Used 1998 Volkswagen GTI

1998 Volkswagen GTI
List price range

Pros

  • Excellent road manners, roomy interior, fun to drive, speedy VR6.

Cons

  • Some controls and symbols difficult to decipher, staid styling, underpowered four-cylinder engine.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The GTI is a descendant of the wonder car that started the pocket rocket trend almost two decades ago -- the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI. The first GTIs were fun to drive and inexpensive to buy, but unfortunately, costly to maintain and repair. Nevertheless, this sporty hatchback earned a loyal niche of fans, who claimed that once you found a good VW mechanic, you could reap the benefits of an exclusive club. To date, we haven't heard many horror stories about maintenance costs involving the GTI, the performance version of the third-generation VW Golf, and the overall staff consensus is that this would be a rewarding car to own and drive.

Volkswagen sells the two-door GTI in two trim levels -- base and VR6. The base hatchback is powered by the familiar 2.0-liter inline four that manages 115 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. A five-speed manual is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy isn't great for a lightly powered hatchback -- the GTI is rated at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway with a manual and 22/28 with an automatic.

The GTI VR6 is powered by its namesake 172-horsepower 2.8-liter VR6, a compact, narrow-angle V6 that Volkswagen's engineers created for smaller engine bays. Power delivery from the VR6 is spreadably smooth with a flat powerband. A close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox is mandatory with the VR6; fuel economy is rated at 19/26.

Standard features in the four-cylinder GTI include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, dual front airbags, air conditioning, an eight-speaker cassette stereo, sport seats with height-adjustment for the driver, height adjustable seatbelts in the front, ALR/ELR seatbelts for more secure child seat installation, power locks, keyless entry, an alarm system, power moonroof, 14-inch alloy wheels, foglights and a rear window wiper and defroster. The options list includes the aforementioned automatic transmission as well as side-impact airbags (for front occupants) and a six-CD changer.

Step up to the GTI VR6, and you'll get traction control, a sport-tuned suspension (with a beefier front stabilizer bar and gas shock absorbers in the rear), 15-inch Speedline alloys with P205/50R15 tires, cruise control, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and power windows (with one-touch up/down operation and pinch protection) and heated power mirrors. Additionally, the VR6 comes with a number of the cosmetic enhancements from last year's Driver's Edition, including chrome-tipped exhaust pipes; silver/white-faced instruments; "GTI"-embossed sill covers; leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift boot and handbrake lever (with stitching designed to coordinate with new Sport-Jacquard seat fabric); and the aluminum ball shift knob. Leather seating surfaces, side airbags and the CD changer are optional on the VR6.

Endowed with communicative suspension and steering setups and strong brakes, the GTI holds its own when two-lane roads turn twisty, especially in VR6 form. But as most enthusiasts know, the GTI is softer than other sport coupes and hatchbacks on the market. While this may not please those who demand all-out performance, anyone who needs a comfortable daily driver will appreciate the GTI's more subdued demeanor. Additionally, the benefits of driving a hatchback are immediately apparent when it's time to load groceries or luggage: with the rear seats in use, the GTI provides 17 cubic feet of cargo space, and you can fold down the 60/40 rear seat for a total capacity of 41 cubic feet.

Though solidly constructed, the GTI doesn't have quite the reliability record of competitors like the Acura Integra, Honda Prelude and Toyota Celica, so Volkswagen is offering a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty to ease concerns. Besides that, the GTI offers a lot of standard content compared to the competition -- next to BMW's 318ti hatchback, the GTI VR6 is a bargain. So in your search for an entertaining yet practical car, you should definitely put the GTI on your test drive list.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Volkswagen GTI.

Great little car
guymeister, 1/23/2012
I bought mine new back in 1998, expecting to keep it a few years. Almost 14 years later it's still going strong and I still like it. The good things about it are that it's fast, quick, and nimble. The seats are form fitting and keep you from moving around. Repairs have been rare, but fairly expensive when they came. The strangest one was the replacement of the thermostat, which 1 garage couldn't even find, and that the dealer replaced for $450. In general, though, it's been very reliable. The only down side to it is that you feel every bump in the road. That gets annoying after a while.
my review
nic, 7/9/2002
very simple. this car has been great, but that maybe because i don't drive it very far on a daily basis.
vr6
vw4life2010, 10/29/2010
i love my 98 gti vr6 only thing i think it really needs is 2 be lowered and bigger sway bar front and back
A car with character.
ginstery, 11/6/2013
I love this car, it's just fun. As much as the rust and minor issues annoy me, in the end it puts a smile on my face every time I sit behind the steering wheel. You feel the road as you drive it, and with that you gain a connection with the car, as if it's an extension of yourself. As much as I'd love a brand new clean car, I can't help but think it just wouldn't be as much of a joy to drive. 150,000 miles, 10,000 of which are mine, and many more to come.
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Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
115 hp @ 5400 rpm
MPG
17 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
172 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 1998 Volkswagen GTI features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Poor

More about the 1998 Volkswagen GTI
Used 1998 Volkswagen GTI Overview

The Used 1998 Volkswagen GTI is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 2dr Hatchback, and VR6 2dr Hatchback.

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