Review: Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013)
Comes in two power outputs of 220PS GTI and GTI Performance with 230PS. Has larger brake discs and a front limited-slip differential. A great all round hot hatch.
Other hot hatches like the Focus ST are cheaper.
Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013): At A Glance
- New prices start from £28,465
- Insurance Groups are between 29–34
- On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure
While some manufacturers may have pinched the GTI badge for sporty versions of their hatchbacks, the fact is that there is only one true GTI - the Golf. The seventh generation Golf GTI follows the now familiar formula with a turbocharged 2.0 TSI engine - increased to 220PS - a front-wheel drive layout and, we're pleased to say, those much loved checkered seats.
Of course it's a very different car from the original 1976 Golf GTI but it's great to see that the GTI survived the doldrums of the Mk4 from the late 90s when there were some frankly terrible versions, the worst of which used a 2.0-litre engine with just 115PS. Not what you'd call fast.
Fortunately those days are long gone and the Golf GTI is once again a bona fide performance machine. It looks the part too. The sharp lines of the new Golf lend themselves perfectly to the GTI and it sits lower with those lovely gloss 18-inch alloys now a GTI trademark bit of design.
There are plenty of nods to the past with the red stripe across the grille that now continues across the headlights which are xenon as standard. At the back there's a tailgate spoiler and dual exhausts giving it a purposeful but understated look. It's the antithesis of the bloated and brash Astra VXR.
The interior combines the high quality of the new Golf with some nice touches including the checkered seats, red stitching on the lovely flat-bottomed steering wheel and of course the golf-ball style gear lever. It feels special from behind the wheel with superb fit and finish and a perfect driving position. Those sports seats provide excellent side and under thigh support too.
As an all round hot hatch, the Golf GTI is easily the best on the market. Sure, rival cars may have more power or be quicker accelerating in a straight line, but nothing can match the all round ability and combination of power and finesse that the GTI offers. It's a car that's going to tick a lot of hot hatch buyers boxes.
What does a Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013) cost?
Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013): What's It Like Inside?
The GTI takes the standard Volkswagen Golf interior - something which is already pretty much spot on - and adds some neat styling extras. There are plenty of nods to GTI history too with a tartan finish on the seats and the iconic golf ball gear lever. It helps lift the interior of the GTI above the ordinary as does the red stitching on the steering wheel and leather gear lever surround.
The flat bottomed steering wheel may not be to everyone's taste, but again it adds that extra touch to the interior appearance and the chunky metal inserts in the steering wheel along with alloy pedals reinforce the Volkswagen quality feel that.
As you'd expect there's a solid and well-engineered feel to everything, from the reassuring thud of the doors to the slick action of the gear shift. It's an interior that works with real precision. Volkswagen has stuck with traditional analogue instrument dials rather than any fancy digital displays, but the trip computer between the main dials has all your key information and includes a digital speedo display.
The driving position is spot on thanks to lots of adjustment in the seat - particularly height. It means even taller drivers will be able to feel low down behind the wheel, allowing the interior to feel like it's wrapped around you.
This GTI is bigger than the previous model. Not only is it longer and wider, but it has a stretched wheelbase. As a result there's more room for passengers in the back and a larger boot too - up from 350 litres to 380 litres, making the GTI practical enough for pushchairs.
Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013) like to drive?
- Engines range from 2.0 TSI 220 to 2.0 TSI Clubsport S
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 22–45 mpg
Of course none of this hot hatch style matters if the handling doesn't match. But there are no such worries with the Golf GTI. It's superbly balanced with wonderfully direct steering and flows through corners beautifully.
It's not a car you need to be aggressive with, you can drive it smoothly yet quickly and still enjoy yourself. The worry with many front-wheel drive hot hatches is their ability to transfer all their power to road. Cars like the Focus ST can struggle but the Golf GTI is so well set-up that you rarely feel it scrabbling for traction, even if you floor it out of a junction.
The best part of the GTI is without doubt the ride. It's unbelievably smooth and forgiving for any car, let alone a performance hatch like this. It means you can comfortably live with the GTI day to day and happily take the family out in it. That's not something you can say of all hot hatches. It will also happily cruise along the motorway at 70mph feeling as relaxed as a diesel Golf.
Don't think the GTI has gone soft though. It's still sharp in corners with minimal body roll and even when pushed it responds predictably and safely. It certainly inspires confidence from behind the wheel. Elements like the short gear change and precise clutch help, while throttle response is instant.
There are of course plenty of pretenders to the GTI's hot hatch crown and most have more power. Like the Ford Focus ST and Renaultsport Megane both of which produce 250PS and are cheaper to buy. So not to be left behind Volkswagen has introduced a Performance Pack for the GTI which boosts power to 230PS and also includes uprated brakes and a limited slip front differential.
It's the latter which makes the most difference. It's a new development which basically means traction from low speeds is markedly improved with the wheels able to transfer power cleanly down without the tyres scrabbling for grip. On the roadyou won't notice it that often, but having tested it on a race circuit, we can safely say it works incredibly effectively, especially when accelerating out of a slow corner.
The Performance Pack costs an extra £980 but despite the extra power there's no real difference in 0-62mph performance. The standard GTI will get there in 6.5 seconds while the Performance version does it a smidge quicker in 6.4 seconds.
Is it worth the extra? Well the 'standard' GTI is already so accomplished you could save your money, but if you're buying a GTI you may as well go for the extra pack, especially as it will make your car more desirable if you decide to sell in the future.
Usefully there's no difference in economy either, both versions average a claimed 47.1mpg with emissions of just 139g/km. They're mightily impressive figures for a hot hatch and mean the GTI won't be expensive to run. Even insurance has come down compared to the previous GTI and is now group 29E.
|2.0 TSI 220||47 mpg||6.5 s||139 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 220 DSG||44 mpg||6.5 s||148 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 230||44–47 mpg||6.4 s||139–148 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 230 DSG||44–45 mpg||6.4 s||145–149 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 245||43–44 mpg||6.2 s||148–150 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 245 DSG||45 mpg||6.2 s||144 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 290 TCR||42 mpg||5.6 s||153 g/km|
|2.0 TSI Clubsport||40 mpg||-||162 g/km|
|2.0 TSI Clubsport DSG||40–41 mpg||-||158–160 g/km|
|2.0 TSI Clubsport S||40 mpg||-||172 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013)?
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