Volkswagen didn’t invent the hot hatchback, but it set a template that others have followed ever since. What started as the ‘Sport Golf’ – an after-hours project for a group of VW motorsport engineers – debuted as the Golf GTI in 1975. Five thousand units were planned for Group One homologation, but production was quickly ramped up from 50 cars a day to 500. Eight generations later, the rest is history.
Ti co-founder Dan Prosser owned a Mk7.5 Golf GTI Performance and considers it one of the greatest all-rounders ever made, but the current Mk8 – even in Clubsport guise – falls somewhat short (see review below). Sadly, the GTI is no longer the benchmark it was.
That said, Volkswagen has an alternative line of hot hatchbacks that started with the Golf R32 and subsequently became the Golf R. With powerful turbocharged engines and four-wheel drive, few vehicles offer such sure-footed, real-world pace. Scroll down for Dan’s review of the current Golf R.
Aside from cars with red stripes or Lapiz Blue paint, Volkswagen is one of the world’s biggest automotive brands. Its retro-styled ID. Buzz proves EVs can be characterful, as Andrew English discovered, and it has pushed the limits of electric performance with the wildly quick ID. R racer. Will VW ever top that last-generation GTI, though?