VW's evergreen Golf GTI hot hatch is back for the seventh time, sporting its highest-ever power output, performance and economy. You can choose a regular 217bhp GTI or upgrade to 227bhp with a 'performance pack', and fuel economy is said to be 18% better than the Mk6 GTI's. It's on sale this spring, priced around £26k.
So there are two versions of the new VW Golf GTI Mk7?
Yup. The standard car gets a 217bhp 2.0-litre turbo four-pot (up 10bhp from Mk6 GTI) driving the front wheels via a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG auto gearbox. Opt to swap cogs yourself and the new GTI takes 6.5sec to hit 62mph, and goes 152mph flat out. The Mk6 managed 62mph in 6.9sec and 148mph.
Closing the gap on more potent hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST and Renaultsport Megane is VW’s ‘performance pack’ Golf GTI. This uprated model still uses the same basic turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, but tuned to give 227bhp from 4500-6300rpm. Torque is unchanged at 258lb ft. Manual-equipped performance pack cars hit 62mph in 6.4sec and max out at 155mph. Expect DSG Golf GTIs to be faster than their stick-shift sisters off the line.
A 40kg cut in kerbweight should make for a more nimble GTI as well as a greener one. Like all Mk7 Golfs, the GTI uses the VW group's lithe MQB platform: the entire car weighs around 1270kg fuelled.
Will the 2013 VW Golf GTI cost less to run?
In a word, yes. VW claims the 217bhp manual GTI returns 40.9mpg, and spits out 139g of CO2 per km. That's 2.2mpg more frugal than the Mk6, while the 31g/km drop makes for a £95 annual road tax saving. Twin-clutch DSG cars are thirstier and emit 148g-150g/km, depending on which power output you choose.
Speaking of costs, its expected the Mk7 GTI will cost €28,530 in Germany when it goes on sale in March 2013. Official UK prices are still under wraps, but reckon on a UK price of around £26,000. Order books for Blighty-bound GTIs open in May.
I want people to notice I've spent £26k on a Golf!
Lucky for you that the new Golf GTi doesn't exactly hide its hot hatch light under a bushel, then. There are GTI badges on the front grille, front wings, the bright red front brake callipers and the bootlid. We' reckon the GTI's 17-inch alloys are riffing on the look of an Audi R8 Plus supercar's rims too. The bodykit's no surprise: VW let the cat out of the bag with an alleged 'concept' GTI at the 2012 Paris motor show. Out back, the rear bumper houses dual chrome exhausts and a diffuser element.
Inside, the usual GTI cues are all present and correct. GTI-branded flat-bottomed steering wheel? Check. Tartan sports seats? Check. You also get red ambient lighting, red stitching, and stainless steel inlays in the gearlever, pedals and footrest.
>> Is the VW Golf GTI Mk7 all the car you could ever want, or do its more powerful, extrovert rivals reset the playing field? Click 'Add your comment' below to give us your thoughts on what could be 2013's best 'real-world' car...