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Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn: A fun yet realistic daily driver

Photo courtesy Volkswagen of America

Back in 1964, Ronny & the Daytonas sang the praises of the original factory hot rod, the Pontiac GTO. You might find yourself doing something similar after taking a spin in the completely redesigned Volkswagen Golf GTI. Despite their obvious differences, both cars generate over-the-top enthusiasm.

As is the case with all factory high-performance models, the muscular heart of this surprisingly practical 4-door hatchback lies under the hood: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine (241 hp) mated to a close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox (a 7-speed automatic is optional) and FWD.

The eighth-generation GTI’s compact dimensions and sport-tuned suspension make it great fun to drive, especially when the pavement turns curvy, and its strong brakes do much to instill confidence. Better yet, the ride quality is supple enough to make the GTI a realistic daily driver. A full suite of advanced safety features is standard.

Supportive front seats and a thick-rimmed steering wheel give the driver an ideal perch from which to command all this sporty goodness. The only issue we had with the GTI’s interior was the overly sensitive touch controls for the climate and infotainment systems.

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn

Photo courtesy Volkswagen of America

Vehicle Layout: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4, 6-speed manual, FWD

MSRP, Base Model/As Tested:: $30,875/$38,990

MPG, City/Highway/Combined: 24/34/28 (manual)

Safety Ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

Basic Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles

Final Assembly: Wolfsburg, Germany

Spare Tire: Compact temporary

Takeaway: The perfect answer to the question “Can a car be both fun and practical?”

For more reviews, go to a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle with AAA’s free Car Buying Service. Go to or call (800) 709-7222.

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