Performance car of the year 2022 Finalist: Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI
Volkswagen tells us its Golf GTI’s DNA has never changed. A Golf GTI, they say, is defined by powerful, clean design, those iconic GTI logos and a red stripe on its grille. As much as it is by supreme performance and drivability. Yet this latest GTI 8 has an all new digitised cabin and intelligent assistance systems to catapult into the future. A conundrum in itself…?
SWIPE IT TO DO IT IN GOLF 8 GTI
The all-new eighth generation GTI certainly looks the part. Some love it, others don’t. Either way, it’s a little squatter and clean and powerful. As always. Chiselled lines rise toward the default GTI roof spoiler, which presides over a rear diffuser punctuated by two round GTI tailpipes. Click the keyless door open to reveal a top class ‘digital and innovative’ climate controlled and an ambient lit cabin. It’s Vienna leather pews are sat under an optional panoramic sunroof. Which like most else, uses a phone-like swipe to open and close.
GTI also gets an all-new touch control multifunction leather sports paddle shifter steering wheel, to run its touch and swipe control 10.25 inch infotainment. It has App-Connect and an inductive charging mobile interface. Plus optional 12-channel 480W eight speaker Harmon Kardon Composition sound. You run your GTI like your smartphone. You swipe it to do it. But it can be demanding to run and saps too much driving concentration to toggle a simple function that most other cars simply use a button or knob to do.
Getting down to driving, finger the throbbing red start-stop button and fire it up. It feels and sounds like a GTI and ride is surprisingly soft and pliant. Impressive, considering those marvellous inched-up 19” alloys. And adaptive and dynamic chassis control set it up exactly like you want it.
NANNIES ARE JUST NOT A GTI THING
Which is a bit of a waste. This car had the optional Travel Assist package. It has a lane assistant with adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. So, while the car handles brilliantly, unless you are so lucky to find how to switch all that off, the nannies interfere with the steering so much that it makes it feel quite horrible. And good luck switching it off. Ugh! We’d warn against the Travel Assist option. It just isn’t a GTI thing.
Getting on to performance, GTI 8 of course comes packing a 180 kW 370 Nm version of VW’s multitalented turbo 2-litre EA888 four-pot. It turns out 11 kW more power than its predecessor did and drives the front wheels via VW’s 7-speed dual clutch transmission. But its TC-off is nigh impossible to find. And when it was all off, bareback acceleration proved futile.
GTI just stood there burning its tyres as soon as the power went down. But the other traction control option in the braking menu, d’uh, arms you with a really effective launch control. Effective enough to propel it to 100 km/h as quickly as any other front wheel drive car we have ever tested. Only its uncle TCR was a touch quicker. It even beat Type R, Megane RS and the Minis, et al. So it’s fast. Very fast. But you need a PHD to unlock that speed!
A FINE PCOTY PROSPECT DULLED
And therein lies the rub. It’s no longer the epitome of hot hatch driving. It’s stymied by too many systems to cosset and bamboozle the driver. It’s a GTI little more than the badge. And performance. If you’re ever so fortunate to release it. It’s almost as if VW knows there will never be another petrol Golf GTI.
PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR 2022 FINALIST: Volkswagen Golf GTI Engine: 180 kW 370 Nm 2-litre turbo I4 Drive: 7-speed DC auto FWD TESTED: 0-100 km/h: 5.74 sec 0-160 km/h: 12.95 sec 400m: 13.8 sec @ 166 km/h 80-120 km/h: 3.52 sec 120-160 km/h: 5.29 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 250 km/h Fuel: 7.0 l/100 km CO2: 159 g/km Warranty/Service: 3y 120K/5y 90K km LIST PRICE: R669K
Performance car of the year 2022 Program Pcoty ‘22 Introduction Audi RS 6 Avant BMW M5 Competition Ford Ranger Raptor SE Jaguar I-Pace Mercedes-AMG A45 S Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Mini Cooper SE Toyota GR Yaris Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI Pcoty ‘22 Electric Shootout Pcoty ‘22 Super Hatch Shootout Pcoty ‘22 Super Saloon Shootout Pcoty '22 Top Three Pcoty ‘22 Winner