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Article Highlights:

  • The best trim levels for the Volkswagen GTI
  • Which options you should get on your GTI
  • 2022 VW GTI pricing starts at $29,545

If you want a fast, usable, reliable sports car, you go to Porsche. There are other sports car choices, yes, but people turn to Stuttgart for much the same reason you turn to Wolfsburg for a hot hatch. Volkswagen has been doing the hot hatch right for decades. Now, the 2022 Volkswagen GTI is here, and with the configurator live, we can figure out what the best GTI you can buy is.

The Golf GTI is practical yet flawed

The interior of the new GTI with a new steering wheel and touch-sensitive buttons
The GTI’s touch-heavy interior is an issue | Volkswagen

However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t lay down a warning first. You see, Volkswagen had the thought that in order to streamline their interior, they’d take away all the buttons. That includes the steering wheel. Nearly all buttons there are replaced with haptic touch controls you’ll hit constantly. The same goes for the climate controls under the touchscreen, which aren’t illuminated.

Supposing that doesn’t scare you off, we can start our search for the perfect 2022 Volkswagen GTI with six choices. There’s three trim levels here, S ($29,545), SE ($34,295), and Autobahn ($37,995). Those, in addition to the optional 6-speed and dual-clutch automatic transmissions, are the backbone of the 2022 Volkswagen GTI. The six-speed comes included, with the brand’s “DSG” dual-clutch running another $800.

The best options for the 2022 Volkswagen GTI

A yellow 2022 Volkswagen GTI shot from the front 3/4 on a fall road
The new GTI gets new colors | Volkswagen

The S model GTI is the most basic (and cheapest) way into the current GTI lineup. There’s a good number of standard features here, like Carplay, Android Auto, and dual-zone climate control. Thankfully, the GTI’s trademark plaid seats also make a return for 2022. You’re also privy to the brand’s drive mode selector, but the adaptive suspension is reserved solely for the Autobahn trim.

As you climb the model designations for the 2022 Volkswagen GTI, Wolfsburg throws in more features. The SE model (thankfully) still gets the uber-cool plaid seats, alongside 18″ wheels, a sunroof, optional power seats (the same goes for the Autobahn, though they’re standard there), optional ventilated seats (again, standard on the Autobahn), and a Harmon Kardon sound system. You can look at the full list of changes between the models here, should you wish. Effectively, the Autobahn throws in all the cushy features from the parts bin and 86’s the plaid seats.

Should you buy a GTI?

A yellow 2022 Volkswagen GTI shot from the front 3/4 on a country road
The 2022 Volkswagen GTI | Volkswagen

If we’re building the perfect GTI, the SE trim is our choice. It’s a good mix of luxury and affordability, and VW also has some fun colors to choose from, like the yellow above, but they aren’t listed online yet for whatever reason. We’d go for the Atlantic Blue Metallic for now, along with the six-speed for maximum fun.

Plaid seats are an obvious choice, and the leather is an extra $1,225. Finally, we’d also snap up the $395 black wheel pack and the MuddyBuddy trunk and floor mats for a total of $295, bringing ours to a total of $35,875. The GTI is still cheaper than the Civic Type R, but the touch controls are a serious issue that VW will have to remedy before the new GTI feels complete.


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