2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Good:
– Superb engine performance
– Cabin space and features
– Great handling
The Bad:
– Pricey with options
– Some hard cabin plastics
– Throttle response at idle

You know the story of Yahoo? More than a decade ago, it was the be-all-and-end-all of websites, easily the default search engine in the early days of the internet. Then they tried to be everything to everyone, adding all sorts of random content sections, from cars to celebrities. Now they’re faltering badly in the face of competitors who are way more focused in their offerings. The VW Golf GTI is something like that, the default hot-hatch choice in its early days, and then trying to be everything to everyone as each new generation was introduced. In the face of competent new rivals, is it still the default choice?

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI still looks overly generic for a hot hatch. The changes are hard to notice as well, compared to the old model, even though the new one is a completely new car. Even we’re hard-pressed to tell you what has changed, aside from a slight reshaping of the styling cues, the 18-inch wheels and the profile. There’s a lot more red badging though.

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI 7

Inside, the cabin design also remains as staid as before. Everything is new, yet nothing looks new. In fact, there’s some cost-cutting evident compared to the old model, with more use of hard plastics on the doors, especially the unpadded rear door upper-sills. The soft-touch dash and front door sills as well as the cushy door inserts and armrests still retain some semblance of VW’s traditionally-premium cabin feel though.

Cabin space itself is pretty good, with tons of headroom under that boxy roof. The optional leather-clad front seats are nicely bolstered and there’s enough rear legroom for most average-sized adults. The boot volume is decent, with a couple of grocery-bag hooks and an as-needed split-folding rear seat. There’s enough door pockets, padded seatback pockets and cup-holders, the latter nicely hidden when not in use.

Features include a redesigned touchscreen that integrates the good CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth phone and other settings, but unfortunately our well-kitted car did not have navigation or USB ports as standard, making do with an iPod cable only. It did come with a good dual-zone auto a/c, rear a/c vents, automatic parallel-parking, rear camera with sensors, HID headlights with turning fog lamps, cruise control with speed limiter, lots of airbags, panoramic glass half-roof and smart keyless entry with starter button.

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI 4

Still powered by VW’s long-running 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, it’s tweaked to make 220 hp at 4500 rpm, and a solid 350 Nm of torque starting at just 1500 rpm. It’s also still mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch “DSG” automanual gearbox, sending power to the front wheels of this lighter new platform. All that translated to a 0-100 kph time of 6.8 seconds, even with a fresh engine, hot July weather and plenty of wheelspin, but crucially, no torque steer. In contrast, the hot new 252 hp Ford Focus ST did it in 7.1 seconds in our tests, as it torque-steers and wheelspins away its extra power on launch. Interestingly, we feel the GTI now also has decent highway juice for overtaking, compared to the out-of-breath old model, although don’t expect to keep up with that Focus once speeds go beyond 120 kph.

The GTI should be able to hang with the Focus around corners though. The handling feels totally flat no matter what speed you’re going around curves, with more grip from the 225/40 tyres than you’d normally need in aggressive street driving. Fly into a sharp right-hander too quickly and there’s understeer, but if you hit the brakes while swinging the steering left-right like a rally driver, you can make it around any pinhead with a little controlled drift. You can’t swing out the back too far though, since the stability control seemingly doesn’t fully turn off. There isn’t even a proper handbrake, the handle replaced by an electronic parking-brake button.

It now has variable-ratio steering for a nimbler feel at lower speeds, so a flick of the wrist is enough to do u-turns or go around tight spots quickly. The steering is mildly weighted and only offers mild feedback, so it isn’t as involving to drive as the Focus ST, but at least VW has now upgraded the brakes, now with better pedal feel and linear stopping power.

The dual-clutch gearbox is clunky at crawling speeds, compounded by annoyingly-delayed throttle response, but things become smoother and quicker once the car gets going. The automatic shifts are tuned towards economical driving, which contributed to our respectable 10.6 litres/100 km consumption. Responses do sharpen up a lot in “sport” mode, but then the car is too jumpy to drive in stop-and-go traffic, so it’s better to save that for spirited driving on open roads. We were constantly shifting between “normal” and “sport” modes in regular driving, since there is no middle ground. The manual mode with paddle-shifters is quick enough to be entertaining.

The ride is firm, but compliant enough to not be a bother on the daily commute. However, we did notice more road and wind noise than in the relatively-luxurious older model, possibly because it lost some sound insulation as a consequence of its weight-reduction diet, or maybe it was just a windy day. While the throaty engine is audible on full blast, it calms down nicely at highway speeds.

The GTI continues to evolve into a car that does all things for all people. Honestly speaking, if you really want the hottest of hot hatches, the top choice remains the manual Ford Focus ST, but if you need a bit more space, a bit more refinement, and a bit more automatic, the GTI is right there waiting in the wings. It’s a better car than the outgoing model in terms of drive, even if it’s lost some of its premium aspects in the process, but we doubt most buyers will notice.

