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Volkswagen - 2004 Golf GTI 5-door
Volkswagen - 2004 Golf GTI 5-door

Volkswagen - 2004 Golf GTI 5-door

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VW Golf GTI 5-door Twenty-eight years ago, in June 1976, Volkswagen launched the Golf GTI, a car that would become a legend and establish a new class of car: the hot hatch. The ... More »
VW Golf GTI 5-door

Twenty-eight years ago, in June 1976, Volkswagen launched the Golf GTI, a car that would become a legend and establish a new class of car: the hot hatch.


original Volkswagen Golf GTI

was planned as a limited series of 5,000 cars. Since then - and four generations of GTI later - more than 1.5 million have been sold worldwide. GTI has become more of a marque in its own right than a model of Golf, and over 97.9 per cent of people in the UK know the GTI brand.


fifth generation of VW Golf GTI

has now been launched. Retailers have been taking advanced orders for the car since autumn 2004, and interest in the hot hatch could not be higher. Early media reaction to the car has been highly positive, with the car winning almost every group comparison in which it has been tested.

This latest incarnation of the GTI is a true sports car, and as such, it recaptures the spirit of the Seventies icon. Thanks to a 2.0-litre 200 PS engine, driving dynamics which are aimed squarely at the enthusiast, and a design to set the pulse racing, customers can look forward to a genuinely rewarding - and fun - car.

Volkswagen's head of design, Murat Günak, sums it up when he says: 'This Golf GTI comes full circle - it unites the origins and future of an ingenious idea.'

Nowhere in the world is the GTI more important than the UK. As the car's largest market, GTI is forecast to account for around ten per cent of total UK Golf sales.


The GTI is based on the standard Golf, meaning its design and dimensions are very similar. However its new nose design and lowered suspension mean there are small differences: height has been reduced by 19 mm and length increased by 12 mm.

With the standard Golf, one of the chief targets for the designers was a substantial improvement in body rigidity. Thanks to the extensive use of advanced construction techniques such as laser seam welding, this was achieved: static torsional rigidity improved by 80 per cent, establishing the Golf as new class leader.

Improved safety and handling dynamics are among the benefits to the driver and passengers. Noise levels are reduced through the body rigidity, and excellent engine and gearbox refinement lead to exceptionally smooth and quiet progress for this type of car.

Attention to detail is evident throughout the vehicle, with many styling details and design ideas passed on to the Golf from Volkswagen's luxury class models. Among these is the boot lid release mechanism, which is incorporated into the Volkswagen badge.

The new 'module' doors are also an innovation, aimed at drastically reducing door skin repair costs. No longer must the entire door be replaced in the event that it is damaged in an accident, instead the outer panel can easily be detached. This is achieved by the use of load-bearing 'hybrid bars' which serve as the door inner panel. The outer skin panel is simply bolted into place.

The interior

Though similar to the standard Golf's interior, there are many features that distinguish the GTI from the rest of the range, giving it a special feeling of sportiness to suit its performance and character.

Sports seats

The GTI seats offer maximum comfort with the best possible side support and sporty looks. The high seatbacks with integrated, but adjustable (and active) head restraints accentuate the feel of sporting functionality. The front seats also have lumbar support adjustment as standard.

The new 'Interlagos' cloth upholstery has a chequered design, which harks back to the first GTI seat generation. Full leather upholstery is also available as an option. The GTI logo stitched into the front head restraints also shows the attention to detail.

Steering wheel

Just like the first Volkswagen Golf GTI, this latest generation also has a three-spoke steering wheel. Today, however, it is leather, with a perforated leather section on the left- and right-hand grip areas. The bottom of the steering wheel has been straightened slightly, making it a little more compact than the standard Golf wheel and shaped to allow a grip that will give good control. The GTI logo features on the brushed aluminium vertical spoke of the steering wheel. As on all Golfs, the steering column is adjustable for rake and reach.

Gearknob and instruments

Aluminium alloy is employed for the new GTI gearknob, the trim inserts on the dashboard, centre console, door panels, pedal cluster and instrument dials. The instruments themselves have been newly designed and are exclusive to the GTI: the tachometer, for example, goes up to 8,000 rpm and the speedometer has also been given a greater speed range.

