2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Change year or vehicle
$17,129 — $26,281 USED Shop local deals
SAVE
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
Compare
Back to top

Key Specs

of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Ride and handling
  • Dual-clutch transmission
  • Cabin quality and roominess
  • Brakes
  • Cargo versatility

The Bad

  • Steering feel
  • Dated multimedia system

Notable Features of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • Two- or four-door hatchback
  • Turbo four-cylinder engine standard
  • Manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Related to automaker's Golf hatchback

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The Verdict: Performance and quality shine in the Volkswagen Golf GTI, a refined choice among sport-compacts.

Versus the competition: Quicker than its power specifications suggest, the Golf GTI will give any performance compact a run for its money, and it has a cut-above interior to boot.

Volkswagen overhauled the GTI’s multimedia system for 2016, addressing one of our few complaints about a hatchback that thumped seven competitors two years ago in Cars.com’s $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge (see the results here).

That was a 2015 car, the first year of the GTI’s current generation. With the subsequent updates, the 2016 GTI is as strong a choice as ever.

The GTI is a middle child of VW’s larger Golf lineup, which ranges from the sub-$20,000 Golf to the highest-performance Golf R (compare them here). We cover the others separately in Cars.com’s Research section. The GTI comes in two- and four-door versions, with three trim levels and manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Go here to stack them up or here to compare the 2015 and 2016 Golf GTI.

We tested a two-door, manual-transmission 2016 GTI SE.
Exterior & Styling
The GTI’s claw-like bumper strakes make it easy to distinguish from other Golf models, but onlookers might mistake the rear for the prior-generation GTI. Such is the evolution of the Golf family, whose design hasn’t radically changed over the past decade despite the entire group's redesign for 2015. Dual tailpipes a...

The Verdict: Performance and quality shine in the Volkswagen Golf GTI, a refined choice among sport-compacts.

Versus the competition: Quicker than its power specifications suggest, the Golf GTI will give any performance compact a run for its money, and it has a cut-above interior to boot.

Volkswagen overhauled the GTI’s multimedia system for 2016, addressing one of our few complaints about a hatchback that thumped seven competitors two years ago in Cars.com’s $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge (see the results here).

That was a 2015 car, the first year of the GTI’s current generation. With the subsequent updates, the 2016 GTI is as strong a choice as ever.

The GTI is a middle child of VW’s larger Golf lineup, which ranges from the sub-$20,000 Golf to the highest-performance Golf R (compare them here). We cover the others separately in Cars.com’s Research section. The GTI comes in two- and four-door versions, with three trim levels and manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Go here to stack them up or here to compare the 2015 and 2016 Golf GTI.

We tested a two-door, manual-transmission 2016 GTI SE.
Exterior & Styling
The GTI’s claw-like bumper strakes make it easy to distinguish from other Golf models, but onlookers might mistake the rear for the prior-generation GTI. Such is the evolution of the Golf family, whose design hasn’t radically changed over the past decade despite the entire group's redesign for 2015. Dual tailpipes and 18-inch alloy wheels are standard on the GTI.
How It Drives
Absent much of the accelerator lag that’s plagued earlier Volkswagens, the GTI is easy to ram through gears, rev-match on downshifts and have a general heck of a good time in. Rated at 210 horsepower and a robust 258 pounds-feet of torque, the GTI’s turbocharged four-cylinder exhibits some noticeable turbo lag off the line, but it dissipates soon enough for smooth, powerful revving all the way up to the car’s 6,000-rpm redline.

The six-speed manual has direct, medium throws and a light clutch, but it suffers a tall second gear that seems too widely spaced from first. Wind out the latter and the GTI can still dump you into awkwardly low rpm on the upshift. The GTI’s optional dual-clutch automatic transmission, however, is a terrific unit, with rapid shifts and little of the low-speed hesitation that accompanies some dual-clutch transmissions.

Available on all trims, a $1,495 Performance Package adds 10 hp but no torque along with larger brakes and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential; it’s available with either gearbox.

