DRIVEN: GOLF GTI EDITION 35
Happy birthday, Golf GTI. Remember what you looked like when you were brand-new?
One of the first cars I tested when I arrived at PistonHeads was the then-new Mk6 Golf GTI, and I don't mind admitting that it left me feeling a little deflated. Sure it looked good, with all the right GTI cues (red piping on the grille, tartan-pattern seats, beefy stance), but the whole thing seemed a little too dull, too refined to make it a great hot hatch. After the return to form that was the Mk5 it was a bit of a disappointment
So, for the rather princely sum of £27,525 (£28,820 if you are talking the DSG-equipped version) you get an extra 25ps, giving you 232bhp at 5500rpm, an extra 15lb ft of torque (221lb ft in total) and an ability to fling yourself to 62mph in 6.6secs on the way to a 153mph maximum (0.3secs and 6mph better respectively than the standard GTI).
You also get a tweaked front bumper, new 18-inch alloys and a return of the 'golf ball' gear knob. Lovely.
But do those few extra ponies help to rekindle that original Golf GTI magic? The only way to find out was surely to line it up against a tidy original for a thoroughly unscientific test...
That's not to say the old-stager isn't a hoot and James Butler's example, though not concours, is a fine example of the breed. But the surprisingly slow, heavy steering does rather temper the car's otherwise terrier-like vivacity.
Tempering the latest car's vivacity is a fair old bit of middle-aged spread (860kg plays 1420kg), and the standard Mk6 Golf's occasionally too-sensible-for-its-own-good nature. But that power and torque boost, small though it may be, does give the GTI Edition 35 an edge that's missing from the standard car.
There's now just enough power to make you feel as though you're driving something that's properly quick, and somehow that just encourages you to grab the Golf by the scruff of the neck that bit more often.
It's still a rather refined and sensible affair in the end, then, but that's probably what most buyers spending getting on for £30k want. And if you really want a chuckable VW hot hatch that will plaster a wide grin on your face on a more regular basis, then perhaps you'd be better off finding an extra couple of grand and getting yourself a Scirocco R.
If it were our money, however, we'd probably chuck £3-4k at a super-tidy Mk1 GTi for fun (something like this GTI Campaign, for example), £15k at a solid turbodiesel Mk6, and spend the difference on track days (for the Mk1 - the Mk6 diesel would not be so hot on track, obviously)... But if you plumped solely for the Edition 35 we wouldn't think you in any way mad.
Images: James Butler