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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bit of an overdue purchase thread here, but at least that’s given me the time to rack up a number of miles on the car and provide a solid owner’s impression. Some background…

Early last year, I found out that my wife and I would be moving from a mostly-zero-commute, suburban living situation, to a downtown big city/public transit living situation for my job. We moved from Tampa to the center of Chicago, and as a result, we'd need to become a one-car household. Where we live, zero-car would probably be the best situation, but I refuse to do that as I’m sure most of you can understand.

The upshot was that my beloved C7 Z51 (link) had to go. It also meant, for the first time ever, I’d have to buy an automatic - my wife can drive a manual, but not well, and in the chaos of a big city, she didn't want to have to worry about it. Since we were selling her car, too, I took one for the team and started searching for a new GTI Sport with DSG. There weren't a ton of other cars in contention; I was looking for hatchback, and most were either manual only (FoST/FoRS/FiST, CTR), or a pricier version of what I ended up buying (Golf R). I liked the Golf R a lot, to be honest, but it didn't feel like enough of a leap forward from the GTI for the way I’d be using the car, which is mostly city errand-running and occasional road trips, for a massive price difference ($40K OTD vs. $25K for the GTI Sport). In the end, value won out.

Because the move was pretty last minute (we had about four weeks from finding out to being on the ground in Chicago), selling the Vette privately was out. The VW dealer actually gave me a decent trade, so I decided to take it - though the salesmen there gave me more than a few :screwy: looks, and rightly so. On paper, this was the biggest downgrade in history.

We’ve been in Chicago more than a year now, and love it - and I feel quite justified in my decision to get something more “city friendly”. The streets here would have torn the Vette apart, and it wouldn't have been as usable as an only car, or in the winter. The GTI, meanwhile, fits the one-car bill perfectly. It’s fun enough and holds everything we need it to.


Pros:

It’s a GTI; meaning it does pretty much everything you ask of it without fuss, whether that’s hauling four people (five in a pinch), carrying a bunch of stuff, or commuting in comfort. I think it’s sharp looking, especially in white, which helps the red GTI accents really pop.

For being an automatic, I love the DSG, and it seems to suit the character of the engine really well. The “Sport” transmission mode is perfectly suited for the cut and thrust of hectic city streets.

The Performance Package e-diff is magic. I converted to the church of rear-wheel drive ages ago, but I have to admit that technology has really improved the FWD experience. The thing just grips and grips, and feeling the front tires gain purchase mid-corner and tighten your line, even after planting the throttle, is pretty special. Is it a substitute for a good rear-driven chassis? Of course not. Will it eventually understeer? Sure. But driven well, the differential’s capabilities are impressive.

The brakes are great. The car is probably over-braked, but then again, there’s really no such thing as too much brake, so the fact that it’s running S3/Golf R brakes in a lighter package is fine by me.



Cons:

Obviously, this is not a sports car. Which means it’s not as engaging or rewarding to drive on a great road as a true sports car. That said, it is still fun, and as quick as I need for the time being. I haven't felt a need to flash it yet, but that might be in the cards eventually.

The infotainment, with Apple CarPlay, is pretty good - but not great. The only real issues I’ve had with the car have been the occasional crashes and glitchiness when CarPlay refuses to recognize my phone. Not a big deal, and it can usually be resolved by cycling the system and unplugging the phone, but annoying nonetheless. I’ll have the dealer check it out next time it’s in for service.

The gas mileage isn't great. A lot of that is down to the city driving that we do, but even on road trips, I struggle to break 27 MPG at a steady 75 - 80 MPH cruise. Not sure what’s up with that. The DSG is geared pretty short, so that probably accounts for some of it, plus the roof rack up top. But coupled with a fairly tiny gas tank (the warning light comes on after 10 gallons have been used up - I think it’s super conservative), it limits highway range to 300 miles.

