The new Volkswagen Golf 2.0 GTI makes hearts pump like pistons, shoots blood pressure through the roof, and makes driving so pleasurable motorists rarely want to leave the comfort of the Golf's sporty cabin. Quite an impressive feat, and this is mostly achieved through the GTI's powerful engine.
This comes in the form of the free-revving 2.0-litre 207bhp four-cylinder unit that propels the GTI to 62mph in only 6.9 seconds. This applies whether you choose the six-speed manual or the excellent DSG automatic transmission. Top speed for both variants is a super model thin shy of 150mph, which is impressive for a vehicle that returns a combined average of 38mpg.
To complement the power plant lurking under bonnet, the VW Golf 2.0 GTI has excellent handling. This means the steering is beautifully sharp, the transmissions slick, and the brakes inspire confidence. Also, despite having lower and stiffer suspension than its standard siblings, the Golf GTI provides its thrill seeking occupants with a comfortable ride. These characteristics mean it is both a thoroughbred 'hot hatch', and a practical five seated car that can be loaded with noisy kids and bulky supermarket shopping.
Standard VW Golf 2.0 GTI equipment includes the usual blend of seven air-bags, electric windows, air-conditioning, and an MP3 compatible CD player. However, it is the freakishly clever XDS system that lights a spark of excitement. During fast cornering, this technology applies brake pressure to the inner front wheel to maximise traction and minimise under-steer. This, VW claim, makes cornering even more 'sporty, safe, and accurate'. Mmm, sounds like witchcraft to me.
The new Volkswagen Golf 2.0 GTI is available as a three or five-door hatchback, and has a list price of £24,295 - £26,175. Alternatively, the range as a whole is listed in Motoring.co.uk's database from a bargain bucket £13,595.