By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
2014 marks the final year for this long-running version of the Golf/GTI; an all-new model is slated to arrive late next year. However, even at the end of its model run, the 2014 VW Golf and GTI remain impressive vehicles. Available only as a 4-door hatchback, the Golf is no longer as body-style diverse as the Hyundai Elantra. However, the Koreans still haven't been able to match the interior materials and feel of the German compacts, especially in the area of seat comfort. Enthusiasts will love the refined power found in the GTI, while those more concerned with a smooth ride and good fuel economy can opt for the diesel-powered Golf TDI.
If you love to drive, but you can't afford the price or cramped environment afforded by most performance cars, check out the 2014 VW Golf and GTI. The GTI is quick, spry and a blast to drive, while the Golf TDI delivers hybrid-level fuel economy without sacrificing performance.
Changes to the 2014 Volkswagen Golf and GTI are limited to two special-edition GTI trims: Wolfsburg and Driver's Edition. The 2-door Golf/GTI body is dropped taking with it the option of a manual transmission on the base 2.5. The Golf R is also no more.
Driving Impressions As the 2014 Volkswagen Golf shares the same basic platform and suspension components as the sportier GTI, the little compact enjoys a level of handling and stability not found in...most entry-level compacts. With direct steering, a smooth but firm ride and a cabin isolated from road and wind noise, the Golf feels much more upscale than its $20,000 starting price might suggest. The 2.5-liter base engine won't blow your socks off with its performance, but it gets the job done. The real star of the Golf line is the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel that brings impressive fuel economy as well as ample low-end torque, making it nearly as quick as the GTI. Of course, the GTI is about more than power. Its stiff suspension loves to attack curves, and its snug sport seats are about the best we've tested, better in fact than many sport seats in cars costing twice as much.
TDI DIESEL ENGINE
Hybrid powertrains are not the only option for those seeking 40-plus mpg. The 2014 VW Golf TDI is equally efficient, delivers impressive power and can be had with a manual transmission. The clean diesel engine also puts out about 30-percent less greenhouse emissions than a traditional gasoline engine.
GTI SPORT SEAT
If you love to be hugged snuggly in the turns, there are no better seats for the job than those found in the GTI. Opt for the upgraded leather and you'll get power 4-way lumbar support.
Volkswagen describes the 2014 Golf interior as one that continues to "set the quality benchmark in its class." And we wouldn't disagree, as the Golf employs a mixture of design and execution rarely found at window stickers fully twice that of the Golf. Throughout the interior, from seat choices to the dash and center stack, you'll not be disappointed by the Golf's visual and tactile performance. And its functional acumen is underscored by an info-centric dash, form-fitting bucket seats and high-lift tailgate. The GTI takes the interior one step further, with an ergonomic steering wheel, aggressive sport seats and more comprehensive instrumentation.Exterior
Visually the 2014 VW Golf and GTI don't veer far from the boxy formula that has been their trademark since being introduced nearly 40 years ago. The crisp, shark crease running the length of the Golf adds, we're told, "visual movement" to the car, while its sweptback headlights heighten the Golf's athletic look. On the Golf TDI Clean Diesel with the Tech Package are LED daytime running lights that sit along the sides and base of the headlights. The 2014 Golf is an evolution of a design that worked from the git-go, and continues to work because its design team refuses to dramatically alter its innate goodness.
Standard equipment on the 2014 VW Golf includes an automatic transmission, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, power windows with automatic up/down, air conditioning, split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, cruise control, 8-speaker radio with single CD, and heated outside mirrors. Adding the Convenience Group ups the ante with heated front seats and Bluetooth technology. Convenience-and-Sunroof goes beyond the addition of the sunroof with Premium VIII touch-screen radio, Sirius satellite radio and an MDI with an iPod cable. The GTI receives unique fascias and badging, along with a stance – via more aggressive rubber – that conveys both higher ambition and capabilities.
Most notable among choices in the VW showroom is the 2.0-liter TDI diesel. Car companies with operations in the U.S. have been uniformly slow in adapting diesel's benefits – abundant torque and high efficiency – to U.S.-based (or bound) platforms. VW and Mercedes continue to show the way, and the benefits of the diesel in a Golf-sized package are many. Beyond the diesel, we'd cite the Golf's excellent navigation radio and the available DSG gearbox (optional on diesel-equipped Golfs), whose efficiency and immediacy are a perfect complement to the diesel's 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.
