Since that first version of the highly regarded VW, six iterations of the car have been offered, with the seventh just now coming to market.
As you’d expect, this new one is considerably more powerful than that first one, and a great deal more refined as well. While still hewing closely to its mission of providing outstanding performance potential in the guise of a prosaic family hatchback, this new GTI is the most sophisticated example of Volkswagen’s GTI ever offered.
Power for the front-drive hatchback comes from a 2.0-litre version of the new Volkswagen EA888 turbocharged and direct injected inline four-cylinder engine, featuring variable valve timing. The powerplant develops 210 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque from 1,500 rpm. Our test car was also fitted with VW’s optional GTI performance pack that will come later in the year,
Among the new features of the engine is an integrated exhaust manifold. Rather than being attached to the engine block as a separate unit, VW now makes the exhaust part of the block. This enables the circulation of coolant around it, so the exhaust gases are cooled before they are routed through the turbocharger. This does a couple of things. For the turbocharger, it makes the intake denser so it produces more boost. This also heats the engine faster, thereby reducing emissions and improving fuel economy.
Fuel consumption in mind, the new GTI is rated at 9.4 L/100km in the city and 6.9 on the highway under the new five-cycle system, no matter which transmission is chosen.
Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch direct shift gearbox (DSG) with paddle shifters. We drove the DSG for our testing, and with it the engine POOFTS between gear changes like a Formula 1 car. Very exciting stuff, it made us want to wind the engine hard all the time just to hear it. Equally pleasing aurally is the engine’s exhaust note. This is partially due to Volkswagen’s incorporation of an active sound generator to enhance the soundtrack. While some might consider this “cheating”, it’s nice to know you can have all the pleasure of a rousing exhaust note without making a nuisance of yourself to people on the sidewalk as you “scream” past them.
Delivering excellent feedback, the GTI’s steering is one of the best electric systems we’ve ever encountered. Communicating effusively the goings-on at the tires’ contact patches, the VW’s steering feel keeps the driver totally informed. Enhancing this is its very quick turn-in, owing to a mere 2.1 turns lock to lock.
While both two-door and four-door body configurations are offered, regardless of the route you take, you’ll find comfort outstanding in VW’s latest performance hatch. Head-, leg-, and shoulder room are terrific in the front seats. The rear seats, as you might imagine, are a bit light on legroom (although better than the outgoing model’s), but if the people sitting up front are willing to be accommodating, two adults could ride in the back in relative comfort. Shoulder room has also been increased for rear passengers over that offered in the Mk.VI GTI.
A bevy of standard features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake grip, brushed aluminum sport pedals and dead pedal, "Clark" tartan cloth sport seats with heatable front cushions, power windows, power door locks and mirrors, dual-zone electronic climate control, an infotainment system with a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, reverse camera, a 400-watt, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD Fender audio system with two SD card slots, a Media Device Interface (MDI)
Looking around the interior it is immediately apparent that this is the nicest GTI Volkswagen has ever offered. Offering premium levels of fit, finish, and materials, in addition to being a highly enjoyable car to drive, the Mk VII GTI is a very pleasant place to be.
2015 Volkswagen GTI pricing starts at $27,995 plus freight.
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