Highlight: This is the seventh generation of the GTI.
Test Vehicles MSRP: $29,915 (Base Model: $26,415)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: ABS; integrated side turn signals into the mirrors; a rearview camera; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (Base Model): 18-inch wheels; a 6-speed manual; driving selection mode; a sport suspension system; a rear spoiler; body color side mirrors; red brake calipers; a leather trimmed steering wheel; a manually operated tilt/telescopic sport steering wheel; power reclining front seats; manually adjustable front seats; cloth seats with plaid inserts rear folding seats with armrest; a rearview camera; cruise control; a 6.5-inch infotainment screen; power door locks with a remote control; and a glove compartment with adjustable cooling
Standard Equipment (Sport Model): 18-inch Niagro alloy wheels; a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; a 6-speed automatic with Triptronic and paddle shifters; larger front brakes –GTI on front calipers; limited slip front and rear brakes; larger, upgraded front and rear brakes; black side mirrors with integrated turn signals; a keyless push button ignition starter system; a sliding drawer underneath the driver’s seat; and a keyless entry system
Other Trim Levels:
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an 8-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD with satellite
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo/210-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage:
What’s New: With the exception of a few package tweaks and the hatchback’s going through it last major redesign back in 2015, the GTI is essentially a carryover for the 2017 model year.
Why: Despite losing the torque and the gritty sound provided by VW’s diesel engines, that recently caused a public relations nightmare for the German automaker, this gasoline-fueled pocket rocket offers the same thrills. And with the exception of the S trim, the GTI is available as either a 2-door or a 4-door hatchback, with either a manual or an automatic transmission. This spirited compact is equipped with three driving modes: normal, sport and individual.
The GTI is the high-performance version of the basic Golf. In today's sagging car market, the Golf is one of the few vehicles showing promising sales results. It could be because the vehicle is stylish, seemingly well-built, affordable, fast and easy to operate. In fact, the touchscreen infotainment system, unlike most of today’s complicated systems, is pretty straight-forward and can also be controlled by traditional knobs, too!
The pocket rocket, with the shirt-like tweed patterns embedded into the seat design, can be outfitted with the latest safety driving aids, depending upon the trim, if so equipped. Those features include a radar-activated cruise control system, a forward collision braking system, a forward-collision braking system and a blind spot monitor with a rear traffic alert system.
Also with this being a hatchback, the GTI can easily seat three in the rear or convert two a 2-seater with loads of cargo space.
Moreover, for those seeking more punch, VW offers an optional performance package and modifies the engine, boosting the engine to produce an additional 10-horsepower.
But: The Sport trim, we reviewed, did not offer such comfort features as a power driver’s seat, leather seats and a power sunroof. Moreover, a forward collision braking system, a radar-activated cruise control system and automatic headlight weren’t available with this trim. However, the aforementioned features were standard on the higher end Autobahn trim.
And, personally we were disappointed since our review vehicle was outfitted with an automatic transmission, as opposed to a manual transmission. There is something about driving a sport car and automatic. Those two just don’t seem synonymous.
Verdict: Just this year alone, the compact hatch segment has expanded with Chevy, Honda and Hyundai, joining the fray. However, not all of the new players have a performance version that competes directly with the spirited GTI. This places the VW in a niche segment.
Overall, the seventh generation GTI provides VW drivers the same engaging experience one can expect in the brand’s luxurious Audi brand, at a price point, that reach the masses. Yes, for those who yearns to spice up their compact, hatchbacks, especially this one, are truly fun to drive.
GTI Competition: Ford Focus Titanium; Honda Civic Hatch; Mazda3 Grand Touring; and Subaru WRX