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The GTI treatment transforms the practical Golf hatchback into an exhilarating, yet sensible sports car. Agile handling, gutsy acceleration and a satisfying sound come with comfort and refinement. The GTI retains most of the civilized demeanor of other Golfs, making it suitable for everyday driving, while still bringing a smile to the face of a driving enthusiast.
Alerts
There are 2 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
NA
2006
NA
2007
NA
2008
NA
2009
NA
2010
2011
NA
2012
2013
NA
2014
NA
2015
2016
2017
2018
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
NA
2006
NA
2007
2008
NA
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
NA
2015
2016
2017
2018
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
NA
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Head protection air bags standard from 2002. ESC available from 2002, standard from 2006.
Road Test

The GTI treatment transforms the practical Golf hatchback into an exhilarating, yet sensible sports car. Agile handling, gutsy acceleration and a satisfying sound come with comfort and refinement. The GTI retains most of the civilized demeanor of other Golfs, making it suitable for everyday driving, while still bringing a smile to the face of a driving enthusiast. Good fuel economy is another bonus, though it's tempered by the need for premium fuel.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
2-door hatchback
4-door hatchback
Transmissions Available
  • 6-speed Sequential
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2-liter 4 turbo (200 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Volkswagen GTI owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

“Gasket on hose from radiator to engine leaked; found entire "housing" including water pump had been redesigned at least (6) times. Local garage had much trouble finding correct replacement part(s)”

Anonymous, OH (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Dealer replaced water pump under warranty due to leaks”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Leaked coolant from the water pump”

Erik K., MN (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Overheating

“Cracked thermostat caused anti-freeze leak and some minor overheating problems. Local dealer ignored the problem!”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Radiator

“A crack caused coolant to leak were the lower radiator hose connected to the radiator. It was located in the plastic part of the radiator end cap”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Seam busted. Radiator replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Thermostat

“The thermostat cracked-cause unknown-at 23000 miles”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Water pump

“I had to replace the water pump a second time due to failure. This was covered by the warranty of the first replacement water pump that was replaced several years ago (also under warranty)”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Leaked. Replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Coolant leak, car overheating. Took to dealership, found water pump issue and replaced. Covered under warranty”

Anonymous, VA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“The water pump developed a leak and was replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, NV (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Water pump failed twice and repaired under warranty. A recognized common problem per GTI owners and a recurrent problem that VW refuses to acknowledge and issue a TSB or recall on”

Anonymous, CT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Classic VW GTI, return from a trip, coolant leaked out, water pump had failed and needed to be replaced under factory warranty”

Paul O., MN (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Water pump failed at around 25000 miles. Low coolant light went on. Brought to dealer. Very little to know coolant left. Told it was a "known" problem. Fixed same day”

Anonymous, IL (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Bolt too long that causes stress and a leak. This is the third on the car. Dealer told me this likely will be recalled but it hasn't happened yet. Told me to make sure I keep my receipts. Almost $1000”

Mark L., OH (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“I had to replace the water pump twice. Both were covered under warranty, but twice on a car that's only three years old AND has low mileage seems ridiculous”

Erik K., MN (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Premature water pump failure”

Anonymous, ON (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

“The GTI's low profile tires and rims are easily damaged by typical urban potholes, etc. That ends up affecting the alignment, requiring servicing”

Anonymous, NY (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Bushings

“When it was cold outside the front suspension made a crunching noise when going over certain types of bumps”

Attila C., ON (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Shocks or struts

“Right front strut seal failed. Had to replace both front struts”

Anonymous, PA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“One of the shocks went on this relatively new car and I had to really fight with the dealer to get it replaced under warranty. Shock should not go with such little mileage”

Anonymous, ON (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Shocks need to be replaced at only 78,000 miles. Replacing with aftermarket shocks because they have a lifetime warranty, unlike OEM, and they ride better”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

“Something went wrong with the electronics of the car and the oil was not getting to the engine. The car started shuddering. Just made it to a dealership. They had to replace several parts”

Anonymous, BC (2012 Volkswagen GTI Unsure 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Engine knock or ping

“Direct injection is causing the intake valves to coke up and there is no way to clean them other than to disassemble the intake for $800”

