The Volkswagen Golf GTI has long been known for its athletic prowess and has had a loyal following from drivers who want a performance-oriented small hatchback.
The Golf GTI got a makeover for the 2015 model year and has received several updates since then. For 2019, the Golf GTI gets some additional horses under the hood and more safety features are available in the base model.
The five-passenger Golf GTI is available in four trims: S (my tester), Rabbit Edition, SE and Autobahn. Starting prices range from $27,595 to $37,095.
The front-wheel-drive Golf GTI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 228 horsepower with premium fuel and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s 10 more horses than the 2018 model. My tester has the standard six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available.
Yep, the Golf GTI is a hot hatch. It’s zippy off the line, the manual transmission is quick and easy to shift, steering is responsive and it stays planted when you’re cruising around corners. It’s a fairly stiff ride due to the sport-tuned suspension so you will notice bumps and ruts in the road.
Fuel efficiency is slightly below average for a compact car. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with a combined rating of 27. I got 29 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving (including several trips on I-5 between Portland and Salem).
The cabin is pleasant and boasts quality materials and comfortable seats. Leg- and headroom are decent in both rows, considering this is a small vehicle. My tester has the snazzy Titan Black and Clark plaid cloth interior.
Standard features in the Golf GTI include a rearview camera, ambient lighting, cloth upholstery, manually adjusted front seats, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, infotainment system with 6.5-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Bluetooth, USB port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink, rain-sensing windshield wipers and an automatic post-collision braking system.
Options include proximity key, push-button start, leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, upgraded infotainment system with an eight-inch touch screen, Fender premium audio system, satellite radio, and navigation. Available driver assistance systems include blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, active park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic high beams.
The infotainment system is easy to figure out. Controls are easy to reach and use. The system responds quickly to voice and manual commands. However, the base 6.5-inch screen seems small compared to what’s available in other vehicles.
The Golf GTI has more room for cargo than many competitors. There are 22.8 cubic feet behind the second row, and 52.7 cubes with the rear seats down (they don’t fold completely flat). There’s additional storage under the cargo floor.
Fun to drive
Quick acceleration, nimble handling
Comfortable interior with quality materials
Lots of available safety technology
User-friendly infotainment system
More storage space than many rivals
Starting price is higher than average for a compact car but similar to other performance-oriented models.
Fuel efficiency is slightly below average for the class
Stiff ride means you’ll feel bumps and rough roads
My tester starts at $27,595. The Driver Assistance Package is $450 and adds Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Destination charge is $895 bringing the grand total to $28,940.
If you want a performance-oriented compact car that’s designed for driving enthusiasts and don’t mind a stiffer ride, the 2019 Golf GTI should be on your list. Besides the dynamic handling, it offers a nice interior, lots of cargo space and a user-friendly infotainment system.