2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

Pros & Cons

  • Turbocharged engine provides quick acceleration and good fuel economy
  • sporty handling makes it fun to drive around turns
  • versatile and roomy hatchback design
  • high-quality interior materials that look and feel great.
  • Automated transmission's lack of responsiveness in slow-moving traffic
  • optional summer tires produce a moderately stiff ride quality.
Other years
2016
Volkswagen Golf GTI for Sale
2016
List Price Range
$13,692 - $22,092

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Are you searching for a quick and sporty compact hatchback that's also comfortable enough to drive every day? Check out the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI. We think it has the performance chops you expect, plus a refined demeanor that fully justifies the car's price. Read on to see why the GTI is a winner in its class.

Vehicle overview

You never really outgrow a car like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. An incredibly versatile machine, the GTI has all the space and comfort of any other VW Golf, but thanks to its well-executed performance enhancements, it's also terrific fun to drive. This all-in-one, hot-but-humble hatchback formula elevated the original GTI to icon status, and it carries through to the 2016 Golf GTI.

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the best choices if you're looking for a fun and practical car that won't break the bank.

Last year's full redesign produced a noticeably more entertaining Volkswagen Golf GTI. Although not radically different in personality from recent forbears, the current model has more responsive steering and brakes that make it far more capable and enjoyable on roads with tight turns. Accelerating out of those turns is easier than ever, too, thanks to a strong turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that makes this VW one of the quickest cars in its class.

One of the few weak links in the 2015 model was the outdated audio-navigation interface, and for 2016, that's where Volkswagen has turned its attention, giving every 2016 GTI an all-new technology interface. Although the touchscreen is still modest in size (just 6.5 inches), the new system supports voice-to-text messaging and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Better yet, VW's outdated MDI cable has finally given way to a real USB input. Meanwhile, the optional Driver Assistance package has been stocked with additional driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and a brake assist feature for the frontal collision warning system.

Shoppers who place a high value on technology will undoubtedly be glad they waited a year to buy a Golf GTI. Combine the tech upgrades with a top-quality interior and a stellar driving experience and this VW really is tough to beat. Still, depending on your priorities, you might want to look at the alternatives in this price range. For rowdier performance and handling, the Ford Focus ST sets the standard, even if its acceleration times are a few tenths of a second slower. It's less expensive, too, and offers Recaro seats as a factory option. We're also fond of the smaller but highly customizable Mini Cooper S, which is still plenty fun to drive and now available in a four-door body style. The Subaru WRX is a good option if you want all-wheel drive, and if your budget is large, you could even think about the more exclusive Golf R.

Any of these cars would be enjoyable to own, but if you're looking for a hot hatch that's as practical as it is engaging, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes highly recommended.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI models

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI is offered in two- and four-door hatchback body styles, and both versions seat five. There are three trim levels: S, SE and Autobahn. All-season tires are standard across the board, and summer performance tires are a no-cost option.

Standard features for the base GTI S two-door include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED foglights, a rear spoiler, heated mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a cooled glovebox, plaid cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, a 6.5-inch touchscreen technology interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone integration (via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay), a rearview camera, VW Car-Net telematics, HD radio, satellite radio and an eight-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary input and a CD player. Four-door versions of the GTI S also receive power-reclining front seats.

Available on all GTIs, the optional Performance package includes an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential, larger front and rear brakes and an additional 10 horsepower.

Stepping up to the GTI SE trim adds a sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery and a Fender premium audio system. The range-topping GTI Autobahn trim tops off the features list with a navigation system, a 10-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Any GTI can be optioned with the Lighting package, which upgrades you to adaptive bi-xenon headlights and LED running lights. Optional on SE and Autobahn models equipped with the Performance package is Dynamic Chassis Control, which provides driver-adjustable adaptive shock absorbers and a larger rear stabilizer bar. Available on any SE or Autobahn model, the Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a frontal collision warning system with emergency brake assist, lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automated parallel parking and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

2016 Highlights

For 2016, the Volkswagen GTI gets a major upgrade in cabin technology. An all-new infotainment system provides a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, rearview camera, universal USB input and, for compatible phones, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. VW has also added new features to the optional Driver Assistance package, including adaptive cruise control, an emergency brake assist feature, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring and automated parallel parking.

Performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2016 VW Golf GTI uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 210 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. The optional Performance package increases output to 220 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automated manual (VW's DSG) is optional.

Thanks to a strong turbocharged engine, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the quicker mainstream hatchbacks you can buy.

During Edmunds testing, a four-door Golf GTI with the DSG transmission and Performance package went from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. That's slightly quicker than average for a sporty compact car, and more than a second quicker than a standard Golf. A two-door GTI with the manual transmission (and no Performance package) reached 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.

The EPA's estimates for fuel economy are 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway) for the manual transmission and 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway) for the DSG.