Climate control

The Volkswagen Golf GTI features 2Zone electronic climate control air conditioning. As a fully automatic two-zone device, the driver and front-seat passenger are able to adjust their own climates individually and independently, with up to four degrees Celsius difference between each zone.

Temperatures within the two zones are maintained to an accuracy of half a degree, with no readjustment normally necessary whatever the outside conditions. The Climatronic's intelligent control system even takes into account the amount of sunlight penetration into the cabin, and makes separate calculations to compensate for it on both the driver and passenger sides.

As an example of further attention to detail, the system switches automatically to recirculating-air mode when reversing and when the windscreen washer sprays are used; the fresh air supply is momentarily cut to prevent odours - of exhaust and windscreen wash - from entering.


Volkswagen enjoys a hard won reputation for quality and knows that it must make an even greater commitment in design, materials, development, quality control and many other areas if it is to retain its lead. By designing the Golf to make use of some major and minor components including nuts, bolts, washers and fixings used in other Group products, Volkswagen is able to purchase high quality components and materials in bulk. By saving costs in these areas, Volkswagen has more resource to spend on quality items specific to the Golf that distinguish it from other models.


The Volkswagen Golf GTI features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder FSI petrol engine boosted by a turbocharger and intercooler. The engine is mounted at the front transversely and drives through a six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearbox (see next section for details).

The GTI's powerplant, which is based on the 150 PS unit currently used in the Golf GT FSI, delivers a maximum power output of 200 PS at 5,100 rpm. The 2.0-litre T-FSI in the Volkswagen Golf GTI has a high compression ratio of 11.5:1. Its broad torque band, 207 lbs ft (280 Nm) from 1,800 right up to 5,000 rpm, makes it an ideal engine for a sports car.

This is the first time an FSI engine with a turbocharger has been used in a Volkswagen brand product. Essentially, combining the two means excellent response, no hint of turbo lag, great driveability and high fuel efficiency.

Volkswagen is committed to FSI technology for its petrol engines, with more powerplants increasingly appearing across the model ranges.

Fuel is injected only in the piston's compression phase, rather than during induction as is the norm, and is placed in the tightly controlled stream of intake air moving towards the spark plug. Many of the principles used in FSI were inspired by the advanced technology featured in Volkswagen's TDI engines.

By injecting fuel directly into the cylinder - as already seen in Volkswagen's TDI diesel engines - combustion efficiency is improved and, as a result, so is fuel economy.

The main aim during the development of the GTI's engine was increasing performance considerably to meet GTI core values, while keeping fuel consumption and emissions down. Thanks to the FSI technology plus turbocharger, Continuous Inlet Camshaft Adjustment, Plastic Variable Intake Manifold as well as other internal engine features, a high degree of efficiency could be achieved. Combined fuel consumption of 35.3 mpg (manual) is evidence that this technology works, while, like all Golf engines, the 2.0-litre T-FSI meets EU4 emissions legislation.

Six-speed manual

The VW Golf GTI is offered with a standard six-speed manual gearbox featuring a magnesium selector housing and cable operation with very short lever movements. This is essentially the same transmission used in the Golf GT FSI, though gear ratios have been optimised to suit the GTI's sporting character. Three-cone synchromesh for the lower gears ensures a pleasant shift action, while reduced-friction bearings increase the efficiency of the unit and cut fuel consumption.

DSG - Direct Shift Gearbox

Optionally available with the Volkswagen Golf GTI is a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox. Available currently in the Golf and Touran in combination with TDI engines, and offered here for the first time with a petrol unit, DSG combines the comfort of an automatic gearbox with the agility and economy of a manual unit.

The transversely mounted DSG has two wet clutches (offering a higher thermal load tolerance than dry clutches) with hydraulic pressure regulation. One clutch controls the 'odd' gears plus reverse, while the other operates the 'even' gears. Essentially it is two gearboxes in one.

With this new clutch management system, the breaks in power that are typical of even an automatic-shift manual gearbox no longer occur. This is achieved by an intelligent hydraulic and electronic (mechatronic) gearbox control system, the two wet-type clutches and the two input and output shafts in each half of the gearbox.

