The pocket-rocket Golf Mk VII - Enhanced flavor

For 45 years, the Volkswagen Golf has proudly carried the compact hatchback flag for Volkswagen. For 45 years, the Golf has established itself as one of the most popular models in its segment. And for 45 years, the Golf continues to be one of VW’s most popular models. Generations have passed and versions have come and gone; through it all, the Golf name has remained front and center in the conversation on the best hatchback models in the market. That reputation has extended to the Golf’s sporty alter-ego, the GTI.

It’s no secret that the Golf GTI has evolved into a separate model with a separate identity from its Golf brethren. Need proof of that? Look no further than the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn, the range-topping version of the current GTI line that proudly carries the name of Germany’s famous thoroughfare. Does the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn live up to the billing as one of the finest sporty compact hatchbacks in the market today? More importantly, does it live up to the billing of the Golf name from where it traces its roots and the Autobahn from which it was named after? We got our hands on a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn seeking answers to these questions, and, for what it’s worth, our questions were answered emphatically.

Is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn a Good Car?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is one of the best compact cars in its class, at least if you consider driving dynamics important in this category. It’s not without its flaws — J.D. Power gave it a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is around average — but the Golf GTI Autobahn makes up for it with a peppy turbocharged four-cylinder engine that works in tandem with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic transmission to create an exciting driving experience. Pricing is a bit high, too, but that comes with the territory of scoring one of the most rounded compact cars in the market.

How Fast is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is powered by a 2.0-liter intercooled turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower at 4,700 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, though there is the option to go with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Power travels all the way to the hatchback’s two front wheels, which, in turn, helps the hatchback sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. It’s not going to set any speed records along the way, but those times are punchy for a compact car that can lay you out when you’re least expecting it to.

Should I Buy the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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You’re going to have to determine what your priorities are if you’re interested in buying a Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn. If you’re after a cheap compact car that can take you from Point A to Point B without so much of a fuss, there are less expensive alternatives out in the market. But if you’re after a compact with an upscale interior and, more importantly, refined driving characteristics, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Golf GTI Autobahn. You’re going to spend more than you think to buy one —it’s the range-topping version of the Golf GTI lineup — but it’s money well-spent if you want to enjoy your time behind the wheel of this car, at least as much as I did.

Should I Buy a New or Used 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI has been around since 2015. That’s still relatively recent given the lifespan of cars these days. What you need to know about this model is that even if it’s barely five years old, it’s undergone a number of significant transformations in the short time it has been around. The 2016MY GTI, for example, received a standard rearview camera, an improved infotainment system, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the last two of which were not available in the 2015MY. A year later, the Golf GTI Sport trim was introduced and a year after that, the model received styling changes and a more powerful engine. The 2019 Golf GTI builds off of last year’s changes with a new engine power bump to go with more safety features.

Now, if you’re in the market for a second-hand, seventh-generation Golf GTI, it’s important to establish the things you need out of it. Are you fine with a 2016 model that arrived a year before the refreshed model? Is the 2018 model enough for you, even if the cost of owning one isn’t far off from what you’re going to have to pay for a brand-new 2019 model?

If you can determine what you really want from the seventh-generation Golf GTI Autobahn, you’re a lot closer to knowing whether you want a brand-new model or if a used one will do.

How much does the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn cost?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn sits on top of the GTI range. Pricing starts at $35,995, which, honestly, is a steep price to pay for a compact hatchback. The good news is that there are some perks to being a range-topping model.

In the case of the Golf GTI Autobahn’s case, the perks include an advanced driver assistance suite that comes with front and rear parking sensors.

The hatchback also features adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and active park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking. A 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and a Fender premium audio system are all standard features of the model. For what it’s worth, the Golf GTI Autobahn is a little over $4,000 more expensive than the next model in the hierarchy, the Golf GTI SE, which starts at $31,795.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Vs. the Competition

Which is better: 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn or 2019 Hyundai Veloster N

2019 Hyundai Veloster N Exterior
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is as good a compact car as you’ll find in the market. It helps that the VW is part of a long line of well-established compacts. But if you were to opt for something on the newer side of the fence, the Hyundai Veloster N would be a great alternative, especially since its starting price — $27,785 — sits well below the amount you’re going to have to pay for a Golf GTI Autobahn. For the stated amount, the Veloster N is a ball of fun to drive. It’s one of the most agile hatchbacks in the market, thanks in large part to its sharp steering and incredible cornering. It also produces more power — 250 horsepower or 275 horsepower with a Performance package — from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine compared to the Golf GTI Autobahn. That edge in output translates on the track, too. The Veloster N can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, more than a full second quicker than the established, range-topping Golf GTI. Sure, the Hyundai is not as loaded inside as the Volkswagen, but that’s a small price to pay for a car that you’re going to want to drive the whole time.

