What is it?
If you want a Golf with a little more poke, then there are a few avenues to go down. You could go down the hybrid route with the GTE, the diesel route with the GTD or the traditional one with the GTI. There’s also the all-encompassing Golf R, if you’re looking for all-weather traction.
Say you’ve gone for the traditional GTI but want a little extra poke, where do you go? The answer is here – to the GTI Performance. Power is boosted from the regular GTI’s 227bhp up to 242bhp, while a locking front differential and larger brakes are added for better cornering ability.
As mentioned, the GTI Performance gains a variety of mechanical tweaks designed to give it an edge over the regular GTI. That upgrade in power is crucial here, as is the inclusion of the front differential. Inside, you also get Volkswagen’s excellent Discover Pro infotainment system, accessed via a 9.2-inch colour touchscreen.
The media system is standard on the Performance, bringing a good level of value for money to the £35,364 car. It’s certainly not cheap, but you do get a lot of technology and performance for the outlay, as well as plenty of badge prestige with that all-important GTI moniker.
What’s under the bonnet?
The GTI Performance uses the Golf’s regular 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor, which here produces 242bhp and a decent 370Nm of torque. It’s driven to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, controlled via steering-mounted paddles.
There’s also a range of stability systems fitted as standard, including electronic stability control and a full traction control system – as well as the previously mentioned differential. Our test car also featured dynamic chassis control (an £830 optional extra), which is a welcome addition when driving on country roads where a softer ride is imperative, and being able to change the ride softness is a huge plus.
What’s it like to drive?
In truth, the regular GTI feels sweet enough to drive without the inclusion of more power. However, that extra punch offered by this Performance model does feel noticeable, though because of the Golf’s unflustered way of delivering power it rarely feels sharp or raw. That’s our biggest criticism – the GTI Performance just doesn’t get under your skin in the way other cars do.
The acceleration is brisk, the larger brakes are sharp and have plenty of feel while the automatic gearbox will happily slush its way through the cogs – though manual changes lack the immediacy that you’d like. The dynamic chassis control is an optional extra we’d choose, as it allows you to soften the ride off enough for UK roads.
How does it look?
The GTI Performance does, in almost all areas, mirror the looks of the regular GTI. That means you get a full styling pack with reshaped front and rear bumpers, as well as a rear diffuser and tinted glass. How to spot a Performance? Look for GTI logos on the brake calipers, as well as larger diameter brake discs fitted behind them. It’s a stylish looking car, that’s for sure, and certainly looks special enough when compared to the ‘regular’ Golf.
It’s an exterior design which more than reflects the car’s price tag, and as with any other Golf, it looks just at home parked outside a luxurious hotel as it would in the supermarket car park. Transcending car etiquette is what the Golf has always done, after all.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the GTI Performance is finished to a high standard, with plenty of premium materials used throughout. There’s red stitching on the steering wheel and gear knob gaiter, and chrome-plated air vents to help lift the overall look of the cabin, too. Honeycomb black inserts also give the cabin a little more life, though despite being well-made, it’s not a hugely exciting place to be sat.
The cloth seats are hugely supportive, however, and should be ideal for anyone thanks to height and lumbar adjustment. They’re also heated – an added bonus in the colder months. You’ll also find 308 litres of seats-up boot space, rising to 1,270 litres with them folded down, ensuring that the GTI Performance remains practical as well as fun to drive.
What’s the spec like?
The GTI Performance comes with a good amount of standard equipment. You get a 12.3-inch ‘Active Info Display’, which replaces the conventional dials with a screen. Clear and easy to read, it can relay key information back to the driver as well as displaying a satellite navigation readout and media functions. In addition, two-zone climate control comes fitted as standard, along with adaptive cruise control and parking sensors.
A Driving Mode Selection system is also fitted, allowing you to choose between Eco, Normal and Sport Modes. Each changes the steering and throttle response of the car – with Sport mode featuring the heaviest steering weights and sharpest throttle response. An Individual mode allows you to pick between the various settings to your liking, too.
The GTI Performance adds a little extra sparkle to the regular GTI offering a little more power for those who want it. High equipment levels mean that the Performance does feel like a complete package, while solid build quality justifies the price tag.
However, the £35,364 price of our test car put it in the same range as the more powerful, more capable Golf R, meaning that Volkswagen has provided a genuine alternative to the GTI Performance – from within its own range.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance
Price as tested: £35,364
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Power (bhp): 242
Torque (Nm): 370
Max speed (mph): 154
MPG (combined): 44.8
Emissions (g/km): 144