And that’s pretty much it. No big issues to report, or even minor issues aside from the one mentioned above, just a solidly enjoyable, practical car. That said, our living situation may allow us to get a second car that’s a little more fun in the near future, at which point the GTI will become mostly the wife’s. She wasn't too keen on the GTI at first (meaning, when the Vette had to go away), but loves it now.


Swap day - goodbye, C7




Added a roof rack almost immediately




And then moved up to Chicago:




It hauls bikes:




It hauls trees:




And it hauls beers:







First taste of real snowfall, promptly got it stuck while parked:




Brake cooling:





Pirelli P-Zero 4s - installed:






All cleaned up recently




The end!
 

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Nice write-up! :beer:

Lol I have almost the same car ('17 Sport in PW, just 6MT) and also use it to haul bikes, trees, and beer. I couldn't agree more on the diff--it's not a replacement for RWD but it helps FWD tremendously, you can really feel it working. Gas mileage IME is far better without the roof rack, I try to take mine off for longer trips. I've hit 38mpg a few times with it off, best i can do with it on and no bikes is 31-32. :eek:
 

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Thanks for the update. Regarding your gas mileage, you pretty much nailed it with the roof rack and the lack of taller gearing for the final gear(s). I'll add that your newer tires are also reducing mpg some but don't race out to replace them with bald tires! :D
 

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Welcome to CHicagoland. I am out in St. Charles (NW Burbs due west of O'Hare). You will love it here when you start venturing out from Chicago and seeing what the region has to offer.

Hit me up if you are ever out in the Schaumburg area, or if you want restaurant suggestions or driving vacation ideas.
 

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That's exactly the car I'd get if we had to downsize to a single vehicle. It's too bad they eliminated the Sport trim so quickly.
 

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Ah, MY17 GTI Sport---those are rad :thumbup:

I'm turning in my white MY16 e-Golf this week. The EV aspect has been a blessing and a curse, but I love the car overall.

The infotainment, with Apple CarPlay, is pretty good - but not great. The only real issues I’ve had with the car have been the occasional crashes and glitchiness when CarPlay refuses to recognize my phone. Not a big deal, and it can usually be resolved by cycling the system and unplugging the phone, but annoying nonetheless. I’ll have the dealer check it out next time it’s in for service.
I've had an iPhone 7+ since I got my e-Golf, and I have never had a single issue with CarPlay.

However, about once a week (so maybe 1 in 15 times I drive), the backup camera refuses to work. That and a minor dash rattle are the only two problems I've had with the car in two years.
 

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Nice choice, as I don't think you can really go wrong with the last few generations of GTI. In looking back, my mkV GTI was probably my favorite previous car I owned. I never did anything all that sporty with it, but it just drove really well (compared to what I had experience with back then) whether around town, on the highway, or on back roads. As you mentioned, these cars don't offer best of the best performance, but they don't embarrass themselves either. I would have no problem getting into another one if the situation required it. I don't know, I simply liked being behind the wheel of my old car, and it would seem that all subsequent GTIs have gotten even better with each generation.
 

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The gas mileage isn't great. A lot of that is down to the city driving that we do, but even on road trips, I struggle to break 27 MPG at a steady 75 - 80 MPH cruise. Not sure what’s up with that. The DSG is geared pretty short, so that probably accounts for some of it, plus the roof rack up top. But coupled with a fairly tiny gas tank (the warning light comes on after 10 gallons have been used up - I think it’s super conservative), it limits highway range to 300 miles.
That seems very low.

We went on a trip over the weekend (500kms round trip). Average speed around 70mph with 1 passenger, AC on the whole time and some outdoor gear in the trunk gave us 39mpg. This is hand calculated. Stock 2016 Mk7 with DSG.
 

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Good write up and I'm glad it worked out. When I saw "GS" I thought it was a C6, to which I said "meh fair trade". C7 though... that's rough. But life goes on.

I like the GTI but my only gripe is the move from the regular LSD to the eDiff or however it's spelled. For really hard driving it's not as good. I guess on the street it doesn't matter.
 

