This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf GTI review.

4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

After years off the boil VW got it right with the Mk5 GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI (05-08) - rated 4.5 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £20,635 - £24,465
Used price £2,335 - £7,965
Used monthly cost From £58 per month
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £330
Insurance group 34 - 36 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Great performance
  • Fun to drive
  • Easy to live with

CONS

  • Expensive compared to some hot hatches
  • Watch out for poorly modified examples

Volkswagen Golf GTI rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

The Volkswagen Golf GTI came back with a bang in 2005. Powered by a turbocharged 200hp 2.0T FSI engine, it’s smooth, refined and pleasingly quick to drive plus there’s a choice of the standard six-speed manual or an optional semi-automatic DSG gearbox. On the road the Mk5 GTI is simply superb, cornering with accurate precision and providing plenty of surefooted grip.

It looks the part too with styling cues and features such as the chequered seat fabric designed to evoke memories of the original model. Stylish, quick and enjoyable to drive, as hot hatches go, the Golf GTI is firmly back on top. Two special editions, the Edition 30 and Pirelli, offer 30hp more than the standard GTI, along with unique styling touches inside and out.

What’s it like inside?

Thanks to plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat and steering column it’s easy to find the perfect driving position in the Mk5 GTI and the quality of the interior is superb. The blue backlit controls and dials give a premium feel to the cabin and all the switchgear works with robust precision. The flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel (complete with GTI badging) adds to the sporty feel as do the aluminium pedals.

It may not have the special feel of some hot hatches but there’s an understated air of quality about the Golf’s cabin that few cars can match. The Pirelli special edition model feature unique seats complete with a tyre tread pattern plus yellow stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever.

The interior is well trimmed and inviting – especially at night when the instruments are illuminated by soothing blue backlighting. There’s a generous amount of room for the front passenger, while the rear comfortably accommodates two (three at a push). The front sports seats give good support and are adjustable while the retro chequered seat fabric (just like the original GTI) is standard, although other colours are available.

What’s it like to drive?

The 2.0-litre FSI is a turbocharged engine that delivers 200hp, propelling the Mk5 GTI from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, but in everyday driving it feels even quicker than the figures suggest with excellent in-gear pace between 50mph and 70mph. The engine itself is smooth and free-revving but never sounds coarse even if pushed hard, while there’s a nice rasp from the exhaust between gears.

It’s just as impressive at low speeds and thanks to a well-weighted clutch the Mk5 GTI easy to drive in town. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard while Volkswagen’s DSG double-clutch gearbox less desirable these days. Special edition GTI 30 and GTI Pirelli editions use the same engine but power is increased to 230bhp making them even more intoxicating to drive and a whole lot more desirable.

Quicker and more accurate steering sets the Mk5 GTI apart from the standard Golf Mk5 while a slick gearchange and responsive brakes add to the sporty feel. Back road driving is a blast, with plenty of grip and good traction out of bends. It feels incredibly composed but while it has great ability, it does lack the character of some alternatives such as the Honda Civic Type-R and feels a little clinical rather than truly engaging.

Practicality

The Golf GTI manages to fuse affordable performance with everyday practicality – making it a realistic choice for family buyers. Even the three-door is easy to get in-and-out-of and has adequate legroom but as you’d expect the five-door is a better option if the rear seats are in regular use. There’s a decent size boot and split folding rear seats while cabin stowage is plentiful with large door pockets and twin cupholders.

Ownership costs and MPG

Servicing costs are okay if you use an independent specialist, but that still means pretty high bills due to expensive parts, however at 35mpg fuel consumption is respectable for a hot hatch.

The GTI is fairly green considering it’s a hot hatch. The standard car with the six-speed gearbox emits 189g/km of CO2 while opting for the DSG gearbox means this figure actually drops to 188g/km. The GTI 30 and Pirelli editions emit 194g/km of CO2 while the DSG versions emits the same 188g/km as the standard GTI. Fuel consumption is respectable at 35mpg for the GTi, 34mpg for the special edition versions and 36mpg for both DSG models.

Safety

Safety is among the best in class. In addition to a five-star Euro NCAP rating, there are six airbags, three head restraints in the back, seatbelt pre-tensioners, an electronic stability programme and emergency brake assist. Security features include deadlocks, an immobiliser, alarm and a unique-fit stereo.

Volkswagen Golf GTI rivals

Other Volkswagen Golf (2004 - 2009) models: