The Volkswagen Golf MK7 is at the twilight of its career. The eighth generation model is fast approaching, pushing its predecessor towards the exit.
In Canada, the “normal” Golf will unfortunately not return, replaced by the Taos, another SUV to be added to the range. But the GTI and R versions will still make the trip to Canada, more powerful than ever.
Usually, when a new model arrives, the previous one starts to age. Yet the 2020 Golf GTI left us with a radically different impression. Here’s why.
Very current handling and performance
When it came out, the Golf GTI MK7 was a real benchmark in terms of handling. And we must recognize that it remains at the top of its category.
It is enough to drive a few kilometers behind the wheel to understand that its driving is not at all outdated. First, it can count on a 2-liter 4-cylinder developing 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. Linear in its operation, it gives the best of itself past 4,000 rpm. The acceleration as well as the times are amply sufficient on a daily basis and very good in sporty driving.
This unit can be combined with a six-speed manual transmission, or a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission with seven gears. Our test model was fitted with the DSG, which does a good job overall, except for a few jerks felt at low speeds. The gearbox also tends to upshift quickly to save fuel.
We clearly prefer manual control. The clutch offers good progressiveness and the small lever surmounted by a golf ball, as at the beginning, makes it possible to change gears quickly thanks to a low travel. If you hesitate between the two boxes, the manual is our preference, for the greater pleasure it provides but also because the maintenance of a DSG is more complex and expensive in the long term.
The chassis is not to be outdone, with up-to-date handling and a pleasant ride. The steering, well balanced, shows great precision, properly guiding the front axle.
Taken more quickly on the winding roads of Mauricie and the county of Portneuf, the car once again proved its efficiency. Well helped by its linear motor and available, the Golf GTI stands out for its good stability at high speed, its liveliness when going from one curve to another and its efficient braking. Despite repeated requests, we did not notice any drop in power. Aside from high-speed road noise, there’s not much to fault the car in terms of handling.
The ride, a little firm when the road is bad, still preserves a correct comfort for daily use. An important element for a versatile car like the Golf. You could say it’s the same for the seats, which provide good lateral support and adequate comfort, but which end up being firm when you spend more than two hours behind the wheel.
It was worth the money
Inside, the Golf GTI still displays a level of finish and presentation at the top of its class. As always with Volkswagen, the materials are of good quality and the assembly is serious. The driver also benefits from careful ergonomics, as well as seats made with the famous carrot fabric of the MK1 models. Volkswagen offers leather upholstery in the top-of-the-range model, but to opt for leather would be to deny part of the history of the GTI!
At the time of this writing, the base 2020 model costs $ 31,196, which is still very good value for money for a car in 2020. Count $ 1,400 more for the automatic transmission model DSG and $ 1,750 to benefit from the driving assistance package including, among other things, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control.
In contrast, the top-of-the-range Autobahn model, which starts at over $ 36,000, is too expensive, despite its more complete equipment.
In conclusion, the Volkswagen Golf GTI remains a pleasant sporty compact, practical thanks to its tailgate and well suited to everyday use. And although it is at the end of its career, it still offers performance and overall efficiency that should delight lovers of vitamin compacts.