“The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the car equivalent to an authentic Swiss Army knife. Not only is it extremely versatile, but there’s a sense of pride that comes with owning a legendary badge.”
2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI – Can it Family?
Introduced back in 1976, my first experience with the fun little hatchback was during my childhood in Mexico City back in the late eighties when it was marketed as the Volkswagen Caribe.
The Volkswagen Golf and Golf GTI are solely responsible for starting the “hot-hatch” movement and the “pocket-rocket” scene. These nicknames fit the little, utilitarian, fuel-efficient, and zippy hatchbacks that people couldn’t get enough of perfectly. It seems that the 2016 model isn’t much different.
At first glance the GTI doesn’t look like a prime family vehicle, and that’s because in reality—it isn’t, specially our 2-door test vehicle. That being said, don’t let its looks deceive you. Like other VW vehicles (such as the Beetle), the Golf GTI is more spacious than your eyes lead you to believe.
Besides offering a spacious cabin and extremely comfortable leather seats all around, the rear seats of our test vehicle were adequate enough to fit Josephine’s car-seat, as well as offer enough leg room for our much taller 12 year old even with the driver’s seat pushed far back. The rear seats feature two sets of upper and lower LATCH anchors, and based on our experience you’d be more than capable of fitting two full-size toddler or booster seats without any issues.
Regardless whether you stuff two babies, toddlers or fully grown adults into the rear seat, they won’t have to freeze or sweat-to-death thanks to the rear ac and heater vents.
Seriously, there are larger “family-oriented” vehicles that skip on these for some reason. Another great feature of the backseat is its well-padded center armrest, which allows kids in car-seats to use its cup-holder to prevent spills, and adult passengers can utilize for a more relaxed position during a short or long drive. Even I was able to comfortably fit in the back!
What About Cargo?
It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, have kids or not—the necessity to transport your beloved groceries, suitcases or other things we don’t need to know about is vital; a fact that’s only amplified when kiddos come into the picture.
We bike, we play soccer, we volunteer, we go to racing events, we travel all over the place—we do it all. Had you opened the Golf’s trunk any of the days we enjoyed it and you may have found, soccer balls, Josephine’s bike, folding chairs, a pop-up tent, camera equipment, car cleaning supplies, and a few other things I can’t even remember. Needless to say, the Golf’s trunk was able to more than keep up with us and our stuff. Its 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space cover most daily necessities; but shall you need more than that, simply fold down the split rear seat to transform the back of the Golf into a massive trunk with 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s also worth mentioning that it eclipses the competing Ford Focus and Mazda 3 hatchback we’ve previously tested on this area.
I once was a proud owner of a 2004 VW Golf R32, a vehicle that continuously put a smile on my face for many reasons, but specially because it was a joy to drive.
The 2016 GTI is like that too, but at 26 mpg combined it’s even better! Sure it has its flaws; Volkswagen has cured torque-steer altogether, but the steering can feel a bit numb at times, and the pedals are too far apart for heel-toe shifting (sorry Autocross fans), and the seat bolsters can be a bit uncomfortable for big guys like me. In the end, all of that goes away when you step on the gas and work the smooth, yet firm shifter as you take a wide turn at speed to merge on the highway. It’s those moments when you wonder how a front-wheel drive car can feel so planted and stable at speeds when similar hatchbacks can barely hang on. That’s the GTI effect.
Is this 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI a great family car? No, but its 4-door twin certainly is.
- Starts at: $25,595
- Price as tested: $28,845 (Includes $820 destination charge)