Menu

Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2019 review

EXPERT RATING
7.9
Volkswagen's Golf GTI was there at the start of the hot hatch explosion four decades ago. It now stands as an automotive icon, but does the drive still match the image?

The Golf GTI is Volkswagen’s everyday superhero with a history that saw it as one of the pioneers (along with the Peugeot 205 GTi) of the hot hatch cult. Loved for being powerful yet still practical, small but not puny, the Golf GTI has been though seven generations in 44 years while receiving updates during each evolution.

As the end of 2018 neared Volkswagen updated the GTI for 2019 and we had the chance to drive it on the track and then live with it for a week.

So, what’s new for the updated Golf GTI? Is it better on the track or more suited to the road? Is it economical and what’s it like to drive day-in and day-out? We know and we want to tell you.

Volkswagen Golf 2019: GTI
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$46,190

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

The updated Golf GTI lists for $45,490 (which is a $500 price jump over the previous GTI). I’m guessing you now want to know what’s new on the updated version of the Golf GTI? First the 12.3-inch 'Active Driving Display' (that’s the digital instrument cluster) now comes standard and it not only looks amazing but it’s clear, full of information… and did I say that it looks amazing? 

Next, the 'Driver Assistance Package' (that includes the advanced safety tech) is also now standard. I’ll take you though what’s included in the Safety section below.

Then there’s the rest of the standard features such as the 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, CD player, there’s auto parking, proximity key, push button start, 18-inch alloys, eight-speaker stereo system, dual-zone climate control, Clark tartan cloth upholstery, LED headlights, adaptive chassis control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and rain sensing wipers.

Inside, there’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inside, there’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Our test car had the optional leather seats, which you can see in the images, it also had the optional 9.2-inch touchscreen with gesture control and the Dynaudio sound system (you can see the speakers in the A-pillars).
 
Is it good value? Yes. Rivals such as the Honda Civic Type R is $50,990, the Peugeot 308 GTI matches it with $45,990, while the Hyundai i30N costs up to $42,990.

The price increase on the Golf GTI is only $500 and you’re getting more features – plus you’re getting more grunt and other new go-fast bits. Want to know more? Read on.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The updated Golf GTI doesn’t just get more safety equipment and the virtual instrument cluster, nope, you get more grunt and gears than the previous GTI.
 
The new Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine now makes 11kW more power and 20Nm more torque for a total of 180kW/370Nm.

That output is getting close to the performance king of Golfs – the R (with 213kW/380Nm), and it’s enough to get the GTI from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds.

The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has also been swapped for a seven-speed version which is in the Golf R. It’s a wet-clutch DSG, not the dry-clutch unit which was the focus of a recall a few years back.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine now makes 11kW more power and 20Nm more torque for a total of 180kW/370Nm. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine now makes 11kW more power and 20Nm more torque for a total of 180kW/370Nm.

It’s with a heavy heart that I also write that a manual transmission is no longer available in Australia on the Golf GTI, but fortunately the DSG is excellent.

The updated Golf GTI has been given more Golf R hand-me downs in the form of a front and rear ventilated disc brake package.

The Golf GTI has also been gifted a mechanical front differential lock in this update. And while the Golf R is an all-wheel drive, the GTI remains front-wheel drive

That’s a darn good upgrade, and you’d be a bit miffed if you’d bought the previous Golf GTI not long before this one arrived.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Sure, the Golf GTI isn’t as hardcore as its Golf R brother, but that’s also part of its appeal: fast but not furious. This is a hot hatch you can take to a track, put down an impressive performance and then drive to work every day in, do the shopping and pick the kids up in – which is what I did.

I tested the Golf GTI in torrential rain at Luddenham raceway in Sydney and then took it home to spend the week commuting in going nowhere morning and afternoon traffic, with plenty of motorway kays thrown in.

First, the track time. I drove the Golf GTI back-to-back with the Golf R Special Edition and the difference between them in the wet weather was big. The R’s all-wheel drive meant it rarely lost traction and resisted understeer well even on downhill turns with water streaming across the track.
 
The front-wheel drive GTI struggled with the combination of slippery conditions along with me asking a lot of it. The same corners which the R threaded through beautifully, saw the GTI at the same speed get a little out of shape an instant before the traction control light flickered and order was restored.

This just meant having to drive the GTI a bit differently, I couldn’t hold the same speed through corners as the R and when it came to the main straight the power difference between the two was stark. The R can throw itself from 0-100km/h almost 1.5 seconds faster than the GTI at 4.8 seconds. 

Under brakes the GTI remained composed, pulling up straight and up fast. Under brakes the GTI remained composed, pulling up straight and up fast.

Still, the GTI felt quick, and so did the seven-speed dual clutch, which in Sport mode climbs hard and fast up through the gears and instinctively knows when to shift down.

The lowered sports suspension is excellent with the body kept flat and controlled. Under brakes the GTI remained composed, pulling up straight and up fast – even on that greasy wet track.

I then drove the Golf GTI home and as the roads dried out, was reminded why the hatch is so popular – it’s a car which quickly felt as though it’d become an extension of my own body. From the seats which hugged me (but not too tight) and the steering which feels just right, to the pedals perfectly placed under my feet and the response from the turbo four which was strong and always there. 

Like wearing a suit, you could turn, move, change lanes and steam ahead quickly without any effort, all with great visibility thanks to the big windows and well-designed pillars.