This combination enables the next-higher gear ratio to remain engaged but on standby until it is actually selected. In other words, if the car is being driven in third gear, fourth is selected but not yet activated. As soon as the ideal shift point is reached, the clutch on the third-gear side opens, the other clutch closes and fourth gear engages under accurate electronic supervision.

Since the opening and closing actions of the two clutches overlap, a smooth gearshift results and the entire shift process is completed in less than four-hundredths of a second. In addition to its fully automatic shift mode, DSG has a Tiptronic function to permit manual gear selection.


All Golfs, including the GTI, are set to run on variable servicing times. The on-board computer informs the driver when the vehicle needs a service or, for example, an oil change. Rather than having fixed service intervals determined by mileage, a range of engine sensors electronically monitors the vehicle's oil temperature, oil pressure, oil level and brake pad wear to establish when a service is needed. A dashboard display informs the driver when a service is due. Alternatively, customers can opt for a 10,000 mile or one-year Extended service schedule.

With the variable system, it can be possible to drive for up to 19,000 miles or 24 months on petrol models without a major service. Customers can choose between Extended or Variable Servicing at PDI (pre-delivery inspection) and though it is possible to change from one to another during the vehicle's life, it can only be done when a full inspection service is due.

Running gear

A new era for Volkswagen suspension design was ushered in with the arrival of the Touran; the Golf was the second model in the range to benefit from the development of a completely new four-link rear suspension system.

Ride and handling were markedly improved over the standard Golf's predecessor, with attendant active safety benefits, and the new rear axle configuration also enabled an enlarged through-load width in the luggage compartment.

The standard Golf's front strut and rear multi-link chassis have been made even more dynamic for the GTI, to guarantee the level of agile handling required for this car. The suspension has been lowered by 15 mm, while harder springs and dampers have been chosen for both axles. The stiffness of the rear anti-roll bars has been increased by 20 per cent, from 25 to 30 N/mm.

Electro-mechanical power steering

Electro-mechanical power steering is another feature introduced with the Golf (first seen in Touran) and designed to enhance the driving experience. Unlike some electro-mechanical steering systems, it is able to vary the feel of the steering wheel to suit the speed and driving situation: firm and direct when driving hard, effortless at parking speeds.

Other advantages of the system include its mild self-centring action, its ability to compensate for different driving hazards, like crosswinds and steep road cambers, and a beneficial effect on fuel economy.

The steering system, like the suspension, has been reprogrammed to suit the GTI and produces higher steering forces, giving the driver a more direct feel and more feedback through the steering wheel.

The VW Golf GTI's new chassis and steering configurations give the car its impressive agility and make it genuinely fun and rewarding to drive. However, the sporty set-up does not come at the expense of long-distance comfort. While the suspension is designed to be firm, it is still able to absorb bumps with ease.

TI handling

The VW Golf GTI has been designed to be extremely agile, but still easy to control. Even without the intervention of ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme), the GTI will stay on track if the driver, for example, approaches a corner too fast, pushing out slightly at the front without too much understeer. On the other hand, if the driver suddenly eases off in a bend, the tail will not swing out; the driver will simply experience some mild oversteer, which will slow the car and allow gentle steering through the throttle.

Braking system

Like all Golfs, the GTI features a sophisticated braking system, with standard ABS and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme). However, like most aspects of the running gear, the brakes have also been adapted for the GTI. A 16" (as opposed to 10") servo has been employed, while the brake discs have also increased in size to 312 mm at the front and 286 mm at the rear. All discs are ventilated and are covered by distinctive red brake calipers.

Electronic Stabilisation Programme - ESP

ESP is a sophisticated system that automatically senses any tendency for the car to slide. Should this situation occur, ESP reacts by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusts the engine's power. In this way, it is possible that a skid is corrected even before the driver is aware that one has started.

This can be useful if a tendency to understeer or oversteer develops in a bend. In such circumstances ESP can help prevent the car skidding or spinning off the road and is particularly helpful in wet or icy conditions.

The new-generation ESP system developed for the Golf has a range of features designed to have a direct and positive effect on active safety, including:

ABS - Anti-lock Braking System

AEM - Adaptive Engagement Model - The car is continuously monitored, even when travelling in a stable manner, so that the system can take fast corrective action if instability occurs

TCS - Traction Control System

EBD - Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

EDL - Electronic Differential Lock

ESBS - Extended Stability Brake System

HBA - Hydraulic Brake Assist

The GTI's ESP set-up has also been adapted so it does not reduce driver enjoyment by intervening too early and intensively, or too late and vaguely.

Hydraulic Brake Assist - HBA

Working in conjunction with the other elements of the braking system, this latest form of HBA recognises from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed whether it is a 'normal' braking situation or an emergency stop. In the event of an emergency stop, HBA automatically increases braking pressure, activating ABS and ensuring the level of braking meets the needs of the conditions. The application of brake assist makes it possible even for unskilled drivers to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent.


The high levels of body rigidity brought about by the advanced construction techniques employed in the Golf make it safe, thanks to the strength inherent in the body. Key to this is the employment of laser seam welding; there is a total length of 70 metres of laser-welded seamwork in the Golf, compared with five metres in the previous generation Golf (which itself was renowned for strength and rigidity).

Offset collision

In the event of a high-speed offset accident, an extremely strong bumper cross-member ensures that energy is efficiently absorbed even on the side of the car furthest from the impact. The side members have been adapted to meet this requirement by means of 'Tailored Blank' technology: a maximum amount of energy is absorbed in the front section of the car and only then does the rear side member section buckle, thus reducing footwell intrusion.

Further protection of the footwell is achieved by the use of a cross-member to distribute longitudinal forces to the sill, the underfloor side-member and a stiffened transmission tunnel. COF, or Crash-Optimised Foot controls, retract forwards in a crash to reduce the risk of foot injury.

Side impact

The previous Golf's already high levels of passenger protection against side impacts were enhanced in the current model thanks to the greater use of high-strength body panels and a three-layer B-pillar structure. Impact loads are spread more uniformly as a result, preventing localised overloading. High-strength side reinforcements are employed in the doors.

Rear-end collision

Safety standard requirements due to come into force in 2005 were taken into consideration in the design of the Golf's rear protection systems. These new regulations require that, when the rear hits a deformable barrier at 50 mph, the fuel tank system must develop no leaks. Thus the tank filler neck and associated pipework is located ahead of the rear wheel, outside the crumple zone.

A high-strength bumper cross-member ensures that impact loads are distributed as evenly as possible to both sides of the car.

For active safety measures, please see Braking section.

Passenger safety

The Golf name has always been synonymous with safety, and the well being of all occupants is paramount. Despite the GTI being designed for fun and dynamism, safety has in no way been compromised. All models feature:

twin front airbags

passenger airbag which can be deactivated using the ignition key so a rear-facing child seat can be safely installed in the front

driver and front passenger side airbags

curtain airbag system for front and rear passengers

crash-active front head restraints to protect against whiplash injury

three rear head restraints and three rear three-point seat belts

Isofix child seat preparation for the two outer rear seats

Seat belt system

In the event of an accident, a central control unit electrically triggers the Golf's belt tensioners. Belt tensioning ensures the best performance, with energy being absorbed over a longer period of time with more moderate deceleration values. Both front and rear seat belt systems are fitted with force limiters which prevent excessive pressure being applied to the chest in the event of an accident; while newly-designed inertia-reel seat belts ensure excellent passenger comfort.

Front airbags

The front restraint system of the Golf consists of a driver's airbag with a volume of 60 litres and a front passenger's airbag of 120 litres. A further feature is the steering column, which has a highly engineered clamp for longitudinal and vertical adjustment. This clamp helps prevent the steering wheel from moving upward in the event of a crash. The underside of the steering column is also covered with an energy-absorbing trim to reduce knee and thigh forces, while a rigid footwell with forward-retracting brake and clutch pedals reduce loads on the feet.

Side airbags

The side airbags on the Golf are integrated in the front seat backrests. They protect the chest, abdomen and pelvis and suit the car's rigid side structure, while an innovative sensor concept means even faster triggering times. Integrating the side airbags in the backrests ensures optimum positioning of the driver and front passenger with respect to the airbags.

Curtain airbag system

The Golf has especially large curtain airbags, which cover the side window areas from the A- to the C-pillar and from the headlining down to over the doorsill. The result of this feature is that maximum protection is afforded to all outer seat positions regardless of passenger body size. The fact that these airbags cover such a large area prevents the head from swinging out, extremities from being thrown out and objects from penetrating the interior even in the event of the car rolling over.

