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New vs Used: Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen has touted its 2022 GTI as the new standard, but is a used VW GTI really the better buy? We find out.

Volkswagen’s Hot Hatch


The 2022 Volkswagen GTI kicks off the eighth generation of the beloved hatchback. It’s got more power, brand new styling, and a whole new interior. The new VW GTI is also more expensive than many expected it would be. The top-of-the-range Autobahn trim level can easily cost more than $40,000 if a buyer should tick only one or two options. That has made us curious. Is this brand new Golf GTI really all that special? Or would we all be better off buying a lightly used 2019 seventh-gen for thousands less? We dig into all the details below and crown a winner. Strap in and let’s find out which is the smarter buy, a new or used VW GTI?

New vs Used VW Golf GTI Specs

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com

In 2019, the VW Golf GTI came with the same powertrain that it has for the newer eighth generation model. That’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. What’s different is how much power they have.

The used VW GTI is rated at 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque while the new car has been re-tuned to make 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque thanks to 4.3-psi of additional boost. Both transmissions are equally pleasurable to use in either model. The six-speed manual is easy to place and easy to operate, while the DCT is fast and smooth regardless of how you use it.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI - media.vw.com
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI - media.vw.com

Ultimately, neither of these cars is really about performance over practicality though. The inverse is true though, and EPA scores underline that. The 2019 Golf GTI is rated at 26 mpg combined with the manual and 27 with the DCT. The 2022 edition gets 28 across the board. While not the sole reason for the improvement, the new car is notably 28 pounds lighter than the old one, tipping the scales at 3,154 pounds.

Driving the GTI

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com

On the road, these two cars actually feel more different than most would expect just by reading about their identical front-wheel-drive platforms. The older car isn’t equipped with the same super-adaptive suspension as the new one, and it shows. The used VW GTI is slower to soak up bumps and won’t corner as flat. That said, it’s still above average and easily smokes cars like the Hyundai Kona or the Mazda CX-30.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI - media.vw.com
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI - media.vw.com

The newer car is in a word, tighter. The 2022 VW Golf GTI is more refined in the way that it can change from a pure and simple grocery getter to a more engaging pseudo-performance hatchback. While the additional 13 horsepower might not sound like much, that extra power combined with the new electronic limited-slip differential serve to cut .7-seconds out of the cars 0-60 time over the 2019. Launch control is surely a helper too and is easily engaged and used. Steering feedback is identical as is the conversation between your feet and the pedals. All provide suitable commentary on the position and limits of the vehicle around you.

Inside These VW Golf GTI Models

Inside the VW Golf GTI, either year model will have some things going for them that the other doesn’t. In the new 2022 model, we love the seats. Not only are they finished with better materials than in 2019, but there’s also more space in them. The rear seat has especially benefited in the new car as adults can now sit there without discomfort. Visibility is also improved with a lower cowl and thinner pillars.

The used VW GTI isn’t out of the fight though. Unlike the newer car, it has physical climate controls. Aside from the dangers of taking your eyes off the road to adjust them as you do with the new car, it’s just easier to use physical switches. In addition, the capacitive buttons on the steering wheel of the new car aren’t nearly as responsive as the older VW. Finally, we like the dash layout of the used car too. It’s more pleasing to our eyes.

New vs Used VW GTI Trims & Features

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit - media.vw.com
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit - media.vw.com

Despite being a sort of trim all on its own, the GTI actually features sub-trims in both 2019 and 2022. For 2019, the Golf GTI was available in S, Rabbit, SE, and Autobahn. All get the same engine and transmission options.

The S starts buyers off with 18-inch wheels, a 6.5-inch infotainment display with Android and Apple connectivity, heated front seats, ambient interior lighting, six speakers, and has access to some advanced safety equipment too. That comes in the form of blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Rabbit trim level is little more than an appearance package. It gets black wheels, adaptive LED headlights, mirror caps, and Rabbit badging. The SE adds an 8-inch infotainment system with a Fender eight-speaker sound system, leather upholstery, and a sunroof. And finally, the Autobahn edition goes all out with automatic high beams, adaptive suspension, dual-zone climate control, and integrated navigation.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn - vw.com
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn - vw.com

For 2022, the Volkswagen Golf GTI comes in the same trim levels, save for the Rabbit which has since been discontinued. Again, the drivetrain is identical no matter how much you pay for the VW GTI.

Spend enough for the 2022 VW GTI Autobahn and you’ll find yourself with all the above features in addition to 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, heated rear seats, an automated parking system, and a heads-up display.

Owners of the GTI S will get customizable interior ambient lighting, an 8.25-inch infotainment system featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, LED headlights, a wireless charging pad, and parking sensors both front and rear. Safety features that are optional on the 2019 version are standard here and add an additional feature, adaptive cruise, to the mix. The SE adds a sunroof, a 10-inch infotainment system featuring a 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, and adaptive headlights.

Which VW GTI Comes In First…

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI - netcarshow.com

With a starting price of around $31,000, the new 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI simply doesn’t offer much for the additional cost over a lightly used VW GTI from 2019. All 2019 trim levels can be found for less than that, but that’s not all that we’re considering. Worried about missing out on the warranty? Don’t be.

Volkswagens People First warranty is fully transferable and covers vehicles up to 60,000 miles or 6 years. For those that don’t care about the warranty and just want the power, an aftermarket tuner will give you even more. Either way, you’ll have up to $10,000 more in your bank account with a used VW GTI in your driveway.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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