2017 Golf GTI at Fremont VW Casper
Photo: L Baures

Here are some quick facts and figures about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s a FWD compact car that has 5 seats. Powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged TSI® engine the car puts out 210hp and 258lb-ft torque (with premium). Fuel economy is at 27mpg combined, with the 6-speed DSG® dual clutch, automatic transmission. The 6-speed manual is at 28mpg combined.

Photo: L Baures

New for the 2017 model is the inclusion of the Performance Package on all trim levels except the base model ‘S’. The package includes upgraded brakes, torque sensing limited slip differential, and a 10 horsepower increase. So 220hp for most of the lineup. The Sport model gets 18″ alloys, Bi-Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and black mirror caps. Keyless access and a push start button are also added. The SE model gets automatic headlight activation. The Autobahn model is the top of line up and it gets DCC adaptive damping which adds a ‘comfort’ mode to give a softer ride. Other suspension modes include, ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Individual’.

2017 Golf GTI
Photo: L Baures

“Another standout feature on the Golf GTI is the ESC Sport function for very experienced drivers for use on closed courses, such as a racetrack. The system is activated by a two-stage switch on the center console.

If the driver pushes the button once, the ASR (traction control) function is deactivated. When the button is pressed longer than three seconds, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) switches to the ESC Sport mode. In high-speed driving, such as on a racetrack, the ESC system operates at a higher threshold for even more agile handling. ESC can also be activated through the “CAR” settings menu”.

2017 Golf GTI On The Track

We got to drive the Golf GTI ‘S’ on the track. The base model equipped with the 6-speed DSG® dual-clutch, automatic transmission. Given the shape of the car is a bit boxy looking than other competitors, I was pleasantly surprised by its handling on the track. The car did have some minor body roll into the corners but it deals with it well and still felt progressive and planted enough.

On the straights, the GTI had more revs left than the Kia Forte which we also drove. (The Kia only had a 1.6 turbo engine so maybe not a fair comparison). The track layout suited the setup of this car very well. The paddle shifters, I was very impressed with. Very quick to change and ergonomic design make them easy to use (especially for little hands like mine!). I usually lean towards manual transmission options in sports cars but the auto wins on this car.

2017 Golf GTI
2017 Golf GTI Clark Plaid Cloth Photo: VW Media
2017 Golf GTI
Golf GTI Leather Photo: VW Media

Well, I’m Scottish, what can I say, I might be a little partial to the ‘Clark Plaid’ interior cloth design. You’ll either love it or hate it but it will go down in the history of car interiors. The VW interiors generally give the impression of quality and middle class. In this case, maybe add some Bro’ness with a pinch of crazy (the plaid).

You can’t fault it on space or seating for its class. Unlike the 2+2 sports cars, adults can fit in the back seats AND there’s trunk space for a little luggage too.

Not the entire kitchen sink but enough to get you by. Latch systems are there for car seats. On the Autobahn trim level, (top of the line) the Fender® Premium Audio system is great if you like listening to loud undistorted music. A Helix Soundbox amplifier is also available as an accessory from VW for around $300.

I learned an expensive but valuable lesson once. When it comes to aftermarket stereos in some Volkswagen’s…don’t do it. Stay with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) on this one.

Ltd, Newspress. “Golf GTI.” Volkswagen Media Centre. N.p., 2017. Web. 21 June 2017. <http://media.vw.com/model/pack/122/>