Recently redesigned from the ground up, the current Golf and GTI are leaders on the entry-level small car scene.

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf and its sporty GTI sibling provide compact hatchback buyers with European styling, surprising practicality, and in the case of the GTI a driving experience that is a cut above many of its competitors. Recently redesigned from the ground up, the current Golf and GTI are leaders on the entry-level small car scene.

Although the turbodiesel TDI edition of the Golf is no longer available in Canada, the Golf still makes a lot of sense for shoppers who need a do-everything car at an affordable price. When it comes to a high-performance hatchback, the GTI has few peers: one has to look to the more-rambunctious, less-refined Ford Focus ST to beat its combination of power and handling in a front-wheel drive car. Despite reliability being a legitimate concern with the 2016 Volkswagen Golf and GTI, they are both still highly recommended for bargain-hunters and performance gearheads alike.

Pros

  • The Volkswagen Golf is much larger inside that its compact proportions suggest. Fold down the rear seat and you're looking at 1,482 litres (52.7 cubic feet) of total cargo space, which is enough to challenge several compact SUVs when it comes time to haul an oversized load. The Golf can transport up to five passengers, although a pair of riders will be more comfortable in the backseat than a full trio.
  • The GTI's 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivers 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, with the option of adding another 10 hp via the Performance package. There's very little turbo lag to be had with this particular four-cylinder mill, and you can choose between a traditional 6-speed manual or a quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox (called 'DSG') when ordering the GTI.
  • The Volkswagen GTI additionally features a revised suspension setup as compared to the base Golf, giving it better road-holding, sharper reflexes, and more communicative steering. This sporty character doesn't cripple the car's comfort level, as the GTI is just as plush to cruise in as any other version of the hatchback.
  • For 2016, the Volkswagen Golf gains an improved infotainment system that can support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a USB port available in answer to a long-standing gripe from buyers tired of having to jury-rig charge plugs and data connections between the Golf and various mobile devices.

Cons

  • The 170 hp, 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder base motor in the Volkswagen Golf is good, but it's saddled with a 5-speed manual transmission when almost every single other car on the market offers six forward speeds when ordered with a clutch pedal. You might also be disappointed to learn that you can't get the DSG transmission outside of the GTI - the regular Golf makes do with a 6-speed, torque converter-equipped automatic.
  • Of course, not everything is perfect in DSG land. Off the line or when rolling at low, the dual-clutch gearbox has a tendency to bog down, introducing a delay of a second or two before you can resume forward momentum. It's an irritating characteristic that's common to many dual-clutch designs.
  • The 5-door Golf is more expensive than several other compact hatchbacks when comparably equipped, with a starting MSRP of $20,995 putting it at least a few thousand ahead of competitors like the the Mazda Mazda3 Sport. There's an $18,995 3-door model that serves as the value edition of the Golf, but you'd be hard-pressed to find too many other 3-door compact hatch models left on the current market.

2016 Volkswagen Golf / GTI

 

ENGINE

1.8-litre turbo 4-cylinder / 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder

OUTPUT

170 hp / 199 lb-ft (automatic) & 210 hp / 258 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION

5-speed manual / 6-speed automatic & 6-speed manual / 6-speed DSG

0-100 KMH

5.7 Seconds (GTI)

TOP SPEED

N/A

FUEL ECONOMY

9.3 L/100 km City / 6.4 L/100 km Highway &

9.4 L/100 km City / 6.9 L/100 km Highway

WEIGHT

1,318 kilograms (2,899 lbs)

SEATING CAPACITY

5

CARGO VOLUME

1,482 litres (52.7 cubic feet)

BASE PRICE

$18,995

AS-TESTED PRICE

$28,595

 

Be part of something big