The Golf GTI’s very like the standard car and well designed, but its tartan seats and golf-ball style gear knob give it more character
The Golf GTI takes the normal Golf’s well-built and incredibly easy-to-use interior, and adds lots of sporty touches that really bring it to life.
These touches include red-stitching for the leather-bound steering wheel and gear stick, red tartan seats with body-hugging seat bolsters and a manual gear knob that’s modelled on a golf ball – all nods to the original GTI from the 1970s.
You also get Honeycomb Black trim pieces that look nicer than the cheaper materials in basic models, sporty metal pedals and illuminated door-sill protectors that light up when you open the doors.
Suede-effect Art Velour seats are a £750 option and real leather upholstery – which will be easiest of all to keep clean – costs £1,750. You’ll have to be dead set against cloth to choose either of them, however, because the basic tartan seats look better than both.
The Golf GTI’s interior has red accents, so it actually looks sportier than the more-expensive Golf R’s somewhat dreary interior
The Golf GTI comes with VW’s mid-range Discovery Navigation system fitted as standard. It has an eight-inch screen that’s clearly laid out and colourful. It’s easy to get your head round the menus and even if you get lost, ‘home’ touchscreen buttons offer a quick way to get back to a main menu. It’s not as easy to use on the move as the system you get in a BMW 1 Series, but as touchscreens go, VW’s is one of the easiest to use.
The integrated satellite-navigation system looks good, but inputting a postcode is way more hassle than it needs to be and getting a Bluetooth connection can also be a bit of a fiddle. You can solve the former problem by using your phone’s sat-nav app via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which are fitted as standard and allow you to use a variety of smartphone apps via the car’s big screen. The infotainment system also includes a three-year subscription to VW’s Car-Net for real-time updates on traffic, parking spaces, fuel prices and news.
The £1,325 Discovery Navigation Pro system has a smarter 9.2-inch screen with a glassy finish and even-more-detailed graphics, but it isn’t really worth the expense. You lose the standard system’s conventional volume knob in favour of touch-sensitive buttons that you can’t feel for as you drive along. Voice recognition and gesture controls are also fitted but they’re a little inconsistent and the 64GB hard drive seems a bit redundant in these days of music streaming services.
The standard stereo’s eight speakers muster 80W combined, but it doesn’t have the power or depth of sound you’ll want if you’re a big music fan. If that sounds like you, then it’s worth upgrading to the £550, 400W Dynaudio Excite, which has weight and clarity that the basic system just can’t match.