Volkswagen loves to remind people of the GTI's long and proud history by adding little retro details to the interior, such as plaid cloth seats and a golf ball shift knob on the manual-equipped cars, but the rest of the cabin is thoroughly modern in feel. The 2022 GTI offers a more modern interior design, and we appreciate the grippy steering wheel and lowered instrument cowl that does a lot for forward visibility. The digital cluster is a bit gimmicky though. What's worse than that is that the new infotainment interface is devoid of physical buttons - not even a volume knob. It may look great, but ergonomically, it's a poor exercise in design over usability. In comparison to the Mk7, it looks a lot fresher, but a lot of the plastics used feel cheaper than the older model.
Plaid! If you're going to get a Volkswagen GTI, you have to get the plaid seats. It may be the coolest feature on the inside. They're cloth, which will please the animal lovers. They're comfortable, which will please your bottom. And they're bolstered pretty well for an average-sized adult human. And, unlike the Jetta GLI, the GTI has seat-base adjustment for both height and angle.
The GTI seats five officially, with a good amount of space in the back for adults. There's a pass-through for an armrest and cupholder if you're not filling that fifth seat. Headroom is 38.1 inches and legroom is 35 inches, both of which are bigger than the Hyundai Veloster N.
Ergonomically, drivers can reach the screen and all the controls. There's a new headlight panel control to the left of the wheel and there are big storage spaces in the doors and center. There's more textured plastic than we like. But that's one of those things that you'll be too busy enjoying the drive to notice.
|Volkswagen Golf GTI Trims||S||SE||Autobahn|
|Headroom Front Seat||38.5 in.||38.5 in.||38.5 in.|
|Headroom Back Seat||38.1 in.||38.1 in.||38.1 in.|
|Legroom Front Seat||41.2 in.||41.2 in.||41.2 in.|
|Legroom Back Seat||35 in.||35 in.||35 in.|
|Shoulder Room Front||55.9 in.||55.9 in.||55.9 in.|
|Shoulder Room Rear||53.9 in.||53.9 in.||53.9 in.|
|Hip Room, Front||53.4 in.||53.4 in.||53.4 in.|
|Hip Room, Rear||46.3 in.||46.3 in.||46.3 in.|
The interior of the Golf GTI has traditionally been more retrained than its more extreme hot hatch competitors, and feels more mature than say a Honda Civic Si, but still offers some nice sporty touches. The 2022 GTI features sport-themed materials such as alloy pedals and red stitching. As you may have guessed already, we're massive fans of the iconic plaid inserts on the cloth seats, housed within a Titan Black surround with contrasting red patches. Higher up in the trim range you also get leather upholstery. All models get a leather steering wheel with perforated leather on the key touch areas, and the signature golf-ball shifter is standard on the manual derivatives.
Practicality has always been close to the top of the checklist for the GTI, and that's why so many people love these cars; they can be used as daily family cars without breaking a sweat, and a big part of that practicality comes down to cargo space. The 2022 VW Golf GTI offers a middling 19.9 cubic feet of trunk space behind the rear seats, which is just slightly less than you get in the Mazda 3 (20.1 cubes), but the Honda Civic Type R decimates both with 25.7 cubic feet. Fold the rear 60/40 split seats down, and you get a useful 34.5 cubes. The GTI gets the usual two cupholders in the front, glovebox, door pockets, and a center console storage bin in terms of small-item storage.
|Volkswagen Golf GTI Trims||S||SE||Autobahn|
|Max Volume||34.5 in.||34.5 in.||34.5 in.|
GTI cars tend to be better equipped than your average VW, and the 2022 car provides a decent spec sheet. The base model comes standard with Climatronic single-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, front and rear park distance control, push-button start/stop, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, push-button start, and a 30 color adjustable interior ambient lighting system. Standard driver assistance tech on the base model includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, and wireless phone charging.
As if that wasn't already comprehensively kitted, the SE adds exterior features such as a power-adjustable panoramic sunroof and an adaptive front lighting system. It receives keyless access, dynamic road sign display, optional 12-way power-adjustable leather seats, and optional ventilation. The Autobahn trim gets a standard 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear outboard seats, leather upholstery, and ventilated front seats. It also adds tech such as a head-up display and high-beam control.
In practice, the climate control is a little annoying. We've used the new Climatronic Touch system on other VWs including the latest Tiguan, but there the haptic buttons and sliders are easier to see and reach. On this GTI, and the Golf R, there's a narrow panel just below the infotainment screen that is angled towards the sky. There are a few grooves to slide your finger in to change the temperature, but it was almost impossible to see or hit while driving.
The GTI is very very good mechanically but the tech is still a little iffy. The 2022 model has the company's Digital Cockpit Pro as standard. That 10.25-inch display takes the place of a traditional gauge cluster. We have no problem with it as it's easy to understand and to control with the steering wheel (haptic) buttons. Though we did hit them a few times when snaking through turns and sawing at the wheel.
The MIB3 infotainment system ships standard with an 8.25-inch screen on the S and a 10-inch screen on the SE and Autobahn and looks good with several different home screens. But in practice, it was a little maddening. To change the fan speed you have to go two menus deep, and moving from CarPlay (wireless, as is Android Auto) back and forth to the native screens took extra presses. The seat heat button on the screen doesn't actually change the seat heating level as expected, it brings you to the climate control page and requires a few more presses.
Other functionality includes wireless charging on all models, while the Autobahn gets a head-up display. Base cars get a seven-speaker system while the SE and Autobahn trims come with a Harman Kardon, 480-watt premium audio system with nine speakers. We only tested the upgraded unit and it was loud and precise with a combination of '90s rap and '70s R&B all day long.