PH Fleet: Golf GTI Edition 35


Normally when the man comes to collect a long-term test car from PH HQ, breaking up isn't particularly hard to do. Just as when in 'real life' the time tends to be right for the car to go, the story you wanted to tell has been told and, crucially, there's likely to be a brand-new addition to the PH fleet just around the corner.


Tearful goodbyes
But when 'my' Golf GTI Edition 35 went back to the VW press office a few days ago I was genuinely upset. Because OY61 EBM, more than any car I've either owned or run, fitted my life like a glove.

Over seven months and more than 12,000 miles, the unassuming white Golf performed every task I asked of it with aplomb, panache and all the other nouns that mean 'really rather effectively'. And despite the colour, it certainly was more than white goods to me.

People often accuse VWs of being dull, boring or soulless, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Sure, it was practical, sensible, reliable and did everything I asked of it. But competence doesn't necessarily equal an absence of enjoyment.


On the contrary, the Edition 35 never failed to amuse when I asked it to play at being a performance car rather than a rather expensive shopping hatch. Yes, there are sharper hot hatches out there (ones generally with a Renaultsport badge) but the GTI was always fun enough when I wanted it to be.The paddle-shift DSG gave a sense of just enough interaction, the linear turbocharged motor never left the car feeling out of puff,while there was more than enough grip and agility (once the winter tyres had been binned) to keep me smiling.

Fun and sensible all in one
But the key to all this, the real winning stroke, is that the Golf was able to do the fun stuff without compromising on the practicalities. And quite frankly a car that can combine unfussed daily commuter, B-road hooligan, full-to-the-roof cargo carrier and autobahn mile-muncher is a pretty competent machine in my book.


Of course, there have been a few niggles. Although the quality of the Golf's materials and construction are without question £31K for a Golf GTI really is too much money (as has been said many times in the PH forums), especially when a BMW 125i M Sport will cost you less.

The engine, too, isn't the most sophisticated-sounding thing, particularly at a cold idle, where its gravelly grumble bears a passing but alarming resemblance to a diesel clatter. Regular GTIs get the smoother, newer EA888 motor it's worth noting, the Edition 35 using the older, gruffer EA113 shared with the Golf R, Audi S3 and SEAT Leon Cupra R.


Fuelling the fire
Then there's the question of fuel consumption. This has been a surprisingly serious issue for those who have driven the Golf, me included. In principle, how much dinosaur juice your performance car sucks up shouldn't be a make-or-break concern. But the main MO of the Golf is that it plays the sensible game too and, to that end mpg in the high 20s is a bit much to take.

I did promise I'd conduct a test for a few thousand miles on super unleaded, too, as I'd been putting in regular unleaded most of the time and wanted to see if higher-octane stuff would yield any improvement in economy. So between 15,103 miles and 17,191 the Golf was treated to a super-only diet.


During that time it used 351.51 litres of fuel which, by my often wobbly maths works, out at 78.9 gallons over 2,088 miles. That's not the answer VW will have wanted, because it works out at 26.4mpg. Which is really on the verge of unacceptable for a modern hot hatch and suggests that switching to super-unleaded made sod-all difference.

No doubt the next-generation Golf GTI, due next year, will improve upon that; in an age of ever-rising fuel prices it will have to. But I don't want to end my reports on what has been - for me at least - the best car I have ever had the privilege of driving on a daily basis. Had it been 10 per cent fuel efficient and it would have been perfect...


FACT SHEET
Car:
 2011 VW Golf GTI Edition 35
Run by: Riggers
On fleet since: December 2011
Mileage: 18,139 miles
List price new: £31,030 (inc. £1,770 infotainment pack and £440 for parking sensors front and rear)
Last month at a glance: Trying to persuade VW not to take the car away from me!

Previous reports:
Service please! (says the Golf)
It's a visit back home for the trusty PH Golf GTI. And the opportunity to play beatthe nav'
Low-ish fuel economy's been bugging us, so we decide to try out the GTI's dieselcousin
Paris road trip proves GTI's impeccable cruising credentials
Golf GTI Edition 35 arrives, complete with wintry rubber
Winter tyres go south; the Golf proves a popular choice at PH HQ

Original review of the Edition 35:
Driven: Golf GTI Edtion 35

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Comments (60) Join the discussion on the forum

  • va1o 25 Jul 2012

    Overall I think its a good package, would consider buying one in the future. BMW 125i does run it close for value though.

  • the-photographer 25 Jul 2012

    Colonial said:
    toppstuff said:
    Great post.

    I was a HUGE fan of the Mk1 and Mk2 Golf GTI, but the Mk5 and especially the Mk6 show that VW have long forgotten the whole point of the Golf GTI. The latest versions are not very affordable, not very economical, not very small...

