Arguably the most well-rounded car on the market, the seventh-generation of VW’s Golf GTI covers all the basses – and remarkably well at that. As a comfortable, obsessively built five-door hatchback with mega utility and parsimonious fuel consumption, the GTI excels. Bonus, its performance cred is equally impressive. The 2.0L turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder (210 hp, 258 lb-ft) give this premium front-drive hatchback wings, and its handling is outstanding. If you need to haul a small apartment’s worth of stuff and also chew up a back road with ebullient glee, the GTI will do it. Okay, maybe not at the same time.
For 2016 all GTIs get VW’s all-new infotainment interface with 6.5-inch screen that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice to text messaging. And finally, VW fits a USB port. The optional Technology Package now includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and autonomous collision mitigation braking.
The 2016 GTI opens with the base model (three-door-only) at $28,595. For this we get cool plaid fabric seats, 17-inch alloys, ambient interior lighting, six-speed manual transmission, 6.5-inch touchscreen, back up camera and brake-based front wheel torque-vectoring.
An option for all models is the $1400 six-speed twin-clutch DSG transmission with paddle shifters. It’s a slick unit that responds quickly to paddle inputs and allows sexy woofs on upshifts.
The three-door Autobahn ($33,095 three-door, $37,195 five-door) ups the game with 18-inch alloys, auto adaptive bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth, auto high beam control, Fender premium audio, blind spot detection, proximity key with pushbutton start, LED fog lights and DRLs, sunroof and rain sensing wipers. Leather runs $905 and the $1795 Technology Package bestows 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, park assist and park distance control.
The GTI’s mojo takes a significant jump with the Performance trim ($37,195 three-door, $38,095 five-door). An extra 10 horses (to 220 hp) and summer performance tires along with locking front differential and adaptive damping broaden the hatch’s skill set considerably. Also included is the Technology Package. Here, your only options are a $1100 leather package with power lumbar support and $1400 DSG transmission.
Those looking to criticize could argue the VW GTI too perfect, too buttoned-up for its own good. They won’t find a lot of support, however.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed