2017 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
- 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
Edmunds' Expert Review
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.