Ad closing in a few seconds...
View all Volkswagen Golf reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8

When a car is available with a Performance Pack, you can be sure that driving enjoyment is near the top of its priority list. And so it should be no surprise that Volkswagen Golf GTI performance is something of a selling-point.

Standard GTI engine

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 217bhp – that’s 10bhp more than before. Along with 350Nm (70Nm more than previous) of pulling power, that means the GTI can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.

But it’s not just about the raw numbers with the Golf; it’s the way it goes about dispensing that performance that really impresses. With a wonderfully smooth and linear power delivery, no matter where you are in the engine’s rev-range there is instant power available. And despite being turbocharged, it doesn’t run out of breath as it nears its 7,000rpm redline either.

It’s available with both a six-speed manual and six-speed DSG dual clutch automatic gearbox and while the former is more involving, the latter does make for a relentless display of constant performance.

GTI Performance Pack

Though if you crave more of the stuff, then the £980 Performance Pack option is a box that has to be ticked. Not only does it improve the brakes and add a new electronically-controlled differential lock (more on which later) but it boosts power by 10bhp. With a new total of 227bhp at the car’s disposal, the 0-62mph time falls by a tenth to 6.4 seconds.

But while there’s more power, the really good news is that chassis remains unflustered, and full-power traction is still impressive.

GTI Clubsport

Introduced to mark the Golf GTI’s 40th anniversary in 2015, power from the 2-litre engine was uprated to 261bhp, although for 10-second bursts this is boosted further to 286bhp.

Manual and DSG transmission options give 0-62mph times of 6.0 and 6.2 seconds, respectively, while both have top speeds of 155mph.

Let's get something straight from the start; if you’re looking for the sharpest hot-hatch available, then the Golf GTI – multi-talented though it is – is not the car for you.

However, don’t for one-minute assume the GTI is anything but an exciting steer, it’s just that it does everything with such committed security that no matter your speed it always feels completely safe.

There’s a new progressive steering system that cuts down on the number of turns needed from the steering wheel when moving from lock to lock, increasing the sharpness of the front wheels’ reactions. On top of this the GTI is fitted with the latest generation of Dynamic Chassis Control, as well as Driving Mode Selection.

The former allows users to select between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes altering the reactions of the suspension to the road surface beneath it. Add to that the Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual modes of the Driving Mode Selection system and drivers can tailor the car’s responses to their own desires.

Controlling the steering, throttle, and in DSG-equipped cars the gearbox responses as well, there’s a mode to suit everyone’s needs and conditions ahead of them.

To be fair there’s no lack of talent on display in the car’s default ‘Normal’ setting anyway, with sharp turn-in and very little body-roll. The steering’s well-weighted too, and offers an appreciable level of feedback – even if it’s not quite as communicative as it is in a BMW M135i.

There’s plenty of grip from all wheels, and even aggressive inputs struggle to upset the car’s natural and neutral balance. And if there is any cause for concern, the GTI’s ESP system cuts in and brings everything back under control. A new Sport mode allows a greater degree of slip before intervening, and in general the safety system is so subtle you’ll struggle to detect it cutting in at any point.

Adding the Performance Pack also increases the car’s cornering performance. While the standard car uses an uprated XDS+ electronic differential, the Performance Pack car adds an Electronic Front Differential Lock, a world first in a production front-wheel drive car, which can send up to 100 percent of the torque to the outside front wheel in extreme situations.

The effect is a GTI that tightens its cornering line under power, and for those that care allows the car to complete a lap of the legendary Nurburgring circuit eight seconds quicker than cars not so equipped.