Anonymous, CT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Oil leaks

“The GTI burns more oil than I think it should at 50k miles”

Anonymous, CT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“This engine just won't hold oil for anything. So many leaks since new”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Coil

“I've had 5 VW/Audis in my life that had a coil go. I replaced all 4 not just the one that failed because of this. Tiguan is OK so far but doesn't have a lot of miles yet”

Mark L., OH (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Have had to replace ignition coils twice since car was purchased new (25,000 and 52,000 miles)”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Two ignition coils failed at different times. Replaced only the one that failed the first time, but replaced the rest when the second failed. It was an easy repair I could do myself (unplug the connector and remove old coil, drop new coil in and connect it) but the dealer wanted to charge way too much”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“failure”

Anonymous, IN (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel pump

“High Pressure Fuel Pump Failed”

Anonymous, CT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Went out and had to be replaced by warranty”

Anonymous, AE (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Emission control devices (includes EGR)

“The dealer had to readjust the engine computer to conform to emission standards. After this the engine didn't run as well as before”

Anonymous, MB (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Fuel injection system

“Fouling or clogging in the ports on the direct injection system”

Don S., TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

“Warped housing on water pump”

Daniel S., CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Water pump failure replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“The drains for the GTI's sunroof became clogged which allowed water to leak into the vehicle”

Scott H., TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Seals and/or weather-stripping

“The MKVI GTI is known for the noise from the drivers side door not sealing tightly. It causes unwanted wind and road noise”

Josh W., TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

“The engine blew two holes right through it, even VW corporate were surprised. VW bent over backwards, no questions asked, with a replacement in a timely fashion”

Anonymous, UT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Car maintained by dealership. All maintenance done on time to include the timing chain and tensioner replaced Sept 2016 $2500 and the removal of carbon build up in the engine in Oct 2016 $850. Engine failed Jan 2017 broken valve spring driving 65 in 6th gear. I located an engine myself and the dealership put it in. Engine was $1700 from a 2016 Tiguan 31K miles. Labor and misc parts to install the engine by VW dealership $3300 which I though was reasonable. The car runs perfect they did it”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Timing belt or chain

“Timing chain out of sync”

Anonymous, NH (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

“auto levelling headlights stopped levelling and stayed pointing almost directly at the ground”

Attila C., ON (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Tire pressure monitor

“The low pressure light is almost always on -- sometimes when there is low pressure and often when there isn't. The dealer "fixes" the problem but it returns. A common problem reported in on-line GTI forums”

Anonymous, NY (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Body control module

“it was the motor in the rear hatch to lock and unlock the hatch.had the motor replaced”

Anonymous, NV (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Refrigerant leaks

“Coolant leak due to known recurrent issue with water pump failures that VW has refused to acknowledge and issue a TSB or recall on”

Anonymous, CT (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Engine coolant leaked due to broken pump. Covered by car's basic 3yr/36k miles warranty”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Premature brake wear

“Consistent, uneven brake wear with the back rotors. Complete rotor & pad replacement with full slide service around August 2014, and new rotors are now wearing in same manner”

Jason G., NY (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Calipers

“The calipers and rotors that came with the car are shit. The rotors wore evenly for 2 years then the calipers didn't press on the rotors very hard causing loads of mini dimples on the rotor”

Mark P., MA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

“The hatch latch stopped working, so I had to find the pieces for it and fix it myself because I was unable to drive it anywhere to have it fixed. Disappointed the latch stopped working because it was all in a very close time frame from when other things caused problems as well”

Katie O., WI (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Driver door automatic lock will works intermittently. Rear driver door will sometimes not lock when key fob is activated”

Don S., TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

“Camshaft actuator needed replacement as the issue was noticed by a mechanic and affected performance”

Paul O., MN (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Electrical failure

“All kinds of complete electrical failures. Throughout the car”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen GTI Base 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

“Fuel tank fill lid does not lock all the time and actual broke right off with wind”

Anonymous, ON (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“Paint bubbled and pealed on rear of car. VW repaired without charge”

Anonymous, PA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Catalytic converter

“Catalytic converter failed, had to be replaced. FOund out then that this is a common problem with VW”

Anonymous, VA (2012 Volkswagen GTI Unsure 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

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