2013 Volkswagen GTI Quick Drive

The 2013 Volkswagen GTI offers all of the usual hot hatch amenities but includes cargo and interior room to spare, too

There are a few vehicles that have stood the test of time. The Volkswagen Golf is one of those vehicles. So what happens when you combine the interior and cargo space of a Golf with a turbocharged engine and independent suspension? You get the Volkswagen GTI, and all of its flat-bottomed steering wheel glory. We recently spent a week with the 2013 Volkswagen GTI and, without spoiling anything here, it was an enjoyable seven days. With the option of configuring your GTI with either three or five doors, the 2013 Volkswagen GTI is a pleasant combination of daily driver and hot hatch. Read on to find out what we thought about the 2013 Volkswagen GTI.

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Model and Price

For a base price of $29,895, our 2013 Volkswagen GTI tester came with features like climate control, heated side mirrors, and a flat-bottomed racing steering wheel. It also featured a sunroof and navigation, two features we've come to expect on any vehicle above $25,000. However, our tester also came with a few optional extras including a tornado red exterior paint job, interlagos cloth seats, and a six-speed automatic DSG transmission; all of which were free of charge. A $795 destination charge raised the final asking price of our 2013 Volkswagen GTI tester to $30,690.

Safety and Key Features

Oddly enough, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration did not crash test the 2013 Volkswagen GTI, which is based off of one of the most popular vehicles to ever leave Wolfsburg. The Insurance Institute for Highway safety, on the other hand, did crash test the 2013 Volkswagen GTI and after it earned a score of "Good," it was named a 2013 Top Safety Pick. Standard safety features on the 2013 Volkswagen GTI include driver and front passenger front and side airbag supplemental restraints, a three-point safety belt for all seats, and LATCH points in the back seat. Other standard safety features include daytime running lights, head restraints for every seat, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

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Family Friendliness and Utility

The Volkswagen Golf has cut its teeth on being family friendly and more utilitarian than it looks at first glance. Just because it has a peppy engine, doesn't mean the 2013 Volkswagen GTI is any different, as it can fit two child seats in the back with ease and a load of groceries behind that in the cargo area. The LATCH points are easy to get to no matter if you have sausages for fingers or not, and hooking a child's seat in is easy. If you fold the seats down, you'll have no trouble transporting things like a coffee table or an apartment's worth of bedroom odds and ends. We know this because it's exactly what we did when the 2013 Volkswagen GTI spent the weekend with us.

Comfort and Quality

Not only do the interlagos cloth seats look neat, but the seats fit snugly around you, enabling corners to be taken quicker than usual. No matter what your body type is, the adjustable lumbar supports on the front seats will conform to you. It's an added bonus that the steering wheel tilts and telescopes, especially when our staff members like a wide variety of steering wheel placement. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, held together with red accent stitching, and the golf ball shifter (with dimples and everything) add to the 2013 Volkswagen GTI's overall feel, which we enjoyed as a staff. No matter what road surface was crossed over, the electro-mechanical power steering and independent front and rear suspension made for one comfortable ride.

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How it Drives

Too good, in some cases. If you're not careful, your speed can get away from you and, if you're like one unlucky staffer, the law will track you down quickly. Even with the large analog speedometer, it's tough to keep the proper speed under your thumb because the GTI is just a blast to drive. However, if you do find yourself cruising along and need to come to a halt quickly, electronic brake force distribution and anti-lock brakes will do the job just fine. The root of the problem is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 200 horsepower, and its accompanying six-speed automatic DSG transmission. This drivetrain works affably courtesy of lighting fast gear shifts, and an entertaining exhaust note that escapes in between gears doesn't hurt, either.


With a total price of $30,690, the 2013 Volkswagen GTI offers a lot in a smaller package. Not only do you get the performance features, but you also get an abundance of interior and cargo space. Opting for the five-door variant like we had makes installing and taking child seats out simple. Overall, we enjoyed the driving experience served up by the 2013 Volkswagen GTI but you have to be mindful of your speed as it can get away from you quickly. Volkswagen owners are loyal to the brand, and the 2013 GTI is a no brainer to them, but for those who are knew to the brand, this is a good vehicle to start with.

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Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $30,690
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 24 mpg
EPA Highway: 33 mpg
EPA Combined: 27 mpg
Cargo Space: 20 "grocery bags"
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row (if applicable): Not Applicable
Estimated Combined Range: 391.5 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Below Average

Notebook Quotes

"At just over $30,000, this car really has everything I'm looking for. OK, it's short on a bit of frosting. There's no pushbutton ignition, no automatic headlights, no active cruise control, no heated or cooled leather seats. What it does have is excellent driving dynamics, a functional and high-quality interior that's easy to use, copious amounts of space for people and things, and pretty impressive fuel economy."-Keith Buglewicz, News Director
"I found the interior of the GTI to be top notch, and I love the tartan cloth seats. They're a perfect compromise and not nearly as aggressive as the ST's Recaro buckets. The interior feels solidly built, and the materials are excellent."-Jacob Brown, Associate Editor