    It is the Polo/Fabia/Ibiza category that offers the most interest now. You can get a cracking Fabia VRS or Ibiza Bocanegra for half the price of the bloated Golf. It is these smaller cars in the range that have inherited the legacy of the Golf GTI. The Golf has become something else...
    By that same logic cars like the Lotus Elise are the true inheritors of the 60s and 70s Supercars.

    Every car is getting larger and heavier. Much of that is down to safety regulations and progress in technology.

    The MkV and MkVI are a return to form for the GTI after the abysmal MkIII and IV. They are not going to be as fun to drive as the afore mentioned Elise or similar. But they are still a good compromise for someone who can only run one car.

    Mine has been on track and it is a blast. Yep, other cars would be more fun. So be it. That is always going to be the case. But as a compromise car it achieves a lot of what it sets out to do with ease.

    It seems to me that you are lambasting it for being a modern car. The Mk 2 GTI was up against the 205. The Golf was the more luxurious, under-stated and "classy" choice. The 205 was the more "fun" car. Nothing has changed. The Renault Megane Sport is the more fun car. The Golf the more luxurious etc etc
    Agreed, its still the best compromise hatch.

    Although the MK7 will be even more expensive, I hope they can really target the 100Kg reduction that is widely rumored with an alminium roof and other bits and pieces.

  • HBFS 24 Jul 2012

    sjg said:
    This is what I like so much about the 1.4 TSI hatches (Polo GTI, Fabia vRS, Ibiza, A1). With the creeping sizes these are now not superminis but more like the size family hatches used to be, my Fabia is bigger in every dimension than a mk2 Golf, and carries 4 adults just fine, with a boot only 50 litres smaller than a current Golf. The engines deliver a useful 180bhp and 184lb/ft and they have DSG, normally with paddles. Bit less power, but less weight than a GTI too - they don't feel that far apart in terms of pace. Difference is that on a run they'll easily exceed 40mpg, I've been into 48s on a cruise back from Scotland, and am still over 38 overall with a lot of London driving.

    I thought long and hard about buying Golf GTI but in the end, just couldn't see enough to justify the several thousand extra pounds I'd have to pay, the doubling of insurance (North London, parked on street), or the extra running costs. The class below is really worth looking at if you're after that blend of everyday ease of use, discreet looks and low running costs while still being a fun thing to cover ground quickly in.
    I have the same car as you, bought on the same premise really. Another cost saving is insurance, the 180 tsi's for me (@ 22) are always at least £700 cheaper than the Golf GTI, Clio 200, Civic Type R, Cooper S etc.

    The other week I got over 50mpg out of mine doing 150 mile round trips every day for a week. OK, so I drove at 56mph but I found it relaxing and it maximized my margin on the 45 ppm!

  • Pistonwot 24 Jul 2012

    Colonial said:
    Every car is getting larger and heavier. Much of that is down to safety regulations and progress in technology.

    "as a compromise car"
    Why are cars getting so much heavier though?
    The safety gear is purportedly around 75 kg so what is the other 400-1000 kg from? (Id say left over Bull-Sheit from the Marketing department a-holes)
    Perversely we have available the lightest materials and best processes so why cant we use them effectively.

    What is causing modern engineering to reliably produce such heavyweight puddings with such lightweight technology?

    That 1 word sums up everything about this type of VW AG blandness, including ownership,, compromise.
    I dread VW buying Lotus for this very reason, they will comprehensively ruin it by stuffing the cars full of compromise.
    1800kg Elise anyone?

  • Colonial 24 Jul 2012

    toppstuff said:
    Great post.

    I was a HUGE fan of the Mk1 and Mk2 Golf GTI, but the Mk5 and especially the Mk6 show that VW have long forgotten the whole point of the Golf GTI. The latest versions are not very affordable, not very economical, not very small...

    It is the Polo/Fabia/Ibiza category that offers the most interest now. You can get a cracking Fabia VRS or Ibiza Bocanegra for half the price of the bloated Golf. It is these smaller cars in the range that have inherited the legacy of the Golf GTI. The Golf has become something else...
    By that same logic cars like the Lotus Elise are the true inheritors of the 60s and 70s Supercars.

    Every car is getting larger and heavier. Much of that is down to safety regulations and progress in technology.

    The MkV and MkVI are a return to form for the GTI after the abysmal MkIII and IV. They are not going to be as fun to drive as the afore mentioned Elise or similar. But they are still a good compromise for someone who can only run one car.

    Mine has been on track and it is a blast. Yep, other cars would be more fun. So be it. That is always going to be the case. But as a compromise car it achieves a lot of what it sets out to do with ease.

    It seems to me that you are lambasting it for being a modern car. The Mk 2 GTI was up against the 205. The Golf was the more luxurious, under-stated and "classy" choice. The 205 was the more "fun" car. Nothing has changed. The Renault Megane Sport is the more fun car. The Golf the more luxurious etc etc

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