2012 Volkswagen GTI Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 24/33 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen GTI

  • The 2012 Volkswagen GTI might not make top performance numbers, but overall, it's one of our top picks for a sporty hatchback.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Hatchback versatility; interior sophistication; supple ride; good fuel economy.

  • Cons

    Competitors are quicker and handle better; lack of interior storage.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Volkswagen GTI gets new LED daytime running lights and minor feature-availability revisions, but otherwise carries on unchanged.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (2 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


2nd mark 6 gti for

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn PZEV 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

Owned a first gen GTI from '83 to '95 and decided in '10 that it was time to go back. Manual, cloth). Lease up in 7 months so contacted my excellent dealer who hooked me up with a "can't say no" deal on a new '12, full boat GTI. Well, I liked my '10 and I have to say that I like the '12 even more. I've been driving manuals for 35 years now and thought I'd never give the nod to a non-manual. But the DSG, dual clutch deal in the GTI is amazing. Telematics is way improved over '10. Interior with leather is classier. Mileage is super. Just a total win.



7 of 7 people found this review helpful

The 50-mile review

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn PZEV 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

This is a 50 mile "first impressions" for my GTI autobahn, DSG, 4dr. The plethora of positive reviews online are right: excellent build quality, amazing driving dynamics, quiet smooth ride for size, excellent brakes, and great looking with a squat, low stance. The DSG takes getting used to and does feel hesitant at first but "squirts" you around town. As with previous GTIs, torque is abundant. I put two boosters and a nine year old in the back no problem! They are skinny though. Issues. There are a few minor ergonomic foibles. With the correct driving position for me, the steering wheel obstructs the top of speedo. Some controls are too low and parts of them cannot be visualized.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 24
  • cty
/
  • 33
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Volkswagen GTI Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Volkswagen GTI gets new LED daytime running lights and minor feature-availability revisions, but otherwise carries on unchanged.

Introduction

On numbers alone, the case for buying a 2012 Volkswagen GTI isn't particularly strong. It's slower and porkier than its main hot-hatch competitors, and gets bested by all in our acceleration, braking and handling tests. Wait, slower and porkier? Even Robert Shapiro might have a hard time swaying a jury on this one.

Fortunately for the defense, there's more to the GTI than numbers. Away from the test track, the GTI remains fun to drive and its compliant suspension is quite good at smoothing budget-starved urban pavement. The GTI's interior is also uncommonly upscale, offering premium materials, a restrained design, supportive front seats and plenty of room for either rear passengers or cargo.

Under the hood is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-4 engine making 200 horsepower -- the same engine used in a host of other VW models. There's no denying the power deficit to the hot-hatchback competition: as much as 60 hp. Yet the GTI's mill still proves enjoyable in the driving experience, delivering useful low-end torque, a throaty exhaust note and even fuel economy. You can also pair the 2.0-liter with VW's DSG dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which combines the easy clutch engagement of an automatic with the precise powertrain control of a manual.

If speed and handling are your true priorities, there are better choices. The Mazdaspeed 3 and Subaru WRX both outgun the GTI in a straight line, while a Mini Cooper S is more nimble in the corners. But overall, the VW GTI adds up to more than the sum of its performance numbers in a way that its competition cannot match. It will ease you through the work week, then put a grin on your face as you head out of town for the weekend.

The case for the 2012 Volkswagen GTI is very solid indeed.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen GTI is a high-performance version of the Golf hatchback. Two-door and four-door body styles are offered. (An even higher-performance variant, the limited-production Golf R, will also be available this year.) There are two main trim levels: base and 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 leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping 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 sound system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and iPod integration.

The base GTI can be fitted with the Convenience and Sunroof package, which gets you a sunroof, multifunction steering wheel controls, a touchscreen interface for the stereo and an in-dash CD changer. The GTI with Sunroof and Navigation adds adaptive xenon headlamps, LED running lights and a touchscreen navigation system.

The range-topping GTI Autobahn includes the preceding features, plus different 18-inch wheels, partial-leather seating, keyless ignition/entry and a premium sound system.

Powertrains and Performance

The front-wheel-drive 2012Volkswagen GTI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. In California-emissions states, a cleaner partial-zero-emissions-vehicle (PZEV) version of this engine is also available.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (called DSG) is optional. The DSG operates like a standard automatic, but it can be shifted manually by utilizing the shift lever on the center console or the shift paddles on the steering wheel.

In Edmunds testing, a GTI with a manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Competitors are at least a half-second faster. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined for DSG-equipped GTIs. The manual transmission achieves slightly less, at 21/31/25 mpg.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the 2012 Volkswagen GTI includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the GTI earned a top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In Edmunds performance testing, braking from 60 to zero mph required 129 feet -- a full car length longer than the Mazdaspeed 3's impressively short 115-foot halt.

Interior Design and Special Features

Among sporty hatchbacks, we rank the 2012 GTI's interior at the top. Retro plaid seat fabric aside, the cabin reflects a serious and mature design, with hints of Audi's upscale trim and switchgear throughout. You won't find better materials in the segment, nor front seats that are as sporty and supportive for punchy driving or casual cruising. Unfortunately, you also won't find many places to stash phones, wallets and sunglasses, since the GTI continues to suffer from a lack of useful storage spaces.

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 relatively painless. 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. This volume increases when the split-folding rear seats are down, opening up 46 cubic feet of room.

Driving Impressions

If you go by the spec sheet, the GTI isn't as quick or nimble as other sport hatchbacks. But unless you're battling for the quickest quarter-mile or lap time, the VW provides a better overall driving experience. Turbo lag is nearly undetectable and torque steer is apparent only when the car is driven with reckless abandon. Either transmission choice performs admirably, with the DSG offering smooth shifts. In everyday driving, the GTI feels solid and composed, though some enthusiast drivers will probably complain that the suspension tuning is too soft for truly aggressive driving.

On the flip side, the GTI gets high marks for comfort and ride quality compared to the competition. At highway speeds, the cabin is as quiet as any you'll find in a luxury car, while a compliant suspension smoothes over normal bumps in the road. All told, the 2012 Volkswagen GTI strikes an impressive balance between performance and comfort that will satisfy most drivers.

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