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Volkswagen Golf GTI 40 Years Review


Good points

  • Hot hatches don’t get any better
  • Overboosted turbo packs punch
  • Mind-boggling cornering abilities

Needs work

  • The ride is stiffer, and harsher
  • Slight drone at highway speeds
  • That’s all – this is bloody good
Volkswagen Golf GTI 40 Years Front End

I’m in love with the Volkswagen Golf GTI 40 Years. If you like driving, need something relatively practical and have $50,000, you should immediately buy one of the few remaining new examples.

That’s right – I’m not bothering with a subtle build-up in this review. The GTI 40 Years is what it is – certainly the best Golf GTI ever built, and more than likely the best hot hatch ever, too. Just four hundred came to Australia at the end of 2016 – a hundred manuals which are all sold, and three hundred DSG autos, of which just a handful remain.

You can have one in the Tornado Red of our car, or white, or grey. You can have it with a sunroof, or without. Those are the choices – everything else is as Volkswagen intended: an homage to the Golf GTI, the world’s original hot hatch, on its fortieth birthday. And what an homage this car is.

I just wanted to drive it, and drive it, and drive it. In this business – where I drive a new vehicle most weeks – it’s hard for any individual car to rise above the pack and keep me well and truly excited. Yet, that’s what the Golf GTI 40 Years does – it just does everything right. While I write about all the details below, here are the four reasons that combine to make the Golf GTI 40 Years something very special.

  • It’s really fast: the upgraded two-litre turbo engine makes 195kW normally but will give you 213kW for ten-second, full throttle bursts. The turbo is throaty and boosty, with decent zest off the line but the serious punch arrives around 3,500rpm and really throws you into the seat.
  • It handles incredibly well: you will take every back-road home that you can find because the steering is that communicative, the electronic front diff lock is so successful and the P-Zero grip levels are that high.
  • It’s very comfortable: the new seats were perfect for my body shape – tall and skinny – with great lumbar for your back, enough lateral support and a pleasant mix of fabric, alcantara, and leather. Plus, this car rides well enough, sounds good without being noisy, and has none of the usual fast-car ergonomic niggles. It’s a Golf.
  • It has all the practicality of a Golf: possibly the best feature of the car is that it can pull your face off in the corners and make serious progress in a straight line, but is incredibly easy to park, easy to see out of, and can fit passengers and cargo like a garden-variety Volkswagen.

But most importantly, the GTI 40 Years has what many Golfs lack – character. From the noise, to the out-there aesthetic treatment, to the sheer way this thing goes around a corner and then sucks you out with its boosty, old-school turbo, the Golf just makes you want more and more. I love this thing.

Volkswagen Golf GTI 40 Years Red

Budget Direct
Comprehensive cover
/ year
(indicative only)
Budget Direct
Comprehensive cover
/ year
(indicative only)

Key specs (as tested)

Single turbocharger
195kW at 6,600rpm
350Nm between 1,700rpm–5,600rpm
Double clutch
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
50 litres
Average Range
704 kilometres
Front wheel drive
Engine configuration
4.36 metres
1.8 metres
1.47 metres
Unoccupied weight
1357 kilograms
Cargo space seats up
380 litres
Cargo seats down
1270 litres

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The estimate provided does not take into account your personal circumstances but is intended to give a general indication of the cost of insurance, in order to obtain a complete quote, please visit www.budgetdirect.com.au. Estimate includes 15%^ online discount.
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Budget Direct Insurance arranged by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd ACN 003 617 909(AGS) AFSL 241 411, for and on behalf of the insurer, Auto & General Insurance Company Limited(ABN 42 111 586 353, AFSL 285 571).Because we don’t know your financial needs, we can’t advise you if this insurance will suit you. You should consider your needs and the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision to buy insurance. Terms and conditions apply.

Indicative quote based on assumptions including postcode , 40 year old male with no offences, licence suspensions or claims in the last 5 years, a NCD Rating 1 and no younger drivers listed. White car, driven up to 10,000kms a year, unfinanced, with no modifications, factory options and/or non-standard accessories, private use only and garaged at night.

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