Five things we love about the Volkswagen Golf GTI

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For 45 years, the GTI badge has come to represent practical, attainable performance. Throughout the years, it has been perched upon the tailgate of many hatchbacks, promising thrills and dynamism - but without sacrificing the everyday driveability.

The latest Golf 8 GTI is no different. It may have 180 kW and 370 Nm of torque, but it's as docile as a tabby cat when driven gently. We've been spending some time with the latest hot hatch from Wolfsburg, and there's a lot to love about it - here's five things we adore about the new Golf GTI.

  1. Styling

We think the new GTI looks absolutely fantastic. The overall design remains evolutionary instead of evolutionary, which is great for 7 and 7.5 owners - their cars haven't been instantly dated by the newcomer. Up front, a distinctive honeycomb grille houses stylish daytime-running lamps, while situated just above them sits the standard LED headlamps. 18-inch 'Richmond' alloy wheels are standard - but we'd opt for the 19-inch 'Adelaide' alloys (R12 000), they really finish off the look. From the rear, the roof spoiler, diffuser and dual rear pipes give an aggressive look.

  1. Refinement

The GTI impresses with luxury car mannerisms. We're certainly not suggesting that it rides and cossets like a luxury saloon, but it's decidedly premium-feeling. On the motorway, the turbopetrol motor is quiet - and remains so, unless pushed. Wind noise and tyre roar is also kept to a minimum, while the ride (especially on the 18-inch alloys) is comfortable. The eighth-generation GTI is certainly one of the most refined cars in its class.

  1. Standard equipment

At R669 300, the GTI is very well-specced. As mentioned above, all models ship standard with LED headlamps, 18-inch alloys and daytime-running lamps. Leather seats are also included in the basic price and so is three-zone climate control, park distance control and seat heating. Optionally, you can fit your GTI with a panoramic sunroof (R15 000), adaptive cruise control (R11 000) and a head-up display (R10 500) - among other things. A five-year/90 000 km service plan is also standard.

  1. Performance

Powered by a 180 kW/370 Nm 2.0-litre turbopetrol motor, the GTI is certainly no slouch. Volkswagen claims a 0-100 km/h time of 6.4 seconds and, frankly, we think they're being modest. It feels much quicker than that, the eager four-pot sending the hot hatch down the road at a blistering pace. Part of this is down to the brilliant seven-speed DSG gearbox that changes gears rapidly and without hesitation. Remarkably, it's soft and equally smooth when driven in a gentle manner. Through the corners, it entertains too. The steering is sharp and direct, giving plenty of feedback - the ride is unaffected, though.

  1. Practicality

Often times, most people have to give up their sports car as their family grows. The GTI allows people to have the best of both worlds. Fun and dynamic it may be, the GTI is, after all, still a Golf. This means it is eminently practical and as a result, makes for a stellar daily driver. The boot, for example, measures 374 litres. Courtesy of a 50 L fuel tank, the GTI is also capable achieving a theoretical fuel range of 714 km. This means trips to the tank will be few and far between.

There's just so much to like about the Golf 8 GTI. It's truly the benchmark in the segment, simply because it manages to do so many things exceptionally well. Like the Porsche 911, Mercedes S-Class and Toyota Hilux have all done in their respective segments, the Golf 8 GTI has come to represent what a truly great hot hatch is.

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