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

Fahrvergnügen Continues, 30 Years Down the Road

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With the launch of the seventh-generation Golf lineup, including the GTI, Volkswagen is planning to offer numerous safety features.  At launch, a post-collision braking system that stops the car from incurring a second collision (something quite common in accidents) is standard and, within a year, the Golf should have adaptive cruise control with emergency braking, blind spot detection, and a lane-departure warning system.

Perhaps most importantly, despite the improvements and added content, it only costs $195 more than the sixth-generation GTI.

DRIVING THE 2015 GOLF GTI

Poised but spirited is what comes to mind after sitting in the driver’s seat of the new GTI.  There is a clear refinement that has taken place over 30 years but while some of the Fahrvergnügen has been lost and the GTI is far more suitable for transporting four passengers in comfort for long distances on an Autobahn, it is still very entertaining on the twisties.

Steering is precise and predictable.  The stability-control system keeps it fully planted on the ground (no jumps à la the 1984 GTI commercial).

The additional torque makes its presence felt.  While I never considered past GTIs to be slow (even the 90-horsepower Mk1), the new GTI seems to have unlimited reserves of power that you can tap into through 5,000 rpm.

BOTTOM LINE

It isn’t a fair comparison.  The 1984 Rabbit GTI is clearly the raw, less polished vehicle but it’s also more fun to drive.  The 2015 Golf GTI is far more refined but don’t get me wrong: it’s not a compromise.  Its secret powers lie in its slightly stealthy skin, not so noisy as to be annoying, making it a great daily driver while still being able to open up for some of the most fun driving roads in the world.

THE DETAILS

2015 VW Golf GTI 1984 VW Rabbit GTI
Base price/price-as-tested $24,395/unknown $8,350/unknown
Drivetrain Front engine, front-wheel drive Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 2.0-liter inline four 1.8-liter inline four
Horsepower/Torque 210 / 258 90 / NA
Transmission 6-speed DSG 5-speed manual
Curb weight (lbs) 3,086 2,100
Wheelbase (inches) 103.6 94.5
Length x width x height (inches) 168 x 70.8 x 56.8 155.3 (length)
0-60 mph (seconds) 6.5 (0-62) 9.8
Fuel economy (mpg) (city/highway) 25/34 20/23

 

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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