The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch, a performance model of the Golf hatchback sedan, has earned a Top Safety Pick rating in testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, provided it is equipped with the better of its two available headlight systems and the available forward collision system with automatic braking.
The GTI earned top marks of good in five of six crashworthiness tests by IIHS and an acceptable rating in the new passenger-side small-overlap frontal crash test. IIHS standards tightened for Top Safety Pick for 2019 to require an acceptable or good score (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in this new test of protection for passengers riding shotgun.
The GTI also got the top score of superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none) for its forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, which is optional ($450) on the base S model and standard on the higher Rabbit, SE and Autobahn trim levels. The system avoided frontal collisions from both 12 mph and 25 mph in IIHS testing.
The GTI missed out on the highest award from IIHS, Top Safety Pick Plus, because even the best of its two available headlight systems fell short of the good score that is required for the Plus rating. The LED headlights that come on the top three trim levels (and include automatic high beams on the Autobahn) scored a step lower at acceptable, while the headlights on the base S model scored a poor. IIHS noted that “lackluster headlight performance” kept the regular Golf and Golf’s Alltrack and SportWagen variants from getting a Top Safety Pick award.
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So far this year, the 2019 Golf GTI ranks among 10 small sedans that earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation; nine others in the class receive a Top Safety Pick Plus. Among hatchback rivals, the GTI’s rating ties IIHS Top Safety Pick awards for the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback, 2019 Mazda3 hatchback and 2019 Hyundai Elantra GT. But its score is lower than the 2019 Subaru WRX performance sedan, which earned a Top Safety Pick Plus when equipped with the optional front crash prevention system and its best available headlights.
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