When I arrived home from work last Friday I was greeted by a card from my local VW dealer inviting me to drive any car from the range at an ‘Open Drive’ event over the weekend. Not one to pass up such an opportunity, I popped down to have a look at a MK5 GTI.
The car in question was a beautiful condition 2007 model with just 17,000 miles on the clock and optional Recaro seats. A few years ago I owned an early model MK4 Golf GTI with the N/A 1.8 20v engine which was a nice car but ‘nice’ is probably the best way to describe it, it wasn’t especially remarkable. Lowering myself into the Recaro seats in the MK5 it was clear that it was huge step up from the MK4 in terms of the interior quality. The chunky and heavily sculptured leather steering wheel felt great to hold and all the controls felt precise and solid. Shortly afterwards I found out that the driving experience had improved enormously from the MK4 too.
The test drive was just a few miles on a mix of urban 30 & 40 zones followed by a blast down a dual carriageway, but that was more than enough to create quite a lot of ‘want’. The acceleration was smooth with power throughout the range, the gear change was short and accurate and the brakes sharp. Crossing roundabouts and travelling down the sharply curved slip road to the dual carriageway the car remained very flat with excellent grip. Despite just a short drive in the Golf, I now completely understand all the positive reviews of the MK5. The GTI feels like a very complete and accomplished package and is probably the ideal all-round hot hatch, comfortable and practical enough to use every day but with power on-tap and excellent handling when you want to press on. The only downside I can see is that the fuel consumption isn’t fantastic and with a 60 mile a day commute on the horizon this is the one issue holding me back, otherwise it would be the ideal replacement for my Fabia VRS!