2011 Volkswagen GTI Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2011 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 Manual
  • Horse Power 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/31 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Volkswagen GTI

  • The 2011 Volkswagen GTI may not be top dog when it comes to performance numbers, but overall it's one of our top picks when it comes to sporty hatchbacks.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Hatchback versatility, unmatched interior sophistication, confident handling, supple ride, good fuel economy.

  • Cons

    Many competitively priced sport compacts are quicker and handle better.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, Volkswagen has simplified the GTI's trim levels. Otherwise, the GTI remains largely unchanged.

Full 2011 Volkswagen GTI Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, Volkswagen has simplified the GTI's trim levels. Otherwise, the GTI remains largely unchanged.


Mark Twain famously wrote, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." Judged on statistics and track numbers alone, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI would be one of the least desirable of the currently available sport hatchbacks. But that's a lie. In reality, the GTI is a front runner among the competition.

Sure, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI isn't as quick to reach 60 mph as the competition, nor can it weave through the slalom or cling to a skid pad as tenaciously. How then, you ask, can the GTI rank so highly in such a sport-oriented segment? The answer is two-fold: refinement and drivability.

The VW GTI's interior is quite simply, the best in its class. It's so nice, in fact, that it could be mistaken for a cabin from sister company Audi, save for the plaid fabric seats. (About those private school uniform-patterned coverings -- it's a nod to the original GTI from more than three decades ago.) The GTI also boasts surprising amounts of rear legroom and useful cargo space considering its compact overall size.

Drivability is the other main advantage the 2011 Volkswagen GTI has over other sport hatches. Output from the 2.0-liter turbo engine is smooth and linear, and that power is more manageable in the real world than that of more feisty rivals. Competitors like the 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 and 2011 Mini Cooper S suffer from torque steer -- the sensation of the steering wheel tugging in your hands under hard acceleration -- that many drivers find distracting.

In addition to the Mazda and Mini, other performance hatchbacks to consider include the all-wheel-drive 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart and 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX. Certainly, there's a lot to like about all of these cars. But if you're like Mark Twain and don't blindly go by the numbers, you'll find the 2011 GTI an ideal pick -- the sum of its parts can't be quantified with statistics alone.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Volkswagen GTI is a high-performance compact hatchback offered in both two-door and four-door body styles. The four trim levels are intuitively named for the main feature additions in lieu of stand-alone options, starting with the base GTI and proceeding to GTI with Sunroof, GTI with Sunroof and Navigation and GTI Autobahn.

The base GTI's standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear roof spoiler, foglights, heated outside mirrors, launch control (with DSG only), a sport suspension, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, alloy pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles (DSG only), cruise control, a trip computer, air-conditioning, heated front sport seats, plaid cloth upholstery, split-folding rear seats with a center pass-through, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker stereo with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input and iPod integration.

As the name suggests, the GTI with Sunroof trim adds a sunroof, but also gets you a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel with multifunction controls, a touchscreen interface for the stereo and an in-dash CD changer. The GTI with Sunroof and Navigation adds adaptive xenon headlights and a touchscreen navigation system. The range-topping GTI Autobahn rounds out the lineup with leather seat inserts, keyless ignition/entry and a premium Dynaudio sound system.

Powertrains and Performance

The front-wheel-drive 2011Volkswagen GTI is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (called DSG) is optional. The DSG transmission can be shifted manually via the shift lever or paddles on the steering wheel, or it can operate as a standard automatic.

In testing, the GTI accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, which is slower than the competition by at least half a second. It is also on the pokey side in terms of handling, turning in a 67-mph run through the slalom and pulling 0.84g on the skid pad.

The EPA estimates fuel economy at 24/32 mpg city/highway for DSG-equipped models and 27 mpg in combined driving. The manual transmission achieves slightly less, at 21/31/25 mpg.


Standard safety equipment for the 2011 Volkswagen GTI includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Last year's optional rear-seat side airbags for the four-door have been discontinued.

In government crash testing, the GTI sedan earned four out of five stars for frontal crash protection of the driver and front passenger and five stars for side impact driver protection. In performance testing, braking from 60 to zero mph required 129 feet, which is a full car length longer than the Mazdaspeed 3's impressively short 115-foot halt.

Interior Design and Special Features

Among sporty hatchbacks, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI's interior ranks at the top of our list. Plaid seat heritage aside, the overall cabin reflects a more serious and mature design language, with hints of Audi's upscale trim and switchgear throughout. Materials quality is as good as it gets in this segment, as are the well-shaped front seats.

Gaining access to the surprisingly roomy rear seats is naturally easier with the four-door GTI, but ingress and egress to the two-door's rear seat is a relatively painless ordeal. Behind the rear seats, the cargo area can hold up to 12.4 cubic feet -- double the capacity of a Mini Cooper, but about average for other hatchbacks. When down, the split-folding rear seats bump that figure up to 46 cubes.