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I loved my MkVII. If SS's hadn't gotten so cheap I would still be driving it. Mine was an open diff non sport pack, and that did get a little old after awhile.

Interesting about your mileage. I did mostly highway commuting and I got 34mpg consistently on the total tank, including city. Pure highway was 38-39. I miss that. :laugh:
 

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I like the GTI but my only gripe is the move from the regular LSD to the eDiff or however it's spelled. For really hard driving it's not as good. I guess on the street it doesn't matter.
I don't believe there was ever a regular LSD stock, but assuming you mean a regular torque biasing unit (e.g., Quaife) I'm curious why you think it's not as good at hard driving? The thing can go anywhere from open to full lock pretty much whenever it likes, and is really surprisingly good IMO.
 

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Agree on the positives. A better set of tires and slightly more aggressive alignment improves turn-in and overall grip quite a bit, by the way. I also have a JB1 on my car along with a set of DriverGear springs, and I stopped modding it after that.

The Sport is a GREAT package--I probably would have ended up with one if it had been available when I bought my car in late 2015.
 

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Great read! I just sold my 2016 R 2 days ago, and couldn't agree more. It's a fantastic platform. These are truly do-anything cars (the AWD+snow tires only added to that feeling), and it'll be missed.

FWD was not an option for me, but I agree, the price difference between the two is staggering, given that you can get discounts on the GTI but not on the R. My almost-3-year-old, 29k mile 6MT R sold, used, for more than your GTI was new, for example. I think the R is well worth the 40k, it's a REALLY nice car, feels very high end, simply swallows miles on roadtrips, and does everything. But the GTI is a downright bargain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Welcome to CHicagoland. I am out in St. Charles (NW Burbs due west of O'Hare). You will love it here when you start venturing out from Chicago and seeing what the region has to offer.

Hit me up if you are ever out in the Schaumburg area, or if you want restaurant suggestions or driving vacation ideas.
Will do, thanks Matt :thumbup:

That seems very low.

We went on a trip over the weekend (500kms round trip). Average speed around 70mph with 1 passenger, AC on the whole time and some outdoor gear in the trunk gave us 39mpg. This is hand calculated. Stock 2016 Mk7 with DSG.
Interesting about your mileage. I did mostly highway commuting and I got 34mpg consistently on the total tank, including city. Pure highway was 38-39. I miss that. :laugh:
I know they say "your mileage may vary", but it does seem low to me, too. I'm not that lead-footed. Maybe I'll bring it up next time I'm in, though I'm sure that's something that induces plenty of eye roll at the service counter.

Are your pads seated correctly? That stripe in the middle looks odd.
Good looking out, but it's just gunk. The wheel was literally packed with snow and crud the moment before I took that picture. I think it was probably just dirt or something streaked by the pad, making it look like rust.

I like the GTI but my only gripe is the move from the regular LSD to the eDiff or however it's spelled. For really hard driving it's not as good. I guess on the street it doesn't matter.
Going to nerd out here for a minute - the base GTI (non performance pack) has "XDS", which is not a true mechanical LSD, but rather software that brakes one of the front wheels when there's slip in order to mimic a limited slip diff. Like most of those systems, it works "OK", but not like a true LSD.

The "VAQ" differential in the performance package cars is a true mechanical limited-slip diff, but the clutch packs within the diff are electronically controlled, which provides a torque-vectoring effect. It's a very trick piece of technology, previously only available on high-end RWD sports cars prior to the GTI, which I understand was the first FWD application of such a diff. Others (maybe CTR?) may have adopted similar tech since then, but not sure. Regardless, it works like a charm and is actually noticeable to the driver - in a good way.


Agree on the positives. A better set of tires and slightly more aggressive alignment improves turn-in and overall grip quite a bit, by the way. I also have a JB1 on my car along with a set of DriverGear springs, and I stopped modding it after that.

