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Volkswagen Golf GTI 2023: Test Drive of the Week

2023-08-01

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This week, I had the chance to drive the Volkswagen Golf GTI 2023 in its 40th-anniversary edition. I have driven almost all generations of Golf GTI, and I must say that the 2023 edition not only lives up to expectations but is also one of the best batches ever produced.

 

It's worth noting that in recent years, the Golf GTI has somewhat become the entry-level version of the model since only the GTI and R versions are available in Canada. This decision is still hard for me to comprehend because the Golf has always been tremendously successful in our market, but it seems that Volkswagen has decided otherwise. Nonetheless, we can rejoice that the GTI version is still available, as it is definitely one of the most enjoyable compact sports cars on the market. It's a classic and a car that all performance enthusiasts should drive at least once in their life.

 

The Driving Experience

 

The secret of the GTI lies in its balance, as it may not be the most powerful or fastest car. However, it's undeniably a delight to drive at all speeds and on all types of roads. The German manufacturer's compact car is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, producing 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. I know it may not sound particularly impressive, but I promise you it's more than sufficient. You can choose between a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 9-speed DSG gearbox.

 

Highway - Not surprisingly, the Volkswagen Golf GTI offers a robust and comfortable driving experience on the highway. Despite reduced insulation, the ride remains very comfortable. It's also surprisingly fuel-efficient. Volkswagen claims a combined fuel consumption of 8.8L/100 km, and that's exactly what I achieved with this model. The only thing that might have annoyed me a bit during highway driving is the car's sensitivity to road irregularities. Additionally, one needs to be careful when stepping on the accelerator, as the torque effect is quite noticeable.

 

City - Driving in the city is never particularly pleasant with a manual car, especially when stuck in traffic. Nevertheless, the clutch pedal of the Golf GTI is not too heavy. Moreover, its accelerations are very linear and easy to control. Its behavior is surprisingly civilized when driven with moderation, which is not always the case with cars of this type.

 

Country Roads - Needless to say, it's on this type of road that you have the most fun with a car like the Golf GTI. The balance of the German compact car is incredible, and you don't need to drive at high speeds to have a good time. In fact, it's a car that doesn't necessarily enjoy being pushed to its limits. It's more enjoyable when you stay between 60 and 80% of the accelerator pedal.

 

Price

 

I believe the biggest selling point of the Golf GTI remains its price. The fact that you can get such a pleasant and practical car starting at $35,010 is astounding. Of course, there are other versions, but even the most expensive model comes in at $42,410, which is still quite reasonable. As for the test car, the GTI 40th-anniversary edition starts at $39,510.

 

Design

 

I have always admired the German manufacturer's approach to design. The Volkswagen GTI certainly boasts a more sporty and athletic look than the others. Well, that's for the enthusiasts, because to others, it might just seem like an ordinary Golf, and that's to its credit. In fact, that's one of the reasons why this small sports car from the German manufacturer is so popular. It doesn't draw too much attention, and it's a car that you can really have fun with.

 

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is also one of the last hatchback cars still available on the market, and that's another one of its many qualities. Despite its small size, the German compact car is very spacious, and its trunk is particularly roomy. The seats and driving position are very comfortable, and the interior finish is of good quality. The only thing that might have bothered me a bit is the somewhat imperfect interior soundproofing. The engine's growl is less pronounced than one would like, and the tire noise alone is loud enough to drown out sound when the windows are open. Other than that, it's a fantastic car.

 

Technologies

 

The dashboard of the Volkswagen Golf GTI 2023 is very visually appealing, and the various menus it offers are both comprehensive and diverse. The multimedia system may require a few days of adaptation, but it remains very efficient. I particularly like the fact that you can choose from different colors for the ambient lighting, and this applies to both the dashboard and the icons of the infotainment system. It's a subtle touch, but it makes the car's interior much more interesting, especially in the evening after the sun has set. The car's audio system is of very high quality, but that's not surprising, as it's generally always the case with Volkswagen products. I also appreciated the fact that you can adjust the sound according to different frequencies, rather than just the bass, midrange, and treble tones as you typically see. Finally, as for the safety technologies, they are precise and very effective. I have absolutely nothing negative to say in this regard.

 

Recommendations

 

As always, the Volkswagen Golf 2023 is a success all around, and it's a car that I recommend to anyone looking for a sporty and relatively affordable model. There's no other car that will offer you as much value for your money in this price range.

 

Jean-Sébastien Poudrier

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