Fahrvergnugen: The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI S 4-Door

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The early 1980s were a dreary time for people who love to drive.  Emissions regulations had resulted in low-horsepower engines.  Gasoline prices and overall inflation were prompting many people to buy cars they really didn't enjoy, in the name of economy.

And then came the Volkswagen GTI.

Print ad for 1984 Volkswagen GTI
1984 Volkswagen GTI print ad.
The performance statistics cited in the vintage print ad above may not be all that impressive now, but in those dark days, they were remarkable.

Fast-forward 33 years.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The GTI is still with us.  0-60 flashes by in 5.8 seconds, the top speed is 124 miles per hour, lateral acceleration has improved into the 0.94g range, the slalom speed depends on the slalom, and braking takes longer than the 1984 because the mass is greater, but it is fully competitive with contemporary vehicles.

And despite the greater mass, fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 24 city/32 highway.

Now known as the Golf GTI, the S model which we drove makes the sport suspension standard.  Base price is $26,695, which translates to $11,549.96 in 1984 money.   And there is far more than $3,200 in added improvements.  The performance cited above, for starters.  And literally dozens of things that either woul have cost extra 33 years ago or simply had not been invented yet.

Interior view of 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI interior.
Volkswagen has made the 2017 Golf GTI S a one-price affair.  It's all standard---driving mode selection, XDS cross-differential system, vented front disc brakes, Servotronic electro-mechanical power steering, a full complement of active and passive restraint systems, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, halogen headlamps with daytime running lights, LED front fog lamps, heated, foldable, power adjustable side mirrors, front wipers with heated washer nozzles, manual climate control, a multi-function sport steering wheel with shift paddles, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, brake lever and shift knob, manual front sport seats with power recline, heated front seats, a split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, cloth seating surfaces, ambient interior lighting with front and rear reading lights, a rearview camera, an eight-speaker touchscreen AM/FM/HDRadio audio system with CD player, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a color multifunction display with trip computer, power door locks, VW's Car-Net app suite and GTI bumpers and trim with a rear spoiler and red brake calipers.

Again, all standard for the base price of $26,695.

The best part?  It is a ball to drive.  That combination of power and control, acceleration and handling, wrapped up in a Germanically solid structure---never mind that it's built in Mexico---it's difficult to describe unless you've been there.  Although Volkswagen itself coined a word for it in the early 90s:

Early 1990s Volkswagen print ad
Early 1990s Volkswagen print ad.
And with the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI S, it still fits.