The idea behind this new weekly feature is hopefully self-explanatory, but if you’re yet to have your morning coffee and need a helping hand, we’ll be scouring the CarGurus classified listings to find examples of hot hatches that can now be bought for a bargainous 50% of their original price. This week we look at the brilliant Mk6 VW Golf GTI.
Why hot hatches? Simple really: there are few other types of car that appeal on so many levels, being at once fast and fun yet also practical and relatively affordable. That last point of course is particularly pertinent by the time a car has gone through the worst of its depreciation, which is precisely where the sixth-generation of Volkswagen Golf GTI sits today. Browse the CarGurus classifieds and you’ll see that what was a £23,000 car when it was launched in 2009 is now in plentiful supply for half that sum. Better still, that budget doesn’t mean settling for a car that’s been to the moon and back, because there are plenty of examples with around 50,000 miles on the clock, as well as a choice of three- or five-door body style and manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
Whatever configuration takes your fancy you’ll get the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine pushing out 207bhp and 206lb ft of torque, which is enough to get you from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds. It’s an amazing unit, pulling strongly regardless of where it is in the rev range, making a good noise when you want it to, yet also capable of fading into the background when you don’t.
To help put all that power to the road through the front wheels VW fitted what it calls XDS. Intended to mimic a limited-slip differential, this is essentially a development of traction control that allows the car to gently brake one of its front wheels if it loses grip so that power instead goes where it’s needed.
XDS contributes to the fine balance of ride and handling that makes this Mk6 Golf GTI excel, being entertainingly sharp but also comfortable to use on a daily basis. If you’ve driven older versions of the Golf GTI you’ll find this one to be not only faster in a straight line, but also much more capable through tight corners and in wet conditions.
Being a Golf there’s also a big boot, room to carry four passengers and reasonable running costs. To that end, driven sensibly you can expect upwards of 35mpg, and the £220 you pay in road tax is not at all bad for such a quick car.
Standard equipment includes subtly lowered suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and a twin exhaust, while inside you’ll find VW’s trademark tartan GTI sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and plenty of red stitching. These might all sound like small touches, but added together they create a real sense of occasion.
Suitably tempted, what do you need to look out for? Well, on the equipment front you’ll need to decide if you want a car with VW’s optional adaptive suspension. Called Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) this allows you to select a Comfort mode to soften the ride, or a Sport setting that reduces body lean to make the car feel sharper to drive. It’s a neat system, but far from essential unless the car is fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels.
If you’d prefer not to use your smartphone for navigation, look out for a car with VW’s optional DVD-based system, which looks smart and is easy to use. Be warned however that it’s not all that common.
Regardless of what car takes your interest it’s important to check it’s been well cared for, so look out for damaged wheels or bodywork and making sure there’s a full service history, hopefully showing a service every year or 10,000 miles. The DSG automatic gearbox should also be serviced every four years or 40,000 miles to keep it running smoothly.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk6
Power: 207bhp @ 5300-6200rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
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