As the owner of a Mk VI VW ?clean? diesel Golf, I was deeply ambivalent about doing business again with VW, but I swallowed my pride and gave the Mk VII GTI a spin. With one drive, I was reminded of all of the virtues that made the GTI a classic. The car just does so much so very well at such a reasonable price. There?s ample room for four real adults, and with the rear seats folded down, I can haul almost anything I?d care to stuff into a car. Fit and finish are superb, rivaling many entry level luxury cars. The doors close with a ?thunk? and road noise is admirably dampened.
The GTI is a blast to drive The GTI perfectly docile in daily commuting, but wind it past 2500 RPM and it pulls enthusiastically all the way to the redline. The manual shifter is direct and precise and the handling is outstanding. The ride is firm but not punishing, and when I behave myself, I average about 28 MPG in mixed driving. With an engine that willing, I frequently don't behave myself.
The 2016?s new MiB infotainment system with Apple AirPlay, while not best in class, is a huge upgrade from VW?s dated infotainment system. Finally I can access and manage my iPhone?s maps, music, and podcasts without fiddling with the phone and risking my life. Wonder of wonders, there?s finally a USB port.
No car is perfect, and the Mk VII GTI has some issues. My biggest gripe has been the front seats. I'm 5'11" and 165 lbs, and while I'm athletically built, nobody would mistake me for Captain America. Even so, the very aggressively bolstered seats pinch my upper back (lats) uncomfortably. After a 30 minute drive, I emerge with chafing marks on my upper back. If I can't fit these seats, the average 200 pounder doesn't have a chance.
The center console is wider than in the Mk VI and protrudes into the footwell. I find resting my right knee against the hard plastic rather uncomfortable on long drives. The speedometer is unnecessarily "busy" making it difficult to read MPH at a glance. Instead, I project MPH digitally on the center infotainment screen. Finally, the interior of the car is quite dark (even the headliner is black) which is a bit oppressive and makes the car a greenhouse on sunny days. If you live in a warm or sunny climate, tinted windows are a must.
Eager to regain customers after the diesel debacle, VW is offering big discounts on GTIs. I got mine for $23,500 out the door, which is just an amazing deal for a car with this many virtues.
If I can just figure out how to widen the upper bolsters on the damn driver's seat, I'm set.
I picked up a 2016 Autobahn with Performance Package, Lighting Package, and DCC a couple of weeks ago. I watched every YouTube video I could find on the car and read all the reviews for the 2015 model and I had high expectations and have not been disappointed so far. The only thing I have found to complain about is the Owners Manual and the fact that VW does not offer a downloadable .PDF version of it. I did not buy the car for its gas mileage and have no clue what it has been so far - I keep the display set to vehicle speed because my old tired eyes have trouble reading low contrast images. The DCC works as advertised and in Comfort mode makes for a nice smooth ride on bumpy roads. When you switch to Sport mode it really becomes a beast on the start and can is a bit much for in town driving but it is sure fun! The infotainment system is good but when it comes to VR the Ford MyTouch system cannot be beat - I have owned two different Ford vehicles with the system and got spoiled a bit by being able to not only control my music selections by voice but even the HVAC system as well. I hope VW is able to weather the diesel storm and brings us more cars like the GTI and R.
04/05/2016: So far I have not had a single problem with my GTI and driving it is the most fun you can have without getting naked first!
I'm a 50 something male who has owned just about every make of car over the last 35 years. While I've always liked VW cars, this is the first one I've owned. I was considering a Passat, but passed because found it to be too dull. I wanted car that had enough room to haul two teenagers, but was also small enough to be convenient in the city. It had to be comfortable enough for 200 mile round trips which I do periodically. I looked at the a diverse crop of vehicles including a standard Golf, a Kia Soul, a Jeep Renegade, a slightly used Audi A3 and a GTI. After driving all of them the GTI was of course the most fun. So when VW started deeply discounting the GTI in December, I decided to buy one. If you are buying a car for simple transportation to work, the regular Golf is a better choice. It's rides softer and is cheaper. That being said, in its category of powerful sporty cars the GTI is probably the most livable, practical of the bunch. The interior is quiet on the highway, yet still has a bit of a growl when you hit the pedal.
On smoother roads the ride is acceptable. On bumpy roads (which are plentiful where I live) the ride is borderline uncomfortable for me. I would prefer a softer ride, but I realize that is the tradeoff for the the excellent handling, power and 18 inch wheels. I sometimes think the suspension of the regular Golf would be a better compromise for me. The interior quality and functionality are remarkable for this price point. I'm a big fan of the clean, crisp, sporty styling both inside and out. It's distinctive without being garish or cartoonish. At 50 I don't feel silly driving the GTI like I might in some other sporty cars that seem geared toward teenagers. It's just about the perfect combination of fun and practicality. It is the Swiss Army knife of cars. In 6000 miles I have not had one thing go wrong or need to be addressed by the dealer. The only part of the car that I'm not 100% keen on is the DSG transmission. It can be a bit jerky with some low speed drivetrain bucking if you're not smooth with the pedal, similar to a manual transmission. The regular Golf with torque converter transmission smooths out these sensations, but also dulls the responsiveness.
This car is fun. Who knew 4 cylinders could be so enjoyable? The car handles like a dream. Yes, it is a bit of a squeeze to get in and out (I'm 6' tall, 200+ lbs., but once in you are in you are in for a treat. As a daily driver the GTI offers you a fine seat that grips you and dampens the rock and roll in turns. Road noise is controlled. The steering wheel fits your hands perfectly. On a bumpy road (a CA specialty) you definitely feel the bumps but you can reduce the impact by slowing down. Unlike a sports car with limited cargo space, this hatch has plenty of room to carry luggage and passengers. The electronics are, as they say these days, awesome. The price at $30,000 is a steal. Hurry to your VW dealer to check it out - you WON'T be disappointed.
SE w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
So I have had well in excess of 20 cars, I used to race cars professionally 20 years ago and since then I drive 750 miles per week on average as a senior account executive. So.....the car....much better than the 2014 Mazda 3s GT manual hatchback I was driving. Turbo lag....it's there but if you keep it in the rev band (3300RPM and above) no issues. Mazda I did actually like the no lag ever I mean ever with that car. Comfort, more important to me the older I get. Yes this car Is easier to get into, the seats are better and my back is not sore after a typicall 200 mile day. The Mazda I can't say the same, you had to squat to get in, and the seats were just not as supportive. Speed/power, this car will move if you are in the power rev range as aforementioned. Handling, very very good as well, mind you I raced race cars years ago and my son now races professional go karts, so I see flaws in everything else. Stability control. Hmmmmmmmm this is where I may have an issue mine has the DCC Dynamic Chasis Control as well and even turing off traction control setting everything in sport, the car STILLL TRIES TO DRIVE YOU, breaking when you don't want to, breaking a single wheel to supposedly get more speed around the corner, but it defeats the purpose if "you know how to drive a car fast" sure for a novice they are great aids for non novice users such as myself.....off should mean off, if I want no assistance don't assist me. i.e. why I bought a manual in the first place. Am I happy with the car, yes. Could the tweak a few things, sure, all car manufacturerers can. Question is with me is can I get 200K miles out of it like I do with their Japanese competitors. (1st VW, have had 11 Japanese cars over 200k from new with no real major issues)