IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
No car can match the GTI’s compelling blend of affordability, daily-driver practicality, enthusiast-satisfying performance, and all-around refinement.
Top-end models get a bit pricey for a compact car, and the infotainment system isn’t as cutting-edge as some rivals.
The optional $1495 Performance Package adds another 10 horsepower (for 220 total), along with a torque-sensing limited-slip differential and bigger brakes.
WHAT IS IT?
The GTI is Volkswagen’s long-running “hot-hatch” performance compact. It’s essentially a hopped-up version of the mainstream VW Golf hatchback. It is offered in 2-door or 4-door body styles in base-level S, mid-line SE, or top-grade Autobahn trim levels. The lone engine is a 210-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automated manual with steering-wheel paddles for manual shifting.
The GTI is redesigned for 2015, along with the rest of the VW Golf lineup. Though the new model doesn’t appear markedly different from its previous-generation predecessor, the all-new body is a bit longer and wider, and rear-seat room and cargo space are slightly increased. New available features include a forward collision warning system and an adaptive damping suspension system.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 25/33 with the automated manual. Premium-grade gas is required.
VALUE IN CLASS
The GTI has long been a benchmark among sporty compact cars, and the redesigned 2015 model continues that tradition. The new model upholds or enhances the traits that make the GTI a winner. Both horsepower and fuel-economy ratings are improved. The cabin maintains its upscale Germanic feel while adding some new technology features. The slightly larger hatchback body provides passenger comfort and cargo versatility that few sporty cars can match. The GTI is simply one of the most well-rounded, practical performance vehicles that money can buy.