This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf GTI review.

4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Golf Mk6 is a great all-rounder that's still fun to drive

Volkswagen Golf GTI (09-12) - rated 4.5 out of 5
Enlarge 69 photos

At a glance

New price £25,040 - £29,505
Used price £4,195 - £11,935
Used monthly cost From £105 per month
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £265 - £330
Insurance group 35 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Mk6 GTI an outstanding all-rounder
  • Great performance
  • Agility, comfort and practicality

CONS

  • Not as quick outright as many alternatives
  • Less overtly sporty styling than some
  • Some carryover issues from the earlier GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

The Volkswagen Golf GTI launched the trend for hot hatches in the late 1970s and has grown from a cult car, to to a great all-round fast family hatchback. The Golf GTI Mk6 was effectively a thorough re-working of the previous version, itself a superb performance hatch. Volkswagen, therefore, had a strong base upon which to develop this car.

It came with a more powerful 2.0-litre TFSI engine and focused on sharp handling, without compromising on comfort. And while it provides most of the thrills that more powerful rivals can offer, it is utterly painless to use as everyday transport for a family.

What’s it like inside?

The tartan seat trim on standard models harks back to the earliest versions of the GTI and is one of the feel-good elements of owning one. To distinguish it from the standard Golf there’s also a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a sportier gear lever – although the distinctive ‘golf ball’ gear knob that featured on the previous and later GTIs was dropped. Elsewhere there’s red stitching and unique dials, adding to the sporty trim.

Like the standard Golf, the finish and quality of materials used is first class and the cabin has a refined and sophisticated feel.

The Mk6 GTI shared many of the strengths of the standard Golf with a roomy interior, excellent refinement and noise suppression, plus air conditioning as standard. At low speeds it’s as docile and easy to drive as a standard Golf. The GTI was a refined motorway car too, but while there is very little noise intrusion, the exhaust has been tuned to give it a sporty sound which should appeal to owners.

Practicality

The Mk6 GTI has the same boot space as the standard Golf. It’s also virtually identical to the previous version of the hot hatch with a minimum capacity of 350 litres, extending up to more than 1,300 litres with the rear seats folded. This isn’t as large as other hatchbacks like the Ford Focus, but the tailgate offers slightly better access than on the previous model with a broader opening.

In the front the glove compartment and other storage areas are usefully large while the door pockets have sculpted bottle holders.

What’s it like to drive?

A 210bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine was used in the Mk6 GTI, but although it’s new, maximum pulling power is the same as the previous version of the GTI. However, it kicks in at 100rpm lower than before (1,700rpm instead of 1,800rpm) and the car feels a little livelier at lower revs than the fifth-generation model. This substantial pulling power remains until 5,200rpm making the GTI responsive on the move and keen when overtaking.

It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, which feels slick and precise in typical Volkswagen fashion. The alternative is an optional six-speed DSG (a quick-shifting manual that can be used as an automatic) with steering wheel-mounted paddles allowing you to change gears manually.

Comfort

High performance versions of family cars often make occupants suffer over poor road surfaces with stiff suspension creating a harsh ride. However, the Golf GTI offers a far more supple ride than might be expected in a hot hatchback. The suspension is lower than the standard Golf, but seems to lose little of the standard car’s ride comfort. It also uses electronics to help improve drive out of slower corners.

A system called XDS – which is more sophisticated than traction control – allows smoother acceleration with less wheelspin. It’s an enjoyable car to drive on challenging roads, with engaging steering, which is neither too light nor too heavy, and remains composed when cornering. If there is a criticism, it’s that the Mk6 GTI makes driving hard feel far less dramatic than it perhaps should.

There is an optional ‘adaptive chassis control’ system, which allows the driver to tailor the car’s behaviour according to road conditions. The ‘normal’ setting is similar to that of a standard GTI, but there are additional ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ modes. Selecting ‘sport’ also makes the steering feel sharper.

Ownership costs and MPG

Although the Golf was a little pricier new than many rivals, such as the Ford Focus ST or Honda Civic Type R depreciation was slower, and you can still pay proper money for a nicely-maintained example today. The Mk6 GTI has surprisingly good fuel consumption with almost 40mpg possible in everyday driving. Volkswagen servicing is best via an independent specialist, so GTI isn’t necessarily an expensive car to own.

The Golf GTI still has a good reputation for reliability with a few well-known problems reported, with some issues from the previous model being eradicated here.

Safety

The Mk6 GTI came with front and side airbags, a driver’s side knee airbag, and front and rear curtain airbags. Side airbags for rear passengers can be chosen as an option. Electronic stability control is also standard. Like its predecessor it was awarded a five-star rating by Euro NCAP for adult occupant safety along with four stars for child safety. It was also given five stars under the new Euro NCAP crash rating scheme.

Introduced in 2009, the revised overall rating covered not only adult occupant safety but included child and pedestrian safety along with a rear impact whiplash test.

Volkswagen Golf GTI rivals

Other Volkswagen Golf (2009 - 2016) models: