This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf GTI (13-17) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

A 210bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is used in the GTI, but although it's new, maximum pulling power is the same as the previous version of the GTI. However, it kicks in at 100rpm lower than before (1700rpm instead of 1800rpm) and the car feels a little livelier at lower revs than the fifth-generation model. This substantial pulling power remains until 5,200rpm making the GTI responsive on the move and keen when overtaking.

It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, which feels slick and precise in typical Volkswagen fashion. The alternative is an optional six-speed DSG (a quick-shifting manual that can be used as an automatic) with steering wheel-mounted paddles allowing you to change gears manually.

High performance versions of family cars often make occupants suffer over poor road surfaces with stiff suspension creating a harsh ride. However, the Golf GTI offers a far more supple ride than might be expected in a hot hatchback. The suspension is lower than the standard Golf, but seems to lose little of the standard car's ride comfort. It also uses electronics to help improve drive out of slower corners.

A system called XDS - which is more sophisticated than traction control - allows smoother acceleration with less wheelspin. It's an enjoyable car to drive on challenging roads, with engaging steering, which is neither too light nor too heavy, and remains composed when cornering. If there is a criticism, it's that the GTI makes driving hard feel far less dramatic than it perhaps should.

There is an optional 'adaptive chassis control' system, which allows the driver to tailor the car's behaviour according to road conditions. The 'normal' setting is similar to that of a standard GTI, but there are additional 'comfort' and 'sport' modes. Selecting 'sport' also makes the steering feel sharper.