Publication date: 22 March 2006
Volkswagen Golf V
First impression

Volkswagen Golf V

Totally Turbo

First impression - According to Volkswagen, they have made the impossible come true. Thanks to TSi technology, a Golf with a small engine and even an even smaller price which approaches the performance of the infamous Golf GTi. At the same time, this new engine is even more energy efficient than the basic Golf. The new economy GTi goes by the appropriate name GT. As it is not available until later in the year in the UK, Autozine decide to go straight to the factory in Wolfsburg and to take it for a test drive in the former East Germany.

Volkswagen Golf GT 1.4 TSi - an awful lot of specialist terminology and marketing jargon. The Volkswagen Golf is already a fifth generation car. Since its introduction back in 1974, not only have the dimensions increased so have the prices. The desirable GTi has become less and less of a sports car for the ordinary man; it is more and more a prohibitively expensive dream car. The completely new GTi is drawing closer to GTi's performance at a much friendlier price.

Twin charger

In order to achieve this, Volkswagen has combined a number of techniques. The 1.4 litre engine is equipped with a compressor and a turbo. Both are proven aids to assist the performance of the smaller engine. The advantage of this technique is the engine maintains a low consumption but performs better. The disadvantage of just using a turbo is that the performance is initially mediocre and then suddenly markedly improved as the turbo only begins to function when the engine is revved completely.

The compressor improves the performance immediately, but is considerably less efficient than a turbo. The TSi engine combines both: a compressor ensures a good performance at low revs with the turbo kicking in once an appropriate speed has been attained.

Volkswagen Golf V

The effect of this so-called twin-charger technique is outstanding. The Golf GT is frankly a fast car which is convincing from the start. The GT has the liveliness and agility of a lighter car, but when power is required, the TSi goes further than an average 1.4 litre engine, which would have given up the ghost. Instead the Golf GT is a real revving machine which accelerates eagerly and continues to accelerate to a massive 6,000 revs/minute. Volkswagen engineers have called it a "drehorgel" - the sound of the high revs is similar to those of a street organ. In comparison with a Golf GTi or many other fast cars, the superior force remains forthcoming however the sensation is none the less.

Moreover, it is irresistible to steer this modest Golf time and time again towards the left lane of the Autobahn where it sends much larger car with a blush of shame to the right hand side. With the speed reaching 125 miles/hr, the Golf still has an insatiable desire for more. Once it has overtaken, "Golf 1.4 GT" is visible on the rear of this pushy passer-by. At cruising speed, the rev counter falls thanks to the sixth gear, thus making the car a very suitable long distance journey car.

Volkswagen Golf V

The Golf GT is also available with a diesel engine, in which Volkswagen uses similar technology. The performance of which is also outstanding, but Volkswagen has not made this more unique than any other manufacturer. There are others who deliver diesel engines, which are just as quick and efficient. Moreover, the Golf GT diesel model is not exactly the quietest.

Volkswagen Golf V

Every Golf GT is provided with a special sports chassis. As a result, the car is more alert to steering manoeuvres than a normal Golf. The agility and alertness is greatly increased thanks to the small engine. The Golf GT is lighter than the GTi and the R32, which enhances manoeuvrability.

Unfortunately Volkswagen has not adapted the brakes. In extreme situations, the brakes are not able to cope against the enormous engine power and the bizarre antics that the test driver produced.

It's a Golf!

Technology is not the only reason to choose a Golf. As with every Volkswagen, these fun machines are in truth a reliable and practical car. The rear space is so enormous, that the (sports) seat can be pushed so far backwards that even the tallest of drivers can barely reach the clutch. The room on the rear seat is slightly less than the average car.

The design of the interior is typical Volkswagen: sterile and sober. Solely the remains of a deserted East German border control post are more depressing. Hidden carefully between the speedometer and the rev counter, there is "Boost" meter. The sole display of ostentation. Climate control, cruise control and electric windows are all standard on the Golf GT.

Volkswagen Golf V

Visually the Golf GT is only recognisable due to the v-shaped grill, which is characteristic of a super sporty Golf. The Golf GT might miss the air of a real GTi, but its modesty is to its credit. With the Golf GT, it is not about the flashiness, but content.


Volkswagen recommends the Golf GT as an economic version to the legendary GTi. However Volkswagen is unfortunately selling the GT too short. Thanks to the Twin charger technology, the GT with its small engine, modest fuel consumption and low price offers the sensation of a sports car with a much larger engine.

Moreover this unique technology gives the Golf GT a unique character that would appeal to many more than that of the GTi. A small engine is more lively and alert, which just increases the driving pleasure. The only true disadvantage of the TSi technology is the prescribed used of the expensive 98-RON fuel.

Finally, the GT remains a real Golf, and consequently it is still popular. The Golf has been a successful car for many a decade because Volkswagen capitalise optimally on the wishes of the European consumer. The Golf is roomy, reliable and even as a GT guarantees a high value after depreciation.

  • Decent price
  • Outstanding road handling
  • Performance of a much larger car; fuel consumption of a much smaller car
  • Sober interior
  • Moderate legroom in the rear
  • Braking barely curbed the engine's power