Honestly don't know where to start with this one...
The GTI is in a strange class of it's own. It has the potential and heart to be a great Hot Hatch but something is holding it back. Something is taking the wild, gnashing teeth with red eyes and putting it on a leash. I believe I know what it is...
The 2016 GTI has everything you could possible want in a daily driver. The tech they threw into this vehicle is beyond me. Being able to park itself and keep its place in traffic are some of the many useful qualities this car has. Equipped with a peppy inline-4 with 220HP, its bound to put a smile on your face when you mash the throttle encouraging the little hatch to spring forward, taking you from 0-100KPH in roughly 5.9 seconds. This is all thanks to the magic of turbocharging.
The styling is uniquely non "Hot Hatch". With some red flourishing and GTI badges scattered about, it's difficult to differentiate between GTI and non GTI models. The interior is tastefully done with a large touch screen and playful "golf ball" shift knob. Seats are comfortable and low but don't hug you as tightly as the ST's Recaro's (allowing for better long distance driving).
Driving is where this car comes alive. Put your foot down and it will gladly respond with a smooth and aggressive pull. I found out handling is not an issue with the GTI. It was very composed as it devoured corner after corner on the B-roads around the city, allowing me to throw it into corners more and more aggressively.
Playing around with the different settings on the car allowed me to reaffirm my original opinion of the car. Steering, drivetrain, front diff lock, interior engine noise? Why so many options? I was skittering back and forth on the road trying to feel the difference between "normal" and "sport" mode with the steering when I got frustrated and just set everything to sport.
The Golf GTI is a very good car. It will get you form A to B very comfortably and with dignity. Unfortunately, it has taken its German creators attitude towards seriousness. It's missing it's hardcore streak drivers want out of a Hot Hatch. A real drivers car forces you to drive. Feel the road, take risks and most importantly, show off. Hot Hatches are about drama and making an entrance.
The GTI can give you good first impressions on a first date, but you may be scoffed at while performing a well executed hand brake turn at your local meet.