Volkswagen introduced the first-generation Golf in May 1974. It was intended to be a sportier, longer range, front-wheel drive (FWD) replacement for the Beetle. The Volkswagen Golf GTI variant was introduced in June 1976 featuring a fuel-injected 1.6-liter engine. Despite its relatively small engine, it had a top speed of around 110 mph—not bad for only 70 hp. In September of the same year, a diesel-powered model was also introduced. However, the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 was called the “Rabbit” in the United States and Canada.
It’s been driven all throughout the world under different names and formats for nearly 50 years, earning it a place among one of the top-selling vehicles in automotive history. Today, Volkswagen’s website seems to only offer two models: the Golf and Golf GTI. The German auto manufacturer discontinued the Golf R and introduced the 2020 Golf, stating it’s focusing on a new and better generation of Golf. If you’re looking for that perfect daily driver, the GTI is a perfect option.
A quick overview of the 2020 Volkswagen GTI
In a review published by Car and Driver, the 2020 Volkswagen GTI earned yet another spot on its 2020 10Best list. The author went further, stating that the Golf GTI is the vehicle review site’s “perennial 10Best award-winner.” A perennial or “perennial plant” is a term used by botanists for plants that live for over two years. But the Golf GTI wasn’t the only Volkswagen model to make it on the list: the Jetta GLI receive a lot of praise as well.
The GTI earned another spot on Car and Driver’s 10Best list due to its build quality, decent speed, sporty handling, and spunky interior. Not only that but this compact hatchback has room for young families looking for a starter vehicle. Buyers can drive away with a well-equipped 2020 GTI for just under $30,000, which is fairly average for that segment these days.
For anything less than that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that can compete. And since the R has been placed on the sidelines until at least 2022 (yes, rumors have it VW plans on releasing an all-improved Golf R in 2022), the Car and Driver pointed out that the GTI is the sportiest model that remains practical. Plus, that nearly $30,000 price tag is bound to be a little lower as the 2021 models enter showrooms.
This year’s GTI marks the end of the seventh generation
With not only a fresh model year but weeks away but a new generation, one couldn’t expect too much in the way of upgrades. It’s not to say there weren’t a few new “elements,” if you will.
Firstly, probably the most significant change for buyers in 2020 is Volkswagen’s sudden bumper-to-bumper warranty downgrade. As was stated in the Car and Driver article, Volkswagen used to have a six-year, 72,000-mile warranty—the best in the industry, according to the author. But owners of 2020 Volkswagens do get 24 months of free regularly scheduled dealership maintenance.
Most likely, being that Hyundai has instituted a slightly similar policy according to The News Wheel, car companies do this to be sure owners take care of their vehicles. This benefits them by improving not just owner satisfaction but also lowers the cost of ownership. If you’re a regular reader here, then you understand how important the cost of ownership is for carmakers. Just know, however, that Hyundai’s Hyundai Complimentary Maintenance program is much better.
The Golf GTI is a great commuter car
We understand many of our readers may have not started commuting back and forth from the office yet, but it’s a good time to buy a car. Car companies have really stepped up during this crisis to help everyone involved. For example, according to J.D. Power, Volkswagen offered to “waive up to six months of payments if a new Volkswagen Credit customer loses a job due to economic reasons.”
It also extended warranty expiration dates; delayed the initial payment for up to 4 months along with 0% APR financing for up to 72 months; offered 0% APR financing for up to 60 months on certified pre-owned vehicles, while assisting face mask manufacturers with orders and logistics.
As for the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI, one reviewer from Jalopnik wrote that a lightly used Golf GTI is great for a “brutal commute.” Its 228-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine offers sufficient passing power and great fuel economy—two things most commuters really like.
The GTI’s easy to use transmission, optional dual-clutch automatic, nimble handling, and corning capabilities really impressed Car and Driver. “The GTI reacts to steering inputs so quickly and accurately that you’ll think the car is a sentient being. Its brakes are firm and progressive on the road and strong on the track,” the author wrote.
Don’t let the Volkswagen GTI’s tiny size fool you. For its size, it still offers nearly 18 cubic feet of cargo space—with the rear seats in use. Compare that to the Hummer H3 and its 25 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats in use. With the seats down, the GTI offers 53.7 cubic feet with the H3 providing only 62.8 cubic feet.
So, not only can you haul almost as much as the Hummer, you’ll be doing it faster, more efficiently, while having a blast (not to mention for cheaper). You can’t expect a lot of legroom for rear adult passengers, but Car and Driver still said it’s relatively comfortable. The lesson here is that you don’t necessarily need an unnecessarily expensive vehicle to get enjoyment out of it.