2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 1984 Rabbit GTI – First Look and Review

Fahrvergnügen Continues, 30 Years Down the Road

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The second thing I noticed is how uncomplicated the car was.  I can’t think of a car today that has crank-operated windows, nor a vent window in the door, how quaint. There’s no air bag.  The only thing digital in the car seemed to be the after-market sound system.  Still the instruments were laid out intelligently and everything was just where it should have been.

The dark red interior was plush, somewhat early bordello – and very red, a reminder as to why carmakers today steer clear of monochromatic red interiors.

Despite its age, it expertly delivered pure Fahrvergnügen on demand.  It was ready to play, happy to redline, and reminded me why enthusiasts fell in love with this car when it came out.

The steering wheel looked super modern with its four horn buttons – but lacking of course was the obligatory bulge for an airbag.  The unassisted steering gave me more road feel than I’ve felt in quite a while and the shifter, while not quite as buttery as contemporary VWs, was nonetheless smooth and precise although it was a bit of a reach compared to where shifters of today are typically placed when compared to 1960s muscle cars.  The golf-ball knob was easy to grip.


Pressing on the accelerator gave the impression that there were far more than 90 horses working full time under the hood but a more gentle application of the right foot served as a reminder that automakers hadn’t quite yet learnt how to minimize the impact of all of the pollution-control plumbing at that point.

Driving it was a revelation.  With very neutral handling, it was nonetheless quite flingable and reminded me to some extent of how much fun it had been to autocross my 1982 BMW 320iS.


I deliberately drove the 84 Rabbit GTI first.  Despite its boxy looks (which were revolutionary at the time), the seventh-generation GTI clearly shows its familial resemblance.  Just like the Golf, the GTI is more aerodynamic, has a lower, wider track, a wider stance, and a lower roofline.

Click here to continue to Page 3Inside the 2015 Golf GTI

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