2019 Volkswagen GTI

Performance


#1 out of 13 in Compact Cars

MSRP
$27,595
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Volkswagen GTI Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

The 2019 Volkswagen GTI reminds you that even your regular route can be a gratifying journey. Its engine accelerates vigorously, with an increase in horsepower over last year's power plant. This hot hatch is responsive, athletic, and composed.

  • "The GTI's strong engine and well-tuned chassis provide a confident ride with a fun factor that's easily accessible." -- Autotrader
  • "The Golf GTI, meanwhile, remains one of our favorite cars to drive. Few vehicles combine practicality and performance as good as this one. In addition to its extra horsepower over the standard Golf, it boasts phenomenal brakes that are from the Golf R and a taut suspension; the Golf R-derived VAQ limited-slip differential improves cornering performance. Kudos also go to the GTI's manual transmission (an automatic is optional) that will make you remember why you love to find a road and just drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A true hot hatch, the GTI begs to be driven hard and rewards the driver with good grip, slight tail-slide, and predictable inputs. It's a total blast with no undue influence of engine power on the steering and awesome traction from the limited-slip front differential." -- Edmunds (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The 2019 GTI comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is lively off the line. It can be mated to either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both gearboxes are good choices, though the manual is more engaging, while the automatic can occasionally lag when shifting. For 2019, the VW GTI gets a bump in horsepower. It now has a 228-horsepower rating when premium unleaded fuel is used. No official gas mileage rating is available yet from the EPA.

  • "There are hotter hatches out there (the Volkswagen Golf R and the Honda Civic Type-R, for example), but the GTI offers the perfect amount of power for public highways." -- Autotrader
  • "Although the 6-speed DSG transmission will deliver slightly faster acceleration times, the 6-speed manual gearbox makes the GTI driving experience all the more engaging. The golf-ball-topped shifter snicks lubriciously with short throws through positive gates. Clutch action is on the light side and a bit long in travel but not numb and once mastered, easy to modulate." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • Either the slick-shifting manual or the well-executed DSG dual-clutch automatic 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 (2017)

Handling and Braking

The GTI is a front-wheel-drive hatchback that's tuned on the sporty side. It has responsive steering and brakes, and its suspension system maintains a solid sense of composure, though it can occasionally feel stiff on coarse pavement. The Autobahn trim level has an upgraded suspension with adaptive damping and adds Comfort drive mode to the standard Normal, Sport, and Individual modes.

  • "The GTI rides 0.6 of an inch lower than the run-of-the-mill Golf, so spring rates are a little stiffer, but not enough to be a deal-breaker. And anyway, the adaptive damping system in the top trim offers a range of settings. The GTI also has quicker steering than its regular counterpart, so that makes it feel more eager and direct." -- Autotrader
  • "On the road is where the GTI's lively chassis and engaging dynamics immediately make friends with you. Despite the 0.6-inch lowered chassis compared to a standard Golf, ride quality is remarkably pliant. Upsized anti-roll bars tame body roll in hard corners without the side-to-side head toss of some other cars. The S model uses conventional gas shocks, not the adaptive dampers of the Autobahn model, but tamps vertical body motions skillfully without making the car feel jouncy. The variable-rate steering is quick but never tiring on long stretches or nervous on-center, and it offers precise control with natural effort buildup in turns." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "The chassis is perfectly on the edge of too stiff. All body motions are tight and controlled, and I only winced a few times when crossing over harsh pavement. Normal bumps are muted in the cabin, which is surprisingly quiet all the way around. There's a teeny bit of wind noise, but that can only be heard with the radio turned off." -- Autoweek (2018)
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