The Volkswagen Golf GTI has long been the preeminent hot-hatch for keen drivers. But what if you’re after a European small car with a little extra spice, that isn’t the Volkswagen? What are some alternatives? And how close can they get to the benchmark GTI?
Taking on the Volkswagen Golf GTI today, we have the Peugeot 308 GT and Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV.
And here with us is Alistair – who contacted CarAdvice asking, “If you don’t want to follow the GTI crowd, what other sporty hatchbacks are worth a look?”
Paul: So tell us, why don’t you want a Golf GTI?
Alistair: Nothing against the Golf at all. I think it’s a great car. But I used to have a Peugeot 205 GTI and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Italian marques. I want something a little different but also something that can comfortably accommodate myself, the wife and my little one Harry, who’s three.
Paul: Fair enough. Right, well let’s kick things off with the Golf…
Paul: Ah, tartan seats and a golf ball-style gear knob. It’s not hard to tell that you’re in a Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Starting at $41,990, the six-speed manual Golf GTI gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 162kW and 350Nm.
Paul: You’ve got really premium materials and this 5.8-inch touchscreen with sat-nav. The GTI also gets what’s called Driver Chassis Control – which let’s you choose between five different driving modes for the engine, steering and suspension.
Paul: Should we try out the Peugeot?
Paul: It is yeah. Now, the 308 GT is the same price as the GTI but has a smaller capacity engine, putting out less power and less torque.
It claims 7.5 seconds 0-100km/h – which is a full second slower than the Golf – but it betters the GTI on claimed fuel consumption by almost 10 per cent.
Alistair: …And it’s nice in here. The seats are good, the space is good and it looks like there’s plenty of room in the back for my little boy and his child seat.
Paul: You also have a bigger boot than the Golf and there’s this fairly massive 9.7-inch colour touchscreen that looks after all of your navigation, entertainment and climate controls as well as vehicle information. Very cool and it means a much cleaner centre stack here.
Paul: Now while all the cars here have five doors and drink 98-octane premium unleaded, the little Alfa – with its engine and gearbox pinched from the rear-wheel-drive 4C – is the fastest and most powerful of the lot.
Alistair: And again, very different from the Golf in here.
Paul: Yeah. It is a fraction dearer than the GTI but you get these cool bucket seats and this in-dash 6.5-inch touchscreen. Unfortunately you also have to physically turn the key to start it up and this flat-bottom wheel feels huge compared to the one in the Peugeot.
Paul: While that was interesting, we are at the track. So while Alistair sizes up the backseats, we’re going to set some lap times with the help of CarAdvice’s very own tame, racing…driver… No?
Dave: No. Just gimmie the keys Paul...
Paul: So comfort, price and features are all important, but we want to know the times. Alistair…?
Alistair: Yeah no worries. Golf GTI - Best lap - 1min 7sec.
Alistair: Just ahead of the Golf with a best time of 1min 6sec… the Alfa Romeo…
Paul: Wow, so how far behind was the Peugeot?
Alistair: Only 1 second behind the Golf, the Peugeot’s best lap was 1min 8sec.
Paul: So the more expensive Alfa Romeo was faster than the Golf GTI around the track but you weren’t sold on its rear seat space. The Peugeot was the slowest of the three but you liked the styling and its winning space and boot capacity. And of course, there’s still the Golf GTI.
So, do you still not want a Golf? (laughs)
Alistair: (Laughs) I really like the Golf and there’s no doubting it does most things well. But the Alfa really impressed me around the track and the Peugeot really impressed me off the track.
It’s a tough call, but I think I might have to go with the Golf…
Paul: So there you have it.
And remember, if you ever want to know something about a car or have a specific question you’d like answered, contact us via CarAdvice.com.au.
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