But it hasn’t wrecked
it for the road. I think that’s a very important
distinction, because all too often, Sport
mode wrecks things. And in the Golf GTI on
the road, it doesn’t. The motor itself, well, you
can look at it two ways. It’s either a bit bland
and not that much fun. Or it’s ruthlessly efficient
and impressively smooth. Four cylinders, to me, used to
mean quite harsh, but this is smooth as you like. And as for the turbocharging and
the throttle response, I cannot fault it– fourth gear, 80 clicks. You put your foot down,
and it just goes. I mean, really goes. And it gives you the impression
of far more performance than a car with a
claim of 0 to 62, time of 6 and 1/2 seconds. And your gearbox, the
gearshift is lovely. It makes me ask a few
more questions of Renault, this does. If Volkswagen can make a manual
gearbox for the Golf GTI, a car which I think is more
often not specified with a DSG gearbox, then why can’t
they do a manual gearbox for their Clio RS? This is a lovely shift. Short shift, but not too short,
very, very accurate. The clutch pedal’s nice. In fact, the relationship
between the three pedals is quite good. And when you’re pushing on the
heel and toe, it’s quite natural as well. I’ve haven’t driven the DSG yet,
but we might get a skid in one of those tomorrow. But we know all about that
gearbox and just how efficient it is. This five-door car with a manual
gearbox is a very, very nicely balanced package. But it has got a couple
of problems. The first problem is its price,
and the second problem is related to that. It’s not a cheap car. If you were to buy this car
and specify it with five doors, a DSG gearbox, and the
performance pack, you’d end up with a car that cost
over 28,000 pounds. And that drags it right into
BMW M135i territory. Now, I know people think I’m
boring about that car. But it has 300 horsepower
and probably weighs a little bit less. And it’s performance is on a
completely different level to the Golf GTI. So I’m worried that the Golf
GTI’s marketplace has been taken away from it. I can’t really give you any
answer to that until I drive the two of them back to back. But it is interesting to note,
isn’t it, that a near 30,000-pound Golf GTI is upon
us, and yet BMW has a turbocharged six-cylinder
rival to that car in the market already. [CAR ENGINE ROARING] CHRIS HARRIS: –the basic
layout of the car. Well, this is– [BLEEP]. What are those? Bald sheep! They look like Gollum. Did you see those? Scared me. Start again. MALE SPEAKER: It’s Gollum! CHRIS HARRIS: Wrong. [INAUDIBLE] Middle Earth.

53 Comments

  • Reply Simon Zhao January 8, 2017 at 4:00 am

    No price problem in the USA. I just bought 17 GTI sport which has the performance pack and lighting package for 26000 usd. Very good value in my opinion

  • Reply Super_Slav January 20, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Better off getting a retune for almost half that and get allot more than 7kw.

  • Reply Sun Trails January 31, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Seat Leon FR anyone ?

  • Reply davidhindu February 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    if it doesnt have a performance pkg then the hp on it is 210HP and not 220.

  • Reply Robz1471 February 27, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I LOVE IT WHEN CHRIS TALKS ABOUT SPRING AND DAMPER RATES!! 🙂 GEEK ALERT

  • Reply cody ellis March 6, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Well this video has been sitting in my watch later and favorites list since it first aired years ago! Chris compelled me to make the silly chose to sell my almost paid off mkV Jetta, for my 15 mkVII GTI! I've not regretted that decision since the day I took it home! Looking back though, I wish I had found a GTI S form with the performance package. I think that trim, with that package, may have been the best deal for this generation (if you found it without silly mark ups). What I've found about the lighting package, particularly what the IIHS has said, is that these xenon lamps are shit, and don't serve their purpose, providing vision. With that said I'd stick with the standard halogens, and find either some led bulbs or a good aftermarket kit. Back to the S with the performance package, compared with the current sport package, I think you'd save a few clams(dollars) with that kit.

  • Reply tuska20000 March 7, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I do like the golf r. but then i also like the 135i…
    FIGHT!!!!!!!

