Volkswagen Golf GTI (2009-2013) review

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a talented all-rounder, and one of the best hot hatches money can buy

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Polished handling, subtle styling, punchy turbo engine
  • Sensible image, disappointing reliability, expensive

The world’s most famous hot hatch, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has a heritage that stretches back more than 30 years. It all but invented the class and has remained a firm favourite ever since. Available in three and five-door body styles, the current car blends punchy performance, sharp handling and sporty styling with a practical and upmarket cabin, plus impressive refinement and unrivalled day-to-day usability. Edition 35 models have more power, unique styling parts and extra equipment, while across the range there’s a choice of six-speed manual or DSG dual clutch transmission.

Engines, performance and drive

Great to drive in every situation the Golf GTI is honed to perfection. Body control is excellent, steering positive and grip levels high. While it isn’t as hard edged as rival Renaultsport Megane, it displays key hot hatch traits like a positive turn-in, mid corner agility and communicative controls and is hugely engaging on twisty roads. What sets the GTI apart is its refinement and comfort - especially if the optional ACC Adaptive Chassis Control is fitted, making the ride surprisingly comfortable. The 2.0-litre turbo charged engine is punchy and refined - standard cars have 207bhp, while Edition 35 models are tuned to 232bhp.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

For a performance car the Volkswagen Golf GTI is relatively cost effective to run. Emissions range from 170 to 185 g/km depending on whether you opt for the standard car or the more powerful Edition 35. The standard six-speed manual GTI has a combined economy of 38.7mpg and with steady driving average consumption can be surprisingly efficient. For private buyers strong residuals are a plus, while the standard car and the Edition 35 fall in the Group 34 and 35 insurance brackets respectively. Volkswagen offers fixed priced servicing and has a large dealer network.

Interior, design and technology

The Volkswagen Golf GTI strikes the visual sweet spot between sporty and stylish. The current model takes the attractive base Golf shape and enhances the look with a lowered ride height, bigger wheels and smartly executed detailing. The red pin striping around the grille and the subtle GTI badges are traditional features, while the twin tailpipes, gently blended roof spoiler and intricate tail light clusters all look great. Edition 35 models get bigger 18-inch wheels, Bi-Xenon lights and black door mirrors.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

Being based on one of the best family hatchbacks money can buy makes the Volkswagen Golf GTI a very practical performance car. Five-door models offer increased functionality but both body styles have enough space to carry adults in the back, while the 350-litre boot is class leading. Fold the rear seats and overall luggage capacity increases to 1,305 litres. Split-folding rear seats are standard, while the options list features useful day-to-day kit like parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

Reliability and Safety

The Volkswagen Golf has earned an impressive five star rating from Euro NCAP, making the GTI one of the safest hot hatches around. All models come with curtain and driver’s knee airbags, while stability control is standard. ISOFIX is standard as well, while tyre pressure monitoring is on the options list. Better still, the Golf’s reputation for reliability and solidity has been one of its key selling points for over 30 years. Nonetheless, the GTI gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.


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