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...

 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

  • Tooth Dr 20 Jul 2012

    sounds like a good car but too much money with iffy fuel consumption. Do you honestly think super unleaded makes no difference as that is all I run my car on and is it worth the extra over regular fuel?!

  • aka_kerrly 20 Jul 2012

    So really another glowing report for a Golf yet it won't be long before the rest of the gang turn up with comments about it's price, it's weight, it's FWD format and all the other nonsense that is spouted whenever a GTI is mentioned.

  • loudlashadjuster 20 Jul 2012

    So less than £500 worth of fuel makes the difference between perfect and not quite? (10% of your usage over 12k miles)



  • MrHooky 20 Jul 2012

    Or better still a manual M135i for less money...

    I do like the look of the MKVI GTI but £30k for little over 200bhp seems a little steep.

    I'm guessing the new GTI is going to have to pack c.250bhp to 'keep up' with its competition...

  • StottyZr 20 Jul 2012

    loudlashadjuster said:
    So less than £500 worth of fuel makes the difference between perfect and not quite? (10% of your usage over 12k miles)


    I feel you've answered your own question there hehe

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