Volkswagen's legendary GTI has always led the Golf hatchback's performance intentions. The last GTI was a refreshing success, and this one (the Mk VI model, in VW parlance) stays with the same formula. Now it carries the same friendly face as the rest of VW's lineup, and retains its red-lined grille, albeit far smaller and more subtle.
Bodystyles: two-door hatchback, four-door hatchback
Transmissions: Six-speed manual, six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
Models: two-door, two-door Autobahn, four-door, four-door Autobahn
VW simplifies the GTI range for 2012, reducing options packages for both two- and four-door models to Convenience and Autobahn packages, with available Sunroof and Navigation. The Convenience package adds a touchscreen radio and leather-wrapped steering wheel, while the Autobahn package tops the lineup with keyless entry and pushbutton start, 18-inch alloy wheels and a Dynaudio premium sound system.
The GTI's Mark VI revamp brings new styling that is edgier, a bit wider and less bubbly than the previous-generation model. The front end features a new grille and cleaner appearance and the rear integrates a subtle roof spoiler and diffuser-type rear valence.
Inside, little is changed from the previous generation, using a similar clean, clear layout of instruments and controls. Materials are high-quality standard equipment includes a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and an auxiliary input jack.
Performance & Handling
With a sport-tuned suspension and 200-horsepower turbocharged engine, the GTI is the choice for practical-minded enthusiasts. We found the GTI to be a perfectly balanced blend between performance and refinement. It's not going to win any drag races, but it can outhandle the competition when the going gets twisty.
Front and side airbags are standard for the driver and passenger, with side curtain airbags are standard front and rear on four-door models. Electronic stability control and ABS are also standard equipment, as well as VW's Intelligent Crash Response System that turns off the engine and turns on the headlights when it detects an accident.
EPA Fuel Economy
21 mpg city/31 mpg highway (manual); 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway (DSG automatic)
- Upscale interior feel
- Refined performance
- Relatively fuel efficient
You Won't Like
- Could use a slight power bump
Simply the best in its class
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