For nearly five decades, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has set the high-water mark for sport compact cars, inspiring all kinds of copycats – few of which have been able to match the GTI’s combination of performance and refinement. As of last year’s complete redesign, the GTI is the only way to get a Golf in Canada.
What’s New/Key Changes From Last Year
For 2023, the Golf GTI gets minor interior updates that include a GTI logo on the front seats, red steering wheel stitching, and some changes to materials.
VW sells the GTI in base, Autobahn, and Performance trim levels. All are powered by a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine that comes with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic.
The speedier Golf R is covered in a separate buyer’s guide entry.
The base GTI comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, auto on/off LED headlights/taillights, fog lights, heated side mirrors/washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, and passive keyless entry. Inside, there are heated front seats/steering wheel, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, digital gauges, seven-speaker audio, wireless phone charging, single-zone A/C, an auto-dimming mirror, and ambient/footwell lighting. Safety gear is limited to blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Autobahn starts by adding a suite of safety assists comprising forward collision mitigation, pedestrian/cyclist detection, adaptive cruise, and lane keeping assist. This trim also brings 18-inch wheels, navigation, a 10-inch touchscreen, LED signature lighting, and cornering fog lights.
Performance trim gets 19-inch wheels, dynamic chassis control, automatic high beams, front and rear park assist, a head-up display, eight-speaker audio, three-zone A/C, leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, and heated rear seats.
Base models can be optioned with a package of 18-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof.
Autobahn trim offers a package of 19-inch wheels, an eight-speaker stereo, and a panoramic roof.
In Performance trim, you can delete the leather upholstery in favour of plaid cloth and downgrade to manual-adjustable front seats.
VW’s fuel consumption estimates start at 10.0/7.3 L/100 km (city/highway) for six-speed cars, and 9.7/7.0 L/100 km with the seven-speed DSG automatic.
The hot compact field is a little smaller this year with Hyundai’s discontinuation of its Veloster. That leaves the Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S, Hyundai Elantra N Line, and Mazda3 GT Turbo as the GTI’s direct competitors.