Volkswagen Golf GTI Review & Prices
The Golf GTI is a great all-rounder – fast enough to be great fun, sensible enough to drive every day comfortably. But the Golf R is even faster
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI
This is the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the latest in a dynasty that has mastered the ‘superb all-rounder’ game throughout many generations.
So, is the Mark 8 VW Golf GTI still the annoying kid at school who’s good at everything? The initial signs are good; it looks like a regular Golf that’s making the most of its gym membership.
It has lowered suspension and a black grille with some cool LED daytime running lights, plus Matrix LED headlights. There are also lots of GTI badges about the place and a bunch of contrasting red stripes – just like the original Mk1 from the seventies. At the rear, there are LED lights and twin exhaust pipes that are, thankfully, real. Shame they sound a bit anaemic though.
Meanwhile, the interior of the new Mk8 Golf is all very minimalist and classy, with few buttons and fiddly details. The GTI has a sportier steering wheel with some bright red bits (as well as some annoying touch-sensitive buttons), plenty of sporty contrasting stitching, and sports seats with chequered trim.
Those sports seats hold you really well when you’re having fun driving along a twisty road, and they’re very comfortable on the motorway, but they’re pretty bulky when you’re sat in the rear, and so are difficult to see around.
An 8.3-inch infotainment system and a 10.0-inch digital driver’s display are both standard but you can pay extra to get a pair of 10.0-inch screens instead. Both displays come with GTI-specific graphics and you can customise the driver’s display using buttons on the steering wheel. You also have the option to control lots of the car’s features using voice commands – just as you can in the standard Golf.
However, the ventilation and audio systems are controlled using touch-sensitive ‘sliders’ below the infotainment screen, and these are much less successful. What’s wrong with buttons?
There’s also mood lighting with 30 customisable colours, and there’s even a funky start button that pulses red before you start the engine.
It's a successful formula - take the very good standard Golf and make it a look a bit cooler and drive a bit faster. The GTI-specific graphics for the infotainment system is a classy touch
Under the bonnet lies a 245hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which also produces 370Nm of torque. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, although a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox is also available.
This gets the same shift-by-wire controls as the standard Golf, so you use a tiny switch to change gear instead of a big mechanical lever. Or you can use the paddles on the steering wheel – whichever you prefer.
The auto better suits the ‘all-rounder’ character of the GTI, because it allows you to feel like a racing driver one minute and then lets you sit back and leave everything alone the next.
The power output is the same as the Performance Pack version of the old Golf GTI, and allows the DSG-equipped car to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.2 seconds. Both manual and automatic models reach a top speed of 155mph. We used the launch control system and got pretty close to this, even though the slippery road hampered the GTI off the mark.
Just like the old Golf GTI, the Mk8 is front-wheel drive. It also gets independent suspension all-round, which should help it feel agile through the corners, and there’s an electronically controlled limited-slip differential to maximise traction out of corners.
You can also pay extra to have your GTI fitted with adaptive dampers. These let you stiffen everything up for hooning down country roads and soften the ride for cruising home on the motorway. The system works very well indeed.
You can personalise these settings through the infotainment system, too. So you can fine-tune your favourite setup and save it for later.
The VW Golf GTI can also be had with an optional driver-assistance pack called Travel Assist. This beefs-up the standard Golf’s adaptive cruise control so it can accelerate, brake and steer for you at up to 130mph. This might be a Godsend if you spend hours cruising up and down the autobahn, but in the UK the normal adaptive cruise control will probably do you just fine.
Space in the GTI is the same as in every other Golf, so there’s plenty of room for four adults (or five if they’re on speaking terms), and loads of room in the 381-litre boot, and there are all the usual hooks and lashing points to keep shopping where you want it to be. Yup, that’s the ‘all-rounder’ point being proved once more.
So the Golf GTI continues the tradition, by being really good at pretty much everything it does. Its grandparents would be proud.
If this sounds like your next new car, take a look at our latest VW Golf GTI deals.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI has a RRP range of £39,815 to £39,815. However, with Carwow you can save on average £1,148. Prices start at £38,667 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £400. The price of a used Volkswagen Golf GTI on Carwow starts at £23,145.
Our most popular versions of the Volkswagen Golf GTI are:
|Carwow price from
|2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG
There are a lot of options in the hot hatch segment, with two of the biggest alternatives to the Golf GTI being the Ford Focus ST and the Honda Civic Type R. The latter offers more performance than the Golf, for similar money, which might make it a better option for those looking for more thrills behind the wheel.
The Golf is, however, a great all-rounder, but you’re paying a premium for the badge and the heritage of the GTI, over the Ford or Hyundai’s excellent i30 N.
The latest Golf GTI is more like a decent all-round sports car, rather than a high-performance hot hatch, which might upset some purists, and the driving experience isn’t as exhilarating as in some other cars
There will be times – a lot, probably – when Golf GTI drivers won’t be searching for the limits of their latest acquisition, but instead cruising around town. Put the car into Comfort mode and you’ll benefit from lighter steering, a less responsive throttle and softer suspension for a more relaxed ride.
In fact, there is a big difference, to the point that it feels more like a standard Golf. That means it handles lumps and bumps in the road with relative ease and it’s a very peaceful place to be.
The steering is responsive and has a relatively small turning circle, which helps get around tight bends and mini roundabouts in town. The gear change is relatively smooth, though the automatic box is the ideal partner for the engine in town, because it effortlessly goes up and down the gears without any fuss.
On the motorway
Take the GTI out of its more natural habitats – either in town or on back roads – and it still impresses as much on the motorway or A roads. Commuting isn’t an issue because it has a lot of the characteristics of a ‘normal’ car.
