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Roadtest Date:
September 2007
VW Golf 1.4 GT Sport TSi (170PS)
VW Golf 1.4 GT Sport TSi (170PS)
VW Golf 1.4 GT Sport TSi (170PS)
Golf Appeal

For a car that started a revolution - it was the original hot hatchback - to still be in demand after some 30 years is quite an achievement, even if the Golf is on its fifth generation model now. The GTi has spawned a number of sporting versions of the Golf from the extremely hot R32 to the Sport models. The 1.4 TSi engined GT Sport, with the DSG gearbox, is a particular star for VW.

Priced at £20,352 in five door form and with the DSG gearbox, the GT Sport has a more sophisticated look than the GTi or R32 in terms of style. It has the large alloy wheels that fill the arches, the twin exhaust tailpipes and full colour coding. The interior is similarly stylish with sports front seats and a plethora of standard equipment including rain sensing wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, auto lights, climate control, power windows and door mirrors and 8-speaker sound system.

The 1.4 TSi engine is a technological masterpiece incorporating both supercharging and turbocharging to ensure the best performance whether at low or high revs. This translates into a top speed of 135 mph with the benchmark 62 mph passed in just 7.7 seconds. Fuel economy is quoted as 38.7 mpg in combined driving and during my time with the car, during an especially hectic week, I was averaging early 30s mpg. The DSG gearbox is a true marvel with smooth and swift changes through six well-chosen ratios. Manual changes are actioned by the shift lever or optional paddles that come with a multi-function steering wheel.

On the road the Golf has always been a keen drive across country routes and the new Sport version is no exception. Thanks to the 225/45 tyres it has a surefooted and positive feel on the road with excellent feedback from the steering. It is remarkably responsive and allows you to point the car knowing it will follow the line perfectly. With sports suspension that sits 15mm lower than the standard you might be forgiven for thinking the ride would be somewhat harsh. It isn't. VW has managed draw a perfect line between firmness for handling and compliance for ride quality.

Developing 177 lb ft of torque from 1500rpm the car has seemingly endless accelerative reserves. The GT Sport is also offered in a lower powered 140 PS form that still develops 162 lb ft of torque from 1750 rpm. The twin charging enables this unusually wide band of power from a petrol engine, it is normally only diesels that have this kind of power range, and VW are certainly leading the march to gain better torque spread from petrol engines. VW's TSi technology has lead to International Engine of the Year awards for the last two years.

The Golf also has some impressive safety features. Along with dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags for front and rear the GT Sport benefits from ABS with brake assist, traction control, whiplash protection head restraints, automatic hazard light activation under emergency braking, all-round 3-point safety belts and isofix child seat preparation.

Priced at just over £20,000 this Golf has some very stiff competition from premium rivals and it is a credit to the Golf's enduring appeal and reputation that it sits so comfortably at this level. Something few, if any, mainstream rivals could accomplish.

Whilst the GTi will always be the Golf icon the GT Sport is a more than equal rival for those seeking performance with a sophisticated and subtle style. The fact that it manages to do this whilst offering a comfortable and spacious car for the family just reinforces how great the sporting Golf range really is.

For: Where do I start? Driveability, style, performance, practicality, etc, etc.
Against: Lots of premium competition at the price, interior could be too sober for some.