Gr8 expectations
CAR|December 2021
It's more sophisticated than ever but remains one of the most balanced hot hatches you'll encounter

Price: R669 300 0-100 km/h: 6,48 sec Top speed: 250 km/h Power: 180 kW Torque: 370 N.m CAR fuel index: 8,40 L/100 km CO2: 159 g/km

In its eighth iteration, the Golf GTI has gone from the performance-orientated flanker of a broad model range to being the everycar of a local line-up that will now solely comprise it and the fire-breathing Golf R. Consequently, the pendulum of defining liveability-entertainment scale has swung towards the former. With more technology aimed at a broader audience, will the 8 GTI exceed expectations?

Finished in metallic Kings Red and replete with such traditional GTI addenda as red pinstriping, a body kit that neatly treads the line between sporty and upmarket and the particularly striking light bar spanning the nose and quintet of LED foglamps that wink out of the honeycombed front air dam, the 8's styling is a neat amalgam of modern and historically accurate touches. The adoption of touchscreen and those everdivisive haptic ancillary controls impart a smart, minimalist air to the spacious and solidly crafted cabin. Factor in seats that have sporty bolstering and longdistance supportiveness, along with plentiful rear leg- and headroom, and a boot that can accommodate between 256 and 968 litres of luggage and the 8's interior makes for a welcoming and practical space.

The GTI has never majored in tarmac-rippling outputs and in the 8, the 180 kW and 370 N.m developed by the latest iteration of VW's long-serving EA888 2,0-litre turbopetrol may not be segment headlining, but it's a highly tractable unit. This is evidenced in good in-gear acceleration figures, well mated with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Our performance testing saw it hustle from zero to 100 km/h in a competitive but not searing 6,48 seconds.

Although the 8 may not have the straight-line urge and ripsnorting soundtrack of some of its rivals, as a daily driver it's a seriously accomplished product. Despite rolling on optional 19-inch rims shod with slimline 35-profile rubber, the 8's optional adaptive dampers serve up a wonderfully compliant ride. With impressive mechanical refinement and NVH suppression and dynamics that are measured and predictable, the 8 possesses 8 superb long-distance and roundtown manners.

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