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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Volkswagen GTI

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Expert's Rating


MPG 21 City / 31 Highway
  • Excellent handling
  • High-revving 4-cylinder performance
  • Hatchback practicality
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Limited rear visibility
  • Ride may be too stiff for some
, Automotive Editor -
The legendary GTI returns and is better than ever, featuring razor-sharp handling and a high-revving engine that make it extremely fun to drive.


The Volkswagen Gran Turismo Injection (GTI) was really the "original" hot hatchback, as it was released in 1976 as a trim level for the Golf. The GTI is still essentially still an upgraded Golf, as it enters the 2013 model year, but it is now considered its own model. The 2013 model year is basically a carryover year for the GTI, but there are a few minor changes afoot for this performance hatchback.

The changes for the 2013 model year include new rims to separate the mid-level trims from the high-level trims and a ball-shaped shifter knob on certain trim levels, giving the GTI a retro look and feel. All 2013 GTI models feature a 2.0-liter 16-valave TSI engine that pumps out a respectable 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. The engine connects to a standard six-speed manual transmission, but there is the option of a DSG dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. With the manual transmission, the GTI hits 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds and gets 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The DSG transmission gets it to 60 mph slightly quicker, and nets it 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. The 2013 GTI comes in four trim levels: 2-Door, 4-Door, 2-Door Autobahn and 4-Door Autobahn. The 2-Door and 4-Door models are basically base models of their respective format, offering the sporty look of a two-door model or the ease of access provided by a four-door model. The Autobahn trim levels add a touch of class to the GTI, by way of upgraded cabin materials, exclusive wheels and better audio.

Competition is plentiful for the 2013 GTI, as the hot hatchback market is definitely making a comeback in the U.S. The GTI’s first competitor is the 2013 Ford Focus ST, which features a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that pumps out 252 horsepower, six-speaker sound system with iPod integration and a 6.2-second sprint to 60 mph. The Mazdaspeed3 is the next competitor in line, which features a 2.3-liter engine that pounds the concrete with 263 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque, a six-speed manual transmission, 10-speaker stereo system and a 6.5-second run to 60 mph. The last competitor for the VW GTI is the 2013 Subaru WRX Hatchback, which has a 265-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine, a five-speed manual transmission, six-speaker sound system and a 5.9-second sprint to 60 mph.

With all of this competition and the GTI being significantly slower than all of them, it needs to step up in the quality and standard features realms to attract customers.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Volkswagen GTI
Starting price

2013 Volkswagen GTI 2-Door

Recommended for: Buyers looking for awesome performance in a hot hatch with a slew of base features

The 2-Door trim level is the base mode for the 2013 GTI and features only the basic amenities that a buyer would expect from a performance hatchback. The GTI 2-Door handles and brakes very well, thanks to its four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electromechanical power steering, sport-tuned suspension, stability control, limited-slip differential, and the red-accented calipers help add a little extra sportiness to the hatchback’s design. A six-speed manual transmission hooked up to the high-output 2.0-liter engine gives the driver better control over the GTI. The GTI 2-Door keeps the driver entertained, via its eight-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio system with AUX-in, iPod cable and Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming, and its standard air conditioning, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and eight-way manual-adjust driver seat assure that maximum comfort is obtained.

2013 Volkswagen GTI
Starting price

2013 Volkswagen GTI 2-Door Autobahn

Recommended for: Young buyers that want a performance hatchback with some luxury

The 2-Door Autobahn trim level may sound like a hopped up version of the base model, but it really only adds in luxury items and performs the same as the base model. On the outside, the Autobahn takes the base features from the 2-Door trim and spruces it up a bit with a set of 18-inch Serron alloy wheels and a moonroof to enjoy those warm summer days. Also added to the outside are bi-xenon HID headlights for improved nighttime vision and LED lights to catch the attention of oncoming traffic in the daytime. On the inside, the Autobahn adds a little extra oomph to the auto system, via a premium Dynaudio sound system with 300 watts of power. This stereo is simple to control, thanks to a multi-function steering wheel that features audio controls, plus controls for cruise and Bluetooth. The seats keep you in extreme comfort, as they are wrapped up in black leather, but for some odd reason, VW used faux leather – AKA “leatherette” – on the door panels. Lastly, you get and RNS 315 touchscreen navigation to help you find your way around.

2013 Volkswagen GTI
Starting price

2013 Volkswagen GTI 4-Door

Recommended for: Small families that don't want to sacrifice performance when buying a four-door model

The 4-Door trim level acts just like the base 2-Door trim level, only it has four doors for easier access. It also has a few other features above and beyond the 2-Door model. On the outside, the 2-Door and 4-Door models are completely identical, sans the two extra doors that the 4-Door model has. Inside the cabin, the 4-Door model adds in: Passenger occupant detection system to better protect the rear passengers, automatic locking seatbelt retractors to keep the passengers in place in the event of an accident and power recline on the front seats to allow the two front passengers to easily reach a comfortable position. Why exactly the 4-Door model has the extra features is really unknown, but VW obviously saw the need to add in these features.

2013 Volkswagen GTI
Starting price

2013 Volkswagen GTI 4-Door Autobahn

Recommended for: Small families that want all of the performance with some extra luxury from their four-door hot hatchback

The 2013 GTI 4-Door Autobahn carries over the majority of the 4-Door’s trimming, but adds in some extra luxury by the way of bi-xenon HID headlights, which offer brighter and more direct beams for better nighttime vision. A set of LED daytime running lights keep you safe by allowing oncoming drivers to notice you, even in the daytime. A set 18-inch Serron alloy rims with all-season rubber and a power sunroof round out the exterior additions, giving it a sharp appearance. Inside the GTI’s cabin, the Autobahn trim level kicks up the entertainment value a notch by adding in a 300-watt Dynaudio stereo system with steering-wheel-mounted controls. Eight-way sport seats wrapped up in black leather keep you and your passengers comfortable and navigation keeps you from getting lost. On top of the audio controls, the sport steering wheel also houses controls for the standard cruise control and your Bluetooth phone.

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