$15,861 - $23,513

2016 Volkswagen GTI Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Volkswagen GTI was new.


Performance: 8.8

The 2016 Volkswagen GTI produces hearty acceleration, according to critics, who say it isn’t shy if drivers want to go fast. They add that both the manual and automatic transmissions add to the GTI’s fun factor. Critics single out the automatic transmission for its silky shifts. Test drivers appreciate the adjustable suspension, which they say helps provide a smooth ride, and they add that the GTI’s handling is athletic and engaging.

  • "The 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI lives up to its hot hatch heritage with sharp handling and steering, brisk acceleration and a rather burly engine and exhaust note." -- Edmunds
  • "Mk7 GTI has markedly sharper performance than its predecessor; it's a significantly hotter hatch. Not that the GTI needed more performance, but it's got more of an edge now. Fundamentally, we're talking about the distinction between quick and fast. And if that's an important one for you, you're going to love what VW's done to the place." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "The GTI has always been a hoot to drive, but with new design and engineering tweaks for the seventh generation, the car has reached a whole new level of playfulness." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "It's a confidence inspiring car, with predictable steering and enough power to never leave you doubting. Sharp lane changes don't disrupt it, and it'll easily keep up if you're trying to chase a Google Street View car down a cul-de-sac - if that's key selling point." -- Jalopnik (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 GTI features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 210 horsepower. An optional performance package brings the horsepower total to 220. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. The GTI gets an EPA-estimated 25/34 mpg city/highway, which is below average for the class.

The GTI delivers strong acceleration and good overall power, according to automotive writers. They say the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and holds gears well while accelerating, and critics add that both transmission choices pair well with the engine.

  • "Acceleration from the base engine is surprisingly strong. … Those seeking better performance can opt for the 210-horsepower GTI, which comes complete with sport seats, sport suspension and an available DSG automatic gearbox." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Either the slick-shifting manual or the well-executed DSG automated manual transmission is a good choice. Especially compared to traditional automatics, the DSG is quick and smooth, and its downshifts are perfectly rev-matched. However, we've found that DSG can be frustratingly slow to respond to gas pedal inputs when you want to accelerate quickly from a stop or when you're trundling along in heavy traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "The new GTI feels quicker, absolutely, and while it might be a bit less revvy, it has substantially more torque throughout the rpm range. The thrust presents itself as a nice kick in the stomach off the line with either the manual or the DSG automatic." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "Midrange acceleration is particularly responsive, and the GTI's powerplant is well matched to the 6-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox, which shifts with an ideal blend of speed and smoothness." -- Popular Mechanics (2015)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel drive GTI features an adjustable suspension with multiple driving modes that can be tuned to match road conditions. Test drivers report that the GTI is nimble and fun to drive, handling winding roads with no problems. They add that the performance package, which adds 10 horsepower and includes a limited-slip differential, makes curvy roads an exciting challenge rather than an obstacle.

  • "These are all best exploited on a tight and twisting mountain road, where the GTI playfully bounds from curve to curve, while instilling plenty of driver confidence. Though all 2016 GTIs are great fun to drive, the Performance package version is worth considering if you're planning to take on challenging roads or the occasional track day. The limited-slip differential in this package helps pull the car's nose around the apex of a turn, resulting in quicker progress for more advanced drivers." -- Edmunds
  • "Comfort mode subtly softens up the already livable ride of the standard suspension, which does a commendable job of both limiting body roll while providing occupants with a reasonable degree of protection from poorly maintained roads." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Super-quick new steering (just 2.1 turns lock-to-lock) remains one of the GTI's best traits: It's among the best electric power steering systems on the market. You feel absolutely no torque steer, yet the system lets you feel some of what the front end is doing." -- Road and Track (2015)
  • "The new 2015 GTI feels planted on the road at all times. Bumps don't upset the car, even mid-corner. The body rolls a bit more than you might expect, but it's well-controlled. The real-world result is high confidence in the car's handling, which makes it feel as though you're never going as fast on a twisty road as you really are. Your driver's license should beware, because this car encourages you to drive faster." -- Motor Trend (2015)

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