2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-term Test and Review

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TrackWorthy - 2017 VW Golf GTI (15)

TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_01
“…a pleasure to live with, really fun to drive and exudes quality, inside and out.”Michael Taylor, Co-president, TrackWorthy Group Ltd.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most universally praised enthusiast cars on the market today, or yesterday. Now in its seventh generation, the Golf GTI has nurtured a very loyal and enthusiastic following with close to 2 million GTIs sold since its launch 41 years ago in 1976
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_01
The GTI’s fit and finish is amongst the best in its segment, competing with cars including Ford’s Focus ST and Subaru’s WRX. We have had three long-term Subaru WRX STIs (second, fourth and fifth generation STIs); none compare with the quality and fit and finish of the interior of the 2017 Golf GTI. No question, those who prioritize refinement should invest in a GTI; those who enjoy a more raw, visceral, extreme driving experience will likely prefer the STI.
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_04
Our long-term test car is well equipped with the 6-speed automatic DSG Tiptronic transmission (a $1,400 option); Leather Package ($1,120 option); and Driver Assist Package ($1,460 option). The sport seats in black Vienna leather with red accents are as comfortable and form-fitting as any seats we’ve had on a long-term test car. They fit us like a glove, provide plenty of support and look great.
The performance and handling live up to the GTI’s stellar reputation. The car has a turbocharged intercooled 2.0 litre TSI inline four cylinder 16V engine, which generates 210 hp at 4,300-6,200 RPM and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,600-4,200 RPM. For everyday driving, this provides ample get up and go, most of the time. And when the car’s right pedal is pressed firmly into the carpet, the GTI really performs. An additional $3,850 over the Autobahn edition’s base price of $34,845 will buy you the Performance 5-door, with an extra 10 hp and a variety of standard features that are options on the base and Autobahn versions.
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_03

If we were to list everything we like about the GTI, we would run out of digital ink. So, instead, here are our three nit-picks:

1. The 6-speed automatic DSG transmission does not read your mind, as we wish it would

It never seems to be in the right gear when left to its own devices. “Drive,” the default driving mode, which is designed to generate the best fuel economy possible. That means the transmission shifts into the highest gear available as quickly as possible. his results in a very non-sporting driving experience and -it sounds like a diesel. Pull back on the shifter and the GTI transitions into “Sport” mode, as indicated by an “S” on the dash. The car then strives to keep the revs above 2,000 RPM and below 3,000 RPM. The gearbox seems to embark on a constant search for the right gear, shifting endlessly between 2nd and 3rd or 3rd and 4th, etc. Our preference is to pop the shifter to the right and shiftmanually. We favour the shifter over the paddles because interacting with the (very) cheap plastic shifters cheapen the self-shifting experience. Would we have preferred a manual transmission? YES!
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_03

2. The “Start/Stop” button works a little too well…

Specifically, the “Start/Stop” button works while you are driving the car. We discovered this the hard way. The “Start/Stop” button is precariously close to the Driving Mode button. On one occasion, we attempted to change driving modes while driving, pushed what we thought was the Driving Mode button, but it was the start/stop button. If you push it twice, which is what you typically do with the Driving Mode button, you shut off the car. Yes, after the first push you receive a warning that you are about to shut the car down, but if you are focused on driving, not looking down, and in the habit of pushing the Driving Mode button twice in quick succession, you will turn off the engine. And to compound the problem, with a DSG transmission you have to stop the car and put it in park in order to restart it. It only took us one awkward and potentially dangerous experience to learn never to make that mistake again.
  • TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_07
  • TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_05
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_03

3. That sounds like we just broke the car!

When the GTI’s front wheels lose traction under heavy acceleration, driving over a bump, sliding on a slippery surface, the drivetrain makes a loud cracking noise that sounds like you have broken the car. We can’t recall this happening with any other front wheel drive cars that we have driven, but this may not be unique to the Golf. We also don’t know if this happens with manual transmission GTIs, but when it happened in our car, it was quite startling. We will definitely investigate on future test cars.
TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_03

Conclusion

We love our 2017 Golf GTI. It is a pleasure to live with, really fun to drive and exudes quality, inside and out. Is the all-wheel drive Golf R even better? Probably, especially in the winter. Is the Golf R worth $5,000 more than a comparably equipped GTI? Probably. But then you start getting into pricey territory at $46,374 (with the $1,945 Technology Package,which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Park Distance Control), plus tax. Our test car priced out at $41,159, plus tax.

