Volkswagen Golf GTI 2022 test drive

It may be an outdated reaction, but the opportunity to test drive a GTI is one I wouldn’t easily pass up. Under the slogan “While there is still time”, because the hatchback has become an endangered species in these times of increased electrification. Some brands try to market plug-in hybrids as “hot slots,” but in all honesty, I haven’t yet found the first “sports” hybrid electric vehicle to blow me away from the first to last scale.

Same goes for the Volkswagen Golf GTE which I had the chance to drive on the road a while ago. “When you start pushing the limits, it doesn’t have the consistency of a true sports car,” I wrote in my post at the time. Then one wonders if that description is valid for the Golf GTI, which delivers exactly the same power as a 2.0-liter turbo with 245 hp, but without the electric assist and the extra kilograms of ballast that the hybridization brings.

Two favorable elements, in and of themselves, give hope for the best. But I wasn’t quite sure, because I remembered the previous generation Golf GTI as smooth, but also somewhat discreet, yes even a bit … boring. Fortunately, there seems to be more joy in life in the eighth generation…

I loved

This is not the first time I have driven with a DSG in a VW Sport product, so I know what to do in such a situation: after pressing the start button, you must immediately switch the small lever in the center console into the Sport. So the 2 liter already offers much better throttle response, and the four cylinders are allowed to hit over 3000 rpm. But the game only gets really fun when you handle the paddle shifters yourself – in this setting the little boy in the man automatically appears. Addictive!

Whatever rev or gear you choose, the 245-horsepower TFSI GTI always responds with “naturalness” and a smoothness peculiar to a GTE. In the end, they’re both just as fast as each other, but the way they time their timing varies wildly: While the plug-in hybrid loses a lot of its symmetry on attack – which translates as bumps in the drivetrain and the uphill 1.4 TSI – this GTI appears to be You enjoy being heavy on your feet.

But the genius of the Golf GTI lies in the fact that it can act in a completely civilized way and give way to a quiet family drive (two teenagers find their place in it). In conditions where the optional DCC suspension-controlled shock absorbers prove all the more useful, Comfort mode honors its name. In the city, it is more than welcome: in Sport mode, the rear axle appears annoyingly when overtaking speed bumps.

In short, I can enjoy this driving mode. In addition, the Golf GTI does not have to look straight out of the “GTI Treffen am Worthersee”. In fact, I think it’s very good like that; It’s still delicious, from the roof spoiler over the rims to the mandatory red GTI lettering and dual exhaust tips on either side of the bumper. Volkswagen’s GTI cars have always been the best in their sports class, and that look is part of this car’s DNA.

I didn’t like

This simple look, okay, but a little more extravagant on the road works for me, too. Although the DSG-engine combination is very effective, more feel and expression in your normal driving style certainly wouldn’t hurt. The sound of the exhaust, for example, gets a little richer in Sport mode, but to make the exhaust line sway back and forth in reverse, you have to twist the throttle like a savage, and again … when I see – or rather, hear – your average owner Golf GTI drives like this, I think Akrapovich didn’t finish doing a gold job on the GTI…

Also, for a car that claims to be sporty, I’d expect a slightly more dynamic front suspension. Everything is subtle, but not too direct—there are too few filters between the wheel and the rack to make this golfer a top-notch eater. This isn’t a problem for the 1.0 TSI, but for a car with the GTI sticker, some extra effort on the front end and steering wouldn’t be necessary. In any case, Sport mode doesn’t show much interest: it doesn’t seem to do more than artificially increase the weight of the steering wheel.

With the above criticisms in mind, having an eco-driving program becomes even more ridiculous — as if a GTI owner might use it at all. So I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Volkswagen to rethink the interpretation of the three driving modes. Comfort mode is actually ‘polite’ enough to serve as a base program… and on top of the current Sport mode, there’s definitely room for a driving mode with more bravado.

So

I really enjoyed the Volkswagen Golf VIII GTI, which was less sanitized than I remembered in the previous generation. It’s still not the sharpest blade in the drawer, but in return it displays a fun and innovative daily operation that is alien to its tougher competitors. But what I take away above all else is that the good old GTI is still more fun to drive than the plug-in hybrid GTE. Phew, there is still certainty in life…

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