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 automated-manual transmission’s responsiveness can be sluggish in stop-and-go driving.
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 Golf 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.
After its redesign last year, the 2016 GTI gets a new “MIB II” infotainment system with USB connectivity and VW’s Car-Net App-Connect technology. A rearview camera is now standard on all models, and the Driver Assistance Package has been updated to include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and a parking steering assist 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 recommended (and necessary to achieve VW’s official horsepower and torque figures), but the engine will also run on regular.
VALUE IN CLASS
The Golf GTI has long been a benchmark among sporty compact cars; it offers near premium-compact build quality and serious driving-enthusiast appeal. Plus, its hatchback body provides passenger comfort and cargo versatility that few sporty cars can match. Base prices are reasonable, but climb quickly as you move up the model roster. Still, even with somewhat lofty prices, you get what you pay for. The GTI is simply one of the most well-rounded, practical performance vehicles that money can buy.
|BASE PRICE RANGE||$24,995 – $31,235|
|BODY STYLES||2-DOOR HATCHBACK, 4-DOOR HATCHBACK|
|AVAILABLE ENGINES||210-HP, TURBOCHARGED 2.0-LITER 4-CYL.|
|EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE||25-34 MPG|
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