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This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf GTI review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The 2.0-litre T FSI is a turbocharged engine that delivers 200bhp, propelling the 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 GTI easy to drive in town. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard while Volkswagen's DSG double-clutch gearbox is an (expensive) option. 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 while the 0-62mph time drops to 6.8 seconds

Quicker and more accurate steering sets the GTI apart from the standard Golf 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.

The trade-off is that the Golf GTI is easy to live with day to day - around town the steering is light when you need it to be while ride comfort is good too. The suspensions is lower and stiffer than the standard car but it still soaks up bumps well.