2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

2023 Volkswagen GTI Review
  • Brilliant handling
  • Terrific steering feel and heft
  • Golf R’s strong turbo power
  • Practical design
  • Dumb haptic controls
  • Can ride stiffly with biggest wheels
  • Limited low-end grunt in GTIs
  • Some feature set quirks
  • The Golf GTI works great in base S trim, but the pricey Autobahn begs for a step up to Golf R guise.

The 2023 VW Golf range is fun in any setting, but the Golf R is worth the step up from the GTI Autobahn.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Volkswagen GTI? What does it compare to?
The 2023 VW Golf GTI and Golf R are two takes on a sporty hatchback with impressive turbocharged power and real-world utility thanks to a spacious cabin. Shop it against the Subaru WRX and the Hyundai Elantra and Kona N models. 

Is the 2023 VW GTI a good car?
It’s a hoot to drive, with approachable tech and rip-roaring performance paired with a firm ride. It’s a 6.5 out of 10 on our scale.

What's new for the 2023 Volkswagen GTI?
A new 40th Anniversary package joins the GTI lineup this year, slotting between base S and mid-level SE trims. All models also now come with LED headlights. 
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

The GTI and R are the only Golf variants sold in the U.S., and they share a two-box hatchback shape with cues that date back to the Beetle’s mid-1970s replacement. Hardly workaday models, though, they sit low to the ground and ride on purposeful, big wheels wrapped in narrow bands of performance-oriented tires. Inside, a driver-centric dash pairs a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster with an 8.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment. An even bigger 10.0-inch touchscreen is optional. 

Bolstered seats serve as a daily reminder that the GTI and Golf R would rather run down a winding road than a congested highway on the way to work. 

The GTI makes use of a turbo-4 rated at 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, while the all-wheel-drive Golf R jumps all the way up to 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. On both, a 6-speed manual is standard, while a rapid-fire 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is optional. 

GTIs are almost supple enough for commuting, but Golf Rs would rather make use of their drift mode. Spectacular steering feel and heft adds to their appeal. There are few more fun ways to spend $31,000 or so. 

Comfy front seats give way to a usable rear seat and a terrific cargo area. Add a roof rack and the GTI and Golf R should be enough to cancel out any SUV thoughts. 

Good standard crash-avoidance tech is augmented by top safety scores from the IIHS. 

How much does the 2023 VW GTI cost?
VW wants $30,975 for a base GTI S, which comes with plaid cloth seats, an 8.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and automatic climate control. Leather, a sunroof, and upgraded audio can nudge the price as high as around $40,000. 
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

The Golf R checks in at a salty $46,000 or so, in a single, high-end trim level.

Where is the 2023 Volkswagen GTI made?
In Germany.


True to their heritage, these hatchback VWs wear crisp, tailored lines.

Is the Volkswagen GTI a good-looking car?
The Golf GTI and Golf R laugh in the face of bulky SUVs. These low-slung hatchbacks contain enough retro cues to link them to the original Golf that replaced the iconic Beetle the better part of a half-century ago. We appreciate the consistency, so we give them a 6 on the TCC scale.

The two-box shape is conventional enough, though the big rearmost roof pillars serve as the best nod to the past. Modern touches include bright LED running lights, including an available light bar that flanks the big VW badge in the center of the narrow grille opening. Standard 18-inch wheels look great, but the optional 19s give Autobahn and Golf R models an especially muscular look.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

The GTI’s cabin is conservative and a little sparse since many physical buttons have been incorporated into either touch-sensitive panels or the infotainment display itself. A panel fires up haptic buttons, but it requires a double-tap to make anything happen. Progress? Probably not, though the standard cloth seats in a retro tartan plaid pattern make up for it to a degree.


The 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R deliver spectacular performance, though they can be tiring as daily drivers.

Befitting their performance heritage, the 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R deliver great handling and solid straight-line performance. This latest incarnation can ride firmly, though.

Our 7 out of 10 here comes courtesy of their impressive cornering ability and quick acceleration. 

Is the Volkswagen GTI 4WD?
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

The GTI is front-wheel drive, but the Golf R comes standard with a trick all-wheel-drive system that can hustle 50 percent of the engine’s power rearward and then send every bit of that grunt to the outside wheel in hard cornering.