Although the Golf's base 5-cylinder powerplant doesn't receive a huge amount of love from VW's enthusiast base, it's proven to be eminently sensible for the cut-and-thrust of daily driving, offering reasonable horsepower, smoothness and efficiency; its most damning descriptive is that it's simply not much fun. That can't be said for the 2.0 TDI, offering abundant torque, awesome efficiency and a driving experience as visceral as VW. Given the diesel's $5K premium, however, you should weigh your driving needs, and costs, carefully. You'll need to drive a significant amount in a diesel to recover its higher initial purchase price. Performance enthusiasts can enjoy the GTI's warmed-up 2.0-liter turbo-4 offering 200 horsepower.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
The 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 4-door enjoys a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $21,000, while the Golf TDI starts significantly higher at around $26,000. The GTI is priced between roughly $26,000 and $34,000, depending on the number of factory options. For an indicator of prices being paid in your market area, be sure to consult Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price. Resale of the Golf has historically fallen slightly short of Japanese competitors while proving better than those offerings from Korea. The TDI, however, has proven to be the gold standard in the compact category, especially when fuel prices are volatile.
By gtiman (VA) on Sunday, September 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great handling, comfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought a new 2013 Wolfsburg Edition GTI. My first car was a new 1983 GTI, so it seemed logical to get one 30 years later! Only have 1200 miles, but it has been great. Fun to drive, very comfortable (I'm 6'2"), good looks. Love the feel of the turbo, handling is super. I almost got a TDI for the mileage, but I splurged and got the GTI, even though the fuel cost may be higher. The fun factor is definitely higher!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tom (NY) on Tuesday, September 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased my GTI in February 2013 and currently have 7500 miles on it. I am really enjoying it. It's less horsepower than my previous car (Saab) but very fun to drive. The turbo helps and it has really nice steering and handling. It hugs the road and feels very stable taking turns at higher speeds. The interior is also very nice - the red stitching and plaid seats give it some personality. Two features that I think should be standard on this car but are not include - radio controls mounted on the steering wheel and automatic climate control. I miss both, particularly the steering wheel mounted radio controls. That being said, I could not be happier with this car."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Dan (CO) on Monday, May 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, freeway performance, gas mileage"
Cons: "Wind noise, not very practical, on the small side"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"It was between this GTI and a GLI. I went with the GTI because I figured I could fold the seats down and have all this space. Well, if you have more than 1 person, it becomes harder to fold the seats down and keep people comfortable. I previously had a Passat, and that had tons of room. My GTI is a blast to drive, its just like a go-kart, and I get great gas mileage. But ultimately it's missing practicality, bragging ability, and is a little small for me (I'm 6'2"). It was fun while it lasted, but I'm slowly looking for a replacement. But it is a ton of fun!!"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Zimian (TX) on Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Incredible blend of features and performance"
Cons: "It's not a performance car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The GTI is a great value in a well-equipped FWD car. It's not a performance car. The few flaws it has are mostly forgiveable and easily dealt with. The oversized overweight 18" wheels with all-season tires absolutely have to go. I installed 16" wheels with same width tires but in a grippy summer compound. Makes a world of difference in all aspects of performance, as tires always will do but even more so because of the weight savings. Looks better and rides better too. For its class the car is a bit heavy and it feels so on the road. However this also gives it some stability at high speed over varied road surfaces so it's not too bad. You really feel the weight when changing direction. The suspension is relatively soft but firm enough for most people. The DSG gearbox is okay but not great when compared to sequential gearboxes on actual performance cars which is what I'm used to. Most drivers will be okay with it and not notice the problems. Some of the issues are inherent with twin clutch gearboxes. Single clutch sequentials don't have the same problems. Using DSG in manual mode helps, but most drivers won't bother and will be completely happy with it as it is. Some issues could be fixed by reprogramming how the gearbox works, for example to stop it from emulating a conventional automatic's 'creep' when releasing the brake and to make it stop downshifting and engine braking so aggressively. The brakes slow the car, not the engine. Again, manual mode generally prevents it from overdoing the downshifting. Wouldn't be so bad if all it did was downshift but it also engages the clutch, often at the worst possible moment. It just lacks some finesse. I have the base model GTI which comes with the standard audio system. It works well, but iPod control is rather awful. Fortunately it also has streaming Bluetooth so I just use my iPhone to control the music. You can use voice commands to change tracks if you want to operate handsfree once you select your playlist. The climate controls are a little light to the touch and feel flimsy. Takes some getting used to. I've found that feeling for the mark on the dial helps when adjusting while driving. The list of standard features is impressive. The build quality and design are first rate. For the price you won't find another car with the same blend of equipment, utility, versatility, and performance. Many standard features which are either optional or completely unavailable on competing models. I'm happy I tried the GTI but will be selling it probably when it's about a year old to someone better suited to it. The performance aspects, about which I had no expectations anyway, just don't quite cut it for me. I wanted to like it more than I do. Again, for most people this car will be all they'll ever need or want."
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful