2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI review: Parting is such sweet sorrow

Jeffrey Cuebas

Farewell, warm hatch.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is just one of the all-time greats, expending 7 generations in the sweet location concerning every day usability and an aged-fashioned fantastic time. In its last year ahead of the introduction of an all-new eight generation, the Golf’s warm-hatch variant carries on to remind us why it stays a darling of critics and car or truck geeks alike.


  • Hatchback capaciousness
  • Enjoyable and pragmatism in equivalent doses
  • Sound cabin tech

Really don’t Like

  • One USB port
  • Can push into high priced territory
  • Just-Okay gasoline economic climate

Unassuming getup

The GTI will not glimpse much distinctive than the Golf, but that is high-quality, mainly because it really is never ever been a shouty car or truck. My Twister Red tester does seize some eyes with its paint shade, but most of the things that sets the GTI aside normally takes some effort and hard work to find, like the slightly much more intense air intakes on the bumper, the practical quantity of GTI badges or the trick crimson components tucked into the LED headlights. Even the eighteen-inch alloy wheels are correctly sized. It’s a glimpse that flies less than the radar, which is high-quality, mainly because who actually wants much more factors on their license?

My Autobahn-trim GTI foregoes the ubiquitous plaid seats in favor of a thing significantly less fascinating: black leather-based. Truthfully, that may be my greatest challenge with the GTI. If it were probable to retain people outstanding fabric seats on bigger trims, I’d be a delighted camper. That claimed, the leather-based-clad cushions are not bad, with plenty of aid and heaters that fireplace up rather rapidly in chilly weather conditions. The Golf is an low-cost car or truck, but the inside isn’t precisely cut price-basement build excellent is top-notch and most of the plastics are not offensively tough or unsightly. A smattering of piano-black trim breaks up the dashboard’s monotony, too.

From a relatives-car or truck standpoint, there is plenty to like about the GTI. The rear seats have sufficient place and the hatchback’s flat roof gives much more than enough headroom for all occupants. Its sixteen.5-cubic-foot cargo spot is adequately sized for a family’s well worth of groceries or a couple suitcases. Tchotchke storage is a minor confined, with sizable doorway pockets but cramped cubbies in the heart console and less than the armrest. Slim A-pillars and an upright physique signifies the GTI also presents up an outstanding perspective, not only of the street forward but also in just about every other path.

It’s tough not to have enjoyable

Not just about every sports car or truck wants some sky-higher output determine to return a large quantity of smiles per gallon. The GTI makes do with an total that isn’t even regarded sporty in a lot of cars and trucks: Its 2.-liter turbocharged motor puts out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-toes of torque, which is much more than enough to have a fantastic time. Almost just about every location on the tachometer is a fantastic setting up place for enjoyable, as the four-pot spits out enough torque to push the GTI with enough haste, earning it effortless to slide into targeted visitors from an on-ramp or shoot forward at a environmentally friendly light. It’s an approachable kind of powerband, too, never ever experience like it really is too much to handle the car or truck (or the driver). Even the exhaust be aware is on the demure side, building enough bass to sound fascinating without having so much as to warn the neighbors.

On my tester, that ability makes its way to the front wheels by means of a six-velocity handbook transmission. The motion concerning the gears is a minor rubbery, but it really is not imprecise, accepting shifts whether they arrive with haste or not. The clutch pedal presents just enough bite-place comments to make clean starts off probable just about every time and the throttle manipulation in any auto mode is enough to assure rev-matched downshifts can be rattled off without having upsetting all people within. The steering is immediate, if a minor light, but it feels perfectly matched to the rest of the GTI.

Like several other low-cost fantastic-time-mobiles, the GTI Autobahn packs a established of adaptive dampers. In Regular mode, the suspension does a fantastic career preventing most of the road’s nastier components from earning a mess of the trip excellent, aided by summer time tires that buck the pattern of getting rid of unwanted millimeters of sidewall. In Sport mode and outside of, factors get… rigid, but that is by style. If you want to shut the doorway on physique roll’s encounter, this is the way to do it, but as generally, there is a trip-excellent tradeoff involved. No issue the mode, this front-travel warm hatch is a perennial hoot. Toss it into a corner, cackle as the two-liter’s torque pulls you out the other side, rinse and repeat. It’s front-wheel travel, so there are extremely handful of predicaments wherever overdriving success in anything at all other than a bit of understeer.

Even with a turbocharged motor that will not break output records, the GTI isn’t the most productive hatchback on the block. The EPA estimates my tester at 24 miles per gallon town and 32 mpg highway. When my town economic climate lands closer to twenty mpg, I have no challenge stretching outside of the highway rating, viewing up to 35 mpg if I retain a light foot and stay away from spooling up the turbocharger.

The GTI’s cabin presents outstanding visibility and a easy layout.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Easy, usable tech

All GTI trims make use of Volkswagen’s MIB II infotainment technique, with the base product rocking a 6.5-inch touchscreen even though SE and Autobahn variants sporting a fancier, glass-covered eight-inch display screen. It’s an effortless technique to get made use of to, with a easy layout and a fast-entry dock that disappears from the display screen until eventually your hand approaches. Navigation is readily available on the larger sized display screen, and even though the graphics may really feel aged, spot entry is effortless (whether utilizing voice or the on-display screen keyboard) and it can even recommend endpoints centered on your prior exercise.

Buyers also get 5 free of charge several years of VW’s Vehicle-Net Remote Obtain connected-car or truck tech, which permits house owners to use a cell app (readily available on both telephones and smartwatches) to regulate the GTI’s doorway locks and headlights, and some types also involve remote start out. A 4G LTE hotspot powered by Verizon Wireless is also readily available, with pay as you go programs costing about $twenty per month.

For its last product year, VW makes forward collision warning, blind location monitoring, automatic crisis braking and rear cross-targeted visitors warn conventional on all GTI variants. My Autobahn tester even more boosts security with conventional adaptive cruise regulate, lane-trying to keep guide and parking sensors. Nothing at all functions with too large a hand even the lane-trying to keep guide does a rather fantastic career of subtly altering auto situation without having getting aggravating. There’s no state-of-the-art lane-centering, highway-driving trickery here, but what does appear conventional functions extremely nicely for what it is.

VW’s in-car or truck infotainment has been freshened up a handful of times above the course of the seventh-generation Golf, and the upcoming-gen GTI really should insert even much more technological doodads.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Down to brass tacks

When a handbook-transmission GTI S can be had for $29,690 (including $995 for spot), the selling price can rapidly get to quasi-wonky heights, with my 6MT Autobahn rolling out of the dealership with a $37,940 selling price tag. There’s a fantastic offer of competitiveness in this section. There are older guards like the Civic Si, which is down on ability but also down on selling price (and enjoyable element), but there is neat new rivals on the horizon, like the Mazda3 Turbo, which will pack 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque in conjunction with all-wheel travel. The Subaru WRX is in there, too, but with a new just one on the way, it may be well worth keeping off — then all over again, the identical can be claimed of the GTI.

It’s generally a shame to say goodbye to a beloved product, but there is no want to weep above the 2021 Volkswagen GTI. When it stays just one of my preferred cars and trucks many thanks to its equivalent-dose mix of pragmatism and enjoyment, there is a manufacturer new just one on the horizon and it really is likely to get all the fantastic parts of the present-day product even though maximizing the aesthetics, know-how and much more. But for now, the present-day product scratches just about just about every itch there is. 

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