Taut, agile and quick, the latest version of Volkswagen's venerable hot hatch is fun to drive and so much more. The GTI is one of the most practical, easy-to-live-with choices among sporty cars. It's quiet and civilized enough that it doesn't wear you out on a long drive. The interior is very well finished, with luxurious materials, comfortable and supportive seats, and a comprehensive yet easy-to-use infotainment system. Now in its seventh generation, the GTI has matured into a capable, refined, and sophisticated piece of machinery with the latest electronic features.
Power comes from 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine shared with other members of the Audi and VW family, matched with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission. The engine provides plenty of grunt with either transmission, although the DSG lacks the finesse of a conventional automatic around town. We recorded 29 mpg overall with our manual transmission car, which is commendable for a car with this kind of performance.
Handling is agile and precise, but this generation feels less edgy than the previous GTI. The ride is firm, but it doesn't pummel you like competitors such as the Subaru WRX.
The base GTI starts in the high $20,000s. The GTI rivals the related and more expensive Audi A3 in terms of performance and overall feel. Looked at in that light, it emerges as something of a bargain.