Which is better: 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn or 2019 Mazda 3 Premium

2016 - 2018 Mazda3 High Resolution Exterior
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On the more civilized side of this comparison spectrum is the Mazda3, which is available in either hatchback or sedan form. The Mazda3 doesn’t boast the same sporty dynamics as the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn or even the Hyundai Veloster N. It’s tamer in many respects, but just because that’s the case, that doesn’t mean that the Mazda3 isn’t capable of making its own noise. The Japanese hatchback comes standard with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine good for 186 horsepower. The output falls short of what you can expect out of the VW and the Hyundai, but a car this light — the 3 weighs a little over 3,000 pounds — helps provide quick acceleration. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard, though if you avail the range-topping Premium trim, you can opt for the more adventurous six-speed manual. The Mazda3 Premium hatchback starts at $27,500, and in addition to what’s been mentioned, you’re also getting leather seats, a moonroof, adaptive headlights, and a head-up display as standard features in this trim. Looks pretty good, right?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Interior

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn arguably has one of the best interiors among all compact cars in the market today. While it is limited relative to the spatial constraints of a hatchback’s physical makeup, you won’t find a lot to complain about when you’re sitting inside the car. No matter how tall you are, there’s a suitable seating position inside, thanks in large part to the adjustable seats. It certainly helps, too, that the Golf GTI Autobahn’s status as a range-topping model comes with a premium leather upholstery on the seats. That’s an upscale treatment that you normally don’t see in models of this size or in this particular segment.

Likewise, the Golf GTI Autobahn benefits from having one of the largest cargo areas of any vehicle in this class. Keep all the seats up and there’s still a whopping 22.8 cubic feet of cargo room in the back.

Fold down the rear seats and that space opens up to an incredible 52.7 cubic feet of cargo room. Not only does the Golf GTI Autobahn have one of the largest cargo volume in the compact car class, but it also beats out a lot of compact sedans in this department, too. The Honda Civic hatchback, for example, offers anywhere from 22.6 cubic feet to 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, depending on the model. Fold down the second row and that only opens up to 46.2 cubic feet of room.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Child Car Seats

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn comes with the required LATCH hardware that all cars are supposed to have. In this instance, the Golf GTI Autobahn’s LATCH systems are easy to find and use. The back seats, in particular, comes with two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors, ensuring that you’re going to have a stress-free time installing your child’s safety seats in the back seat of the hatch. Even better, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the compact hatchback’s LATCH system a top Good rating for ease of use. I know most of you probably don’t care about LATCH systems in your cars, but for those with young children, this system is a must. It’s good to know that the Golf GTI Autobahn has that covered, too.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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For a car of its size, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn has one of the best and most straightforward infotainment systems in the segment. The 8-inch touchscreen display on the range-topping model is easy to learn and use. The screen itself is responsive, the menus and options are intuitive, and the controls are all conveniently placed so you don’t have to worry about locating them or exerting too much effort trying to use them. It’s not just the infotainment system, too.

HD Radio is available on all trim levels of the GTI, including the top-trim Autobahn. Likewise, the GTI also comes with six speakers, Bluetooth, a USB port, and an advanced smartphone integration that can be accessed through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

The GTI Autobahn also benefits from a number of upgrades that are exclusive to its status. The aforementioned 8-inch infotainment screen is exclusive to this trim; all other GTI versions receive the base 6.5-inch infotainment screen. The GTI Autobahn also comes with a user-friendly navigation system.

Besides all of that, all versions of the Golf GTI, including the top-of-the-line Autobahn, come with ambient lighting, a rearview camera, an automatic post-collision braking system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Performance

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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I already mentioned that the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is powered by a 2.0-liter intercooled turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to a standard six-speed manual transmission — or a seven-speed automatic that’s available as an option — the Golf GTI Autobahn is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. Top speed is capped at 155 mph, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The Golf GTI Autobahn has an adequate engine with an adequate output and an adequate performance time. It’s not going to break any land speed records anytime soon, but it’s important to understand, too, that the Golf GTI Autobahn isn’t built for break-neck speeds.

