Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Volkswagen Golf GTI (2021) review

Should you buy a Volkswagen Golf GTI?

The Volkswagen Golf GTI remains the class act that it always has, even if the opposition is catching up, and it's not the massive step up from the old Mk7.5 that we were hoping it was going to be. But don't let that lack of innovation put you off buying one, because like it's always been the GTI is a hot hatch with deep-seated quality aimed at buyers who don't want to make a show of things.

It's still a brilliant all-rounder, too – being thrilling when you want it to be, but relaxed and inoffensive when you don't. The Honda Civic Type R is clearly the faster, better value alternative, but it also looks like a mess from whatever angle you look at it from. The GTI Clubsport does, however, add a welcome dose of rawness and excitement that makes it the the clear choice for enthusiast drivers who enjoy a laugh on their local B-road. We’d suggest the Clubsport 45 isn’t worth the extra cash, though.

No, the Golf GTI remains the best hot hatch to live with right now, despite its difficult-to-use infotainment and poor controls. But we'll be surprised if it's still a pacesetter at the end of its life, like the last one was.

What we like

Straight line performance is punchy and exciting when you want it to be, especially the 300hp Clubsport. Handling is also top notch, and not at the expense of ride comfort. If you want a hot hatch that doubles as a long-distance cruiser, this is the one to go for.

What we don't like

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating again – the touch controls in the cabin are unsatisfactory to use and can in no way be seens as an effective replacement for physical controls. They might get better with familiarisation, but not that we've noticed.

And yes, although it's very quick and capable, it only gets exciting when you're going very fast, with some rivals offering more thrills, more of the time. It's also expensive the performance available, and options only make that worse.

Further reading

Volkswagen Golf GTI (2021) review