2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi Review

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi Road Test, Review

VW’s legendary Golf GTi just got better with the inclusion of more kit and a power upgrade courtesy of last year’s Golf GTi Edition 1.

That means the wick is turned up to 180kW/370Nm, bigger brakes come from Golf R and the limited slip differential is upgraded to manage that extra poke through the front wheels.

Golf GTi is a five door hatch in one grade these days and now includes the slick, active info’ display that provides in-depth information on various dynamic car functions on a large screen.

Additionally, the 2019 Golf GTi comes with a comprehensive range of advanced driver assist features making it even safer than before.

Power still goes to the front wheels through a 7-speed DSG “manumatic” gearbox. If you want all wheel drive, upshift to the more powerful Golf R.

VW would have been feeling it a bit after the arrival of Honda’s Civic Type R and the sharply priced Hyundai i30N.

The latest Golf GTi is a response to that challenge and what a response it is.

While it may not match either of the main competitors on paper for power, the Golf GTi’s polish is clearly evident making it arguably a quicker road car under certain driving conditions.

They’ve been making it for, hmm, 40 maybe 50 years so VW is certainly across the hot hatch formula.

The GTi is also more affordable these days at $47,990 drive away.

Makes you think twice before putting down a stack on something else.


Typically understated/classy, the 5-door Golf GTi exterior has sharp, straight crease lines and is essentially a wedge shape from front to rear.  The front is handsome with headlights and ancillaries connected to the grille creating a pleasing wide sweep across the front. It’s distinctively VW sharing styling DNA with other models in the range only in this case, with a red highlight line right across the front.

There’s a large VW badge in the middle of the bonnet and a large honeycomb mesh grille under the bumper with strakes each side.

Black highlights pick out some exterior body hardware and the rear is set off by two, wide spaced exhaust tips and a shroud over the hatch glass.

The whole package benefits from flush alloys in a typically Golf GTi spoke design.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi Review interiorInterior

Inside, the test car had charcoal coloured leather upholstery but a woven check pattern is available on the sporty, well bolstered seats.

There’s a chunky looking flat bottom steering wheel with paddle shift and multiple functions along with a slick instrument pod in front of that with a screen for info’ and to duplicate the satnav.

Clear, easy to use switches surround the driver’s pod and there’s the obligatory info’ touch screen controller integrated in the middle of the understated dash.

There’s adequate room for four with another at a pinch and the luggage area is generous and easy to load.

The ambience is quiet and classy inside the GTi, certainly up to the standard of other German makes that cost a lot more.

I really appreciated the Dynaudio sound system (option pack) with superb tones and the overall comfort levels inside are accentuated by the low level of interior noise apart from the exhaust pop on up changes.

But that’s alright….


VW has opened their equipment bag for this latest Golf GTi which is blessed with plenty of cool kit like;

  • Active info display
  • 7-speed DSG transmission
  • Upgraded brakes
  • LED headlights
  • Leather
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Full driver assist package
  • 18-inch alloys

Drive and Engine

“Strong and fit” is the best way to describe the GTi’s performance and handling. You won’t find many better mannered cars this side of $50 grand as VW has been able to combine a luxury feel with sporty engine and ride characteristics like no other.

Undeservedly disparaged in some quarters, the 7-speed DSG transmission adds to the GTi’s appeal as it punches cogs through to the accompaniment of a loud bang from the twin outlet exhaust.

There’s a rev matching function on the down change to smooth slowing and the whole powertrain delivers a slick, precise feel emanating from the gearbox.

You have a number of drive choices including Eco but I mainly left it in Normal and then Sport when the opportunity presented.

It has strong acceleration from the get go and through the mid-range but the action stops at around 6300rpm when an up change elicits stronger acceleration.

That corresponds to the fat power and torque band in mid-range engine speeds.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi Review rearIt’s a sweet running high tech engine that can deliver as good as 6.5-litres/100km with a little care.

That rises rapidly when you exercise the right foot.

The GTi has dynamite steering delivering a sharp and precise response to minimal input. The car sits flat through tight turns thanks to the well sorted suspension.

New, larger brakes are an improvement only really needed if you put the GTi on the track.

Minimal torque steer is evident when you plant it around a slow corner. Thankfully VW fits a clever electronic diff’ to the GTi to keep it on the rails through corners and under maximum acceleration which is rated at around 6.0 seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint.

Any down side to the drive experience?

Not really…. it’s all good. If you don’t like the feel of a hot hatch, don’t buy one.


Gets five biggies as expected but goes further with a strong suite of advanced driver assist technology including city emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor, traffic jam assist and adaptive cruise to name just a few features.

Then there are those large brakes and sticky tyres that offer strong stopping power and grip wet or dry.

One thing that isn’t often mentioned is the point that a car like this engages a driver much more than a regular econobox so the driver will be more alert to any situation developing outside the car.

Good Bits

  • Classy look inside and out
  • Strong engine performance with stirring sound
  • Taut handling with comfort option
  • Impressive active info dash
  • Excellent audio (option pack)
  • Snappy shifting gearbox
  • Comfortable and roomy interior
  • Tempting drive away pricing

Not So Good Bits

  • Two option packs add a fair bit to the bottom line
  • Bit porky at 1377kg

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi Review sideSummary

Always a fave of mine, the Golf GTi in its current form makes a convincing argument against the competition and has a heritage harking back decades underlining that argument.

Goes great, safe, looks classy, feels excellent from behind the driver’s wheel. The quintessential hot hatch to be sure.

Facts and Figures: 2019 VW Golf GTi

  • Engine: 2.0L six-cylinder petrol producing 180kW/370Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed sports automatic
  • Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: Germany
  • Price: from $47,990

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