Ride quality is firm but livable, and — apart from a bit of numb steering feedback — handling shines as far as front-wheel-drive cars go. Understeer creeps in at the limits, but it’s mild enough to stay out of the picture in most maneuvers. Body roll is well contained and the chassis stays planted over mid-corner bumps. The brakes are both strong and linear — a point driven home by the 2015 GTI’s 114.2-foot stopping performance from 60 mph in Cars.com’s Cheap Speed Challenge. No competitor came close.
Interior
Save some rickety climate controls, cabin quality is impressive. Materials are padded where your arms and elbows land, and the optional leather upholstery is rich, high-grade stuff. Numerous little touches — from fabric-wrapped A-pillars to a height-adjustable armrest and one-touch windows all around — put the GTI, like other Golf models, a cut above most compact-car interiors.

It’s practical, too. The hip-hugging seats are narrow but comfortable, and the GTI’s upright dashboard preserves space for your knees and legs in a manner that cockpit-style wraparound interiors do not. (You can keep those layouts; I’m way over the whole cockpit thing.) Visibility is good, too. In an era where rear windows seem to be shrinking with every redesign, the GTI’s expansive glass is a breath of fresh air.

Both front seats have a slide-forward feature for backseat access that returns them to their prior position when you reset them, but the slow, crank-knob reclining adjusters in two-door models are a drag. Four-door models have standard power recliners, with an optional full-power driver’s seat.

Backseat dimensions are nearly identical between the two- and four-door GTI, and rear legroom and headroom are abundant as compact cars go. Volkswagen stashes numerous amenities in there, as well, from air vents and reading lights to an armrest and four cupholders. Other small-coupe backseats are penalty boxes by comparison. Road-trip away.
Ergonomics & Electronics
Updated for 2016, the GTI’s standard 6.5-inch touch-screen adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Bluetooth, HD radio and a USB port are also standard. The system has middling graphics but an intuitive interface, with physical shortcut buttons and volume and tuning knobs. Other automakers — OK, mostly Honda — should take note. If you prefer not to use smartphone-based Apple or Google Maps for in-dash routing, a navigation system is optional, as is Volkswagen’s very good Fender premium stereo.
Cargo & Storage
Cargo volume behind the backseat is 22.8 cubic feet; the seats fold in a 60/40 split to create 52.7 cubic feet of maximum room, with a tall center pass-through if you need to carry long, narrow items. The layout is identical in both two- and four-door GTIs, and their cargo volumes are competitive with other small hatchbacks.
Safety
The GTI earned top marks in crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as a rating of advanced for its optional forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. (IIHS rates such systems basic, advanced or superior.) VW packages that system with lane departure and blind spot warning systems, plus a self-parking system, in the Driver Assistance Package, which is optional on all but the GTI’s lowest trim level.
Value in Its Class
Prices range from about $26,000 to roughly $37,000 with all options. That’s on the pricey side for a performance compact, but the GTI is worth it. Honda’s forthcoming high-performance versions of its excellent Civic redesign might give shoppers a compelling alternative, but until then, Volkswagen has the best all-around pocket rocket on the market.

Send Kelsey an email  



2016 Golf GTI Video

The Volkswagen Golf GTI gets some technology upgrades for 2016. It's still an affordable performance hatchback, though - at least until those speeding tickets add up. Watch the video for more.

Latest 2016 Golf GTI Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Best Fun Family Car

by Turbosnow from Syracuse, NY on October 3, 2018

We bought this and a golf alltrak at the same time, although the alltrak is bigger and more comfortable, our 3 year old prefers this car and almost always insists that we take it when we go all ... Read full review

(5.0)

Best daily driver.

by Cmendoza94 from Franklin, Wi on August 8, 2018

Ive always wanted to own one of these and now that I do i couldnt be happier. Its an insanely fun car to drive and extremely practical to take to work every day. Great space in the trunk, reliable, ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI currently has 0 recalls

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI S 2-Door

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall
5 Star
Overall Front
4 Star
Overall Side
5 Star
Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
4 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Side Barrier
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
Side Pole
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Volkswagen
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    7 years/less than 72,000 or 75,000 miles (model-year specific)

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Model-year 2017 and older, 2 years/24,000 miles; model-year 2018 and forward, 1 year/12,000 miles; TDI models, 2 years/unlimited miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    5 years/60,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    100-plus point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

Change Year or Vehicle

0 / 0 0 Photos
0 / 0

Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Golf GTI received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker