Top Gear (2002 TV series)/Series 5/Episode 6/Volkswagen Golf GTI Film

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Though the Golf GTI nameplate was initially very sporting and athletic, Clarkson notes that as time went on, the car got heavier and slower to the point the fourth-generation model was slower from 0 - 60 MPH than a diesel-powered Skoda Octavia, a saloon car from the same parent company. Clarkson notes that this new GTI is crucial, as a lot of the car's customer base switched to 4x4 off-roaders for family transport. At its core, the new car provides prospective owners with a big boot, folding rear seats, seatbelts, airbags, and lots of space, which are all very important factors to consider when purchasing a car for the whole family. At £20,000, the car is every bit as suitable as the BMW X5, which is double the price of the Golf. However, unlike the X5, the GTI's fuel consumption is much lighter and the insurance group is much lower. Clarkson moves on to the car's styling, whose sole criterium is that the car must look suitably changed, but in a subtle manner. The original Golf for instance had black rear window louvres, gold BBS wheels, a stripe down the lower side and red pinstriping around the front grille. Clarkson thinks the new car has accurately recaptured this aesthetic. However, at 1.3 tonnes, the car is almost twice as heavy as the original Golf GTI, but has compensated for this with twice the power from a 2-litre turbocharged Inline-4. Even after putting the car into sixth gear at 30 MPH, the GTI pulls a suitable amount of torque to quickly enter the ideal rev range. What's more, the car has no perceivable turbo lag and if ordered with Audi's DSG gearbox, the Golf GTI is capable of 0 - 60 MPH in 6.9 seconds towards a top speed of 147 MPH.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Up to this point, Clarkson holds a very favourable outlook towards the car; sans the Tornado Red paintjob, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is fast, practical, and stylish, an unlikely triumvirate of characteristics for a car to have. The day prior to filming, he took the car out on "Top Gear's secret road test route" and found the car equally as pleasing, meaning it's as good on the road as it is on the track. Much to Clarkson's delight, he is impressed by the new car's increased performance and claims that the car has regained the "puppy dog enthusiasm" that was missing in the previous model. It does everything that a consumer could possibly want from a hot hatchback - the unassuming practicality of being able to take the children to school and leaving it outside at night without worrying about vandalism, the performance to drive home "as though you've sat on a wasp", and enough class so that if a driver were to park up at a 5-Star hotel, the concierge would open the door for them. In closing, the new Golf has successfully recaptured its original image; it's everything, to all men. Jeremy Clarkson strongly recommends the car over a big 4x4 in terms of "non-sensible" family transport.

Back in the studio, Richard Hammond gives a brief overview of the Golf's rivals. Each of them were driven around the Top Gear Test Track by The Stig, and their lap times placed on a special, smaller lap time board for hot hatchbacks. The Golf GTI was then taken for a lap. With a lot of wheelspin off the line, The Stig noisily thrashes the Golf around the track for a seemingly tidy lap to the soundtrack of "What Car" by Cliff Richard. The car remains planted, but clearly understeers as he veers onto the grass during the Follow-Through, partially losing the car's rear end before straightening up. The car exhibits similar behaviour through the last two corners, unable to clip either apex and running close to the grass, gently riding the crest outside the start/finish line.

Position Car Time Track Conditions
1 Honda Civic Type-R 1:32.8 Dry
2 SEAT Léon Cupra 1:32.9 Dry
3 Volkswagen Golf GTI 1:33.7 Dry
4 Renault Mégane Sport 225 1:34.0 Dry
5 MINI Cooper S Works 1:34.2 Dry

To the surprise of both hosts, the car fails to beat its older, rebadged brother (the SEAT Léon Cupra) and the aging Honda Civic Type-R. Hammond also notes that the Type-R is cheaper than the Golf, but Clarkson then remarks that Honda's brand image is not as highly regarded as that as Volkswagen's, and that on the whole, the Golf is the better package, deeming the car a "sensation". The camera then switches to James May, who begins reading out The News for that week.