Road cars: VW Golf GTi

'Little flying Golf ball'

Volkswagen's astonishing 110bhp 113mph Golf GTi is already a cult car, and the new five-speed model gave me another excuse to borrow one. Rarely have I enjoyed a car so much. The four-gear model was astonishing, this five-speeder is beyond belief.

No two ways about it, the GTi is a very rapid machine. The little dynamo under the bonnet pulls lustily to the 6900rpm limiter. In terms of crispness, smoothness, responsiveness and sheer mechanical enthusiasm at the touch of the throttle, there is no other small engine in the world in the same ballpark. It has the closest characteristics to the flat-six air-cooled Porsche 911 engine of any small engine I know.

The instant responsiveness in first, second and third, combined with the compact size and excellent handling make the Gil the fastest town car on the market.

Superlatives cannot be restricted to the engine. There is a feeling of tautness to the whole car, from the suspension and body to the Porsche-type steering column switchgear --- an impression of engineering integrity.

This little flyer can be thrown around with astonishing abandon, the steering so smooth and positive that most of the time there is no feel of traction avant. It can be cornered at amazing speeds with very little understeer, and in slippery conditions there is even the occasional demand for a touch of opposite.

The happy combination of balanced braking, handling, roadholding and acceleration evokes supreme confidence. Yet the GTi is also smooth, comfortable and sophisticated, its ride taut but good, the suspension and tyres quiet in operation.

You will gather that I'm an ardent fan of the little flying Golf ball. Indeed, I consider it one of the best cars in the world in its own way. However, a discordant note arose when DSJ tried it. I thought it might change his views on modem saloons. It was not to be. "Just another Euro s*** box!" said Jenks after a few days. --- CR
March 1980