Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG – Best Premium Hatchback

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The Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG was crowned the winner in the Premium Hatchback category in the first annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, announced in Johannesburg on the 14th of January 2016.

We’re looking for a vehicle that’s stylish and sophisticated, yet practical enough for most motoring needs. The winner in this category must not only offer outstanding quality, refinement, performance and the latest technologies, but also broadcast a message of success and ambition.

It should not cost more than R500 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (June 2015), must be a five-door hatchback in the C-segment with crossovers thrown into the mix too. The engine should offer a balance of efficiency and performance, the brand should be premium with a proven track record and strong resale/warranty and there should be generous specification in terms of infotainment and safety.

Why did the Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG win?

While the Volkswagen brand is not perceived to offer the same levels of prestige as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the value for money, refinement and performance of the Golf GTI makes it exceptionally hard to ignore. And, of course, the GTI moniker itself is very highly regarded in South Africa, to the point where it is a desirable sub-brand of its own. Packing a 2.0-litre turbo engine, it’s easily the fastest vehicle in this category and despite the performance designation, the Golf GTI also offers sensible hatchback practicality. It’s also reasonably efficient with a fuel claimed consumption figure of 6,4L/100km.

This is a proper hot hatch, so entertaining dynamics are a given. There isn’t another car here, including possibly even the rear-wheel drive BMW that offers similar levels of sportiness and dynamic engagement. The slight downside to the focus on handling sharpness is a ride set-up that is certainly on the firm side, though some way short of jarring. In fact, the standard set-up strikes such a fine compromise that we don’t think the optional Adaptive Chassis Control system (R11 500) is necessary.


Volkswagen Communications Manager Andile Dlamini accepts his trophy from Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager, Hannes Oosthuizen.

Although Volkswagen can’t be mentioned in quite the same breath as the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which it competes with in this segment, the GTI moniker goes a long way to making up for any lack of perceived street cred. This is also a very desirable car in the used market, so resale values are strong. The GTI is backed with a 3-years/120 000 km warranty and 5-years/90 000 km service plan.

The standard features package includes the so-called “Composition Media” system that offers USB/SD Card support, Bluetooth, eight speakers and a 5,8-inch touch screen. This will probably be sufficient for most buyers, but available as an option is a more comprehensive system that includes satellite navigation for R19 600, as well as a DynAudio sound system for R8 350.

Opinion From The Judges

“If you’re looking for an upmarket, sophisticated hatchback with a real performance streak, then the Golf GTI offers the perfect package. It is a truly excellent all-rounder. ” ­Hannes Oosthuizen

“The Golf GTI is a firm favourite in SA thanks to its strong performance bias without sacrificing on ride quality or premium feel. Once you get behind the wheel you can’t help but be impressed by the way it masters all facets of an upmarket hatchback.” Ashley Oldfield

“It may be popular amongst the boy racers, but there’s no denying the premium and luxury ability that the Golf GTI delivers in bucket loads. The latest incarnation offers more all-roundedness than performance, which gives it a mature factor that other hot hatches lack.” David Taylor

Compare the Volkswagen Golf GTI to the BMW 120i and Mercedes-Benz GLA200 CDI automatic here.

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