Volkswagen Golf GTI: Classic Hot Hatch Cues Made Modern

The iconic performance cues are all there, but the automaker also transitions the car into a new age, with digital instrumentation, a solid infotainment system and other high-tech touches.

David Zoia, Senior Director-Content

May 26, 2022

2 Min Read
Golf GTI Main Art crop
Performance style with a dash of technology and luxury.

It’s not easy keeping pace with the battery-electric vehicles hitting the market these days when it comes to innovative interior design and breakthrough technology features that take the user experience to the next level.

But Volkswagen’s Golf GTI manages the trick, fusing core hot-hatch styling, classic GTI identity and modern, high-tech amenities and design cues into a single package to secure a spot on the 2022 Wards 10 Best Interiors and UX list.

Playing to tradition, the GTI SE edition we tested features brand-iconic plaid seats, trimmed in leather and incorporating supportive side bolsters and integrated headrests up front.

“The traditional-but-fashionable plaid seats are an obvious win here,” judge Christie Schweinsberg notes on her scoresheet.

The brand-defining seats are complemented by an aggressively styled steering wheel, stainless-steel pedal caps (including a dead pedal to help keep the driver planted) and performance-infused stylized gray plastic trim along the dash and door inners. So “check,” “check,” “check” as far as most of the driver’s car design-essentials go.

But VW also transitions the GTI into a new age. To begin with, the 10-in. (25-cm) center infotainment touchscreen is neatly integrated neatly into the instrument panel and boasts crisp, clean graphics. Supported by what the automaker says is an all-new electronic architecture, it features a flat menu that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

The electronic gear selector is sleek and diminutive and the 10.25-in (26-cm) Digital Cockpit Pro instrumentation is state-of-the-art and infused with graphics befitting the GTI theme. There also are other modern amenities, including a phone charger and multiple USB ports; a head-up display is available as an option. Some may think the slider controls for radio volume are a step too far, but we find they work well enough and become second nature with a little use.

“It sounds like an oxymoron, but the touch controls are intuitive once you figure them out,” notes judge Drew Winter.

There are little luxury touches as well that belie the car’s sub-$37,000 sticker price as tested. Unique dotted puddle lamps and light-up door handles greet your arrival and accent lighting – offering a choice of 30 colors – carries the mood into the cabin. Sleek semi-hidden climate-system vents, a mesh sunroof screen and upscale headliner help seal the deal.

The GTI also scores well when it comes to driver-assist features. Our tester came equipped with VW’s IQ Drive suite of technology that includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian/cyclist monitoring, lane keeping and more.

To sum up, the new GTI measures up against even its most technically advanced and aesthetically daring competitors. It simply looks great, functions well and is priced to please.

GTI exterior crop.jpg

GTI exterior crop

About the Author(s)

David Zoia

Senior Director-Content, WardsAuto

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