Review: 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport

– Detroit, Michigan

In a previous life, I was the caretaker of a 2015 Volkswagen GTI that was, to me, perfectly optioned. The base S trim came with heated seats (in plaid, of course), and even with optional xenon headlights, still cost under $28,000. Sure, higher-grade SE and Autobahn trim levels added more luxury to the GTI, but I never found that necessary. The beauty was the simplicity of a refreshingly affordable GTI.

For 2017, Volkswagen bundles a lot of these optional features together – meet the new Sport trim, which offers goodies like a performance pack and xenon lights as standard, as well as previously unavailable (on the base trim) amenities like pushbutton start, a backup camera, and unique 18-inch wheels. The end result is a GTI that only costs $920 more than my ideally optioned 2015 example – $28,815, all in. GTI fans, meet your new perfect spec.

 

 

Pros

  • Performance Pack GTIs feel ever so slightly better to drive than the base examples, which is to say VW took an already-great car and made it a teensy bit more fun. You won’t really feel the extra 10 horsepower – instead, you’ll notice the pack’s upgraded brakes (the same units as the racy Golf R) and limited-slip front differential. With 220 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque on tap from Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbo-four, the GTI isn’t as potent as a Ford Focus ST or Subaru WRX, but it’s more efficient, and still plenty gutsy when called upon. The GTI feels light on its feet, with nicely weighted steering and qu...