Not as powerful or quick as many competitors in the segment. The GTI will suit many drivers, nonetheless. Manual shifter feels best when gear changes are not rushed. Optional DSG transmission adds flexibility over the base manual tranny.
Steering and chassis are tuned for moderate hustling, not all-out performance. Most enjoyable when driven deliberately, at a measured pace. Hard-core enthusiasts may want more. Electronic stability control cannot be fully disabled.
What the GTI sacrifices in speed it makes up in comfort. Ride quality is quite good. Driver seat is highly adjustable. Tilt/tele steering column adjustments aid in finding the perfect driving position. Ample rear-seat room -- even for a 2-door.
Wind noise is a nonissue in the GTI. The same cannot be said for all audible annoyances, as the 18-inch tires on our tester amplified road noise noticeably. This trait is common within this class, but cross-segment shoppers will expect more.
This ranks among the most versatile and comfortable manually adjustable driver seats around. We had no problem sitting in this seat for hours on end. Highly adjustable seating ensured all primary and secondary controls were easily within reach.
Quite good. Small overall dimensions aid the GTI in this category as does a large rear window and windshield. Halogen headlamps expand your field of vision at night, while daytime running lights help others see you during the day.
Seat Access & Space
Front door openings are large, allowing easy front-seat access. Side bolsters are not too invasive and accommodate most body types. Rear-seat access is tight in our two-door, but is much better (of course) in the available 4-door version.
Cargo & Storage
Cargo space is good compared to the sport compact competition but it's still small overall. Rear seats fold nearly flat and the standard cargo cover integrates cleverly into the rear hatch. Forward cabin storage is not a strong point.
Design and build quality are where the GTI truly shines. With the best materials and build quality in the segment, this is where the premium for the GTI is revealed.