  • Reply tuska20000 March 7, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I do like the golf gti. But then i also like the 135i…
    FIGHT!!!!!!!
    Golem lol

  • Reply Rob Cohen March 10, 2017 at 2:44 am

    28 thousand? what that's not that bad. 28 thousand POUNDS? Oh that sucks. I guess the fact that they make them in Mexico makes it cheaper for the USA but more expensive for Europe?

  • Reply chiswickbeasty March 17, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Sold my R. Too removed from the driving experience.

  • Reply The Cafe Chaser April 6, 2017 at 11:25 am

    The GTI is a more practical car than the BMW 135i. Rear passenger space in the 135i is non-existent. The boot space is terrible and while the rear wheel drive is a blast in dry conditions, you're totally screwed in snow or ice. Not to mention that the GTI is also more economical to fuel (and insure.)

  • Reply Birmingham racing April 14, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Can't go wrong with a gti

  • Reply zack worrell April 23, 2017 at 2:00 am

    Respect! Nuf said.

    Where VW the GTI, Porsche the 911, BMW the M3, Benz and Audi have failed to maintain an Iconic sports car which they have crafted and celebrated through time without fucking it up or moving too far away from its roots. If only Porsche still offered Tartan interiors.

  • Reply TheOriginalBRad July 19, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    owned many of the main tuners now drive a gti most pleasant of all, also the most frustrating complex engine. Parts fail other cars don't even have.

  • Reply James McHale August 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Is that a little trump at 7:24?

  • Reply n8tehgr8 August 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    "No one drives a GTI on a flat racetrack." Uh… I do… GTIs are great on the track.

  • Reply Christopher King October 24, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Nice review, picking mine up Wednesday. Reflex Silver SE 6 speed. Lighting Package, roof, mats, and roadside assistance options. $6750 off MSRP. Stoked !!!!

  • Reply A. Elder October 26, 2017 at 4:21 am

    Fantastic review, Chris! Thanks! Held great weight when I got my 2017 GTI in July. I got the DSG (like many, the wife didn't want to learn stick), and haven't looked back at all. My last car was a stick, but this is FAR more fun with the paddles and how quick the shifts are. And dead on: no reason to drive this in anything but Sport mode! I, personally, only drive mine in paddle/Tiptronic mode with the Sport mode steering and suspension. Responsive as hell, and a straight-up blast to drive. Cheers.

  • Reply mistertee November 11, 2017 at 4:29 am

    I bought a regular Golf and wish I had gone for the GTI. It really is perfect.

  • Reply Li U MAAA November 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

    a golf gti will be always an golf

  • Reply Chris McConnell November 17, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    In the US I bought a new SE which includes the lighting package, limited slip differential, upgraded brakes, 10 extra HP, leather and a moonroof for $26,800. It’s honestly more fun to drive than the M Sport 328 it’s replacing. Not as plush and power is not as smooth across the rev range, but it just makes me smile more often. Both great cars!

  • Reply Rellings December 17, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Fantastic, quality review.

  • Reply Manny Echaluce December 22, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    getting discounted right now in the US 😀 good deal, but value plummet like a rock immediately only after a few months of purchanse, get a used 1 year old one of more than 1/2 the original…

  • Reply thapelo Max December 28, 2017 at 11:36 am

    gti 7 is expensive

  • Reply Lemme Smash January 5, 2018 at 7:45 am

    The 3 door golf, especially the gti and the r, is one of the best looking hot hatches ever made. It's such a subtlety handsome car. My dad had a mk6 and it was loads of fun even as a passenger.

  • Reply Roberto Moreno January 19, 2018 at 1:20 am

    in europe have same price than bmw 220i

  • Reply DOMg00g January 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    That infotainment screen looks much larger and nicer than the U.S. model

  • Reply Steve Lane February 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

    What a beard!

  • Reply Little R March 23, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Bought a mkii and fell in love with GTI's. Forgetting the Mkiii GTI's are magnificent vehicles.

  • Reply Kevin Hibbard March 26, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Damn I really want this car for a daily driver for my wife.

