Avg. Price Paid:$17,748 - $20,268
Original MSRP: $23,995 - $31,695
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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2012 Volkswagen GTI Review

Review Last Updated: 2/26/14

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

The 2012 Volkswagen GTI isn’t the fastest or most nimble upscale small car, but test drivers think the GTI is a great value because it offers a little bit of everything at an affordable price.

Test drivers like the spunk of the Volkswagen Golf, but think that the Volkswagen GTI, the performance-tuned version of the Golf, goes above and beyond the call of duty with its ample power and precise handling. Unfortunately, the GTI’s performance isn’t so perfect when compared with its rivals. The 2012 Volkswagen GTI falls short simply because it isn’t as powerful or refined as what reviewers expect from a German car. It makes significantly less horsepower compared with the BMW 1-Series, and test drivers don’t think the GTI is as nimble as it could be.

But there is one thing the 2012 Volkswagen GTI is good at, and that’s packing a lot of value into a small package, which is why we named the GTI the Best Upscale Small Car for the Money. Test drivers think the GTI’s cabin materials are exceptional, and they are even more impressed that most adults will be able to sit comfortably in the front and back seats. Add good fuel economy to the mix, and a low base price compared with the pricey Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, and the VW GTI offers the ideal balance of price, practicality and fun-to-drive character that make the GTI an ideal choice for shoppers looking for a car that does a lot of things well.

Other Cars to Consider

If you love to drive, test the BMW 1-Series. This coupe costs significantly more than the GTI, has lower fuel economy ratings and a tight second row, but if a powerful engine, smooth transmission, precise cornering and confident braking are important to you, you won’t feel like you’re wasting money.

While test drivers say the GTI has a good balance of practicality and performance, the Audi A3 boasts the same. Though its back seat is cramped for adults, the A3 has a lot more cargo space, and is even available with a turbocharged diesel engine, which meshes both good fuel economy and excellent performance, making the A3 even more practical. If you’re interested in the A3, keep in mind that it is more expensive than the GTI.

The Details: Volkswagen GTI

The 2012 VW GTI is available in two- and four-door models. Both models are available with the convenience and sunroof, sunroof and navigation and Autobahn packages. See the full list of 2012 Volkswagen GTI specs.

  • “As far as hot hatches are concerned, none of the competition offers the same mix of refinement sophistication and driving good times that the GTI does.” -- Autoblog
  • "The 2012 Volkswagen GTI might not make top performance numbers, but overall, it's one of our top picks for a sporty hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • "GTI is a great choice that offers near premium-compact build quality and serious driving-enthusiast appeal. The 2.0T engine is plenty powerful. We're not enamored with the automated-manual transmission. Base prices are reasonable but quickly skyrocket as features are added. Still, even with somewhat lofty prices, you get what you pay for." -- Consumer Guide

Next Steps: Volkswagen GTI

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