The Edition 35 is Volkswagen’s way of celebrating 35 years of the Golf GTi – it wasn’t the first hot hatch, but it was the first that actually mattered. But as anniversary presents go, is it a diamond ring, or does it feel more like a bunch of garage flowers?
Wow, the VW Golf 35! It looks…exactly the same as a normal GTI
Okay, so it’s subtle, but that’s the Golf GTi all over. Would you rather it look a dog’s dinner like the focus RS? Me neither, although now you mention it, they did make more of an effort with the Edition 30 in 2006. Have another look at the details anyway. See those wheels? They’re still 18s, with 19s optional, but both styles are new. The bumpers and sills are reprofiled, there are a pair of discrete chrome 35 badges on each wing, 35 badges on the headrests, red-edged seatbelts and the legendary Golf ball gearknob is back.
Presumably the engine’s been at the gym, too?
In fact the Edition 35 gets a completely different 2.0 turbo engine. When the Mk6 was announced, it was given a more modern, more refined engine than the one in the Mk5, but when the hot Golf and Scirocco Rs appeared later, they retained the older, gruffer, but stronger Mk5 motor. So the Edition 35 is basically a detuned Golf R without the four-wheel drive hardware.
What are we talking then? 245, 250bhp?
Don’t get your hopes up, VW can’t let it tread on the toes of the heavier, more profitable 266bhp golf R, can it? So the Edition 35 develops 232bhp and 221lb ft, up from 207bhp and 206lb ft. It’s obvious the chassis could cope with more – the Scirocco R (fwd remember) does, and the GTi could too. Still, its 232bhp makes it the most powerful factory GTi yet, and 5bhp feistier than the Edition 30.
So it’s only 9bhp per tonne down on the R. How quick is it?
Brisk, although not the quickest in the class – Golf GTis rarely have been. The 62mph sprint falls from 6.9sec to 6.6sec, that pesky Megane does it in just over 6sec and the Golf R does it in 5.7sec, although much of that can be attributed to the extra traction of its four-wheel drive system. Like the Golf R, the Edition 35 feels and sounds angrier, more urgent and noticeably less civilised than a normal GTi. More like an old-school hot hatch, in fact. But although the torque comes in 500rpm later than in a regular Mk6, the spread of power is still wider than Paula Hamilton’s bouffant in the legendary Mk2 ad. Cue the Alan Price music.
What about round the corners? Any changes there? Changes, geddit?
Engine and trim apart, the Edition 35 is no different to any other GTi. Ours had the desirable three-stage adaptive damper option, which allows you to flick from cushy comfort to super stiff Sport by poking a button on the console. The midway Normal mode’s balance between body control and ride comfort means it’s best for most British roads unless you’re taking it easy. Ultimately, it’s not as exciting to drive as a Renaultsport Megane, the Golf’s electronic fake LSD not able to suck the GTi into a corner quite like the Megane and it’s mechanical diff. But there’s no doubt that the Golf would be a whole lot more bearable more of the time.
We can’t say for sure until we know the full UK spec and price, but there’s a nagging doubt that this edition 35 doesn’t quite feel as different from the standard car as the older Edition 35 did. That’s not to say it isn’t a great GTi. The extra performance is definitely noticeable and the slightly rawer feel to the engine will probably placate those who accused the Mk6 GTi of being just a little bit too refined, although a Megane 250 RS is still best in class when it comes to flinging you down an empty road. Bottom line: don’t blow £31k on a Golf R until you’ve considered this first.
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