Volkswagen Golf 2024

Our 2024 review is coming soon. Below is our review of the 2023 model year.

Our test car was a GTI Performance model with a 248 horsepower 2L turbo four that was hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Performance is very fast and the 2L turbo exhibits excellent flexibility. The DSG transmission works very well and marries well to the engine. However, the sounds made by the boomy exhaust system highlight the shifts of the transmission and ends up being annoying. For sound profile alone, picking the manual might be a better choice than the DSG. Steering is meaty, direct and tracks well on the highway. Handling is very controlled with no lean to speak of. However, the ride of the new GTI, at least in Performance trim, is, frankly, awful. The suspension seems unnaturally snubbed with too little vertical movement to properly react to pavement irregularities, resulting in a ride so jittery that all passenger who rode in the car commented on the ride negatively. The track-oriented 235-35-19 tires are ill-suited to road use and some fairly average potholes caused crashes so abrupt that the driver felt compelled to stop to check it the tire still held air.

Typical for a Volkswagen, the car feels incredibly solid, with impressive door-shut noises, despite the fact the car weighs no more than competitors. Drivers face a digital gauge cluster with excellent graphics which can be configured in various ways. The the right of the gauge sector is the new VW universal screen like that used on the ID.4. Driver’s may eventually come to terms with the control interface but it is so hard to deal with the question is why should they have to. There is a biggish horizontal screen and touch sensitive pads to alter temperature and adjust sound level on audio. Below the screen there is a small panel with four touch surfaces, one of which is for climate, which, if you push it, brings up a climate screen which gives you distribution, fan speed and seated and cooled seats. Fan-speed can be altered via voice command, which is helpful as altering it otherwise is tough sledding. An empty square icon acts as a home button and helps navigate the various screens. The Navigation system is easy to work and functions well. The audio system is the most difficult to work and never seems to work the same way twice. Finding out how to arrange the radio presets remained a mystery after a week with the car. Radio tone settings are adjusted via a 1980s type graphic equalizer which is no less tedious now than it was then.

Good quality cabin fittings for the most part. Front doors have padded upper dash and front doors. Top of rear doors hard plastic. Black and gray leather seating with red piping and accents. The dark gray metallic look dash and door trim, with subtle overlaid print, is attractive. The centre console is slimline and minimalist. A small nub controls the shifter and the selection of the various gears, especially reverse, is counter-intuitive.

Small cubby ahead of this panel. QI equipped charged my phone with no further intervention than placing it on the pad. The cabin trim looks upscale but carpeting is thin and cheap looking. The large sunroof opens via a touch surface but the lack of a solid sunblind may be unacceptable for some buyers. Seating is comfortable front and rear and while room up front is good, rear seat legroom needs to be better in a car this big. Reasonable trunk space with hatchback versatility. Good air conditioning performance during sweltering weather.

It is unfortunate VW has withheld the regular Golf from the Canadian market. With normal tires and suspension settings and the deliciously smooth 1.5L turbo, the “normal” Golf would have been a refined and well-rounded car that would have suited more buyers than the hyper-focussed “performance or nothing” nature of the GTI Performance the APA experienced.

The Golf, VW’s evergreen hatchback, was renewed for 2022 but only in its super-premium (GTI) and hyper-premium (R) forms. The newest Golf is roughly the same size as before and styling is all new but-oh-so familiar. The decades-long success of the Golf has in some ways trapped the model in a stylistic bubble. Cabin space is similar to the previous Golf but the style of the cabin has been significantly updated. The driver faces a TFT gauge package, to the right of which is an expansive, free-standing infotainment screen that runs all audio and climate features and is the same unit installed in the ID.4 electric car.  What driver’s need to do to manipulate the audio/climate interface is not immediately obvious and even when a driver is more familiar with the system, it requires too much concentration for in-car use. The rest of the cabin is traditional, elegant and nicely finished.

VW’s latest version of its 2L turbo four in the 2023 Golf GTI s rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automated manual transmission. Power delivery should be strong and flexible. A limited-slip differential is standard on all versions of the 2022 GTI.

The 2L turbo four powering the R produces 315 horsepower and 295 lb.ft (with DSG) of torque. Power flows to all wheels via the same transmissions employed in the GTI.

With L.E.D. headlights, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and wireless cellphone charging, the base GTI model is nicely equipped. The DSG automated manual transmission is priced at $1400. The Autobahn trim upgrade adds, forward collision warning, including pedestrians and cyclists, autonomous emergency warning, active cruise control with stop and go, a lane keep assist system, wireless iOS-Android cellphone interface and navigation, and is good value. The supplement to ascend to the Performance trim, which adds self-parking, ventilated front seats, a memory system, leather seating, a Harman-Kardon audio system and a head up display system, and is a bargain.

With 74 extra horsepower and all-wheel drive, the Golf R is sold in a single, comprehensively equipped model. Compared with the GTI Performance model with a DSG, the all-wheel drive R is priced $8100 more, but also includes premium Nappa leather, reducing the true supplement to about $4200.

Predicted reliability is average at best for the first three or four years, declining after that. Premature turbo wastegate failures are becoming a problem for VW owners.

Last update: September 19, 2023


  • Engine

    2L-4 T (241 HP GTI*, 315 HP R)
  • Transmissions

    6M, 7 DSG* 
  • Fuel consumption

    City: 10L/100 km. Road: 7.3L/100 km
  • Drive Layout

    Front-wheel drive
  • Body Style

    Small Cars Sporty Cars
  • Country of Origin




Starting from  $ 34 795

What dealers pay$ 22 222

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Showing specific information
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
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Report - October 2, 2023
Base vehicle
GTI Base Auto
$ 0 $ 34 795
GTI 380 Autobahn Manual
$ 0 $ 36 895
GTI Autobahn Auto
$ 0 $ 37 595
GTI 380 Performance Manual
$ 0 $ 40 995
GTI Performance Auto
$ 0 $ 42 395
R Manual
$ 0 $ 48 895
R Auto
$ 0 $ 50 295
Rail 2 Rail Power Sunroof Package
$ 0 $ 1 250
Carbon Decor Package
$ 0 $ 1 000
Optional Paint

Available on select models.

$ 0 $ 495
Freight & PDI

Required for all vehicle purchases

$ 0 $ 1 900
Federal Air Conditioner Excise Tax (Recovery)

Required for all vehicle purchases

$ 0 $ 100

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