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Volkswagen Golf GTI review - Interior, design and technology

Volkswagen has equipped the Golf GTI with generous levels of standard kit, although some of the on-board tech isn’t all that user friendly

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.4 out of 5

Price
£30,155 to £30,155
  • Still great to drive
  • Decent efficiency
  • Easy to live with
  • Expensive options
  • Some dubious cabin materials
  • Fussy infotainment system
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Volkswagen took a familiar evolutionary design approach to the Mk8 Golf GTI, with an understated exterior style that isn’t too dissimilar to the previous model. It’s a world away from the aggressive addenda seen on rivals such as the Civic Type R, but the GTI’s appeal is all about being sporty yet subtle at the same time.

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The front bumper incorporates LED foglights, while a full width light strip sits just below the bonnet line, along with the famous GTI red pinstripe. In truth, it’s easy to mistake the hot hatch for a standard Golf model, such is its minimalist design, although the dual exhausts at the rear give the game away.

The cabin includes the classic GTI tartan-trimmed sports seats, but is actually rather disappointing in places with cheaper plastics and materials in use where you’d expect to see softer, plusher finishes. Another small gripe we had was the manual car’s gearknob now taking on a squarish shape, rather than the more tactile classic golf ball version.

Standard kit, however, is a real plus point of Golf GTI ownership. Equipment includes 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, three-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and a host of infotainment tech.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The GTI’s infotainment system is largely the same as the regular Golf, which means there is a 10-inch touchscreen display as standard, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, integrated sat-nav and a wireless charging function. The graphics are clear, but we found the system a little awkward to use via its fussy sub-menu that requires too many inputs to access certain features.

The 10-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument screen works well and features bespoke GTI graphics, although one downside to the move to digitisation is that the climate controls are operated by touch sliders which can be fiddly to use. Volkswagen responded to early concerns about the Golf's digital setup by bringing in an updated version of its MIB infotainment system (for 2022 production), with quicker voice control, enhanced accidental-touch recognition and improved processing power, while there is the £1,280 option to upgrade to the Pro touchscreen set-up which includes internet streaming, voice activation and gesture control.

The facelifted model, due later in 2024, will offer some positive enhancements; the steering wheel will be fitted with more usable buttons and switches, while the climate and volume controls will be back-lit to make them easier to see and operate at night.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £30,155

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £30,155

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £30,155
Executive editor

Paul was employed across automotive agency and manufacturer-side sectors before joining Auto Express in 2020 as our online reviews editor. After a brief sojourn at a national UK newspaper, Paul returned as executive editor where he now works closely with our commercial partners.

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