How fast is the Volkswagen GTI?
It’s plenty quick. Base GTIs come with a 241-hp, 273 lb-ft of torque version of the company’s venerable 2.0-liter inline-4, which is smooth and strong after a hint of low-speed lag. The manual gearbox is sublime, while the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission works even better for rapid-fire shifts under pressure. Less impressive is the dual-clutch’s propensity to stumble at lower speeds, which can exacerbate the turb 

Golf Rs amp up the turbo-4 to a heady 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which necessitates the extra traction provided by the all-wheel-drive system. They’re rapid enough to sprint to 60 mph in as little as 4.7 seconds with the dual-clutch.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

Spectacular handling helps the GTI feel neutral, even though power is delivered forward through a limited-slip differential. Well-weighted steering trades VW’s normal lightness for good heft and plentiful road feel. Golf Rs are even more balanced, with less torque steer than the GTI. 

The ride is notably firm, and the adaptive dampers fitted to Autobahn versions seem to exist mostly to help the big 19-inch wheels fitted to the top trim ride more like the 18s on others. 

Golf Rs are just as stiff, but we expect a lot of firmness from VW’s highest-performance model.

Comfort & Quality

The Golf GTI and Golf R make practical choices.

Oh how we forget how practical a hatchback can be. The GTI and Golf R have long-roof designs that give them small-SUV utility in a far more fun-to-drive package. 

The 19.9 cubic-foot cargo area that grows to 34.5 cubes with the second row folded and the supportive front seats both earn these VWs points on the TCC scale. They’re a 7 for comfort and quality.

The standard seats lack power adjustment, but they’re plenty comfortable, with the kind of bolstering we expect from a sporty model. Standard plaid cloth can be swapped out for leather, but we dig the retro flair of the fabric. 
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

Rear-seat leg room is just OK, though big door openings for a small car aid ingress and egress. 

The GTI and Golf R have nice, price-appropriate materials inside, though they’re not quite the mini Audis they once were.


The 2023 VW Golf GTI and Golf R offer good crash protection.

How safe is the Volkswagen GTI?
These small VWs should be good choices. The IIHS gives them a Top Safety Pick+ nod when equipped with upgraded LED headlights, while standard crash-avoidance tech across the lineup is also worth a point on the TCC scale.

The 2023 GTI and Golf R score a 7, with room to improve when the NHTSA smacks them against a wall.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

Standard fare includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors (front and rear) all come standard. GTI Autobahn models add park assist and automatic high beams.


The 2023 VW GTI and Golf R come well-equipped for the money.

VW builds a lot of tech into its GTI and Golf R lineups, though we have some minor quibbles about the automaker’s interfaces. 

Still, good standard features, a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with two years of scheduled maintenance, plenty of options, and a big touchscreen warrant an impressive 9 out of 10.

The GTI lineup comes in S, SE, and Autobahn trims, with a 40th Anniversary model set to arrive between S and SE versions at some point in the 2023 model year.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

Base S versions cost $30,975 to start, or $800 more with the optional 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. That cash buys cloth seats that are heated up front, 18-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, a digital instrument cluster, and an 8.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Which Volkswagen GTI should I buy?
The base S is a compelling value, though the SE adds a sunroof, an upsized 10.0-inch infotainment screen, Harman Kardon speakers, and wireless smartphone mirroring for $35,725. 

How much is a fully loaded Volkswagen GTI?
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

The GTI Autobahn warrants consideration thanks to its impressive array of features; we’d consider bypassing the mid-level SE simply because of how well-outfitted the Autobahn is with its leather seats, head-up display, heated rear seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, 19-inch wheels, and adaptive dampers. It’s a luxury car in its own right, all for $39,425. 

The Golf R builds on the GTI Autobahn, albeit with more power and all-wheel drive for $45,385. A limited-run 20th Anniversary package costs $700 more mostly for appearance goodies, though it also deletes the sunroof.

Fuel Economy

The 2023 VW Golf GTI and Golf R can be frugal choices if driven gently.

Is the Volkswagen GTI good on gas?
For all its underhood power, the 2023 VW GTI can be a miserly choice. Models with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic are a little less greedy with fuel than those with the manual, at least according to EPA estimates. The Golf GTI and Golf R both rate a 3 in most configurations.

GTIs with the dual-clutch are estimated at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined. The manual slips to 23/32/27 mpg.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review

Dual-clutch Golf Rs are nearly as impressive at 23/30/26 mpg, though manuals check in at just 23 mpg combined.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
2023 Volkswagen GTI Review 2023 Volkswagen GTI Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 16, 2022 Rating: 5


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