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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Golf - GT 5-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Engine performance and response, fuel economy, DSG gearbox shift quality, comfort, interior quality, value for money
Room for improvement
Sometimes over-aggressive shift regime, push-forward upshifts, ‘linked’ external mirror control

21 May 2007

GENUINELY ground-breaking automotive innovations do not come around every day and it is hard not to conclude that the Volkswagen TSI ‘twincharge’ engine belongs in that category.

It may not be quite as revolutionary as the hybrid, or as potentially universal as electronic fuel injection, but it could do for petrol engines what the direct-injection turbo did for diesels. Yes, it is that good.

Driving the Golf GT TSI, you have to keep reminding yourself that there are only 1.4 litres under the bonnet because nothing about the drive experience indicates that you have such a small engine at your disposal.

Until, of course, you stop to refuel. Then you will be even more amazed, based on the official combined consumption figure of 7.7 litres per 100km, which confirms the theory behind this remarkable little engine.

Driving around some challenging hills on the Gold Coast hinterland, the GT pulled like a 3.0-litre engine, or even a 2.0-litre turbo. All the TSI theory came alive as the Golf accelerated hard at virtually any revs.

We detected a strange lack of mid-corner response, but it turns out that modern stability control systems do not like old-fashioned left-foot trailing-brake methods and simply do not permit acceleration until the brake is properly released. Move over, old-timer, and let the electronics take over.

The only real negatives about this car are relatively minor.

Although the double-clutch DSG gearbox is generally a delight to use – shifting faster than a human, snappy downchanges and blipping throttle included – we found it to be a little too lively at times, jumping around a bit and sometimes selecting one gear too low for even our spirited driving.

And we personally prefer pulling back the lever for manual downchanges, but then you would elect to use the steering wheel paddles anyway, so that becomes irrelevant.

Our final gripe, such as it is, involves the external mirror controls. Flick the switch to the right, adjust the mirror to suit and you find that the passenger-side mirror has moved as well. It’s designed to make it easier to adjust the mirrors when you move the seat (and you can ultimately get the mirrors where you want), but this linked system seems a little too clever by half for mine.

Otherwise, the Golf GT is a joy and seems like really good value at $37,290 with the DSG gearbox (we didn’t get the chance to drive the cheaper manual version at the launch).

Apart from the marvellous TSI engine and its smooth, seamless performance, the GT has all the great characteristics that have made the Golf such a success here and abroad – great steering feel, delightful handling, sharp turn-in, a comfortable interior and excellent controls.

Anyone for Golf? You can count us in.

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