The Golf GTI sounds great. In Sport mode the exhaust note is low and tough. Blip the throttle and it barks beautifully, but not as viciously as the Golf R Special Edition.

The GTI we tested rolled on 19-inch wheels shod with 225/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber, and despite those super-low profile tyres the ride was comfortable, even on Sydney’s poor excuse for roads.

The GTI we tested rolled on 19-inch wheels shod with 225/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber. The GTI we tested rolled on 19-inch wheels shod with 225/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber.

A special note about the auto parking. I know it’s been around a while, but in my street where everybody seems angry it’s brilliant. The system finds you a space and then parks itself quicker and more perfectly than I reckon most people ever could.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The Golf GTI's styling has always been low key and this updated version is no different. But to those that know there are obvious indicators such as the tough body kit, the red pinstripe running through the headlights and grille, and of course, the badges.

As much as I love the Hyundai i30N and Honda Civic Type R for their performance, with their wings and fins they do look a bit silly and immature next to the grown-up Golf GTI.

The Golf GTI's styling has always been low key and this updated version is no different. The Golf GTI's styling has always been low key and this updated version is no different.

The GTI’s interior may not be as prestigious as you’d think, but it is outstanding for tech and the cabin design. Leather seats aren’t standard, but as is Golf GTI tradition the Clark tartan cloth upholstery is another indicator to those with their faces pressed up against the glass that this is not a normal Golf.

You can see our test car’s leather seats in the images, along with the 9.2-inch touchscreen with gesture control and the Dynaudio sound system with its speakers in the A-pillars.

The GTI’s interior may not be as prestigious as you’d think, but it is outstanding for tech and the cabin design. The GTI’s interior may not be as prestigious as you’d think, but it is outstanding for tech and the cabin design.

The Golf’s dimensions haven’t changed in this update, it’s still just under 4.3m long, 1.8m wide and 1.4m tall. That makes it great for the city where parking spaces can be tight, but does it also mean room inside is limited? Read on to find out.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Concerned the Golf GTI might be too small for you? It depends on how you’re planning to use it. First, in terms of people moving, legroom in the back isn’t huge. I’m 191cm tall and can’t fit behind my driving position, although headroom is excellent. 

So, as long as the people in the back are under six-foot tall, I reckon you’ll have nothing to worry about, unless you plan to carry loads of stuff frequently.

In terms of people moving, legroom in the back isn’t huge although headroom is excellent. In terms of people moving, legroom in the back isn’t huge although headroom is excellent.

That brings me to the cargo capacity of the boot which at 380 litres is smaller than the Honda Civic Type R’s 414 litres and a litre less than the i30N’s boot space. If you have kids and use a pram, then see if it fits in the boot before you buy. And even if it does, is there room for anything else?
 
If you’re looking for a little family truckster, don’t want an SUV, but do want a Volkswagen, there’s the Golf R wagon which is fast and can carry way more with its 605-litre boot.

The boot is rated at 380 litres. The boot is rated at 380 litres.

Cabin storage in the Golf GTI is good with giant bottle holders in all doors, the centre console bin under the armrest is narrow but deep and the small hidey hole in front of the shifter has one USB port which if you have hands larger than a child is hard to plug into. 

There are two cupholders up front and two in the fold-down armrest in the second row along with air vents back there, too. In the cargo area you’ll find a 12-volt power outlet and another up front next to the driver.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Golf GTI scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2013, but as part of the 2019 update the Driver Assistance Package was made part of the standard equipment list on the Golf GTI.
 
The advanced safety tech onboard is impressive and includes blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert, city AEB with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance, plus front and rear manoeuvre braking.

That’s along with a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts in the second row and three top tether anchor points. We had one car seat in the back for my four-year-old which was simple to install and he found it easy to climb in and out, thanks to those tall doors and low ride height.

Looking for the spare wheel? It’s under the boot floor and it’s a skinny space saver. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

After driving the Golf GTI away from the race circuit I refuelled and drove it for a week as many would -   doing the daily commute to and from the city in peak hour traffic, picking the boy up from daycare, a decent amount of motorway running, and the occasional blast along my favourite roads. 

So, 283km later I measured the fuel usage at the petrol pump and found the Golf GTI drank 12.1L/100km, which is lower than the 12.3L/100km the trip computer was reporting.

The claimed (combined cycle) fuel economy figure over a combination of open and urban roads is 6.5L/100km. To get fuel economy that low, you’d have to drive conservatively.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The Golf GTI is covered by Volkswagen’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months. You can expect to pay $377 for the first service, $572 for the second, $464 for the third, $1160 for the next and then $377 for the fifth.

Verdict

Small, fast, agile, good value and iconic, the 2019 Golf GTI has stayed true to its roots. A fun car to drive which anybody can pilot easily.

Would you have a Golf GTI over a Hyundai I30N or Honda Civic Type R? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$43,640
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$25,290
Highest Price
$61,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
110 TSI COMFORTLINE 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $30,190 2019 Volkswagen Golf 2019 110 TSI COMFORTLINE Pricing and Specs
110 TSI Highline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $36,490 2019 Volkswagen Golf 2019 110 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs
110 TSI TRENDLINE 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $27,790 2019 Volkswagen Golf 2019 110 TSI TRENDLINE Pricing and Specs
GTI 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $46,190 2019 Volkswagen Golf 2019 GTI Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Price and features9
Engine & trans8
Driving8
Design8
Practicality7
Safety8
Fuel consumption7
Ownership8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

Share

Pricing Guide

$46,190

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

View cars for sale