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The Volkswagen GTI is a staple of the enthusiast market. If “Miata” isn’t the answer, “GTI” most likely is. Used models made from 2010-2014 are fully depreciated, and an excellent deal. The GTI offers great performance, fuel economy, and reliability for a bargain price. However, as with most depreciated sports cars, there are some things to watch out for. This is everything you need to know if you’re in the market for a Volkswagen GTI.

Reliability and ownership cost

The GTI's 2.0 liter turbocharged motor
The VW Golf GTI’s 2.0 liter motor | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

A sixth-generation Volkswagen GTI (or MK6) is basically a fifth-generation GTI, but better. VW improved a great deal in 2010, but the model wasn’t perfect. For one, the brand’s dual-clutch automatic transmission was still a little wonky. I personally own (a very shoddy) 2010 model, and have had the automatic stall on me. That said, stick with the stick if you can. Now, there’s also the timing chain to contend with. This part tells your engine’s cylinders to go bang and when. It too is a known weak point but was resolved for 2012.

Another big issue with these fun little cars is the rear main seal. This part is the gasket between your engine and transmission. Thankfully, you’ll know when it fails because your car will hold oil like a colander. Please, make sure it was done. Mine was $800. Finally, listen for creaks and rattles. The front subframe in Volkswagen GITs is known to creak and can be fixed with this kit.

Options and trim levels

The interior of a 2010 Volkswagen GTI
Plaid seats are a must | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Trim levels for the Volkswagen GTI are somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, there’s the Autobahn trim, but we’ll get to that in a second. The GTI is a trim level for the standard Golf. With that said, there are options to look for. First, you’ll be wanting the bi-xenon lights, both front, and rear. They look much more sharp, and really add to the look. Also, a sunroof was available with plaid seats for the last time in the U.S. This was also one of the last generations to offer the lighter two-door configuration.

If you want a skim milk GTI, go for two doors and no sunroof. That said, the Autobahn trim got you nicer wheels, a leather interior, and the sunroof, as well as upgraded speakers. These generally command a premium, but preference is everything. Get the one you want, not the one you want to sell. If you’re looking for the recommended spec, go four doors, sunroof, with the audio package (look for the labeled speakers), and the manual transmission.

The Volkswagen GTI is a forever car

The rear end of the MK6 Volkswagen GTI
Hatchback practicality | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

That spec, to me, represents everything the Volkswagen GTI is all about. Practicality, speed, comfort, and affordability in one neat little package. Ensure the above issues have been addressed, and you can expect to find a clean low mileage model for under $17,000. You genuinely cannot go wrong with a GTI.


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