Volkswagen Golf GTI vs Peugeot 308 GTi
The performance hatch sector has evolved to the point where family cars are now putting nearly 400bhp to the road through clever and complex four-wheel-drive systems. However, this continuous progress means cars such as the new Volkswagen Golf GTI are more relevant than ever. This Mk7.5 GTI still offers plenty of performance, but in a usable and more affordable package compared with fire-breathing models such as the Mercedes-AMG A 45.
The latest incarnation is a mild facelift rather than a radical rethink of the recipe, but it faces a serious challenge from the Peugeot 308 GTi. In such a tight and competitive sector, this will be a tough test for the VW.
|Model:||Volkswagen Golf GTI 5dr DSG||Peugeot 308 GTi 270 by Peugeot Sport|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol||1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive||Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive|
|0-60mph:||6.4 seconds||6.2 seconds|
|Options:||Discover Navigation Pro (£1,325), lane assist plus (£1,225), rear-view camera (£265), 19-inch ‘Santiago’ alloy wheels (£990)||Pearlescent paint (£675), panoramic roof (£500), Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance (£240)|
Volkswagen Golf GTI
For: Discreet body styling, usability, performance, typical VW quality.
• Against: Not as powerful as rivals, gimmicky optional infotainment set-up, DSG box pricier and not as involving as manual.
Volkswagen’s history of high-performance family cars stretches back decades, and the revised GTI is the brand’s most accomplished model so far to bear the iconic boot badge. It sits above the standard TSI and TDI hatches, and beneath the range-topping Golf R. That car is four-wheel drive only, so the front-wheel-drive GTI represents an appealing middle ground for those looking for affordable pace and practicality.
Based on the Golf hatch, the GTI is available with three or five doors, but no estate is offered. Following a mid-life facelift earlier this year, the familiar 2.0-litre petrol turbo now comes with 227bhp as standard. A GTI Performance model is also available, pushing power to 242bhp.
Our test car was fitted with VW’s DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox – a six-speed unit here, but a seven-speeder on the GTI Performance. While the Peugeot is manual only, offering a good level of engagement, the Golf’s twin-clutch box features launch control for lightning-fast starts and crisp shifts. A sweet six-speed manual is also available, saving £1,415 and matching the involvement offered by the Peugeot.
The Golf’s throttle response is excellent, with little turbo lag and plenty of torque in the mid-range. In fact, 350Nm is available from as low as 1,500rpm, so the VW was strong in our in-gear tests.
However, the Peugeot’s superior power meant it was quicker both off the line and through the gears. The Golf sprinted from 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds, and completed its fourth-gear 30-50mph dash in 4.4 seconds, compared with 6.2 and 3.5 seconds respectively for the 308 GTi. The VW covered the 30-50mph sprint in third in 2.8 seconds, which was identical to the figure we recorded in the Peugeot.
Our Golf’s optional 19-inch alloys kick up quite a bit of tyre roar, and previous experience on the standard 18-inch wheels suggest they’d be much quieter over broken British roads. They offer a more comfortable ride as well, and while the VW is still more composed than the Peugeot, we’d opt for the smaller rims to get the more composed feel.
The smaller wheels require little sacrifice when it comes to handling, too. The Golf’s precise steering is nicely geared and weighted, while the MQB platform helps here, serving up plenty of grip in corners while offering great compliance.
Want even more versatility? The £830 adaptive dampers sharpen up the chassis in Sport, cutting roll and improving response on turn-in. Meanwhile, in Comfort the GTI offers a relatively relaxing ride given its ability on a twisting back road.
• Infotainment: Hi-tech 12.3-inch digital display complements cabin’s good build quality and soft-touch materials.
• Wheel: GTI’s smart flat-bottomed steering wheel boasts leather trim with sporty red stitching.
• Transmission: Our test car had six-speed DSG dual-clutch auto; this features seven speeds on the GTI Performance. A sweet six-speed manual is available for less money.