The Volkswagen Golf GTI is likely one of the most well-rounded sporty automobiles you should buy immediately. As enjoyable as it’s useful, the GTI is the sort of sizzling hatchback you may wring out on the weekend however fortunately drive on the every day. For my cash, I can not consider a brand new automotive underneath $30,000 I would relatively purchase.

That is more true now than it is ever been, because of the introduction of this new-for-2019 GTI Rabbit Version, which slides in just below the $30Okay mark: $29,790, together with $895 for vacation spot. Greater than only a nod to the Golf’s heritage, the Rabbit Version bundles what I consider to be the GTI’s finest attributes into one inexpensive package deal. There’s so much to love about each Golf GTI mannequin, however none of them communicate to me fairly just like the Rabbit.

New for 2019

Earlier than I get into the specifics of this Rabbit Version, let me let you know about a number of significant updates that apply to all 2019 GTI fashions. The two.Zero-liter turbocharged engine now makes 228 horsepower — Eight greater than earlier than — although torque stays unchanged at 258 pound-feet. A six-speed guide continues to be the usual transmission, however new for 2019 is a seven-speed, dual-clutch computerized, which replaces the six-speed DCT from final 12 months’s GTI. Not solely does the brand new gearbox provide smoother, faster shifts, it means automatic-equipped GTIs now have cease/begin fuel-saving tech, in addition to launch management.

Each GTI comes fitted with Volkswagen’s mechanical entrance limited-slip differential, in addition to the bigger brakes discovered on the Golf R. Driver help applied sciences like autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are actually normal on each GTI trim besides the bottom S, which presents these as a part of a Driver Help Package deal.

The Rabbit Version is ready aside with engaging, black-painted, 18-inch wheels, a black rear spoiler, LED headlights, black mirror caps, keyless entry, pushbutton begin and the aforementioned driving aids. Rabbit fashions are available 4 colours, together with Deep Black Pearl or the Pure White you see right here, although I a lot favor Cornflower Blue or the non-metallic Urano Gray of the automotive I examined in California.

These black, 18-inch wheels are distinctive to the GTI Rabbit Version.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Wascally wabbit

On busy metropolis streets and winding roads alike, the Golf GTI is a peach. A lot of low-end torque means you may speed up from a cease shortly and easily, and there is sufficient midrange oomph that will help you zip via visitors without having to downshift. Affiliate editor Andrew Krok tells me the brand new dual-clutch transmission is good as pie, however I can not think about shopping for a GTI with out the six-speed guide transmission. Clutch pedal journey is a bit lengthy, however gear engagement is strong, and the shifter itself is beautiful to make use of, with brief throws between every gear and a golf ball-like sample that feels nice in my hand.

Greater-end SE and Autobahn trims may be had with VW’s dynamic chassis management, however the base GTI is so properly tuned I can not think about really needing this adaptive damping tech. Even with low-profile 225/40-series tires, the GTI’s experience high quality is compliant sufficient to take care of Los Angeles’ awful streets, however agency sufficient to maintain the hatchback flat and agile whereas traversing clean, canyon roads. Completely weighted, correct steering makes the GTI simple to maneuver whereas parallel parking, however presents nice suggestions and response throughout spirited drives.

The Golf GTI is not the quickest automotive in its class, however I can not consider one other sporty hatchback that is as all-around good to drive. Hyundai’s new Elantra GT N-Line poses the obvious risk, however its steering really feel and guide gearbox aren’t fairly on par with the GTI’s. The extra highly effective, all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX is the higher alternative for quick drives on nice roads, however it’s kind of too harsh to dwell with day after day. The GTI, in the meantime, strikes an ideal stability.

The GTI will not kill you on the gas pump, both; it is one of many extra fuel-efficient efficiency automobiles on this class. The EPA estimates you may see 24 miles per gallon metropolis, 32 mpg freeway and 27 mpg mixed with the six-speed guide transmission. Go for the dual-clutch computerized and people numbers change to 25, 31 and 27, respectively. In my testing, I’ve discovered it completely simple to satisfy and even exceed these freeway and mixed scores.

The GTI’s inside is beginning to look a bit outdated. However hey, plaid seats!

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Plaid seats and plenty of area

The seventh-generation Golf has been on sale within the US since late 2014, and if there’s one place the place it is beginning to present its age, it is inside. Do not get me fallacious, the general construct high quality and fit-and-finish are nonetheless nice — higher than most different compact hatches, actually — however the total design is beginning to look a bit drab. The uninspired heart stack is roofed in fingerprint-ready piano black trim, and the remainder of the sprint and door panels are all the identical shade of German raincloud grey.

Alternatively, I applaud Volkswagen for persevering with to supply the GTI with its iconic “Clark” plaid seats. These snug, fabric chairs are super-supportive, and the entrance thrones are heated, too. Dearer GTI fashions include leather-based seats, that are high-quality. However come on: Do not be that man who buys a GTI with out plaid seats.

Rear-seat lodging are barely extra beneficiant right here than they’re in different small hatchbacks, and the plaid material carries over to the bench’s outboard positions. Behind the again seats, you may discover 22.Eight cubic toes of area — loads for a pair of carry-on suitcases and accompanying backpacks. Fold the bench flat, nevertheless, and the GTI’s cargo maintain expands to 52.7 cubic toes, which is more room than you get within the hatchback variations of the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. Solely the Elantra GT N-Line is extra capacious, with 55.1 cubic-feet of junk-in-your-trunk area.

Thank goodness for Apple CarPlay.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Base trims get fundamental tech

The GTI’s infotainment expertise is a little bit of a combined bag. Certain, Volkswagen’s MIB II multimedia system has a sturdy set of options, and each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are normal on all trims. However on the S and Rabbit fashions, you are caught with a small, 6.5-inch show. Stepping as much as the GTI SE will get you a higher-resolution, Eight-inch touchscreen, and in case you go for the range-topping Autobahn, you get embedded navigation.

The bottom system works nicely sufficient, however does really feel considerably rudimentary in comparison with the more-modern infotainment interfaces provided elsewhere within the compact class. All GTIs have a small, low-res show within the gauge cluster, too — in case you’re hoping to get Volkswagen’s glorious Digital Cockpit, you may have to purchase a Jetta as an alternative. Oh, and have enjoyable cramming your hand into the space for storing simply forward of the shifter to plug a twine into the GTI’s single, hard-to-reach USB Kind-A outlet.

Earlier, I discussed the few driver-assistance options that come normal on the Rabbit, nevertheless it’s price noting that a number of different superior techniques are solely restricted to the top-end Autobahn. Adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help, park distance management, park steering help and computerized high-beams can solely be had on the costliest, $36,890 GTI.

The Rabbit Version is the proper GTI.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The one to get

I can dwell with out plenty of these options, and I believe most of you may, too. In that case, the Rabbit Version looks like the perfect purchase of the 2019 GTI vary, particularly contemplating its sub-$30Okay value. Would I like a greater infotainment expertise? Certain. Would I relatively have plaid seats? Hell, sure.

Rabbit Version or not, the seventh-generation GTI continues to be an absolute delight. Volkswagen’s time-tested sizzling hatch is as interesting now because it’s ever been, and this Rabbit Version is an much more charming instance. If I needed to exit and purchase a brand-new automotive tomorrow, I would be arduous pressed to select one thing else.

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