Price Range:
Dh 116,000-135,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2014

Body Styles:
5-door hatchback

Engines:
2.0L 220 hp Inline-4 turbo / 350 Nm

Transmissions:
6-speed automatic

Setup:
Front-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1351 kg

Length:
4255 mm

Wheelbase:
2637 mm

Top Speed:
250 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
6.8 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
10.6 litres/100km

15 comments to 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • Marwan

    Can I add also a bad point to the review’s list? it is the strange design of the vehicle that makes it looks older than the mark 6 which is probably the most beautiful golf ever produced. I mean look to the mark7’s cheapened taillight and jetta like headlights not to mention its less muscular profile!
    As we owned in our family 3 generations of golf I can summarize that this car had become better in all aspects except the design which is a killing factor imo.

  • Deepak

    Great review. Just got mine and I agree fully with your opinion. Though I must say, yoj compare the mk7 to the early models and after scouting the market for an affordable sports car, it is still the best value for money. The interior, space, engine makes it much better than the best hatch the focus st-which has more power but shitty interiors and no leg room.

  • Ahmed

    @Deepak I completely agree with I was confused between the two cars and finally I just got my MK7 and it’s really brilliant
    Focus has poor interior, no rear legroom, very tight/uncomfortable recaro seat and there is no automatic transmission available

  • Reza

    I used to be a golf fan but i must say i really don’t like the look on mark7 and its kind of overpriced as well i think if u look for a good sport hatchback u should consider Opel astra OPC ( not GTC ) cause its cheaper and its has more power technically it dose 5.9 sec to 100 and my god its beautiful.

  • Sean

    I have got to disagree with all of you that do not think this GTi is anything but fantastic. The new platform being utilised in this vehicle is probably one of the best out there! The design is evolutionary rather than revolutionary and will age elegantly and gracefully. The new focus looked “interesting” when it made its appearance and now it looks downright awkward. As for comments about the “cheaper” looking interior I defy anyone to find a vehicle with a better fit and finish for under AED140k. There may be faster “hot hatches” out there but not one of them can hold a candle to the iconic GTi. I mean REALLY? When it comes to design what do you want them to do? Over-styled exteriors and funky interiors have initial appeal and then all those quirky bits you loved in the beginning are later all the things you end up hating. I think if Mercedes could reduce the price of its A-Class A250 sport then the GTi would have a worthy contender (even though the A interior looks like a children’s party table)!

  • abu mohammad

    why can’t they stick to the basics, manual gear, high HP and just plain sporty looks!
    no need for all the high tech gadgets .. blah blah blah…

  • Fadi

    Any idea of the GCC spec GTI will get the limited slip? I checked the Saudi VW website, they do mention a “sports” setting but there is no mention of the LSD

    • Sujith

      I got no from the Oman dealer.And the same for the performance pack. we also get a different infotainment system compared to the rest of the world ( which was one of the major highlights of this car’s interior )to save cost (apparently just the system costs 1700 Rial Omani or 17,000 AED German engineering for everyone my ass).
      I don’t know when cars will actually have bloody options in this part of the world. its quite frustrating,when they decide for us.

  • William

    I’m an owner of a Ford Focus ST since one year and i found the new Golf GTI a brilliant car with much more interior refinement than the ST. I have owned in the past many hatches and one of them was the amazing Ford Escort RS cosworth. Many of the Focus ST owners like me are not looking for a refined interior like the golf, but more for pure performance where you still have to fight in order to keep your car stick to the road, the one who had the chance to own the Escort RS and/or the Focus RS will understand what i’m talking about.

  • Waqas

    Please suggest me which one is better Gti or Maxima ?

  • Waz

    APR tune is out for the MK7 GTi! Power / Torque increased to 300 HP / 500 Nm with just a Stage 1 flash… woah!

  • Ian

    APR tuner in UAE? would be great if you could share a name & number, please! :)

  • Yousuf

    I have test driven the gti and the ford st and without a doubt the ford st is more engagning and fun to drive but then if its your everyday car for work or groceries nothing seems to beat the gti. Its not as much fun as the st but my goodness the overall package is to hard to resist.

    I really wanted to test drive the wrx but it isnt avaible for the uae market.

    I was very close to of gettin the gti but now since the golf r is introduced starting frm 149k it seems the car i ll get. Test drove it and ma goodness its a pocket rocket.

    So i guess if u want an amazing performance and yet looking for overall package the golf r seems the best one to get.

  • Aravind Ravi

    Guys, reading the above, i feel the GTI as a daily car. but would it be recommended for high mileage runs – particularly for anyone is working in Abu Dhabi and staying in Dubai.. :/

    And besides would the maintenance cost be heavy considering the German tag to it and the daily long runs…

    Please advise…:)

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>