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Like good wine, the Golf GTI just gets better and better with age.

29 Dec 2011

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The Drive

The main difference between the E35 and the standard GTI lies under the bonnet. As a birthday present to itself, Volkswagen has swapped the GTI's powerplant with the unit from the cracking Golf R for the E35.

This engine, which also saw service in the Mk V Golf GTI, is apparently more susceptible to tuning. And so, Volkswagen has worked its magic to adjust the unit's output to an appropriate 235bhp. It's not a coincidence surely, and it puts the E35's performance right smack in between the GTI and the R.

It is the way the car pulls that truly takes your breath away though. There is so much of the 300Nm of torque available all through the rev band, that the car simply disregards the redline when the accelerator is mashed. Slower traffic is simply smacked past, leaving them in the E35's dust.

It makes a fantastic sound too, with a lovely burble that evolves into a growl as you depress the right pedal. Dump the DSG gearbox into Sport mode, and the car blips the throttle on the downshift, which is simply delightful.

The Golf GTI is one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars out there, and true to form, the E35 retains that sweet driving characteristic, with its direct and communicative steering helping the car tackle the curves with aplomb. The E35 corners with precision, with the XDS limited slip differential providing for plenty of traction, long after the driver's bravery has run out. The ESP can also be completely switched off, which makes the car a hell of a lot more fun, if you dare that is.
Despite its performance potential, the Golf GTI E35 still remains a reasonably comfortable car when one is not in the mood for hard driving. Ride quality is a bit firm, but acceptable for daily driving, while the brakes are somewhat sharp and overly-sensitive, although that is something one will quickly get used to.

Conclusion

I've always loved the idea of hot hatchbacks, and the Golf GTI in particular. The combination of performance, poise and practicality gives the car an appeal that few can match.

It's a shame I've never driven any previous GTI before my encounter with the Edition 35, because based on this form, Volkswagen's birthday gift to commemorate its icon is not only a fitting way to celebrate, but it has also set the bar very high for future GTIs indeed.

If only all birthday presents were this wonderful…

What do you think? Jot down your opinions at the comment box below.

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

4-cylinders in-line 16-valves DOHC Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1984cc

Horsepower

:

175kW (235 bhp) / 6300 rpm

Torque

:

300 Nm / 5500 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.6sec

Top Speed

:

246km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12.5 km/L

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