Driving Impressions

On paper, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI isn't as quick or nimble as other sport hatchbacks, but unless you're battling for the quarter-mile or shortest lap time, it provides a better overall driving experience. Turbo lag is nearly undetectable and torque steer is apparent only when driven with reckless abandon. Either transmission performs admirably, with rapid and smooth shifts from the DSG. In everyday conditions the GTI feels solid and composed, though some enthusiast drivers will likely complain that the suspension tuning is too soft for truly aggressive driving.

The flip side, though, is that the GTI also gets high marks for comfort and ride quality when compared to the competition. At highway speeds, the cabin remains as quiet as some luxury cars, and bumps in the road are smoothed over by the compliant suspension. All told, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI provides enough sporting fun to satisfy most drivers.

Read our Volkswagen GTI Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Timeless car...

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

Breathtaking... Now in all my years of owning cars this car replaces my all time favorite car my old 2003 Infiniti 4 door sedan. Taking this beauty from the lot for almost over a week I have yet to head to a gas station to fill up this bad boy. Gas mileage is amazing!!! Not as amazing as a Prius but I think they are being modest. It's a German car obviously and vw seems to be titled the poor mans Chanel, and that's okay why? Well besides not having a 500 payment for a BMW or Mercedes this car is far more eye catching than anything currently on the market. The other competitors well... They just are either too feminine or rugged for my taste in style. Timeless is what I named her.

2 years and still fun

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I live in the NE and use my 2011 VW GTI, DSGwSunroof as a commuter, after 2 years. I continue to enjoy driving with no breakdowns, rattles, or any problems. Mileage is up to 16000 and I recently drove a 750mi one way road trip and this car was fine, but of course small. Everything still applies from my 1 year review. I read in depth about the Bluetooth problem and there is no solution. When using the system and go to make a call with the voice, the volume is simply too loud, I've tried all different adjustments. I have had the experience to use other BT systems and overall the VW system is the best. Only wear after 2 years is the side bolster. Customer service at the dealer has been good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Exactly what i expected and

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

I feel this car has delivered exactly what was promised based on reputation and car magazine reviews. It is fun to drive, especially with the sweet shifting manual and quickly spooling engine, the ergonomics are exactly aligned to how I think, and the hatchback practicality is obviously a big plus. I have had absolutely zero reliability issues over 16,000 miles and 13 months and have not experienced any poor customer service when I have been to the dealership. After a over a year though, I cannot stand the leather seats as they are not perforated and are always disgustingly hot, and the exterior styling looks cheap from some angles.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Fun and sensible

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

Coming from Acura, I don't miss a bit of luxury. Actually the GTI makes much more sense. It's extremely well-built with a logical and spartan/germanic layout. Navigation and ipod integration work smoothly and fast. The leather seats are very comfy and supportive while the interior is much more spacious than you think. I left the powertrain last. It's a blast to drive the GTI. Whether commuting or playing, it just brings a smile. I had a VW in 2003, so I was afraid of VW's reliability... But GTI has come a long way. It's not as reliable as my 2009 TSX but it's quite close. Actually you wouldn't want GTI to become Japanese... you definitely want it to stay German: a toy and a commuter.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

1 year with the gti

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI PZEV 4dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I live in the NE and use my 2011 VW GTI, DSGwSunroof as a daily commuter and recently drove a 250 road trip with it. Overall it's been a very likeable car. Appearance is still very new with just over 8000 miles on it. I notice some slight wear in the left hand side bolster on the drivers seat from entering/exiting. No squeaks or rattles or any other hickups in my year of driving. The interior is in great shape and I have become accustomed to all the controls. I don't care for the round knobs on the sunroof control and climate controls, more on that later. Also a feature I'm not fond of is the tiny rear-view mirror. I especially like the bluetooth, very easy to use. Back seat access is fair.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great, fun, reliable car

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI 4dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I traded a Nissan Titan for this about a year ago when gas prices began to rise. I was worried about not having a large, practical vehicle with plenty of storage. I can say, with a bike rack installed, I haven't had any issues with space or being able to haul stuff home from Target or Lowe's. There is lots of room with the rear seats folded down. I live in NC so no experience with snow yet. The car is fun to drive (especially around town), gets very good gas mileage even with premium gas, the DSG transmission is great, and the interior is at least one price point above the GTI. I have almost 10,000 miles on it, drive it pretty hard, and haven't had one quality/reliability issue.

Talk About The 2011 GTI

2011 Volkswagen GTI Discussions See all Started By

HP to 210 HP advantage...Driving my son's 2011 GTI Mark 6 Autobahn this week while he is out of town and it reminds me of why the GTI has legitimate street cred regardless of price. The best all aro...

it costs a ton more with the same equipment a GTI comes STANDARD with, the F56 is horrendous to look at, is much much slower and softer, it is uncomfortable, cramped (even though it grew and now look...

To my knowledge, all VWs have a spare, and most of them have a full-size spare - my wife had a 2000 Passat GLS wagon, my sister-in-law has a 2009 Rabbit, my brother-in-law had a 2001 GTI GLX and I hav...

Read more about the 2011 Volkswagen GTI

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 31
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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