The Volkswagen Golf GTi has long been revered as the people’s performance car. For more than 40 years the GTi formula has stayed largely the same: affordable and accessible performance. However, things have changed slightly for 2019: the price of admission to get into a Golf GTi is now more than it has ever been, there is no three door option, and the manual transmission is gone. Which begs the question – has Volkswagen broken with tradition? Pricing for the Golf GTi is now set firmly at $45,490 plus onroad costs – that’s an $8,000 increase on the previous three door manual entry model. Now, the GTi’s performance credentials have now been boosted.You’re getting 180 kilowatts and 370 Newton metres from the two litre turbo 4. You’re also getting a seven speed dual clutch transmission borrowed from the Golf R. In addition to that, there’s a new electro-mechanical front differential lock along with beefier brakes all round. That’s a lot of kit. There is a sporty yet sophisticated edge to the key controls, and a level of refinement and maturity that belies the small hatch mould. The ride feels slightly more firm and fidgety than before, but that could be down to the fitment of optional 19 inch wheels to our test car. Engine, tractable. Gearbox, clinical. Body control and steering, well balanced and agile to boot. There is a lot to like about the Golf GTi, and with each generation you kind of know what you’re getting.It’s a terrific little device out on the road. As for the GTi engine, look, it’s a cracker. It’s smooth and progressive when you ask it to be, but then when you put the foot down you’re getting a really nice tractable power curve, and an engine that’s actually quite willing to rev all the way through to its 6,500 RPM cut out. If anything, probably lacking a little bit of emotion, even in sports mode you’re not quite getting the fruitiness that you might be asking for. Arguably the bigger issue is spawned from the lack of a manual transmission. The problem is that the DSG Auto will always override the manual shift, even when you have the car set into the manual gate. And surprisingly, the Golf has lost its signature blast or belch between aggressive upshifts, and that’s been a real signature for DSG in the past.Then there’s the price. The base car starts at $45,000 like we mentioned, but this particular vehicle has more than $6,000 worth of options, so well into $50k territory, mid 50s by the time you add your onroad costs. You could counter all that with the fact that this is arguably the most rounded Golf GTi that we’ve ever seen. But I think all in all, from the tartan seats and three doors through to now, the Golf has really changed gears. I reckon the GTi has finally come of age. .