  • Reply Nguyen Duong March 28, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Bought my 16 GTI S Base brand new for $24,000

  • Reply CryptoChat March 29, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Which would you rather buy? Toyota Prius that gets 50 mpg/highway and puts out 120 hp on a CVT transmission, –OR– a Golf GTI that gets 35 mpg/highway and puts out 320 hp (Cheap tune) on a DSG transmission? This car is the best of both worlds. It gets just as good gas mileage as a tiny little wimpy sedan/hatchback… but you can unleash 400+ lb-tq in an instant with almost zero turbo lag on a responsive dual clutch transmission. This car is a steal… fully loaded Sports trim car; leather seats, performance package limited slip, sun roof, etc. for $25,000 brand new? — If you want a FUN muscle car and don't care too much about mpg, buy the Ford Mustang GT at $35,000.

  • Reply Timothy ONeill April 1, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Chris you’re video is awesome as always I was a lifelong VW customer and after my last purchase 2016 GTI autobahn the clutch went after just 25k and they would not cover this repair on their extended warranty? Fool once shame on you fool twice shame on me. The end of my VW family purchase

  • Reply skilegit April 19, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Did a goose fart at 7:24?

  • Reply Nick Rubien June 25, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Gti is such a bargain in America you can get a 2 year old Gti less that 30k miles for under 20,000usd

  • Reply Garrett Adams July 9, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Just bought a base model 2017 GTI for 19,900 USD. Thanks to Jeff Smith VW, but still, there is no pricing issue with this car.

  • Reply Robin Marples July 24, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    The Léon cupra sub 8 pack is not more expensive but so much faster

  • Reply Rob , August 3, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Best review ever

  • Reply seriouscatisserious September 1, 2018 at 4:24 am

    *BALD SHEEP*

  • Reply Unseen Voice October 2, 2018 at 3:55 am

    Really good car. It's so much fun to drive and it's very practical as a daily driver. Gets 34 MPG on the highway and it's turbo charged. Love it!

  • Reply Painter Lava Lamp October 21, 2018 at 3:30 am

    My boss actually spent almost a month debating on getting the GTI or the WRX, a month he kept asking all of us what we thought was the better car personally I think the GTI is better because well I babysit my foster cousins all the time I also love hatchbacks

  • Reply CHARLES PEREIRA December 10, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Your missing the lsd if you don't have the performance pack…

  • Reply Victor Rykowski December 27, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    How about buying it as a first car over a few year

  • Reply 15october91 January 26, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    M135i

  • Reply David Stauffer February 2, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Shop it. Bought a "used" 18 Autobahn mt with 1100 mi for 28000. Nothing wrong. 6 years of warranty still on it.

  • Reply Day Today February 28, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    i owned a 2018 GTI Autobahn and my experience out of this car is that i don't look at any other cars this year i will take it to the track which i"ve never been, wish me luck!

  • Reply OspreyBravo18 March 22, 2019 at 7:32 am

    If you're watching this video in 2019 go watch the Mighty Car Mods episode where they put a modded Evo 9 against a stock Golf R.

  • Reply OspreyBravo18 March 22, 2019 at 7:44 am

    BMW M135i never made it across the pond. The 135i however did and that car was 39-42k which is Golf R territory. At least the price of the 135i used has finally settled.

  • Reply butchmeister 80 March 26, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Nice just put a deposit on one

  • Reply pietro scelfo April 6, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    This is the best mk7 review. As for price, the basic S is all you need. I did spend for bigger brakes, though.

  • Reply SpaceMissile May 30, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    6:48 – He mentions that the "heel to toe is quite natural too."

    Does he mean like the pedal tilt, or is he talking about heel-toe down-shifting? I cannot make my foot work for heel-toe in this car. feels like the pedals are spaced oddly for that.

  • Reply SuperDigitalMe June 15, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    I want one!!! Oh wait. I have one. A clubsport 😂

  • Reply 1066gaz July 16, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Excellent review from chris.

  • Reply Nick Ishchuk August 20, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    2019 here.
    Damn that beard!

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