The compact hatchback is a terrific choice for people who want all the benefits of a small car and a larger cargo area than the typical sedan provides. But what if you also want your hatchback to be fun to drive, too? For that, you should consider a "hot hatch," a small car that combines the strengths of a hatchback with a powerful engine and sporty demeanor. Although various hot hatches have come and gone over the decades, the Volkswagen GTI has truly stood the test of time and has earned an almost iconic status since its introduction to the American market in 1983.
Take a drive in a 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI, and you'll quickly realize why this car has been so popular. Like the Golf upon which it is based, the Golf GTI offers plenty of practicality and near-luxury cabin materials. But that's where these siblings split. The Golf is all about fuel efficiency and competitive pricing, and the GTI ups the ante with a punchy engine, a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission, and stylish upholstery.
The interior is the standard-bearer for the sporty compact car class. Materials are well-grained and soft to the touch, and the overall design is distinctly European, comfortable, and sporty. Bold red stitching throughout adds to the effect. The body-hugging seats are wonderfully supportive, and buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control.
Standard safety features for the 2017 VW Golf GTI include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a rearview camera. A post-crash braking system is also standard and automatically applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the likelihood of a secondary crash.