2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

Like facial tissue is dominated by Kleenex brand.  So too is ‘hot hatch’ dominated by VW’s Golf GTI.

And 2020 is no exception.  Because again Volkswagen delivers great performance with exceptional attention to detail for an incredible value.

Sure, that’s come to be expected by VW followers worldwide.  But here in the U.S., more and more drivers are taking note.  Perhaps, more importantly, more and more driving enthusiasts are doing so.  And you might want to as well.

2020 VW Golf GTI Top-3:

  1. Drive
  2. Value
  3. Interior

My friends at Ontario Volkswagen in Southern California’s Inland Empire hooked me up with the Golf GTI pictured throughout this review.

–>Continue reading or click play below to listen.<–

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI - gray passenger profile

2020 VW Golf GTI Compact 4-Door Hot Hatch

So the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI is technically a compact car.  It’s got four doors, a hatchback, and a whole lotta fun behind the wheel. :0)

In fact, the GTI is just one of many versions of the Golf that Volkswagen has made, and continues to produce, for many years.

2020 VW Golf GTI - gray - passenger rear

But GTI has always been the sportier version of the Golf.  Bested only when VW also produces the Golf R, which is arguably a street-legal racecar.

Here’s a look at Volkswagen’s Golf family of models.

Volkswagen Golf Variations:

  • 4-door wagons
    • Golf SportWagen
    • Golf Alltrack
  • 4-door hatchbacks
    • Golf
    • Golf GTI
    • Golf R

*All compacts

Additionally, VW has made electric and 2-door hatchback Golf versions in recent years.

With all these Golf variations, Volkswagen has gotten the car very ‘right.’  And that especially holds true with the GTI.  Which is truly an incredible value for the performance you get.

Grill with badging and plate

2020 VW Golf GTI courtesy of Ontario VW

VW started producing Golf in 1974.  With GTI starting in 1976.  And it’s currently in its 8th generation.  Or Mk8 (Mark 8) as Volkswagen likes to say.

So, even with the recent popularity of crossover SUVs Golf and it’s sporty GTI has stood time’s test.  Plus I’m betting it will be around for many years to come – in some form.

Is Golf GTI The Original Hot Hatch?

Technically there were a couple of performance hatchbacks that came before it. But in 1976, GTI definitely popularized the phrase.  So, in our opinion – yes!

Trim Levels And Prices

For 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI is being produced in three main trim configurations.  And they’re all well known to the Golf GTI lineup as they’ve been parts of it before.

2020 VW Golf GTI Trims & MSRPs:

  • S$28,595
  • SE $32,195
  • Autobahn $36,495

*All starting MSRPs

As always, we include manufacturers starting retail prices for reference only.

And I highly recommend my friends at Ontario Volkswagen.  Because not only are you going to get the best deal.  Btt also an exemplary buying experience.

No pressure. No non-sense.  And I love that.

Engine, Transmission & MPG

All 2020 VW Golf GTI trims come with the same engine.

And that’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.  It puts out 228-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

TSI engine cover

228-hp w/ 258 lb-ft of torque

You do have two transmissions to select from.

There’s a 6-speed manual.  And that’s my personal choice for the Golf GTI.  Because that makes the car’s power and performance all the more fun to play with!

But, the other good option is the 7-speed automatic.  Because that’s two things at once.

First, it’s better in traffic.  Nobody likes shaking hands with a shifter.  And not going anywhere.

Second, the 7-speed auto comes with Tiptronic.  And paddle shifters.  So you still get most of the playfulness of the manual.  Without the headaches in traffic.

Fuel Economy:

  • City: 24 mpg
  • Combined: 27 mpg
  • Highway: 32 mpg

*Estimated same manual or auto 

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior

The VW Golf GTI keeps its classic yet athletic great looks.  And that’s one of the things I love.  It’s that to the uneducated.  The GTI can look very deceiving.

passenger front 2020 Golf GTI

Wolf in sheep’s clothes!

Because you have to know about cars.  At least a little.  To appreciate what a Golf GTI is capable of.

Exterior Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase: 103.6
  • Track:
    • Front: 60.6
    • Rear: 59.7
  • Length: 168.0
  • Width: 70.8
  • Height: 57.8
  • Ground clearance: 5.1

*All inches 

Inside 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Inside the 2020 VW Golf GTI is everything you need.  And not much that you don’t.

bolsters with gray fabric and plaid GTI seats

Serious front seat bolsters

The bolsters are the first thing you’ll notice.  When sitting in the driver or front passenger seat.

Because they’re significant.  And you’ll feel them in two places.  Your hips and torso.

driver focused cockpit

Fun driver-centric cockpit

There are two things I like about that.  First, the sense of sportiness.  And second is the security you feel.

Because GTI will hold you in place.  While you put it through its paces. :0)

plaid rear seats with armrest down - 2020 VW Golf GTI

Plenty of backseat legroom.

And the 2020 Golf GTI is plenty spacious in the backseat.  And legroom it provides is assisted.  It’s helped by smart German engineering.

Specifically the indentations in the back of the front seats.  That really helps in the comfort category.

cargo area w/ backseats partially down

Up to 52.7 cu-ft of cargo space

And with up to 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, Golf GTI has you covered.  It’s such a functional car.  Versatile in its ability to haul people and stuff.

But still, a blast to drive.  If you don’t know Golf GTI.  All these reasons and more.  Are why it enjoys a cult following.

 Interior measurements:

  • Headroom: 38.4/38.1
  • Shoulder room: 55.9/53.9
  • Legroom: 41.2 35.6

*All inches

Infotainment & Technology

The available 8-inch touchscreen on the GTI is two things.  Crystal clear.  And super-easy to use.

Volkswagen’s app-connect lets you plug-in your smartphone.  And use select apps through the 8″ touchscreen.  So you can keep your hands-off your phone!

2020 VW Golf GTI cockpit

All the tech you need.

And both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is available.  VW has partnered with Fender for the available premium sound system.  And it sounds sweet!

Finally, a big one is the VW Car-Net suite of app-based services.  Because as of 2020 a number of it’s best features are free of charge.  And that’s for 5-years!

Driver Assistance & Safety

And there’s plenty of driver assistance safety features.  Both standard and available in the 2020 Golf GTI.

Driver Assistance Safety Features:


  • Blind-spot monitor
  • Rear traffic alert
  • Front assist


  • Park distance control w/ maneuver braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Light assist
  • Park assist

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Top-3

My Top-3 for the Golf GTI is always tough.  Because it’s got a lot going for it.  But also because each of my Top-3 is nearly equal.

So, in this case.  The order does not matter.

  1. Drive: Golf GTI has been a fun car to drive since – forever. :0)  It’s fast.   Has lots of acceleration.  And it’s a blast around tight corners.
  2. Value: For what you get.  It’s tough to beat the value of a Golf GTI.  VW’s famous fit and finish.  Euro-quality.  And it will last.
  3. Interior: I hinted at this earlier in this article.  The sweet drive is enhanced by an interior designed for it.  Especially those bolstered seats.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI front plate

My thanks.  As always.  To the team at Ontario Volkswagen in Ontario, California.

Led by my friend Earl Reed.  Everyone I send loves the treatment and deals they get there.

And, I’m always happy to make a personal intro.  Email me: tom [at] idrivesocal.com.