Child seat

An Isofix child seat has been developed for very small passengers in the Golf, with a target age group between eight months and four years (or 9 to 18 kgs). It fits into the Isofix fixtures, which are standard in the two outer rear seats. This type of fixture ensures that the seat is secured in place to optimum effect.

Euro NCAP test results

The Golf scored a maximum of five stars for occupant protection in the front and side impact tests, four stars for child protection as well as three stars for the protection of pedestrians in the Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) tests. These scores make it one of the safest cars on the road. In fact, no other passenger car tested by Euro NCAP achieved this combination of good results for the requirements in these three fields at once.

These scores also apply to the GTI model, giving drivers and passengers the confidence that they are driving one of the most fun, yet safest cars on the road.

Factory fit options

A number of factory- and retailer-fit options are available on the Volkswagen Golf GTI, allowing buyers further to customise their vehicles. These include leather upholstery, 18" 'Monza II' alloy wheels, satellite navigation, a winter pack (comprising heated front seats and windscreen washer jets), electric sunroof, gas-discharge (Xenon) headlights and rear parking sensors.

Gas-discharge headlights (Xenon)

Ultra-efficient gas-discharge (Xenon) headlights provide a well focused, blue-white light approximately two and a half times more powerful than standard lights. This option includes a self-levelling mechanism and high-pressure headlight wash.

Parking sensors

Also available is a parking distance control system, which simplifies tight parking manoeuvres. The system uses four ultrasonic sensors, integrated in the rear bumper to pinpoint parked vehicles, or other objects behind the car. Automatically activated when reverse gear is selected, the system produces an audible warning signal to guide the driver up to a safe distance to any objects behind. Not only does this help to avoid car park knocks, it could also prevent accidents, for example, if a child runs out who may not have been seen.

Multi-function steering wheel with cruise control and paddle shift

Available very shortly after launch as an option is a multi-function steering wheel. This features steering wheel-mounted controls for the CD/radio player, so that drivers are able to alter the volume, track, station etc, without removing their hands from the wheel. For a slight premium, this is also available with cruise control, which is operated via the indicator stalk. On GTI DSG models, one multi-function steering wheel option exists, which includes not only the CD/radio controls and cruise control, but also paddle shift levers for even greater control of the DSG transmission.

Satellite navigation system

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is offered with the option of a factory-fit satellite navigation system. The 6½" colour LCD screen, which is mounted in the centre console, is supplemented with a simplified display in the instrument panel and verbal instructions.

The driver or passenger can use the screen to pinpoint where the car is on a moving map display. A traffic jam avoidance facility will be able to calculate alternative routes and the radio can memorise the latest traffic information bulletin even when switched off.

Rear ABS wheel sensors are used to determine the distance the car has covered and to provide information when the car is turning. Further system components include a solid state magnetic compass concealed under the roof and a three-way roof aerial for radio and GPS (Global Positioning System). The aerial receives signals from the satellites in orbit around the earth from which the system is able to calculate the position of the car on the surface of the earth.

A digitised road map, stored on CD-ROM in the car, is accessed. This contains road details and other information such as the locations of airports and stations.

It is effectively a digital street plan of Great Britain. The desired destination is selected using the buttons on the centre console. The system evaluates satellite signals and those from the wheel sensors and compares these data with the digitised CD-ROM road map. Quite quickly, by comparing the movement of the car with the map and its approximate position from the satellites, the system can calculate the position of the car. The road, street or motorway the car is on is then displayed and the route to the chosen destination calculated.

The system employed in the Golf also allows for a choice of different types of route - for example, avoiding motorways or cross-country drive. Should the driver deviate from an indicated route, the voice will politely request that he or she make a safe U-turn. If the driver does not oblige, the system will automatically calculate a new route and continue to issue instructions to reach the destination.

In-car entertainment

The Golf is sold with Volkswagen-designed stereo equipment. This sits neatly within the dashboard and is ergonomically designed for ease and safety of operation and maximum security. A dash-mounted CD player is standard; it can be upgraded to an armrest-mounted six-disc CD autochanger for a small premium.
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