2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Cameron Rogers has worked in the automotive industry since 2013. He has tested and reviewed hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career. Today, he leads the news team in developing cutting-edge news articles, opinion pieces and sneak peeks at upcoming vehicles. Favorite cars that he's driven during his tenure at Edmunds include the 991-era Porsche 911 Turbo S, Rolls-Royce Ghost and several generations of Honda Odyssey (really).
- 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
- Dual-clutch automatic transmission's lack of responsiveness in slow-moving traffic
- Not as powerful as rivals at the same price point
- Optional summer tires produce a moderately stiff ride quality
For 2017, Volkswagen has discontinued the two-door Golf GTI, though it did produce a few 2017 two-doors before production ceased, so finding one is a remote possibility. VW has also added more standard features to certain trim levels and introduced a new Sport trim.
The compact hatchback is a terrific choice for people who want all the benefits of a small car and a larger cargo area than the typical sedan provides. But what if you also want your hatchback to be fun to drive, too? For that, you should consider a "hot hatch," a small car that combines the strengths of a hatchback with a powerful engine and sporty demeanor. Although various hot hatches have come and gone over the decades, the Volkswagen GTI has truly stood the test of time and has earned an almost iconic status since its introduction to the American market in 1983.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.93 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$172/mo for Golf GTI S
Golf GTI S
Avg. Compact Car
Take a drive in a 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI, and you'll quickly realize why this car has been so popular. Like the Golf upon which it is based, the Golf GTI offers plenty of practicality and near-luxury cabin materials. But that's where these siblings split. The Golf is all about fuel efficiency and competitive pricing, and the GTI ups the ante with a punchy engine, a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission and stylish upholstery. The GTI rides much stiffer than the Golf, which degrades the car's ride quality some, but the payoff is heroic stability and grip around turns.
You can get the GTI with more features than the Golf, too. If you're the kind of person who wants (and is willing to pay for) a complete all-rounder, check out the loaded Autobahn trim. Its adjustable suspension dampers allow you to soften the GTI's ride for long-distance cruising or tighten things up on twisty backroads. You can further equip the Autobahn with an automated parking system and added safety features.
If the Golf GTI doesn't hit the right spot, however, you might consider several other hot hatches on the market instead. The Mini Hatchback comes in two- or four-door body styles, as well as a convertible if top-down adventuring is more your style. The 268-horsepower Subaru WRX is similar in price to the GTI, and it comes standard with weather-beating all-wheel drive. The 252-hp Ford Focus ST is another popular option and boasts a more comfortable ride. And if you have a need for speed that the GTI just won't satisfy, you'll want to think about the VW Golf R, Ford Focus RS or Subaru WRX STI. Overall though, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI ticks all the right boxes for those who prize fun and practicality.
Standard safety features for the 2017 VW Golf GTI include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. A post-crash braking system is also standard and automatically applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the likelihood of a secondary crash. Optional for the SE and standard on the Autobahn is the SE Driver Assistance package, which includes a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Autobahn Driver Assistance package adds front and rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.
VW's Car-Net emergency telematics system 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).
In Edmunds tests, a Golf GTI fitted with optional summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, while one with summer tires and the Performance package (and its larger brakes) stopped in 105 feet. Both are short distances for an affordable performance car with summer tires.
In government crash testing, the GTI earned a full five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for front-impact safety and five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Golf GTI earned the highest score of Good in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap front-impact tests. It also earned a Good rating in the side-impact, roof strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
Edmunds' Expert Rating
Are you searching for a quick and sporty compact hatchback that's also easy to drive every day? Check out the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI. We think it has the performance chops you expect, plus a refined demeanor that fully justifies the car's price.
The 2017 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 GTIs are great fun to drive, it's worth upgrading to at least the Sport if you're planning to take on challenging roads or the occasional track day. The limited-slip differential on this trim (and above) 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 dual-clutch automatic 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. The GTI is more forgiving when equipped with the adaptive suspension dampers, but not enough so to justify the added expense if you weren't already planning to get the high-end Autobahn model. We have 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.
