Focused Performance Doesn’t Make the 2021 Volkswagen GTI Uncomfortable

Often, cars focused on performance aren’t focused on comfort, almost as if you must trade one for the other. But the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a performance-focused model that’s also ranked one of the most comfortable cars. And even better, this compact hatchback is much more affordable than many other performance-focused cars. 

The 2021 Volkswagen GTI is about performance

The black interior of a 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback parked in a desert
Interior of a 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 228 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It features three driving modes — Normal, Individual, and Spor — and the top-trim Autobahn comes with an additional Comfort mode. The GTI gets a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.0 seconds. Adaptive suspension and a limited-slip differential drivetrain lend to this hot hatch’s nimble handling.

It also boasts a comfortable interior

U.S. News released a list of the 12 most comfortable cars for 2021, including the 2021 Volkswagen Golf. Two rows of comfortable and supportive seating, along with 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, are part of what makes this car so comfy. Additionally, it comes standard with heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. You can also upgrade to leather upholstery. It seats five, and the back row is surprisingly roomy for a compact hatchback, with plenty of headroom and legroom.

In addition, the infotainment system comes with a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen, which you can upgrade to an 8.0-inch screen. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, too. Also, expect a six-speaker sound system, which you can upgrade to an eight-speaker Fender stereo, and you can also add navigation and satellite radio. A panoramic sunroof and dual-zone climate control are also optional add-ons.

The GTI vs. the Golf: What’s the difference?

There aren’t many differences between the Golf and GTI, but a few set the GTI apart. The Golf has a smaller engine than the GTI, a 1.4-liter four-cylinder making 147 hp. More oriented to performance, the GTI has a performance monitor and adaptive chassis control. The Golf gets slightly better fuel efficiency at 24 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the GTI’s fuel efficiency is 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Inside, the Golf and the GTI are similar, with comfortable seats and a decent amount of room. The big difference between the two models, besides the engine, is the price. The Golf offers only one trim, which starts at $23,995, and the GTI base trim starts at $29,495, both with an automatic transmission. In both cars, opting for the manual transmission drops the price by $800. The GTI Autobahn with an automatic transmission starts at $37,745, while the manual transmission is $800 cheaper.

And if you were hoping to get a Golf next year, unfortunately, Volkswagen is discontinuing the Golf in the U.S. after 2021. But if you’re looking for a compact hatchback that’s fast and fun to drive while still offering comfort, the 2021 Volkswagen GTI is a reasonable choice. And it’s similar enough to the Golf that if you’re a superfan, you’ll probably still love the GTI. But it’ll be more fun to drive.

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