Road test review: VW Golf GTI Original - three-door's back
VOLKSWAGEN has wound back the clock with its retro-inspired Golf GTI Original.
Priced from $37,490 plus on-roads for the six-speed manual, it is $4000 cheaper than the previous three-door Golf GTI sold locally five years ago.
The sharp starting price is only $500 more than the cheapest ever price for a Golf GTI set in 2004.
However, to sweeten the deal even further, VW has launched the car with discounted drive-away prices that are just $1000 more than the RRP, to a starting price of just $38,490 drive-away.
Customarily, on-roads add about $3500, and would have pushed the drive-away price over $40,000. There is no extra cost for metallic paint because the model is only available in red or white.
Accounting for inflation - a 2.5 per cent increase each year - the cheapest Golf GTI should in fact cost in excess of $50,000 in today's money.
However sharper competition has driven down prices and boosted standard equipment.
The Golf GTI Original packs the same power as the regular model - 169kW of power and 350Nm of torque from the 2.0-litre turbo four - and only lacks a few features from the five-door such as built-in navigation, a sensor key, push button start, and cornering lamps.
Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard on the 8-inch touchscreen, as are volume dials. Dearer Golf performance models with larger touchscreens, annoyingly, lack volume knobs.
It gains charcoal 18-inch wheels bordered by a thin red pin stripe as a nod the red-wall tyres on the 1970s original.
As with the rest of the range, the six-speed twin-clutch auto adds $2500 to the price, sneaking the three-door auto under $40,000 before on-road costs are added, or $40,990 drive-away.
The GTI Original is based on the recently updated Golf 7.5 range and is the starting point in a line-up of performance VWs that stretch beyond $60,000.
The artillery of hot hatches is designed to thwart fresh competition from Ford, Honda and, soon, Hyundai and Renault.
"Volkswagen offers not only the most accomplished fast and fun compact cars in the world, it provides the world's widest range," said VW Australia boss Michael Bartsch. "There is now a performance Golf for everyone."
On a test drive this week it was clear the GTI Original has lost none of its fun factor, even if it's trimmed some of its price.
It feels the same as a five-door to drive because, well, technically it's almost identical. The only components it lacks in the technical department are adaptive dampers.
The standard shocks in the GTI Original Edition prove there is still plenty of life left in old-school know-how.
Engineers and enthusiasts might point to slightly stronger body rigidity from the three-door body versus the five-door, but it's unlikely to be evident in the daily grind.
I certainly couldn't pick it, and anyone who says they can feel the difference in the body strength of a three-door versus the five-door ought to be put to a lie-detector test.
Most welcome is the fitment of the 18-inch wheels which, wrapped in Bridgestone tyres, providing just the right blend of grip, precision and comfort.
Other hot hatches are publishing bigger power numbers, but the Golf GTI is still the most tractable, accelerating from low to mid range speeds without raising a sweat.
All the other Golf GTI traits remain: classy cabin, comfy sports seats, and a nice note to the engine and exhaust, without being intrusive.
Verdict: 4 stars
The original VW Golf GTI brought performance to the masses with the world's first affordable hot hatch. Thanks to the sharpest price in almost 20 years, the GTI Original Edition means even more people are now able to experience sharp handling in a car they can also take to the shops.
FAST FACTS: VW Golf GTI Original
Price: From $38,490 drive-away
Engine: 2.-litre turbo 4-cyl (169kW/350Nm)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed twin clutch auto, front-drive
Consumption: 6.6 to 6.7L/100km (auto/manual), premium unleaded
Safety: Five stars, seven airbags. City and highway AEB with pedestrian detection is standard. Driver assistance package with radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, auto dipping high beam, and blind spot warning is a $1600 option pack.
Warranty and service: Three years/unlimited km, 12 month/15,000km intervals, $1413 over three years.
Spare tyre: Space saver.