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI's interior is the standard-bearer for the sporty compact car class. Materials are well-grained and soft to the touch, and the overall design is distinctly European, comfortable and sporty. Bold red stitching throughout adds to the effect. The body-hugging seats are wonderfully supportive, and both upholstery options (leather or classic plaid cloth) feel expensive. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control.
Every 2017 GTI features a central 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. 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). Two smartphones can be paired to Bluetooth at the same time, perfect for long-distance road trips when you have a couple friends who both have fun playing DJ. The touchscreen is small and doesn't have particularly sharp-looking graphics, but it gets the job done and is easy to use.
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 shoulder room, head- 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. Up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo can be accommodated behind the rear seats, and folding the seats flat provides an impressive 52.7 cubic feet of space.
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI models
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a four-door compact hatchback that seats five. There are four trim levels: S, Sport, SE and Autobahn. All-season tires are standard across the board, although summer performance tires are a no-cost option.
Standard features for the base GTI S include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED foglights, a rear spoiler, heated mirrors, a cooled glovebox, plaid cloth upholstery, a driver information display, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable and heated front seats with power recline, selectable driving modes, ambient interior lighting and rear 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through. Technology features include a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input, a USB port, HD and satellite radio and smartphone integration (VW's Car-Net App-Connect that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink).
Stepping up to the Sport includes last year's Performance package (which gives the engine an additional 10 horsepower and adds an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential and larger front and rear brakes), along with adaptive xenon headlights and keyless ignition and entry.
The SE builds upon the Sport's features with a sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, leather upholstery and a Fender premium audio system.
The SE's Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The range-topping Autobahn includes everything above, plus adaptive suspension dampers, a larger rear stabilizer bar, a navigation system, a 10-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and dual-zone automatic climate control.
There's also a Driver Assistance package available for the Autobahn. It adds automatic high-beam headlight control, front and rear parking sensors, automated parallel parking, lane departure warning and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The front-wheel-drive 2017 VW Golf GTI uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 210 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. Sport, SE and Autobahn models come standard with last year's Performance package, which increases output to 220 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic (VW's DSG) is optional.
During Edmunds testing, a Golf GTI with the dual-clutch automatic transmission and Performance package went from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. That's more than a second quicker than a standard Golf and a bit quicker than the Ford Focus ST (6.4 seconds). The Subaru WRX leads the pack at 5.5 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 28 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway) with the manual transmission and 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the dual-clutch automatic.
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
New GTI Sport is perhaps the perfect GTI
Mr. GTI, 11/30/2016
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
I have owned a number of GTIs, but have to say this is probably the best one ever. The sport is a stand alone model that includes the performance pack, Nogaro alloys (Only on Sport model), bi-xenon/LED lighting, keyless entry/ignition, over the base S model. Plus, Apple play is a great feature negating the need for navigation. For me, and I am sure other enthusiasts agree that this is … the perfect model - why? The new MQB platform GTI is a an incredibly well-developed car that drives and handles superbly. The Sport has all the essentials needed without the superfluous toys added in the SE and Autobahn models - this is the enthusiasts GTI. The addition of the Performance packs adds some extra horsepower, but the real bonus of the package is the mechanical limited slip differential which takes cornering on a front-drive car to a new level, and the stopping power of the R brake package. The beauty of the GTI has always been the fact that it is such a versatile and well-behaved car when you want it to be, but when you want to push it to it limits it is in an even happier mode. I love the fact that this car is so capable in so many areas - it may well be the perfect car! 18 months on the car has been 100% trouble free - highway gas mileage is around 35-37 mpg which is phenomenal!
