2008 Volkswagen GTI Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Volkswagen GTI Hatchback

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Volkswagen GTI Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automated Manual
  • Horse Power 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Volkswagen GTI

  • The 2008 Volkswagen GTI trades outright performance for more comfort and daily usability. It's the grown-up's hot hatch.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Hatchback utility, upscale features and interior design, strong turbocharged engine, optional sequential-shifting DSG gearbox.

  • Cons

    Higher price than many competitors, handling nimbleness dulled by beefy curb weight.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 Volkswagen GTI receives a lower ride height for better handling, and minor equipment and trim level changes.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (5 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

2 of 23,811 people found this review helpful

Expensive to own!

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

Expensive to own and operate! It takes premium gas only, so while everyone else is paying $2.60 per gallon, you're paying $3.00 a gallon. It takes a special oil, too, which at Pep Boys costs $8.00 per bottle and you'll need 5 bottles. The oil filter from the dealer costs $28, but you can get it from NAPA for a mere $16 (still expensive if you ask me). And you need to change it every 5k miles. It's not a straight-forward oil change either. A bit more complicated. Xenon headlights cost $150 to replace and since the daytime running lights are on all the time, you're sure to burn through quite a few. I'm not keeping mine long enough to find out how many. transmission can have mechatronic unit problem.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

One of the best

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I have not driven a car that gives you so much for the price. It's fantastic the way the motor and transmission work together. The DSG is the best auto-manual there is. The car feels very refined and stays relatively quiet on the road. The seats are awesome and I love the steering wheel. Loaded with features that are usually offered on luxury cars. Turbo lag is there low in the RPM range, but after driving a couple of weeks it is easy to get used to. The 4-door version has all the room I need. Carries 4 people comfortably, and my kid's car seat fits great. Have had no reliability issues. All around this is one of the best cars money can buy. Could not be happier with my purchase.

Awesome car

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

Bought this car used (1 year old) with 11000 miles on it. I love it. The 6sp TWIN CLUTCH auto is superb. That was the deciding factor between this and the Mazdaspeed3. 90% of my driving is in rush hour so I didn't want a manual again. Lightening fast shifts. Manual mode makes it very fun to drive. Getting pretty good mileage ~26/27 mostly city. The instrument cluster lighting(blue & red) is fantastic. The heated seats are very supportive, gobs of torque on que, xenon headlights are very bright - even when the car is filthy. This car wants to be driven fast - so fun to drive. I like having to do errands b/c I get to drive the GTI.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Maybe the greatest car for

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

This is a car that can truly do it all. I was looking for a car that could fulfill my demands for having a fun, performance oriented vehicle that could simultaneously deliver respectable gas mileage, have four doors, a great warranty and not break the bank, including full coverage insurance. Oh, did I mention my non-manual transmission driving wife had to be able to drive it too? Under these strict stipulations, the GTI is absolutely sublime. I bought mine for $20.5K and spend $100 a month on full coverage insurance. I regularly get over 30 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in town. Because of its sleeper status, I can drive it like I sat on a wasp, and a cop would be none the wiser.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Performance without pretension

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Vehicle: 2008 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I have owned and driven a lot of different cars over the past 27 years, from true two-seater sports cars to sport/lux sedans. So take that into account when I say that this car is flat out a blast to drive! I live in an area where everyone has (or wants) a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc., and being one to never be comfortable following the crowd, I took the advice of Car and Driver and Edmunds and gave the GTI a spin. Great little car inside and out. I opted to bloat the price by loading it up with everything but nav, but it was well worth it. More sophisticated drive than the the MazdaSpeed3 with comparable performance and better looks (IMO).

Full 2008 Volkswagen GTI Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Volkswagen GTI receives a lower ride height for better handling, and minor equipment and trim level changes.