If you are looking for an incredibly practical 5-door hatchback (with more than 52 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats down) that is really fun to drive, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI should be on your short list, and it would be a great car to fill anyone’s parking spot.

  • TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_11
  • TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_08
  • TrackWorthy - Volkswagen Golf GTI_12

Long-term Test Car Standard Features and Options

Our long-term tester was very well equipped with a long list of standard and optional equipment, including:
  • 18″ Austin alloy rims with all-season tires
  • 6.5″ touchscreen with proximity sensor and CD player
  • Alarm system
  • App-Connect smartphone integration (Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and Mirrorlink)
  • Automatic Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-light System (AFS) including red accent strip
  • Available Adaptive Cruise Control – the speed and distance from the car ahead is automatically regulated. You can also specify the distance.
  • Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs – advanced headlights turn up to 13 degrees when you corner. They are also brighter, longer lasting and more energy efficient than conventional bulbs.
  • Blind Spot Detection with Rear Traffic Alert
  • Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity
  • Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control
  • Colour multifunction trip computer and indicator
  • Cooled glove box
  • Cross Differential System (XDS) – if a wheel spins while corning XDS will apply the brakes to the spinning wheel
  • Discover Media with satellite navigation
  • Driver profile selection
  • Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC)
  • Dynamic steering
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Fender Premium Audio System with 400 watts and 8 speakers plus subwoofer
  • Front fog lights
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated front washer nozzles
  • KESSY Locking and Starting System
  • Leather multi-function sport steering wheel
  • Leather package $1,120.00, which includes power adjustable front seats with power driver and manual passenger lumbar support, leather seating surface
  • Panoramic power sunroof
  • Power adjustable and heated exterior mirrors
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Rear-view camera
  • Reflex Silver MetallicSiriusXM satellite radio
  • Storage security drawer under driver’s seat
  • Voice control

Base Prices:

  •  

    3-door 6-speed manual

    3-door Autobahn Edition 6-speed manual

    5-door Autobahn Edition 6-speed manual

    5-door Performance Edition 6-speed manual

  •  

    $29,495

    $33, 945

    $34,845

    $38,695


Test Car Price

  •  

    5-door Autobahn

    DSG

    Leather Package

    Driver Assist Package                    

    Subtotal                                         

  •  

    $34,845

    $1,400

    $1,120

    $1,460                                             

    $38,825

  •  

    A/C tax, Tire tax, OMVIC, PPSA, amdin fee

    Freight & PDI                                   

    Total                                               

    Plus HST

  •  

    $689

    $1,645                                         

    $41,159


Fuel Economy (based on the 6-speed manual transmission):

9.7 l/100 kms city

7.0 l/100 kms highway


Golf GTI Facts

GTI stands for Gran Turismo Injection

Seven Generations of the Golf GTI

Golf GTI MK I       1976–1983          110-112 hp          462,000 built

Golf GTI Mk II      1984–1991          107-160 hp          628,000 built

Golf GTI Mk III     1991–1997          110-150 hp          327,000 built

Golf GTI Mk IV     1998–2003          110-180 hp          164,859 built

Golf GTI Mk V      2004–2008          200-230 hp          181,800 built

Golf GTI Mk VI     2009–2012          211-235 hp          199,903 built

Golf GTI Mk VII   2014-present      210-290 hp          currently in production

Golf GTI Anniversary Editions

20th Anniversary model had BBS rims and was offered in 1996

25th Anniversary model was limited to 3,000 units and released in 2001

30th Anniversary model had 230 hp and was offered in 2006

35th Anniversary model had a top speed of 247 km/h and was offered in 2011

40th Anniversary Clubsport model had 290 hp and was offered in 2016

Acceleration Through the Ages

  •  

    Golf GTI Mk I

    Golf GTI Mk II Clubsport

  •  

    0-100 km/h

    0-100 km/h

  •  

    9.2 seconds

    6.3 seconds

  •  

    Colours of original 1976 Mk I Golf GTI:

    Number of GTIs build up to end of Mk VI:

    Original number of Mk I Golf GTIs planned for production:

    Number of Mk I Golf GTIs actually built:

  •  

    Diamond Silver Metallic and Mars Red

    1,963,562

    5,000

    462,000

PHOTOGRAPHS and VIDEOS © Copyright 2017 TrackWorthy Group Ltd.

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  • BernardP

    … But the wheels are simply wrong for this car, especially at 42k$. Come to think of it, they would be wrong on any car.