First the Golf R and BMW M3, now this. With the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure fast approaching, Volkswagen has opted to do away with the 230hp Golf GTI rather than go to the expense of homologating it with the new emission limits. Until the new TCR variant goes on sale, the slightly more powerful Performance variant will be the sole GTI option on the menu.
The problem from Volkswagen's point of view is the added expense of fitting a particulate filter (a power-sapping option that Renault has just engineered its way around in the new Megane R.S. Trophy). The alternative solution is a hard-headed business decision, and - as with the three-door Golf R - it'll ultimately be the bottom line and the fatter profit margin of the Performance model that has ordered the cheaper GTI's demise.
While the death of the trim level is not necessarily a situation to have you clawing inconsolably at your face, it's worth reiterating what a fine thing the outgoing Golf was. We drove a manual five-door against the new Polo GTI very recently, and in truth, it walked all over its smaller sibling. Not because it's an especially thrilling hot hatch, but because it succeeds so magnificently and obviously in the basic job of being a car in the modern world.
Nice to sit in? Check. Refined? Check. Amenable? Well made? Check. Check. Practical? Check. Economical? Check. Just fast enough to be interesting? Check. Comfortable? Check. Capable? Check. Was it a serious B road rival to a Megane or Civic or an i30 N? No. It's so concerned with being rounded and agreeable that Volkswagen delegated all the scruff-of-the-neck pointy stuff to other more expensive versions. But for a sub £30k car to live in every day, to commute and mistreat, it hardly knew a peer. Let's hope the Mk8, due next year, proves a worthy enough follow-up.