Safety

Standard safety features for the 2016 VW Golf GTI include antilock disc brakes, automatic hill-hold, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A post-crash braking system is also standard and automatically applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the likelihood of a secondary crash. VW's Car-Net emergency telematics is standard with features that include automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A rearview camera is standard, while front and rear parking sensors are part of the optional Driver Assistance package. Said package also includes a frontal collision warning system (with a brake support feature that helps slow the car down when an impact is imminent), lane departure warnings and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts.

In Edmunds tests, a Golf GTI fitted with optional summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 107 feet, which is a very good distance for an affordable performance car with summer tires.

In government crash testing, the two-door GTI earned a full five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the related 2016 VW Golf earned the highest score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. It also earned a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof-strength and seats/head restraints (whiplash protection) tests.

Driving

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI lives up to its hot hatch heritage with sharp handling and steering, brisk acceleration and a rather burly engine and exhaust note. These are all best exploited on a tight and twisting mountain road, where the GTI playfully bounds from curve to curve, while instilling plenty of driver confidence. Though all 2016 GTIs are great fun to drive, the Performance package version is worth considering if you're planning to take on challenging roads or the occasional track day. The limited-slip differential in this package helps pull the car's nose around the apex of a turn, resulting in quicker progress for more advanced drivers.

Either the slick-shifting manual or the well-executed DSG automated manual transmission is a good choice. Especially compared to traditional automatics, the DSG is quick and smooth, and its downshifts are perfectly rev-matched. However, we've found that DSG can be frustratingly slow to respond to gas pedal inputs when you want to accelerate quickly from a stop or when you're trundling along in heavy traffic.

Although it's comfortable enough on long drives, the GTI can ride harshly over imperfect pavement when equipped with the summer tires. Models with the optional adaptive suspension are more forgiving, but not enough so to justify the added expense if you weren't already planning to get a GTI with the Performance package. We've yet to drive a Volkswagen Golf GTI with the standard all-season tires, and it's possible that the less aggressive rubber would translate to a smoother ride.

Interior

You'll be smitten with the 2016 Volkswagen GTI's interior within 30 seconds of getting inside. It's just that good. Materials are well-grained and soft to the touch, and the overall design is distinctly European, comfortable and sporty, thanks to bold red stitching. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control.

Overall quality of the Golf GTI's interior materials is fantastic, with attractive red contrast stitching throughout.

Every 2016 GTI features a 6.5-inch touchscreen with all-new software behind it. Autobahn models also include navigation, but with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility across all trims, you really don't need a factory nav system anymore (provided you have a fairly new smartphone in hand). The touchscreen is still small compared to the 8-inch display in the Focus ST, but it's a huge upgrade over the lower-resolution display in last year's GTI. And wonder of wonders, a universal USB port is finally included.

Passenger space is excellent for this class. Front seats provide ample support and comfort, even during long-distance driving stints, and not at the sacrifice of rear seat passengers, who will have plenty of head-, shoulder  and legroom. Wide, tall doors combined with a moderately high seat make this an easy car to get in and out of, especially for its size. Even the two-door models have good rear-seat access. Up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo can be accommodated behind the rear seats, while folding the seats flat provides a class-leading 52.7 cubic feet of space.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

As good as everyone said it was
Hugh Lokey,10/04/2015
Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
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! 04/05/2017: Still enjoying my GTI every time I get behind the wheel! No problems/repairs to date (other than the recall on the fuel system). I have started to shop for my next vehicle but so far I have not found anything that does not come up short when compared to my GTI and after seeing the VW video of the 2018 Golf line I have decided to wait for a new 2018 GTI or Golf R.
The Swiss Army knife of sporty cars
GTIdriver,04/26/2016
S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
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.
Many things to love, but a couple of weird quirks
Fahrvergnugen,05/02/2016
S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
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.
Performance Plus
Burt Rudman,09/08/2015
Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
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.

Features & Specs

MPG
25 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
210 hp @ 4500 rpm
MPG
25 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
210 hp @ 4500 rpm
MPG
25 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed automated manual
Gas
220 hp @ 4700 rpm
MPG
25 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
220 hp @ 4700 rpm
See all Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11.1%

More about the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Overview

The Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI is offered in the following submodels: Golf GTI Hatchback. Available styles include SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), and S w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE is priced between $13,692 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 30045 and94788 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI S is priced between $14,487 and$17,985 with odometer readings between 39860 and59109 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn w/Performance Package is priced between $22,092 and$22,092 with odometer readings between 16328 and16328 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTIS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2016 Golf GTIS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $13,692 and mileage as low as 16328 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Can't find a used 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTIs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale - 4 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $14,094.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 2 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $21,472.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale - 10 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $7,886.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 5 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $10,950.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Golf GTI lease specials