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Volkswagen Golf GTI MK 5 (2005 - 2009)

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Introductionword count: 108

No hot hatch carries with it as great a pedigree as Volkswagen's Golf GTI. This is the car that popularised the whole pocket rocket phenomenon and counting the number of models that ripped off Volkswagen's GTI badge will run you almost into treble figures. The thing is, the original hasn't always been the best. The MkI car was great and the 16v version of the MkII GTI wasn't half bad but in the intervening years, the GTI lost its way. With the MK V car, it was back at the top of its game and demand has been frenzied. Here's how to track down a decent used example.

Modelsword count: 7

Models Covered: (3/5dr hatchback 2.0T FSI [GTI])

Historyword count: 225

Few who attended Volkswagen's stand at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show would have any inkling of the significance that the Golf Sport study would eventually have. Sold in Germany as the GTI in 1976, Volkswagen UK began importing it in left hand drive guise in 1977. It was still a very basic car, with metal bumpers and an interior that was extremely stark. Volkswagen's idea of a refinement was a push button radio with one speaker. Nobody really caught on to the genius behind the car until 1979 when right hand drive versions became available. Fast forward a quarter of a century and we have a very different proposition. 112bhp has swelled to 197bhp and, even more tellingly, weight has gone up enormously. It's illuminating to look at how the power- to-weight ratios have altered across the generations with the MkV managing 150bhp per ton, compared with 110bhp per ton for the MkIV and 133bhp per ton for the final 1.8-litre version of the MKI GTI. The fact that the MkV is the quickest and most able GTI to date underscores the public perception that Volkswagen had once again got serious about making the GTI the car the rest had to beat. The Golf Estate showed up in the summer of 2007. The MkVI Golf, basically an updated version of the MkV, arrived in 2009.

What You Getword count: 295

The MkV GTI offers a real premium car look and feel, not surprising when you consider the cost from new. Volkswagen created a rather tantalising website that showed what colours and options you can choose for your GTI and when I'd finished specifying my rather natty example, the bill at the end came to over £25,000. That's some serious money but at least the GTI can back that up with a class-leading chassis and an engine that really delivers the performance goods. A full-length honeycomb grille, 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof spoiler and GTI badging differentiate this car from its humbler brethren. The black grille surround also looks less like an oversized Honda badge than the metallic finishes worn by other Golfs. The interior kept the Golf at the top of the family hatch tree. It uses a fascia design reminiscent of the Phaeton luxury saloon although the centre console is lifted from the Touran mini-MPV. With the possible exception of its pricier Volkswagen Group cousin, the Audi A3, the cabin has the beating of any hatchback out there as regards ambience. The interior features soft-feel slush-moulded plastics, subtle use of chrome, fabric-covered A-pillars plus blue instrument backlighting with red needles, a signature of the fourth generation model. Some of the lower dash plastics and minor switches feel a little cheap but when balanced against the huge improvements in interior space, it's not too big a price to pay. The MKV Golf also set new standards by introducing 2Zone climate control and four-way lumbar support within the line-up. In addition, ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme), no fewer than six airbags as well as anti-lock brakes are fitted as standard. Big car features such as automatic activation of headlamps and wipers are built into the car's electronics.

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