4 out of 5 stars
The Great Compromise
Mike M., 05/21/2018
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
18-month update - no problems. Flawless daily operation. Still averaging about 25 MPG in mostly city driving although I've gotten 36-38 on one long road trip. The interior still looks brand new and the leather is wearing well. I'm also learning how to manage the DSG in traffic and the bucking that so many people complain about is not nearly as noticeable. Maybe the transmission is also … just breaking in? Whatever - I love this car. I'm a hot hatch aficionado. Over the years I've owned several, and when the time came to get out of the family hauler I knew I wanted another. I drove everything: Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Focus RS, Civic SI, Civic Type R, WRX, even hot-ish hatches like the new Cruze and Mazda3. For every criteria that I decided a particular car missed, the GTI landed it square in the middle. It's not as engaging as the Fords, or as sharp as the Honda, or as burly as the Subaru, but it's ALMOST as good, and by being so versatile and generally GOOD while not falling on its face in any one area it wins. I haven't had it long enough to comment on reliability, but CR is indicating the 2017 is Above Average, whereas the 2015 and 2016 models were merely average. Fuel economy is fine, averaging 25 MPG in mostly city driving. And the bottom line is I get excited every time I know I'm about to drive somewhere, even if it's just to slog it out in traffic. At some point I'll have the opportunity to let it its thing. I'll say the trick VAQ differential is a game changer - this car handles like no other FWD car I've ever driven. The DSG is also a bit of a revelation. I'm a manual guy, but my wife isn't comfortable driving one, so the DSG is again a great compromise. The kids' booster seats are also easy peasy, and there's still plenty of space for (minor) Costco runs. Just a great car. Full disclosure, I got my 2017 as the '18 cars were coming out, meaning I got crazy incentives - about $8,000 off sticker. I'd have a hard time paying the $33k they wanted, but it's a steal at $25k. Would buy again.
5 out of 5 stars
GTI for an old guy
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
2017 VW GTI Sport 6 spd manual. 20 months and 31K miles into the car that changed from a weekend driver to a commuter car. 4 oil changes at approx 8K mile interval and she is ready for new tires. The OEM Contis are not very good. However, if you want to smile when driving again, this little GTI does not disappoint. Can get up to 40 plus mpgs if you are not pushing the turbo, or if … you are driving spirited you get about 25 mpgs. Flawless so far. Not one mechanical issue. Info system with Android Auto works great! I had the 30K service done this past weekend. Brakes are great, just oil and tires. Would I purchase again? Hell yeah!! When I am stopped and I meet another GTI owner, they always say positive things about the GTI. Choose wisely grasshopper. This GTI is a fun car! 01/17/19 42,000 miles in the GTI and she still kicks butt. Oil changes, new tires, air filters that's it for service. Runs awesome and just a fun car to drive.
5 out of 5 stars
The current Ultimate Driving Machine
NOVA Mid-Life-Crisis Driver, 01/01/2017
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
My Autobahn: leather/heat/power seat, DCC, Nav, and ACC/Blind Spot/Cross Traffic safety features. Got an amazing year-end deal that I could not pass, so I will return my VW TDI earlier than plan. 1k miles total so far in 2 weeks. During past GTI test drives I always thought the ride was a bit stiff, so I decided to get the Autobahn with DCC. That way, I can turn the suspension to a … softer mode ("comfort") when needed. Funny, after 2 weeks, I now prefer "sport" mode over regular "normal" or "comfort" mode. The GTI MK7 engine is very smooth as it happily rev up to its red line. Combined with its lightweight, the GTI can quickly and easily pass other cars at highway speed. You can get speeding ticket(s) if you are not careful with this car as it goes from 60 to 80 mph in no time. It makes me wonder what APR stage 1 or 2 mod will turn this car into ? As a manual trans driver in the past, I found the DSG pretty amazing on any street at any speed. I don't understand all of GTI DSG complaints out there. Nobody can shift the transmission as fast and smooth, aggressive when needed, than this smartly engineered DSG. The DSG in my 2013 TDI is good, this one is GREAT. As advertised, GTI returns 29 mpg combined. I am very happy with its safety features, they are excellent and work as designed. The bad news ? quality control is poor for a $36k list car. Back window does not roll up/down, driver door ambient light does not work, back seat bench still have wrapping plastic protrude out from its bottom, and worse, the infotainment system with Nav broke (known issue) after three days - new unit is in ordered. Even though CR predicts below reliability, I'd expected better quality control after almost 2 year of Golf/GTI production in Mexico, very disappointed. My GTI issues are being fixed under warranty. I gave VW GTI 5 stars mostly due to its interior luxury feel (very close to Audi, BMW or Mercedes level), its Ultimate Driving Machine characteristics, and its steep year-end discount. Aside from the quality control annoyances, I have my grin every day driving this GTI.
2017 Golf GTI Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$172/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover11.1%