Introduction


Classic cars are all the rage so we thought it was about time to review one of the upcoming classics the Volkswagen Golf Mk2 GTI, the hot hatch legend if you will, this particular Mk2 is our very own car, the 16 valve 1.8. The older Golf cars have now become iconic fast catching up with the Beetle etc, they are now a very desirable car, classic and retro and of great interest to the classic car collector.

Now as you would expect this Golf isn't like the new ones as you'd expect, however how different do you think it really is? The answer is extremely different, it's considerably bigger, especially the later models, no driving assists and nowhere near as economical, but a whole lot more fun.

A little history

The Mk2 Golf is the successor to the Mk 1 Golf, VW were losing the manufacturing race, they needed a new car to wow the world, they had a radical idea make it a peoples car, up until this time all Volkswagen vehicles had been rear wheel drive, however the solution had just presented itself in the form of Auto Union. Audi and their expertise in water cooled engines and front wheel drive allowed VW to produce the Passat, then the Golf followed with work starting in 1969, designed Giorgetto Giugiar and the rest is history.
 
The first GTI made an appearance in 1975 the Mk1, the Golf Mk2 replaced its predecessor in 1983, with a GTI 16V model being released in 1986 and running till 1993 in the UK.
 

The styling and design

The Mk2 Golf carries all the styling cues of the late 80s early 90s including a bigger body than the previous model, available in three and five door models and coming with various trim levels anything from the CL up to the supercharged Golf Rallye.
 
However we're going to concentrate on the Mk 2 Golf GTI 16V - This one is a big bumper the version which was released early in the 90s, up until the early 90s the model came with small bumpers and two-piece windows. The 16V 90 spec GTI's which our model is came factory standard with BBS RA 15" wheels, Boge Oil filled suspension and springs, the 16v was also 1cm lower than the 8V Golf GTI as well as a sporty interior this particular came with the Rainbow interior. Our model is no longer standard and has had the following upgrades BBs RS764 splitrim wheels with 205 45 16 Toyo Proxes,  Recaro A8's, Koni STR. dampers with H&R springs as the original dampers were starting to show their age, K&N air filter, uprated lighting loom, Magnex full stainless exhaust and a 2L ABF engine - one thing  to consider is it can be extremely hard to source certain OEM parts.
 
At first glance the 16 Valver is an amazing sporty retro styled car despite its 90's looks, it has not aged despite being 25 years with its rounded yet straight design - if that makes sense? if you look deeper you see a real drivers car - This particular model comes with big bumpers front and back, the top part being plastic top and the bottom being body coloured, plastic arches and sills , plastic rear spoiler, Bee sting aerial - Hella powered quad lights as well as driving lights recessed into the front bumpers the grille is black with a red surround and subtle 16v badge the red denoting GTI, if your lucky enough to spot one with a blue surround, this is a special limited edition Mk2, blue denoting motorpsort edition.
 
VW Golf Mk2 sunbathing
 

The interior and practicality

The classic VW is quite advanced for its time, however you'll find no rain activated windscreen wipers, automated lights or even door buzzers,  why may you ask well this type of tech didn't exist, saying that it does come with fuel computer informing you of average MPG, timer, instant economy, oil temperature and ambient temperature. When you step inside the cockpit of the Mk2 your met with a sporty interior very 90s in style with black soft touch roof, hard and soft plastic dashboard with a rubber type feel, leather gator plastic golf ball gear knob, black carpets, body coloured manual slide no tilt sunroof, electric front windows since refitted with manual wind up windows – Bulb illuminated rev counter, speedo (odometer), various gauges including water temperature, fuel gauge, heating system with fan, rear demister and a dashboard light dimmer. Storage starts with door pockets, big enough for  tapes, CD's and a bottle of water, centre storage large enough for a 1 litre bottle of water and finally a glovebox, big enough to store a range of items.
 
Now in the 90's this car was seen as good sized family hatchback, however this isn't apparent compared to the 2017 Golf, saying that it still is quite a roomy car allowing for 4 adults of around 6 foot to sit comfortably. On this 3 door model, the front seats, tilt forward for access to the rear seats, the rear seat can be laid almost flat to allow storage from the boot upto the rear of the front seats. The boot is roomy enough for a set of luggage, and with the seats down you can easily get 2 mountain bikes in with the wheels removed, the boot has a rear light, and as the tailgate lifts the parcel sheft lifts, this can also be completely removed with ease.
 

The driving experience

As you would expect this has no toys to keep it on the road, this particular model has PAS which is Power assisted steering which shouldn't be confused with power steering, with Power Assisted Steering - no help is given whatsoever to the steering whilst driving, it only assists when parking or manouevring which is ideal as you want to feel every part of the driving experience.
 
Now a Mk2 Golf GTI as standard is an extremely fun car, however with the upgrades our car has fitted, it enters another level.
 
Koni suspension, wider wheels with low profile tyres and non assisted steering you really do get a drivers experience, there is absolutely no stability control there is no power steering as I mentioned there is no dynamic modes it is literally what you see what you get and it's all you need the engine as mentioned as 1.8 16 valve, however this particular model is being upgraded to the 2L ABF out of the Mk3 Golf, as the 1.8KR  decided to give up the ghost at 198,000 miles which isn't bad. The engine has a very basic ECU which means that when you put your foot to the floor actually goes there's no computer telling it to work this out work that out, literally it just goes if everything is setup correctly.
 
The first thing you notice when you turn over the engine is a throaty yet tame sound, a responsive engine, and a big smile. The gearbox is tight in our car thanks to an uprated linkage kit, including rods and bushes, in addition this has weighted rod, making shifting feel effortless - Pulling a way this car will easily spin through gears, exercise caution when pulling away - saying this it's easy to grasp pulling away responsively with very little spin, the car feels extreemly repsonsive with acceleleration pushing you back in your seat, if your not careful. Shifting through the gears the GTI continues to pull, regardless of gear. There is a reduction in power when fully laden, but not enough to really notice. when accelerating in each gear from 2k upwards the engine is very responsive, dropping gears you can wheel spin when re-accelerating, reving to 6.5rpm you really feel the power and this is matched with a pleasing exhaust and engine tone.
 
Mk2 Golf 1991 16v GTI review
 
Handling wise, this car car can be likened to being on rails, it will corner with no body roll, or drop when accelerating hard, saying that the ride isn't uncomfortable - just stiff, allowing you to know how the car is reacting to the road at all times, with the combination of wheels, tyres and suspension there is no sliding, unless that's what your trying to achieve. The steering feels tight, intuitively telling you what you can do and can't do, listen to the car it will keep you on the road.
 
Around town the car is nippy, easy to park - no real blindspots, no rear headrests making visibilty very good it can be a little thirsty with a lead foot - In the country the car is at its best and to be brutally honest the best i've driven. tt copes with everything you throw at it, rogue deer, big puddles, hairpins, steep gradients, it takes it in its stride, not bad for a 25 year old car.
 
The GTI 16v was 139bhp when it left the factory, however the majority of these cars have now increased in bhp, naturally from driving.
Performance wise you'll hit 0-60 in 7.9 secs and it will keep going to around 125mph according to VW, economy wise you can get around 42mpg driving economically, flooring it around low 30's.   
The wheelspinning down the road first second and third especially in the wet however you won't forget the drive as the performance there's not many vehicles out there that will actually give your problem by the time the car is faster and the most what you've gone it really is that quick --
 
Prices 
 
Realistically you can pick a 3dr 16v up for anything over £2000 it won't be in superb condition at the bottom end. £3500 upwards you will be able to get a looked after standard model with some service history and the odd age related mark.
 
Specifications
 
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Model: Golf GTI
Engine: 1.8l fuel injected DOHC 16 Valve
 
 
The Verdict
 
It's iconic, fun, and a worthy investment - we bought this car over 10 years ago for £475 now there are many reasons to buy a Mk 2 Golf, one being the appreciation in its current state this model is estimated at around £3000 completely finished around £5000 which is quite an investment.
 
 

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