Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5: Spotted

It's difficult to overestimate the importance of the Mk5 Golf GTI, both to the credibility of the 'GTI' badge and to VW's reputation overall. Since the passing of the Mk2 in the early 90s, the successive GTIs had been crap; there was a glimmer of hope in the shape of the Corrado, though of course that borrowed heavily from the old Golfs. The Polo GTI was tepid, the equivalent Lupo was stylish but ordinary to drive and there was a real concern that VW simply might not be able to make a fun car again. The creators of the genre looked to be heading out of the game.

You'll no doubt be aware of that context already, though it does bear worth repeating. Now we expect a modern VW Group hot hatch to have a disarmingly broad range of talents, which simply wasn't the case a couple of generations back. If the Mk5 had been a spudder too, who would have given VW another chance after more than a decade of hot hatch mediocrity?

Of course we all know that it wasn't: zesty, desirable, fast and entertaining, the £20k Mk5 was everything a modern Golf GTI should have been and all that the Mk3 and 4 hadn't been. Sales and plaudits flooded in, the GTI drawing praise from all quarters - hallelujah, VW could make a hot hatch once more.

As well as banishing memories of previous duffers, the Mk5 Golf GTI set the template for future versions too; the Mk6 was less fondly received than the 5 (despite lots of shared stuff), but the Mk7 was right back at the sharp end on its 2013 introduction, with just 20hp more than the Mk5 and a not-dissimilar look. Indeed just last month Autocar awarded the current 'Mk7.5' the title of best hot hatch ever, and it's difficult to imagine that happening without the Mk5.

It's a pretty big deal, then. And like all the good Golf GTIs, the Mk5 sold healthily and has now depreciated to an alluringly low level. Remember when the Mk1s and Mk2s did that, before they became classics? What it means for Mk5s, though, is that very presentable cars like this one are available for just £4,000.

As far as specs go for a Golf GTI, this 2005 car is very good: manual gearbox, tartan upholstery and 18-inch wheels. Five doors may put some off, but it should be noted that good three-door manuals are unsurprisingly quite hard to get hold of. It's had a very recent cambelt change (as in less than 5,000 miles ago), a new clutch and has a year's MOT. Sure, a freshen up of a few more consumables would probably be a good idea, but which 100,000-mile car wouldn't benefit from that? This looks as good a start as any, as long as we assume that the missing interior pics have simply been innocently forgotten...

Don't go thinking, either, that the GTI's contemporaries have plummeted further: £4k remains the entry point for both the Astra VXR and five-cylinder Focus ST. In addition, you can pay more money than this Golf for an older Audi S3 based on the Mk4 Golf. And why would you do that?

Sadly rust is a known issue on these Golfs (as highlighted out in the PH Buying Guide), so that has to be a key inspection point on any prospective purchase. Again, though, name a car that hasn't presented problems later in life. What's on offer here is a seemingly fine example of a fine hot hatch, one that, if cared for properly, should always be in demand later in life. The 15th anniversary of the Mk5 Golf GTI is next year, so classic status can't be far off, can it?


Engine: 1,984cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@5,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 207@1,800-5,100rpm
MPG: 35.3
CO2: 189g/km
First registered: 2005
Recorded mileage: 101,000
Price new: £19,995
Price now: £4,000

See the full advert here.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (130) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Murphy16 15 Feb 2018

    Looks like a decent, cheapish all rounder

  • kambites 15 Feb 2018

    Our Octavia VRS of similar vintage and mileage is still plodding along happily. You couldn't call it exciting but it does the "dull but worthy family car" thing very well and has enough grunt to be very easy to drive.

  • HardMiles 15 Feb 2018

    There’s no better way to say, I’ve absolutely no imagination and I don’t like excitement...

  • Welshman Adam 15 Feb 2018

    Had an Edition 30 for 2 years, sold it in 2015 and still miss it. Great cars once you've sorted the "common faults" out.

  • thecremeegg 15 Feb 2018

    HardMiles said:
    There’s no better way to say, I’ve absolutely no imagination and I don’t like excitement...
    Not driven one then? We have one, great car, especially for £4-5k!
    Add a remap for £300 and it'll see off most challengers!

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