What if someone said to you, if you were to buy ONE car, one car to do everything, what would you choose? For many, the answer would be different based off their needs and lifestyles. But what if you're a motoring enthusiast, like me? We're often misunderstood for indulging in cars but at the end of the day we still need something to rely on a day-to-day basis. So what do you do? Of course when spending your own hard-earned cash you will consider typical things like comfort, reliability, quality, practicality and so forth. However, as motoring enthusiasts, we require more than that.
A Hot Hatch perhaps? A German super-wagon? I guess it all depends on your budget, and when you're a student at University like myself, budget is important, at least to a point.
So I had to choose ONE car that I had to live with year-round and with all things considered, my money went towards a 2011 Mk6 Golf GTI, one of many cars in the motoring world that seems to divide opinion. Though my experience is on the positive end of the spectrum, more on that later.
Since the Golf GTI has always been the benchmark for the Hot Hatch segment, I obviously had particular expectations when I purchased it. I mean, the GTI has made quite a name for itself over the years.
Fortunately I can safely confirm that it does live up to that name. As an all-round daily driver, it is always just what I need; it never under-performs or falls short. I mean if anything I suppose it could do with more power, 155kw and 280nm in a modern hot hatch isn't exactly anything to boast about. But the power delivery is very linear and usable with max torque coming into play at 1700rpm, giving acceleration in all areas of the rev range urgency.
Build quality however is certainly above par in comparison to the others in this class, soft touch plastics, gloss black and metal trimmings throughout are appreciated. The interior and exterior aren't exactly stylish but we all know the Germans are experts in their clinical design and talents in giving a car a transparent character. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that the Tornado Red paint and tartan patterned seats aid in giving the car a substance it would be otherwise lacking.
As far as Golfs go, it is fuel efficient, averaging 7.5L/100kms, and it's practical. Fits four adults with no issues and there are enough cup and bottle holders for every passenger in the car plus their families and neighbours. However, these generic attributes are what come as part of owning a Golf, any old Golf for that matter. What about the GTI badge? That badge means something and it must go deeper than just some shiny lettering in the front grill.
So then, the DSG gearbox with paddle-shifters, a 2.0L Turbocharged four cylinder motor, bigger brakes and lowered, stiffened sports suspension. What does this all mean? It means it's a hot hatch and that usually translates to fun. An empty back road with twists and turns, smack the gearbox into sport-mode and suddenly the car has veins popping out of its neck and makes loud farts on each upshift while the motor howls through the revs and thrusts you from corner to corner. I don't care what the figures on paper say, this car is fun and the performance is punchy and energetic. The steering is weighted nicely and the suspension, while stiff, is still soft enough to let the car move around so you can feel where the weight transfers while still retaining reasonable agility.
It has a split personality, like any hot hatch should; under normal conditions it is sedate, comfortable, quiet and economical. But right when you have that window of opportunity, it can put a real smile on your face and remind you what that GTI badge in the front grill truly means.
The Golf GTI really does fulfil those initial expectations I had; it always provides me with the comfort, quality feel, efficiency and practicality I need from a car and when those attributes are mated with sports car performance and dynamics, it really makes this car the perfect daily-driver for any Enthusiast.