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Generally when you mention the Golf GTI, you get two reactions. One of fondness and one of hate. It is a popular hot hatch no doubt which explains the hate but on the other hand, it’s universality has also led to the cult following that it has. A lot of car enthusiasts have owned the famous marque and I too joined the club over a year ago. 29th November 2019 and the car had covered 54,065 kilometres.
In the last 17 months, my GTI has covered a substantial 20,000 kms which would have been enough to take me about 1/15th of the way to the moon. I don’t know really but it just sounded cool. Anyway, here’s a few reasons why every car enthusiast should own a GTI at some point.  

Those three letters and red striping have stayed constant through the decades

The History

Yes, the Golf GTI has decades worth of history behind it and with that comes two things, expertise and culture. Volkswagen have spent decades trying to improve an already perfect recipe so go figure. Secondly, the GTI badge is one of the strongest in the car circuits and wherever you go, you will be guaranteed to see a GTI. Their appeal is universal right from 18 year old hoons to refined grown ups. The amount of VW GTI clubs are immense even in little New Zealand and not to forget Worthersee which is a festival that celebrates GTI culture in Austria. The good thing is that with this popularity, parts are never a problem. If anything goes wrong on your GTI, chances are you could probably find a local VW parts supplier quite easily no matter where you are in the world. Secondly, the amount of aftermarket modifications available are just immense. Everything from cosmetic to performance, there is a ton of stuff available to suit GTIs.

Discrete yet eye catching

The Balance

The appeal of the GTI has been in its ability to tackle everything, the perfect hot hatch as many have called it. The icon serves as an excellent daily with plenty of power to overtake everything on the motorway and offering a reasonable fuel economy in exchange. I usually manage around 12.5+ kmpl on my daily commute, not bad for the horrors of Auckland traffic. The GTI also sits very comfortably at 100kph and will get there without breaking a sweat. Then you can set cruise control and get to your destination peacefully while enjoying your tunes on the excellent factory audio system. Alternatively, you can turn cruise off and go on to wreak some havoc on the backstreets. The GTI rewards both. 

The suspension is set up just right, stiff enough for spirited driving but not a back breaking daily driver. The factory exhaust system too can be noisy when you want it to but otherwise, it doesn’t drone. Everything is set-up just right and I’ve never found a car that does all this stuff so well. Something that you can experience only through GTI ownership. And the GTI doesn’t just ace commuting. It loves a good road trip and can handle four people in the car and their bags. Keep in mind that this does make it quite low so watch those driveways and speedhumps! I’ve driven up steep roads, twistys and even through a once in 500 year flood on my road trips but nothing ever phases the GTI.

The GTI on our road trip to Napier

The Costs

Another vital bit of performance car ownership, the costs. The GTI is a big winner in this aspect especially. In terms of fuel, 98 is really the only choice so that does add up but the 55 litre fuel tank is plenty to get through. Otherwise, servicing costs are reasonable at around $350 thanks to it being a four cylinder. The DSG gearbox does need a service every 60,000 kilometres, another $350 cost. Tires are 225mm width so wider than your average hatch but not bank breakingly wide. My GTI has been perfectly reliable under my ownership so touchwood for that but there are a few things I have had done to the car. The factory ignition coils are known to fail so I swapped mine out for OEM Audi R8 ones which set me back about $400. I have changed the spark plugs and front brakes recently as well, those were about $200 each from my mechanic. Still, nothing unreasonably expensive.

The Verdict

What are you waiting for?! Go get a Golf GTI! Do you research and buy the best one you can find, you won’t regret it. 20,000 kilometres later and I am still loving mine.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza

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