The 2024 Volkswagen Golf range of compact hatchbacks is made up of the GTI and R models. Both are excellent and exceptional. Pricing starts at $31,765.
If we had a dollar for every time we heard the word “fun” used in connection with the Golf GTI, we’d be able to buy a new one with cash. Check out our overwhelmingly positive consumer reviews and you’ll see that word cropping up time and time again. The more powerful Golf R is the choice for serious fun.
The GTI is the popular model, though. It’s relatively affordable while still packing a useful amount of power, as well as sporting a roomy cabin that feels almost luxurious. And it’s a hatchback, lending an air of European coolness plus a lot of practicality. Even the fuel economy is good.
Everyone has their own idea of what a perfect car might be, but we’d definitely put the Golf GTI forward as a contender. It’s an everyday car and a weekend-blast car all in one fine package. The Golf has been an archetypal Volkswagen
and this eighth generation debuted for the 2022 model year, the culmination of decades of expertise.
What’s new for 2024
The Golf 380 package is available with every version of the GTI with the manual transmission (the name comes from a VW factory code, not bump in horsepower). It includes a standard adaptive suspension, plus 19-inch alloy wheels finished in gloss black. All versions of the 2024 Golf gain power-folding side mirrors as standard, along with a choice of new wheel designs.
The biggest story, though, is what will change next year. That is, no manual transmission will be offered for the GTI or the Golf R in 2025. So if you’re hankering after a Golf with a stick shift, this year is your final call.
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2024 Volkswagen Golf pricing
The 2024 Volkswagen Golf starts at $31,675. That’s for the regular GTI in S trim with a manual transmission. Budget around $800 for the automatic transmission.
|Golf GTI S
|Golf GTI SE
|Golf GTI Autobahn
|Golf GTI 380 S
|Golf GTI 380 SE
|Golf GTI 380 Autobahn
These figures and estimates are for manufacturer’s suggested retail prices and do not include the $1,150 factory-to-dealer delivery fee (destination charge).
The closest rival is probably the Mazda3, available as a sedan or hatchback. It’s one of those daily drives that can still entertain. A 2.5 Carbon Turbo with comparable power starts at $31,750. The Honda
Civic Si starts at $30K, the Subaru
WRX is priced in the low 30s, the sedan-only Hyundai Elantra N comes in at the mid-30s, and the Toyota
GR Corolla begins in the high 30s. If anyone wanted something more prestigious than the Golf R, the Audi S3 starts at $47K.
Before buying a new Golf GTI or new Golf R, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to know what you should be paying. Resale values are respectable, with the GTI above average and the Golf R better still. The WRX rules this particulate roost, however.
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Power, ride and handling
The GTI is propelled by 241 horsepower from a turbocharged engine. That’s enough muscle to sprint from standstill to 60 mph in a blink over five seconds — about the same as the 286-horsepower Elantra N and a little quicker than the 250-horsepower Mazda3 2.5 Turbo. In other words, the GTI is more than fast enough. We also like the fact that there’s plenty of mid-range thrust for effective overtaking moves.
It isn’t just about power, though. The Golf is easily capable of delivering dynamic thrills and we’ve found that few rivals can match the fluid handling qualities of a GTI when they turn onto those canyon roads. Some of this is made possible by ingenious features like the standard electronic limited-slip differential combating understeer (where the front tires gradually relinquish their grip and the front end drifts wide). But these additions complement a well-calibrated chassis, instead of compensate for a mediocre one.
The top GTI trim, Autobahn, and the Golf R both have an adaptive suspension for a greater range between everyday comfort and the precision preferred for committed cornering. This suspension is also part of the new-for-2024 Golf 380 package.
A 315-horsepower engine is in the Golf R, which also has bigger brakes and its own array of selectable driving modes — including a drift setting for power-sliding antics on a track.
The R’s standard all-wheel-drive system includes a torque-vectoring function for the rear axle. Through curves, the outside wheel is made to go faster than the inside wheel, for optimum stability. From behind the steering wheel, it just feels as if the driver has suddenly become more talented.
Also read: What’s in the cards for car shoppers in 2024? Here are 5 trends experts expect.
Manual transmission or automatic, the 2024 Golf GTI achieves city-highway combined fuel economy of 27 mpg. This compares well against the competition.
The Golf R with the manual transmission returns 23 combined mpg, while the automatic version manages 26 combined mpg.
Supportive front seats, a smart control layout, and a golf ball-inspired shift knob with the manual transmission are so typical of the Golf GTI throughout its history.
Another nod to the car’s heritage is the plaid-patterned cloth upholstery in the S and SE models. There’s also a modern element with the digital driver information display matched by a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen. We’re not so happy about the lack of knobs for the volume and radio stations, though.
For a compact car, the Golf is roomy in both seating rows. Rear legroom measures 35 inches, enough for an adult male of average size and virtually the same as the Mazda3.
For an enthusiast machine, this hatchback is wonderfully practical, with a generous 19.9 cubic feet of luggage space behind the rear seats, or 34.5 cubic feet when they’re folded down. The Mazda3 hatchback impresses with a maximum of 47.1 cubic feet — but we like the sensible, squared-off shape of the Golf from a practicality point of view.
And for cars from a non-luxury marque, we think both the Golf GTI and Golf R feel decidedly upmarket.
Known mostly as the Golf, or the Rabbit on occasion, most people are probably familiar with this German compact hatchback that has been gracing roads since the mid-1970s. It has matured and evolved to this current state, yet has always retained a kind of understated coolness — a way of mixing the pragmatic with the stylish. We like it.
The GTI adds desirability with subtle red pinstripes on the grille, large front air intakes, and bold wheel designs. The Golf R displays its sportier credentials with a quad exhaust system.
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Our favorite features and tech
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Like most new cars, phone integration is standard in the 2024 Golf with Apple
CarPlay/Android Auto. It becomes wireless in the GTI’s SE trim.
Dual-clutch automated transmission
While it’s great that VW offers a manual transmission to please one section of enthusiasts, it has to be said that this automatic has a shift action faster than any human can muster. And the shift paddles allow the driver to get involved whenever the whim arises.
Driver information display
Every new Golf variant has a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster showing a choice of information. Learning how to use it is easy and quick.
Harman Kardon audio
The cabin of a 2024 Golf is nice and quiet, all the better to enjoy a high-end 480-watt audio system from a company that also supplies BMW
DCC adaptive suspension
DCC stands for Dynamic Chassis Control. In other words, an adaptive suspension with comfort, normal, and sport modes to suit the moment. This is standard in the 2024 GTI Autobahn trim, the Golf R, and the Golf 380 variants.
Golf R Special mode
The Golf R has a Special driving mode, the fruit of development time spent on the highly challenging North Loop of the Nürburgring in Germany. Suspension settings and throttle and transmission responses are all optimized to handle demanding roads like this famed track with its more than 150 corners.
Engine and transmission
You know how almost everything has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine these days? Volkswagen started it. There are even VW Group 2.0T units in Audi cars, which shows how refined it is.
The version in the 2024 GTI makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque on a diet of regular gasoline. The Golf R wants premium gasoline to produce 315 horsepower and either 285 or 295 lb-ft of torque. The bigger number is achieved with the automatic transmission.
Yes, there’s a choice of transmissions. The standard setup in both variants is a 6-speed manual. The 2-pedal option is a 7-speed dual-clutch unit with paddle shifters mounted beneath the steering wheel.
Front-wheel drive is the sole configuration with the GTI. The Golf R has all-wheel drive as standard.
Volkswagen’s new-vehicle warranty, including the powertrain, lasts for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever happens first. That’s quite good for the class, since Honda and Toyota have 3-year/36,000-mile warranties. But then they cover their powertrains for five years or 60,000 miles. A couple of scheduled services, at 10,000 miles (or one year) and 20,000 miles (or two years), are also part of the deal.
This generation of Golf GTI earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Funnily enough, the Golf R is a Top Safety Pick+ — the difference is that the R has better headlights as standard. Safety equipment includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, plus blind-spot monitoring.
KBB’s car review methodology.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.