The redesigned Golf GTI ratchets up the performance over the outgoing version with more power and sharper handling, while preserving the civility that has long made Volkswagen’s sporty hatchback a polished daily driver. Unfortunately, the new infotainment system is a usability nightmare, making it complicated for the driver to perform even common audio and climate tasks.
The GTI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine now produces 241 horsepower, a 13-hp increase over the previous model. It pulls strongly no matter what gear you’re in, accompanied by a baritone engine note. The standard six-speed manual transmission is nearly perfect, with such a light and precise feel that sometimes you find yourself shifting gears just for the heck of it. The optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission barely dilutes the driving thrills. The GTI is plenty quick, needing only 6.4 seconds to scoot from 0 to 60 mph with our tested manual model. Fuel economy is decent, too, managing 28 mpg overall on regular fuel.