This week, although a bit late, we have one of those great originals in the Car of the Week section – the VW Golf GTI. This is a car that revolutionised the world of hatchbacks, the very first hot-hatch. The GTI badge has been taken since then by a million companies and all the other tried to emulate the brilliance of the Golf GTI but none of them succeeded.
As it is a bit special this week, we won’t designate a specific Golf generations as the winner but 3: The GTI Mark I, V and VI – all of them brilliant, all of them worthy of the mighty GTI badge. You might wonder why? Why not all of them? Why just these random numbers: 1,5 and 6. Well, let me explain why. First of all, the Golf Mk. I was the original, the very first hot hatchback, one of the fastest cars at its time. It’s just brilliant: practical, good-looking in a subtle kind of way and fast like stink. However the next generations, the 2,3 and 4, all become more civilised and slower, eventually ending no longer as a hot hatchback but just as a normal one with a bit more power. VW got their act together though and the last 2 GTI’s, the 5 and the 6 were absolutely brilliant. Not the fastest anymore, but the best overall. Being the fastest today with cars like the Renault Megane R26.R is very hard while trying to keep practicality, so bear in mind the Renault is a hot-hatch, but transformed into a track day car.
The Golf GTI offers you quite literally everything: from tedious practicality to insane speed, all in this decent, quite cheap package. The most amazing thing however is that the Mk. I Golf is one of the longest lasting cars in history having being produced from 1984 to 2009. Yup, until this year they were still making them in South Africa. It’s that good. And the fast, hot version is the best. It handles like a dream as it is quite a small car so weight isn’t a problem. Even though it’s front-wheel drive it’s responsive and accurate and corners neat and flat. Just brilliant. The first one may have been cheap at its time and sold like hot cakes, but it’s already a classic today, and a good one will set you back quite a lot more than you’d think for such a small car. Anyway, this is one of the best cars ever made so it’s definitely worth a shout in our Car of the Week section.
You don’t believe me? Then watch Jeremy Clarkson being seduced by the Golf in this classic video: