Before the 2022 GTI Comes, Here's One Last Recommendation For The Mighty MK7 GTI

Illustration for article titled Before the 2022 GTI Comes, Here's One Last Recommendation For The Mighty MK7 GTI
Photo: The Carroll Institute For Hatchback Studies

I recently had a chance to sort of drive 2022 MK8 Golf R and came away pretty impressed. From what I hear about the MK8 GTI, it’s going to be an improvement over the current car in just about every way—but that doesn’t make the one you can buy today obsolete.

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I just came back from a two-day track event where my wife and I shared her 2015 GTI and I have to make just one last recommendation for what I—as a three-time GTI owner—consider to be the best GTI ever.

In fact, there are not a lot of cars you can buy today that I’d recommend more highly, or that I recommend more often. Her car hasn’t exactly been babied—the wheels are curbed, there are remnants of kid snacks all over the back seat and a dozen or so stickers on the inside of the passenger rear window—and it fucking rips. We do 4 hour road trips with two kids and a dog in it, we do daily commuting in it, we grocery shop in it and now, we track it. It could really be our only car.

Aside from basic maintenance, we haven’t even really spent money on it. A prolonged sit during the first part of Covid cost us rotors and pads. That same period of inactivity followed by moving houses meant we had break our longstanding “no mechanics” policy and drop the car off at Steve’s European Auto to get the electronically-actuated wastegate unstuck. The tech there seemed a little bummed to have resolved the problem as I’d floated the idea of upgrading to an IS38 turbo. (It’s a good shop.)

Other than that, I replaced the awful stock Pirelli all-seasons with Michelin PS 4S tires and bought a set of snows. It’s been pretty cheap to run.

Last weekend, it proved just as capable introducing my wife to HPDE events, putting up with my ham-fistedness and keeping up with late model Porsche Caymans in the hands of our friend Jimmy who was there as an instructor.

I was riding along with him late on the second day, headed in to Grattan’s turn one, when he said, “Man, these are such great cars.” No matter how good the MK8 is, that’s still going to be true. Hopefully VW closes them out with some good deals. Get the one with the stick, the bigger brakes and the plaid seats.

Jalopnik EIC '48 Willys CJ-2A, '84 Porsche 911, '15 VW GTI, '07 Lexus GX 470.

DISCUSSION

We’ve owned two MK7s now. Picked up the Auhtobahn GTI in June of 2015 and ran it for 67k miles, then we traded it in for an R in 2017 before they switched to digital dash. Both rock solid. We’re almost to 70k on the R and everything just works, including the tech package with ACC, lane assist, etc. You feel the extra weight of the Haldex in the rear, but it cured the wheel hop we got in the GTI under heavy acceleration and we like the agdjustable dampening. GTI overpowers good all seasons- gotta get really sticky tires.

The golf platform is just a crazy good all rounder. We’ve done some really long road trips with the hatch filled up with camping gear in the R, too. My advice, get a cheap set of 17" take off rims from another MQB car and put standard profile continental DWS or similar rubber on it for road trips. No point in babying the stock rims and rubber bands through unfamiliar territory.

You do your scheduled maintenance and this generation of golf will pay it back in spades. Forget about the MKIV and MKV horror stories. This is a totally different platform with a much different corporate strategy behind it.