2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Over seven generations, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has led a highly competitive cohort of hot hatches on the way to attaining the status of an icon. The MY19 model is tasked with holding the line.

Following production hiccups, the lone variant of the five-door Golf GTI range has finally made it Down Under. The newbie calls on the drivetrain of the 2017 three-door Performance Edition 1, including the same 180kW / 370Nm tune of the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, seven-speed wet-clutch DSG transmission, electro-mechanical front differential lock and ventilated front and rear disc brake package from the Golf R.

One downside, which will be mourned by some, is the absence of a manual model, due says VW, to the general decrease in demand for the system throughout the automotive world.

However, the replacement version of the DSG automatic goes a long way to delivering performance expected of a car carrying the GTI badge.

The basic MY19 Golf GTI can be had for $45,490, plus on-road costs. The test vehicle boasted the full Monty of two extra-cost options, jacking up the price to $51,600, plus on-roads.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI

At $2300, Sound and Style comes with 19-inch Brescia alloy wheels, a 9.2-inch satellite-navigation system, gesture control, voice control and Dynaudio 400W sound system, while a $3900 Luxury package includes leather upholstery with red stitching, heated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory, exterior mirrors with memory function and a panoramic power glass sunroof.

Metallic / pearl effect paint is a $500 option and Volkswagen is running a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on models up to the end of 2019. Capped-price servicing averages out at $535 per 15,000km / 12-month interval.

The upper two sections of a double-decker black radiator grille is linked by the VW badge, with secondary model designation in red to the side. A red hairline circles the headlamp set-ups pulling both together across the front.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI

GTI is repeated on the flanks ahead of the front doors. The vehicle profile is made up of smooth, unbroken lines all the way back to a solid rear devoid of any sporty silliness such as unsightly ‘for show only’ wings or spoilers.

The true character of the car is left to be presented purely by twin chrome tipped exhaust pipes and, you guessed it, the letters GTI in red. However, bright red brakes did peer out through the spokes of the test car’s Brescia 19-inch alloy wheels. And they weren’t just for show.

A nice mix of performance and comfort inside, the optional leather upholstered seats were supportive without pinching the kidneys and with easy adjustment to match.

VW has answered high demand by making the Active Driving dashboard display a standard fitment. The seemingly infinitely configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument layout really is the shining light of the cabin.

Not far behind is the standard Active Driving set-up with 8-inch screen. However, the test car carried the Sound and Style package that brings the 9.2-inch display with swipe-command gesture control media infotainment system incorporating a plethora of information and technology requirements.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is satellite navigation and rear-view camera.

Nothing new here, just the same 180 kW / 370 Nm tuned 2.0-litre turbo petrol four of the 2017 three-door Performance Edition 1, plus the seven-speed wet-clutch DSG transmission, electro-mechanical front differential lock and ventilated front and rear disc brake package from the Golf R.

A standard feature of the Golf GTI is a dozy driver pack, which includes front assist with city emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. There’s also lane assist with adaptive lane guidance, traffic-jam assist and emergency assist. Bringing up the rear are blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, rear-view camera and park assist.

The first thing you notice about the VW Golf GTI is how quiet it is, especially for a hot hatch. That is at the lower end of its performance range in city-style traffic. But that’s not all.

Quickish off the mark, Drive mode, accessed via a button on the centre console in front of the gearshift, has the car delivering a range of characteristics – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual – to suit the driver’s mood.

I found Normal to be best in built-up traffic situations, Sport for spirited driving out in the country with all systems ‘brought to attention’, and Individual, with which a little more time to play would have been nice.

‘Hot-hatch-ability’ poked through with the paddle shifting down in Sport mode giving rise to a meaty blap from the exhaust. Enough to put a smile on any performance-loving driver’s face.

Fuel consumption follows suit in adapting to right-foot pedal input, with the test car coming up with 12.5 litres per 100 kilometres in city circumstances and 6.2 litres per 100 kilometres on a motorway steady sprint.

The somewhat staid looking Golf may not stir hot-hatch feelings in the hearts of rusted-on GTI fans, but the MY19 model does little wrong in its performance when urged on, neither will it scare the living daylights out of passengers in a daily city commute. Good all-rounder.

VW Golf GTI $45,490
Sound and Style package $2300
Luxury package $3900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local VW dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder petrol, 7sp DSG automatic hatchback)

Capacity: 1.984 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 180 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 370 Nm @ 1600-4300 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol, 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 150 g / km

DRIVELINE: Seven-speed DSG automatic, front limited-slip differential

Length: 4268 mm
Width: 1799 mm
Height: 1442 mm
Turning Circle: metres
Tare Mass: 1377 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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