The character has not changed for decades — this is just about the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which has retained its good morals even in the eighth generation. We paired it with a three-door Mini John Cooper Works. It has similar engine characteristics, comparable dynamics and starting price, and most importantly – dislike of drastic changes. This is where the similarity ends: if the GTI protagonist adheres to the light side, then the imp from Oxfordshire stands on the dark side with all four runflets.
Injection of adrenaline, dilated pupils from excitement and pleasure… This is about how a layman imagines driving a Golf with three cherished letters. Still — a traction turbo engine (245 hp, 370 N * m), a body crouched to the ground, large wheels and a bifurcated exhaust. But, like its predecessors, the latest generation GTI relies on balance.
The Golf fit is optimal in geometry, the steering wheel and driver’s seat adjustment ranges are wide, with visibility – no crime. Beautiful sports chairs are stuffed with relatively soft material and do not press the side support rollers. The Germans also tried to make life easier for the owner by stripping the physical buttons on the front panel. They cleaned up, but as a result, climate control and heated seats turned out to be in the multimedia menu. Inhumane.
The interior of the Mini after the digital “G.T.I.” is a passing era. Buttons, toggle switches, rings-twirlers of the climate system… Leather armchairs with diamond-shaped stitching resemble furniture from an old house, and the dashboard is only partially virtual. The narrow vertical windshield and the front pillars located close to you also seem to send greetings from bygone times. But ergonomics were not mocked here, and visibility is only slightly worse than golf.
Despite the fact that we have the John Cooper Works version, the driver’s seat with an adjustable cushion length is the same as the Cooper S version. Landing, which tends to be urban, also reminds of a less rapid modification. However, a simple-looking chair holds the body and hips well, and the backrest provides shoulder support, which is not enough in Golf. The steering column is adjustable in less wide ranges, as is the seat, but even a corpulent person can get comfortable.
Previously, the motor start button in Golf was round and was located separately on the central tunnel. Now it is a rectangle in a row of its own kind. After pressing — calm. The two-liter engine wakes up casually, diluting the silence with a muffled buzz. The exhaust system sounds just as nondescript even on an unheated car.
From the first meters, the contested Golf is fascinating… comfort! In the GTI powertrain mode of the same name, courtesy itself. The reaction to the fuel supply is emphatically mild. The preselective “robot” DSG DQ381 with a pair of “wet” clutches imperceptibly goes through the steps and even at urban speeds enters the orbit of the highest seventh gear. However, because of this, the engine often runs at low speeds, which is why a bass low-frequency hum spreads through the cabin. Only this puts pressure on the ears — the sound insulation of the engine compartment, doorways and arches is sound.
The chassis, which is understated in comparison with conventional Golfs by 15 mm, smoothes out road ripples quite well and fulfills larger irregularities in a rounded manner. The muscular suspension holds the blow on frankly serious potholes, and not a single gram of disturbances comes to the light steering wheel. If you translate mechatronics into “Sport”, then the background force on the steering wheel will be added. Although the hatch will not turn into a tooth crusher — in our market, the GTI only happens with a passive suspension.
We stay in the “Sport”, turn off the stabilization system, drown both pedals at the same time… And with the lon-control under the embellished audio system, the sound of the GTI motor reaches hundreds in 6.5 seconds. The gap from the “passport” is only one tenth. But without emotions – a pause at the start, frankly sluggish first meters, an attempt to catch up with a powerful catch-up. It is much more pleasant to overtake slow-moving cars on suburban highways — the DSG, which is set up by the sports mode, quickly goes down, and the engine immediately gives the hatch a powerful impulse.
Reactions to the steering wheel are not razor-sharp, but in turns the Golf is fast and accurate. The moment of loss of grip of the tires with the canvas is perfectly felt by the drop in effort on the steering wheel. And you can safely open even before exiting the turn – thanks to the electronically controlled lock that works in conjunction with the stabilization system. Similar feelings were behind the wheel of the predecessor, but the big arrogance was a surprise. If earlier on dry asphalt, in response to a sharp gas release, the GTI could wobble with the stern, now the car lingers longer in sliding.
In terms of the relationship with the driver, the Mini JCW is the direct opposite of friendly Golf. A cruel despot is imprisoned in a motley three-door body. The engine roars loudly in the first second of start-up, and the loud bass sound of the exhaust system is scattered throughout the interior. In the literal sense, it becomes difficult even when leaving the parking lot — the monstrously heavy steering wheel! And the stone pendant counts all the pebbles with maniacal zeal. A little more, and I will be able to recognize even cigarette butts under the wheels.
Mini forces me to rush, and I’m glad to be under this whip. A winding stretch of flat country road, like a sweet dream – if only it didn’t end! The suspension is dense, as if assembled on hinges. Rocking and body rolls are almost absent. The hot hatch rushes after the slightest deviation of the steering wheel, as if you are moving a four-wheeled toy on the floor of a nursery with your own hands. The thick rim, though pumped by force, but at the right moment suggests that the front tires are about to break under the yoke of lateral forces.
In the Green and Mid modes (from middle – medium), the 2.0 turbo engine grumbles with displeasure, but pulls perfectly from the very bottom, responds well to the accelerator. The tiniest thing begins in “Sport” when John Cooper Works leaps forward like a predator even after a small throttle opening. And if you sink the pedal to the floor, then the Mini, quickly changing gears and shooting back with the release, will show its minimum – six seconds to a hundred! Not only the declared timekeeping is put to shame, but also the GTI itself. The difference of half a second is noticeable, but more importantly, JCW does everything selflessly. Like the last time.
Alas, Mini John Cooper Works is always like this. Forget about comfort. When you want peace and quiet, a British car will offer shaking, bumps and pain in the ears. The wind is roaring in the area of the windshield pillars, low-profile tires are buzzing, the release is constantly mumbling. In addition, on many roads you are involved in a struggle with the steering wheel, which is violently torn from your hands in ruts. In such areas, the hatchback is controlled by the road, but not by you.
The sun is still high, photography is in full swing, and Nastya Korolkova asks to give her a comfortable Golf. Mini “got it already”. I’m all for it! Even after a long working day, I will be happy to go home to JCW. Rude, aggressive—and so attractive. Stockholm syndrome? Sinful. I have a liking for the tyrant car. As is the feeling of deep respect for its obsessive creators. They are true to the principles, and the boring JCW, as before, is suitable only for fans. Or perverts. The rest of the hot hatch concept will scare away.
GTI is perfect for such customers. Not a flighty toy, but a serious car. Maybe even too serious. But it’s easy to get along with Golf: it’s versatile, unobtrusive, comfortable and moderately gambling. In other words, daily. The way we used to see him. In the current realities, even the price can be called adequate. There are no direct competitors, and 2.5 million rubles are being asked for a co-platform Octavia with a less powerful turbo engine (190 hp) and similar equipment.