Quick Take: 2016 Volkswagen GTI
Drive it like you stole it
The 2016 Volkswagen GTI is the kind of car you want to drive like you stole it. Decked out in Autobahn trim, the car's full Performance Package is made for drivers who want to hit the road…with no speed limits.
Last year's model made our "2015 All-Star" list and if you can snatch a few moments behind its leather-wrapped, Bavarian pretzel-shaped wheel, you'll know why. It's fast, fun and addictive. And, oh, did I mention it was fast? The manual variant we spent a year with was an all-around staff favorite, proving to be a perfect hatchback for delinquents and adults who refuse to grow up.
The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission-equipped tester we got to drive around came in a sinister Carbon Steel Gray Metallic with Titan Black leather interior and red stitching. Aside from the Autobahn, the GTI feels right at home racing on a track or tearing up twisty, back roads.
This spunky hatch packs a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that can rocket you down the road like a jackrabbit — or a jackass, if you're not careful). There's 220 horsepower under the hood, just enough to keep you in and out of trouble. Well, mostly anyway.
It has a few driving modes to choose from but seriously, who's not going to drive it in Sport mode? Sport mode should be the only mode and helps the hot hatch handle and attack the road better. The turbo lag is a bit of a drag in all modes when you pound the pedals, but it's still faster than most cars in its class.
Thankfully, ABS is standard and so are the bigger 13.4-inch front and 12.2-inch rear vented discs on Sport, SE and Autobahn trims, which also get red-painted brake calipers. Suspension is smooth, steady, and great for carving canyon roads or maneuvering around traffic.
And while they're great on the open road, GTIs make great city cars, too. They are easy to park and fit into smaller parking spaces and garages, too.
The bells and whistles model we drove comes in at $36,840. But if you are looking to save some cash on a year-end purchase, you can skip the Driver's Assistance package. You'll save $1,495, plus you won't spend time shutting off all the annoying safety features like Lane Assist, Parking Assist, and Rear Traffic Alert — which you won't really need if you're a serious driver anyhow.
Reception on the Sirius XM Satellite radio dropped nearly every time I drove under a street lamp, so letting the limited time subscription run out would not be a bad thing. The Fender audio with 400 watts of power is a keeper, but the USB port in the space underneath the touch screen requires a child's hand to reach.
Overall, the 2016 Volkswagen GTI performs like a champ and will put a smile on your face. Also, the seventh-generation GTI is will receive a refresh for 2018, elements of which we saw on the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf shown at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show.
2016 Volkswagen GTI Specifications
|Price:||$32,730 base; $36,840 as tested|
|Engine:||2.0L DOHC I-4/220 hp @ 4,500 rpm, 258 lb-ft @ 1,500|
|Layout:||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatch back|
|EPA Mileage:||25/33 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H:||168 x 70.5 x 56.8 in|
|0-60 MPH:||6.5 sec (est)|
|Top Speed:||155 mph (est)|