The sixth-generation model is a particularly good deal.
The eighth-generation 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is set to land in the United States very soon. The new model will pack a ton of impressive features and performance upgrades over the current seventh-generation model, but we suspect it will be quite expensive. We won't be shocked if the upcoming GTI costs more than $30,000 in its base trim, which is more than many enthusiasts can afford for their first performance car.
But just because a new GTI boasts all the latest tech, that doesn't mean used examples are any less relevant. There are now seven generations of used GTI models to choose from, but we want to hone in on the sixth-generation model because it combines modern equipment, startling performance, and a bargain price.
Volkswagen offered the sixth-gen GTI in the US from just 2010 to 2014. Though it was marketed as an entirely new generation, the Mk6 car was mostly a heavily facelifted version of the previous Mk5, which is partially why it lived such a short life. So why focus on the Mk6 instead of the cheaper Mk5 or, the faster and more modern Mk7? The Mk5 cars are getting on in age at this point, and the Mk7 model is significantly more expensive. We feel the Mk6 is a solid middle ground and a great starting point for young enthusiasts on a budget.
All of the GTI goodies can be found on the Mk6, including a near-premium cabin, gutsy engine, and plenty of storage space. Looks may be subjective, but we feel the Mk6 is among the most handsome GTI generations and boasted some of the best wheel patterns VW ever made for the car.
GTI pricing has inflated since the Mk6 left production in 2013 as a 2014 model year vehicle. The Mk6 was priced between $25,095 to $30,795 by the end of its life cycle, but a brand-new Mk7 costs anywhere between $28,595 and $37,295. With used examples of the Mk6 now starting to reach the decade mark in age, prices have come down significantly. Used models with over 100,000 miles start under $6,000, and late-model examples with low mileage can hit up to around $16,000. Trim level, door count, and transmission will impact the price.
Starting with the Mk5 generation, all GTI models use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels only. The Mk6 didn't offer any additional power over the Mk5, with 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque on tap. Transmission choices included either a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch, yielding a 0-60 mph time of around 6.4 seconds. The DSG is a bit quicker than the manual car, but both are excellent transmissions.
It may not have any additional power compared to the Mk5, but the Mk6 boasts a much more premium interior. GTI cabins always feel upscale, and the Mk6 is no exception with a leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel, bolstered sport seats, and high-quality cabin materials that wouldn't look out of place in an entry-level Audi. Base models include the GTI's signature tartan (plaid) chairs, while leather is also available. A base radio sits in the dash of most models, but an optional touchscreen infotainment system and a built-in navigation unit were also available in this generation.
Buyers could select either a three-door or five-door configuration, with the former looking cooler at the expense of practicality. Despite the two additional doors making the rear seats more accessible, there is no significant difference in legroom or cargo capacity between the two body styles.
The Volkswagen GTI is all the car most people could ever need and will ever use out on the road, and it's practical too. The GTI formula hasn't changed drastically in the past decade and if you can't afford the latest Mk8 model, we think the Mk6 model is a great starting point without breaking the bank. For between $6,000 to $16,000, you'll be getting a quick hot hatchback with plenty of space, great driving dynamics, and a premium interior. It's a great car for a young enthusiast.