When Volkswagen introduced its new GTI a couple of years ago, it ran a series of TV ads featuring a stereotyped German engineer, his leggy female counterpart and a variety of over-customized sport compact cars. The ad's Teutonic duo then "un-pimped" the cars by smashing or destroying them, hence allowing the introduction of the new GTI. The TV spots were fun (you can find them on YouTube, naturally) but more importantly, there was real substance behind them. After a string of lackluster GTIs, the latest edition is once again a key member of the hot hatch justice league. And unlike some rivals, it doesn't have to resort to spoilers, scoops and gimmicky interior trim.

The fifth-generation ("Mk V") GTI went on sale as a late 2006 model and heads into 2008 with minimal changes. As expected, the GTI starts life as your basic economy-minded Rabbit. It then gains a variety of upgrades that serve to increase sporting potential. VW and Audi's common but highly regarded 2.0-liter direct-injected turbocharged engine (aka, the 2.0T) is used here, and it can be fitted to Volkswagen's excellent Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission, an automated-clutch, paddle-shifted manual. Also on the GTI are more powerful brakes and a sport-tuned suspension that's been further enhanced for 2008 via a 15mm drop in ride height.

This is definitely the best GTI in a long time. It's also versatile -- it comes as a two-door or four-door and has a roomy and well-built interior. Your only pause for concern might be that the GTI is a bit pricey and lacks in performance when compared to other top sport hatchbacks or coupes. The Honda Civic Si and Mini Cooper S are more nimble and fun to drive, for instance, and the well-rounded Mazdaspeed 3 packs more of a turbocharged wallop. There's also the Volvo C30 to consider this year as it, too, brings a refined European feel to this segment. Overall, though, the 2008 Volkswagen GTI is still a very good choice, especially for somebody wanting a hot hatch that's grown-up, comfortable and pleasingly "un-pimped."

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Volkswagen GTI is a performance-oriented hatchback. Both two-door and four-door body styles are offered. Standard equipment includes xenon HID headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, sport front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat and a 10-speaker, six-CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio, an auxiliary jack and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. This year VW is offering an Autobahn Package; it includes a sunroof, a premium audio system, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Most of the Autobahn's features are also offered as stand-alone options. Other upgrades for the GTI include 18-inch wheels, an iPod adapter and, when equipped with the Autobahn Package, a navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

Every VW GTI comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It drives the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed, sequential-shifting automated manual called DSG. The DSG transmission can be shifted via paddles on the steering wheel or placed in fully automatic mode. For a GTI with the regular six-speed manual, expect a 0-60-mph time of about 6.7 seconds.


Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear side-impact airbags are optional on four-door models. In government testing, the four-door Rabbit/GTI earned four stars out of five for its protection of front occupants in frontal impacts. For that agency's side-impact test, the car earned a five-star rating. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the car scored a "Good" rating (the highest possible) in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like the Rabbit, the GTI's interior design is straightforward and traditional, with upscale materials and excellent build quality. A few special metallic trim pieces grace the cabin, and the GTI-specific sport seats are very supportive. Distinctive design elements include the standard cloth upholstery, which has a retro plaid print, and the flat-bottom steering wheel. The main advantage to the four-door GTI is its more accessible rear seat, though the two-door's front seats slide forward quite easily to improve entry and exit. With either body style, there's plenty of rear-seat room for a couple of kids. Behind the rear seat, the GTI can hold 15 cubic feet of cargo.

Driving Impressions

Start the 2008 Volkswagen GTI and there's a deep, burbling engine note that increases in volume once the throttle is opened under load. It's an enjoyable tone that's rare in the world of turbocharged cars. The engine also provides plenty of torque at low rpm to make squirts through urban traffic quite easy. Around town, the GTI's ride quality is quite agreeable, and overall the car is an excellent choice for a daily driver. From an enthusiast's standpoint, however, the GTI falls a bit short of cars like the Civic Si and Cooper S in terms of handling and driver enjoyment. This year's lower ride height has helped matters somewhat, but the softy tuned VeeDub still suffers from a beefy curb weight and lackluster steering feel.

Talk About The 2008 GTI

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 29
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs