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$28,595 - 32,995 MSRP

2020 Volkswagen GTI Review

The 2020 Volkswagen GTI claims one of the top spots in our compact car rankings. This is one of the most well-rounded cars in the class, with playful handling, comfortable seats, and plenty of space for people and cargo.

Pros & Cons

  • Immensely enjoyable to drive
  • Spacious, upscale interior
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Lots of cargo room
  • One of the most expensive compact cars
  • Below-average fuel economy ratings
  • Ride can feel harsh over rough pavement

New for 2020

  • Rabbit Edition and Autobahn trims dropped
  • Newly standard active safety features
  • Shorter warranty than in previous years

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Volkswagen GTI ranked #1 in Compact Cars. Currently the Volkswagen GTI has a score of 8.6 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.7
Performance: 8.6
Interior: 8.5
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.4 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Volkswagen GTI a Good Car?

Yes, the Volkswagen GTI is a good compact car. Its turbocharged engine provides plenty of juice for city and highway driving, and its nimble handling lets you enjoy yourself on less crowded streets. The GTI's interior looks and feels upscale, the seats are supportive, and cargo capacity is terrific for the class. An easy-to-use infotainment system comes standard, as do plenty of driver assistance features.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen GTI?

The GTI should be a top candidate for any compact car or hatchback shopper because it delivers on every front. It is more expensive than most of its classmates, but it still delivers plenty of value even at its higher price point. Still, if you like the GTI, you may also want to check out the Subaru WRX or Mazda3.

Compare the GTI, WRX, and Mazda3 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen GTI?

Volkswagen launched the seventh-generation GTI for 2015, and it has received numerous updates since its debut. VW upgraded the car’s technology for 2016 by adding a standard rearview camera, an improved infotainment system, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (previously unavailable).

For 2017, VW discontinued the two-door model and debuted the Sport trim. The GTI received a refresh for 2018. In addition to styling changes, it gained a more powerful engine. For 2019, the GTI got a boost in engine power for the second year in a row, as well as more optional safety features in the base model. The 2019 also swapped the optional six-speed automatic transmission for an available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The 2020 GTI sees a few changes, but they may not be important enough to justify paying a higher price for a new vehicle. For 2020, the GTI lineup has been dropped from four to two trims, with the Rabbit Edition trim disappearing entirely and the Autobahn trim being replaced by an optional package you can add to the SE trim.

The warranty is also worse for the 2020. It's now a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, down from the six-year/72,000-mile warranty that came with previous models.

Several new active safety features come standard for 2020, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring. A Wi-Fi hot spot is newly standard as well.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 GTI, 2018 GTI and 2019 GTI reviews to help inform your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 GTI »

We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current GTI generation, which runs from 2015 to 2020.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Volkswagen GTI Cost?

There are only two GTI trims. The base S trim starts at $28,595, and the GTI SE starts at $32,195. Comparing base trims, the GTI is one of the most expensive cars in the class. However, its price is similar to other performance-oriented hatchbacks, such as the Honda Civic Type R.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen GTI Versus the Competition

Volkswagen produces the Golf in a wide variety of body styles and personalities, including the standard Golf, GTI, and Golf SportWagen. When it comes to core categories such as safety and predicted reliability, these vehicles have nearly identical ratings. That frees you to choose the VW that best fits your lifestyle and budget.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen GTI or Volkswagen Golf?

The GTI is better overall than the standard VW Golf, but that's partly because it's basically a high-performance version of the Golf. The GTI is more powerful and more athletic, but these two are basically the same on the inside. Both models have quality interiors with similar features lists, and both have roughly equivalent amounts of passenger and cargo space.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen GTI or Subaru WRX?

The Subaru WRX can't match the overall quality of the GTI, but the WRX is one of the few compact cars that delivers the same kind of engaging driving experience. Both vehicles have lively engines and adept handling, but the Subaru is a bit more powerful. It is also worse on gas, partly because of its standard all-wheel-drive system and premium gasoline requirement. The WRX and GTI each have comfortable seats and intuitive tech features, but the VW provides much more cargo space, has a noticeably nicer interior, and receives a higher predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen GTI or Mazda3?

The Mazda3 is a truly worthy challenger to the GTI, and you'll basically have to let your personal preferences decide this matchup. Both cars are among the most athletic cars in the class, and both feature upscale interiors with user-friendly technology. The GTI has a bit more room for people and cargo, but the Mazda gets better fuel economy ratings. While the GTI only comes as a hatchback, the Mazda3 is available in sedan and hatchback body types.

Compare the GTI, WRX, and Mazda3 »

GTI Interior

How Many People Does the GTI Seat?

