2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI
For the past 45 years, one car defined the compact hatchback above all others – the Volkswagen Golf. From its humble beginnings came the need for a performance small car that offered great handling, performance and practicality. That car would become the Golf GTI. Except in America, we called it the Rabbit GTI.
We eventually accepted the Golf GTI nameplate. In its seventh generation, the original “hot hatch” continues to fulfill its mission.
The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI continues to remind us that fun is still attainable in a package that excites the soul – without a huge engine up front.
We are nearly the end of the run of the seventh generation Golf. However, it is still sharp looking and highly functional as a practical hatchback. This Golf GTI adds a bit more aggression to what is viewed as a commuter car. The added red trim and GTI badges give away its intention on providing a bit more fun for your daily grind.
The Golf GTI is offered in four trim levels. Our tester was the top-level Autobahn, which includes a set of 18-inch alloy wheels wearing Bridgestone Potenza tires. In all, the Golf GTI has a signature stance that stands out in a parking lot and speaks to its place among enthusiasts.
The same theme continues inside. The basics are from humble Golf models, but with the added three-spoke sports steering wheel, red trim and LED lighting, and GTI badging. The result is a driver-focused cabin that offers clear analog instruments, applicable information from the TFT screen in-between the two big dials, and a short-throw shifter. All controls are good to the touch and the touchscreen for the infotainment system is very intuitive.
Seating in the Golf GTI is designed for enthusiastic driving. They are both comfortable and very supportive. The cushion and seatback bolsters lock front seat occupants down for the ride of their lives. The leather upholstery in our Autobahn tester feels great to the touch is quite comfortable to sit in.
While the rear seats are comfortable for average-sized adults, the space is really good for four of them. At least the cargo space can accommodate their luggage in the 22.8 cubic foot hatchback space, which is expandable with the removal of the cargo tray and folding down the rear seatbacks.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 228 horsepower. It is a very responsive engine that is designed to motivate this 3,031-pound hot hatch. While a six-speed manual is standard, our tester came with the available seven-speed DSG transmission – both feeding power to the front wheels. The shifts are lightning quick, though you may find some long gear holds in Sport mode. Paddle shifters are attached to the back of the steering wheel to fine tune your shifts towards total driver engagement.
In terms of fuel economy, we averaged 27.9 MPG.
Driving dynamics actually depend on which drive mode you select for your Golf GTI experience. In Sport, the ride is firm with near flat cornering and sharp handling around maneuvers. Normal and Comfort softens up everything for a more comfortable ride. There is still plenty of sharpness in the handling package even in the “softer” modes.
The steering system is very sharp, exacting, and responsive. You can adjust the steering weight depending on which drive mode you are in – Sport being the heaviest. On-center feel is nothing less than superb. Though stopping power is very good, we found the brake pedal action experiencing some lag at times. When the brakes are on point, you will love the stops in normal and panic situations.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI starts with a base price of $27,595 for an S model with the manual transmission. Our Autobahn tester came with a sticker price of $37,990.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is not alone in the hot hatch, or, as we call it in the U.SA., the sports compact segment. It can be compared to the Subaru WRX, Honda Civic Si, Mazda3, MINI Cooper S Hardtop, Hyundai Veloster N and Elantra GT N Line.
However, there is only one sports compact that can offer performance, superb driving dynamics, and practicality all in one package. It has been the one choice since its introduction in America in 1982 – the GTI. Rather, the Golf GTI.
Story Credits: CarSoup Storys