Handling and driving dynamics are far more important elements to the Golf GTI Autobahn’s package. That’s where it makes its bones, and if you want to squeeze every drop of its performance capabilities, that’s where you start and end.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Engine

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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All versions of the 2019 Volkswagen GTI — that includes the range-topping Autobahn — are powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine rates as one of the best in its class, in part because it accomplishes what you’d expect out of it. There’s enough power for an enjoyable drive in any environment. The punchy torque numbers also ensure that the 2019 Golf GTI Autobahn has a lot of burst in its first step. There’s only one engine available in the Golf GTI Autobahn so if you want something more powerful, the aftermarket route is the way to go.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Average Range

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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A 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI with a standard six-speed manual transmission earns an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mph on the highway. Opt for the optional seven-speed automatic transmission and the hatchback returns 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. If the 2019 Golf GTI has something that it could improve on, it’s this. Take its competitors, for example. The 2019 Mazda3 Sport hatchback has a gas mileage of 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg. The Hyundai Veloster also has it better than the Golf GTI with an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The Volkswagen Golf GTI takes this “L” without putting up a fight.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Ride and Handling

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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So the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI isn’t as fuel-efficient as some of its rivals. There’s no perfect car in all of this and if that’s the price the Golf GTI needs to pay, then so be it. Don’t confuse its below-average fuel efficiency as a sign of an inferior car because the GTI is far from one. The front-wheel-drive hatchback is one of the most nimble and most responsive vehicles in the industry. It has dynamic handling characteristics that make it so much fun to drive, especially when you know how to handle a six-speed transmission. The sport-tuned suspension system can stiffen up from time to time, but, again, the Golf GTI is far from at the perfect steed. It’s a lot of fun, though, which is more than what I can say for a lot of models that currently occupy the same space and segment.

Is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Reliable?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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J.D. Power has given the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI a predicted reliability rating of three out of five. Based on its rankings, a score of three-out-of-five translates to “about average.” Had the 2019 Golf GTI scored a four-out-of-five rating, it would have been classified as having a “better than most” predicted reliability rating. A perfect five-out-of-five rating would have translated to a rating of “among the best.”

Rest easy, folks. A three-out-of-five rating isn’t the end of the world. It could’ve been better, sure, but at least it didn’t fall into the two-out-of-five rating pit that J.D. Power calls “the rest.”

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Warranty

Volkswagen offers the 2019 Volkswagen GTI with a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Safety

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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Just because the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is a compact car, that doesn’t mean it’s without any important safety features. On the contrary, the hatchback is loaded with safety tech and equipment, including a rearview camera, an automatic post-collision braking system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. That’s just the start of it. The Golf GTI also comes with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, active park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams.

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Crash Test Results

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA awarded the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI a perfect five-star overall safety rating. It can’t get any higher than that. The compact hatchback scored five starts in the side crash category and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover categories.

In addition to the NHTSA’s rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also awarded the 2019 Golf GTI the highest rating of Good in five crash tests to go with the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

Is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Right for Me?

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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If you have the money to spend, then, by all means, go buy a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn and don’t even bother looking back. The top-of-the-line version of the sporty Golf GTI line comes with (almost) everything you’d want from a sports-oriented compact hatchback. It looks decent, has an upscale interior, and is loaded with some of the latest tech and safety features that Volkswagen has to offer. All of that, and you’re also getting a vehicle that’s positively dynamic on the road. It’s light to drive and it’s very responsive, giving you the impression that you’re always in control of it. The price is a bit steep for a compact hatchback, but you can’t get the good things without paying for them.

Final Thoughts

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 Autobahn Driven
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If you’re in the market for a sporty compact hatchback, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn should at or near the top of any list you make. It’s that good. Ok, so it has its flaws, but which car doesn’t?

The Golf GTI Autobahn rises above its shortcomings and proudly shows off what it’s really capable of. It has one of the best interiors of any car in its segment. It has a potent engine that delivers enough power to satisfy the needs of aggressive drivers, and it handles incredibly well, even by the high drivability standards we normally associate with hatchbacks.

Even with items that most of us unintentionally disregard — standard and available tech features — the Golf GTI Autobahn answers the bell. I’m not going to lie, though. It’s an expensive car, especially when there are far more affordable models in the market that can provide the same type of driving experience as the sporty GTI. But you’re not wasting your money if you buy this hatchback. It’s well worth every penny of Volkswagen’s asking price.

Further reading

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Read more Volkswagen news.

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