There is one massive downside to always being number one, everybody is after your title, and you constantly have to be working and improving your game to stay there.
And VW’s Golf GTI finds itself in this exact position, and has done so for decades. Literally from the first local GTI back in the early 80s, when this car started the hot hatch trend, it has ruled the roost.
Sure, there have been a few competitors that have gone faster on the race track, some faster in a straight line, but none of them have been able to offer a hot hatch that does everything as well as the GTI. Already known on the street as the 7.5 this is not the all new Golf 8 that the internet keeps touting.
The big question is obvious: Is this updated VW Golf GTI good enough to hang on to its title? Ironically, even though this is a hot hatch battle the GTI is in, most of the updating took place under the skin – in the form of technology and some subtle changes to the exterior.
The same previous generation 2.0-litre TSI engine is there but with 7kW more on tap now, and comes in at 169kW of power and the same 350Nm of torque. So with a bit more power and being slightly lighter than before, I expected the GTI 7.5 to be a little faster than the previous 7, but run after run at Gerotek, the numbers that came back were slightly slower than the old car.
Making use of the car’s DSG double-clutch gearbox’s launch control function (no manual gearbox is available anymore), and removing all of the human element of clutch and wheel spin control, the 0-100km/h time was 6.58 seconds (6.36 seconds was the previous GTI), and the quarter mile was done in 14.70 seconds at 162.92km/h (14.55 seconds at 161.16km/h was the previous one).
So, as you can see the older car was fractionally quicker off the line, but then the new car comes back at it and gets past it by crossing the 1km mark at 206.35km/h versus 204.09km/h, and this trend continues at top with the 7.5 stopping at 253.28km/h versus 249.61km/h.
But this all said, we are honestly splitting performance hairs here, and for a hot hatch that is claimed to make only 169kW at the engine, it still drills all of its competition at the same rated power.
And thanks to the standard sports suspension and optional adaptive chassis control, the handling is as sharp as ever, if maybe a little firm at times. But this is easy to control by hitting the comfort button and remembering that this is a hot hatch.
Inside it is still very much all GTI sportiness and quality, and if you are willing to spend some extra money over the R545 800 recommended standard retail price, then you have to go for the new multi functional Active Info Display that replaces the older analogue speed and rpm dials.
So the options can add a hefty bill to the price, and without them, the new GTI could be a bit too much like the old one, but it is still top of the hot hatch pile.