I know it’s our job as car enthusiasts to bitch and moan about how great cars used to be, and how soft and insulated and watered-down they all feel now, but you have to admit you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck today than you did in decades past.

Case in point: this chart that shows what happened over 30 years to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The MK2 GTI was the sequel to the original, a car that effectively launched the hot hatch segment and was hailed as one of the best driver’s cars ever. Its modern successor, the MK7 GTI, may be bigger and heavier, but nobody is accusing it of slacking as a performance machine. Very much the opposite, in fact.

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What else does it have that the 1985 GTI didn’t? An array of airbags and other safety features, a more sophisticated suspension, one of the best gearboxes on the planet, and better fuel economy and emissions — all for just a 25 percent increase in base price when adjusted for inflation.

Progress, it seems, is not always so bad. If you need further convincing, check out this 1984 MK1 Golf crash test video. I’ll take my chances in the MK7, thanks very much.

Graphic credit VWPartsVortex.com


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.