This VW seats five people. Both rows of seats provide ample head- and legroom for most adults to ride comfortably. The seats remain supportive even on long drives, and the front seats are adjustable enough that it's easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Cloth upholstery and heated front seats are standard, while leather upholstery and a power-adjustable driver's seat are available.

GTI and Child Car Seats

Installing child safety seats in a GTI is fairly easy. This VW's LATCH hardware is easy to find and use. The back seat has two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors.

GTI Interior Quality

The GTI features one of the nicest cabins in the class. It looks good, and there are so many premium materials that at first glance, you could mistake the GTI for a luxury vehicle.

GTI Cargo Space

Few other compact cars and hatchbacks can match the GTI's cargo capacity. This Volkswagen gives you 22.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is enough room for several sets of golf clubs or the family's vacation luggage. Fold the rear seats down, and you get 52.7 cubic feet of room.

GTI Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include a 6.5-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, a USB-C port, and Bluetooth. VW's Car-Net App-Connect also comes standard. It incorporates connectivity features like a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Available features include a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, an 8-inch touch screen, a traditional USB port, an eight-speaker Fender audio system, satellite radio, and navigation.

The infotainment system is easy to work with. Even in the base trim, the screen has crisp graphics and the controls are within easy reach of the driver. The intuitive menu layouts make it easy to find and adjust settings as well.

Read more about interior »

GTI Performance

GTI Engine: Perfectly Punchy

All GTI models feature a 228-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and it's a great fit for this sporty Volkswagen. This turbo-four helps the GTI deliver lively acceleration whether you're taking off from a stoplight or trying to get around another vehicle on the highway.

A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available. Both transmissions pair well with the turbo-four engine.

GTI Gas Mileage: The Price of Performance

Almost every other compact car is more fuel efficient than the GTI. It gets 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. For comparison, the Honda Civic gets 25/36 mpg city/highway, while the Mazda3 gets 27/36 mpg.

GTI Ride and Handling: Enjoy It

The VW GTI is one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class. It boasts nimble handling, accurate steering, and sturdy brakes – everything you need to be able to carve up winding roads. The ride quality suffers a bit over rough pavement, but it's fine most of the time. This hatchback comes with front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is not available).

Read more about performance »

GTI Reliability

Is the Volkswagen GTI Reliable?
J.D. Power gives the 2020 Volkswagen GTI a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.
Volkswagen GTI Warranty

Volkswagen covers the GTI with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GTI Safety

GTI Crash Test Results

The 2020 GTI earns an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

GTI Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Available features include front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist.

Read more about safety »

GTI Dimensions and Weight

The GTI is 14 feet long. It has a 3,031-pound curb weight with the manual transmission. Models with the automatic transmission weigh an additional 66 pounds.

Where Is the Volkswagen GTI Built?

Volkswagen builds the 2020 GTI in Germany.

Which Volkswagen GTI Model Is Right for Me?

The GTI comes in two trims: S and SE. Both come standard with a 228-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel drive. You can add a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for $800.

The base S trim comes well-equipped, and many buyers will no doubt be satisfied with it. Still, the SE is worth the extra money because it offers several comfort, infotainment, and driver assistance features you can't get in the base trim (especially if you add the Autobahn package).

GTI S

The GTI S carries a base price of $28,595. Standard features include cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, a USB-C port, and Bluetooth. VW's Car-Net App-Connect also comes standard. This incorporates connectivity features like a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

GTI SE

The GTI SE starts at $32,195. In addition to the base trim's features, the SE comes with leather seats, a sunroof, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, an 8-inch touch screen, a traditional USB port, satellite radio, and HD Radio.

The available Autobahn package ($4,300) adds a fully power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker Fender audio system, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2020 Volkswagen GTI specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Volkswagen GTI doesn't have many blemishes on its record. It's as good, if not better than, most of its classmates when it comes to interior quality, driving enjoyment, cargo capacity, and feature availability. It's a bit pricier than most compact cars, but it's worth the money if you value sporty performance.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "It's a comprehensive package that also features agility, comfort, practicality, class and affordability. It's pretty much the ideal car." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI, especially in base S model trim, is for a driving enthusiast one of the best new-car propositions on the market today. It's an outstanding performance car value, delivering a truly engaging, organic driving experience. And, at its core, the GTI is still a Golf compact hatchback offering surprising people and cargo space and everyday usability. If you love to drive, and you love a good bargain, the 2018 GTI is too good to pass up." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "One drive in a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and you'll understand why this model has become something of an icon since its American debut in 1983. Like the standard Golf on which it is based, the Golf GTI offers plenty of practicality and interior materials that feel as if they were pulled from a more expensive German car." -- Edmunds (2018)
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2020 Volkswagen GTI

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