Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 – 2020) Review

Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Golf GTI continues to sell in droves thanks to its accessible performance, well judged handling and easy to live with nature.

+Golf GTI performs well in every area, making it the consummate all-round hot hatch.

-Some will find the GTI’s ubiquity off-putting and the fastest only came as limited editions.

Insurance Groups are between 29–34
On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a constant of the hot hatch sector. Where others have waxed and waned with their offerings, Volkswagen has consistently offered drivers a hot version of its hatch and they have, generally, repaid this by choosing the GTI in large numbers. That has been the case with the seventh generation GTI, which grew in power from an initial 220PS to an end of the line 245PS, with the 265PS Clubsport thrown in for good measure.

While some manufacturers may have pinched the GTI badge for sporty versions of their hatchbacks, the fact is that there is only one true claimant to the name and that’s the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The seventh generation Golf GTI follows the now familiar formula with a turbocharged 2.0 TSI petrol engine, with power steadily increased during its lifetime, a front-wheel drive layout and, we're pleased to say, those much loved checker cloth seats.

Of course, it's a very different car from the original 1976 Golf GTI, but it's great to see this hot hatch survived the doldrums of the Mk4 from the late 1990s 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. The fightback started with the fifth-generation model that set the template for what we have now 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 brash Honda Civic Type R.

Under the bonnet, the Golf GTI in its seventh outing has had its power output steadily improved from launch in 2013. Back then, it was offered with 220PS as standard or you could upgrade to the Performance model with 230PS. A limited edition Clubsport model arrived in 2016 with up to 265PS on tap, while the standard GTI grew to 245PS.

The final fling for this Golf GTI was the TCR, which stand for Touring Car Racing, and has 290PS. That bridges the gap between the GTI and Golf R, so it tells you where the TCR’s performance lies with 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds but still with front-wheel drive rather than the R’s all-wheel drive set-up.

The interior of the GTI combines the high quality of the rest of Golf range with some nice touches including the checked cloth 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 superb 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.

Ask Honest John

Volkswagen Golf GTI vs Golf R - which is better?
"Which would be most appropriate for everyday use, a second-hand Golf GTI or a used Golf R?"
Both are fine for everyday use. Our money would go on the GTI - it's got a little less power but is arguably more fun than the Golf R. The Golf R is very good at getting you to your destination quickly, but it's not as involving to drive. Your money will go further on a used GTI, too.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What should I ask the dealer when buying a used car?
"I'm looking to buy a Golf GTI 2017-2018 at a Volkswagen dealer soon. I know about the DSG servicing at 40,000 miles, but what other problems do I need to be wary of? What is regarded at being high mileage for the years I'm looking at? Many thanks."
The Golf GTI of this generation has the DQ250 DSG gearbox which, provided you maintain it, ought to be pretty reliable. Otherwise, there aren't many issues to be aware of. This should give you an idea of what to look out for: Generally, more than 12k miles a year is seen as high mileage. That said, provided it's been serviced regularly, we wouldn't be too concerned about the mileage of a two- or three-year-old car.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Does Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) in a Volkswagen make a significant difference to ride comfort?
"We have a Golf GTI performance edition (2017 model) and love it to bits. The firm ride is great for the times when you want to push on. But - we find the ride is too firm/harsh when driving normally and just pottering about. We have already fitted Michelin CrossClimate Tyres which have helped a bit. If we were to change to a new GTI, does the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) make a significant difference to ride comfort? "
If you stick to the smaller 18-inch wheels, the DCC probably isn't necessary. It might be worthwhile if you want larger wheels, but a GTI on 19-inch wheels wouldn't be my choice if ride comfort is important...
Answered by Andrew Brady
What fun car with four seats can I get for around £17,000?
"I am looking to buy a car between £15k and £17k that's fun to drive, sporty, good looking and practical with four seats. Any suggestions?"
A BMW 3 Series might be a good option. It's great to drive and there's a strong range of engines available. Your budget will get you a 320i from 2016, or a slightly older more powerful model. Alternatively, consider a hot hatch like a BMW M135i or Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 – 2020) cost?