The GTI comes with Travel Assist as standard, which means intelligent cruise control that prevents the car from getting too close to the one in front. In addition, it offers steering inputs should you veer too far from the centre of the lane. This is often an acquired taste, with many drivers not keen on handing so much control over to the car.
Tyre and wind noise is kept to a minimum, which is impressive, considering the class of vehicle it is and the performance on offer. However, one noise that is not so welcome is the manufactured engine sound that is fed into the cabin to keep up the sporty pretence. It’s not really needed and the GTI would benefit from the ability to shut it down.
Cruising along motorways is easy in the GTI, but then so is overtaking, with loads of power available throughout the rev range.
On a twisty road
With plenty of grip and willingness from the engine, the latest GTI is arguably more fun than any of the previous versions. While the Hyundai i30 N is more responsive to throttle inputs, the GTI is very composed and quick.
However, when concentrating on high-end precision and feel of the steering, brake pedal and manual gearbox, it’s not quite a match for the Honda Civic Type-R. But the automatic ‘box in the GTI suits its personality much better. While it is a fun car, it’s not in the bracket of ‘Ultimate driver’s car’, so a manual gearbox isn’t the essential requirement it once may have been.
There are some nice additional storage solutions in the GTI, but it is lacking in terms of interior space when compared with the Skoda Octavia
The interior of the Mk 8 has been given a proper makeover by the Golf team at Volkswagen. Thankfully, useful storage spaces haven’t suffered as a consequence.
There are large door bins that are felt-lined to help sound insulation as well as adding to the quality levels all round. Other elements that have been carried over from the previous GTI include the racheted central armrest – with integrated storage underneath – and cupholders that can hold different sized bottles.
The driving mode button would probably be better placed on the steering wheel, but unfortunately, you have to look way down to find it near the gear lever.
Space in the back seats
There is decent legroom and headroom in the back of the latest Golf GTI as well as added practicality. For example, in addition to the main large seat back pocket, there are two smaller ones above it on the back of the driver and passenger seat that can fit a small book or mobile phone.
Elsewhere, it’s pretty common with the rest of the Golf range. That means more room than the likes of a Toyota Corolla, but not as spacious as a Ford Focus.
One slight annoyance for rear passengers, however, might be the large integrated headrests, which tend to block the view out of the front window or into the front of the car.
More commonality here with the standard Golf, as the boot offers 381 litres of space. What’s more, that’s the same size as the Mk7 Golf.
It’s ample for most situations – although families are arguably likely to go for one of the many SUVs on the market, whether from Volkswagen, one of its sister brands or someone else entirely. Those who want more room from their sporty hot hatch’s boot will need to go for the Skoda Octavia vRS.
The GTI interior does enough to stand out from the rest of the Golf range but, unfortunately, the flaky infotainment controls remain
One of the biggest noticeable changes in the GTI, compared with the standard Golf model, is the addition of sports seats. They feature integrated headrests and plenty of side support to keep driver and passenger in place when putting the hot hatch through its paces. The seats also get the classic Golf GTI tartan treatment across them.
The sporty elements keep on coming, with a sports steering wheel in place of the standard version, which features flashes of ‘sporty’ red and GTI badging. There is also a honeycomb pattern – not to be confused with a carbon fibre effect – on the dashboard and also in the door trims.
Other bits of red can be seen on the starter button and also along recesses of the dashboards and on the seat stitching. Meanwhile, the pedals are aluminium for an extra bit of quality in the cabin, as well as digital dials, with a GTI twist (and also more red), which also come as standard.
In short, it’s sporty enough to stand out as a GTI, but not over the top and doesn’t overly compromise space and comfort for drivers and passengers.
The infotainment screen might effectively be the same as the unit in other Golfs – and that means dual screens that display a vast array of information in good clarity. Controlling it is a bit challenging and a lack of buttons throughout the cabin takes some getting used to. The car features gesture control to swipe between different screens, but we’d probably prefer a more traditional approach that worked more quickly and effectively.
There are some differences in appearances between the regular Golf’s screen and this one. It does, for example, display a GTi model when you scroll through the vehicle-related menus. However, it also features the Golf’s touch-sensitive buttons, rather than physical ones, which prove a bit fiddly and sometimes overly sensitive.
The same can be said for the steering wheel buttons that also can be used to control the infotainment systems. They are, again, touch sensitive and can be swiped or pressed, but they prove not as intuitive as one would like and often don’t work effectively.
On a carwow test drive, the eighth generation Volkswagen Golf GTI recorded an average figure of 41.7mpg, which was actually better than the promised combined figure of 38.7mpg.
However, those sorts of figures are less likely when considering the engine under the bonnet – a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 248hp. That’s less power (by 75hp) than the Honda Civic Type R, which means it’s not as quick. For example, the zero to 62mph sprint can be done in 6.2 seconds in the Golf, whereas it’s 5.8 seconds in the Honda.
The current Golf GTI hasn’t specifically been tested for Euro NCAP, but the wider Golf range received a maximum five-star score when it was evaluated after launch. Its category scores were on a par with comparable models in the class – with adult (front) and children (rear) performance being particularly better than the Honda Civic.
To match the performance offered by the GTI there are a wide range of safety systems fitted as standard to the hot hatch. For example, drivers get autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and a driver fatigue monitor as standard. There’s also traffic sign recognition added into the mix.
The GTI comes with Volkswagen’s three-year warranty, which covers drivers for up to 60,000 miles in total. Volkswagen has a mixed record in some reliability surveys, sometimes finishing in the lower half of the list of manufacturers.
In March 2022, there was a recall relating to engine cover installations on the Golf GTI and Golf R models. Apart from that the wider Golf range was called in for software- and infotainment-related issues in 2021.
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