The Sport is a GREAT package--I probably would have ended up with one if it had been available when I bought my car in late 2015.
Thanks :thumbup: Tires made a huge difference, and springs/flash would pretty much round it out for me too.


Great read! I just sold my 2016 R 2 days ago, and couldn't agree more. It's a fantastic platform. These are truly do-anything cars (the AWD+snow tires only added to that feeling), and it'll be missed.

FWD was not an option for me, but I agree, the price difference between the two is staggering, given that you can get discounts on the GTI but not on the R. My almost-3-year-old, 29k mile 6MT R sold, used, for more than your GTI was new, for example. I think the R is well worth the 40k, it's a REALLY nice car, feels very high end, simply swallows miles on roadtrips, and does everything. But the GTI is a downright bargain.
It's a great deal for the amount of car on offer :thumbup:
 

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The gas mileage isn't great. A lot of that is down to the city driving that we do, but even on road trips, I struggle to break 27 MPG at a steady 75 - 80 MPH cruise. Not sure what’s up with that. The DSG is geared pretty short, so that probably accounts for some of it, plus the roof rack up top. But coupled with a fairly tiny gas tank (the warning light comes on after 10 gallons have been used up - I think it’s super conservative), it limits highway range to 300 miles.
I'll echo everyone else... my '16 GTI w/ DSG gets around 430-450 miles out of a tank on the highway (65-80 mph, with occasional bumps to 90 or so), but I don't use a roof rack. When the re-fuel idiot light comes on, approx. 12 gallons go into the tank. City driving, well, that's a whole other ballgame.

When I did a road trip in my departed VR6 Jetta with a loaded roof rack (bike, kayak), the MPG's took a major hit. I expected lower fuel mileage, but not one where I was this close to having to call AAA (thank god for that long downhill run into Indio :laugh: ) and had around 1/4 gallon left in the tank.

But I do agree, these are fantastic all-around cars! I :heart: my GTI! :D
 

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Great write up and summary on why this generation GTI is the best daily driver for <30k. As a current owner of a 16 SE with PP and DAP, I considered the R as the replacement for my Mk5 R32 given that I was used to all wheel drive. My prior car was a legacy 2.5GT and my last FWD car was a 2001 Integra GSR.

When initially shopping, I was drawn to the fact that on paper an R was ~3-5k more than a loaded GTI, but the real world transactional price are much lower and that difference becomes ~5-8k less. When I first drove the GTI, could not find an R to test drive, I was floored at how much fun it was too drive and the handling. Granted it will never have the level of wet / snow traction from a start as AWD, but I have gotten through 2 winters in western PA with snow tires.

The best upgrade for the GTI is clearly a proper set of snows and a set of summer tires. With that, onramps and windy roads are so much fun and you can feel the diff pull you through a corner. I am now a convert to FWD with a good diff and tires can be a fun platform for spirited street driving.

The other thing I was surprised by is the level of technology in my 2016 (bought in fall of 2015) including Car Play/Android Auto, Park Assist (works very well for parallel parking), adaptive cruise (nice on highways) , blind spot monitor , brake assist, and lane keep assist (the least useful for me).

Minor considerations (no single one was a deal breaker, but cumulative adds up) for the GTI over the R include - sunroof (GTI only), spare tire (has come in handy 2 times), can replace 1 tire on FWD car vs had to replace 4 on my R32 when I had a flat, able to find a car equipped with DAP in fall of 2015 without ordering and Crystal Steel Gray was only available on the GTI (I do not like the gray offered on the R)

In short , the GTI makes a great daily driver as a single car solution or as a Mon-Fri car for people who have a fun/sports car
 

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The best upgrade for the GTI is clearly a proper set of snows and a set of summer tires.
Yes! Also helped to drop a size in the winter with the wonderful NYC/NJ potholes. One winter I lose 4 snow tires on the stock 18 inch rims. I loved my MKVI and hesitated to go to a MKVII because it seemed "too familiar" to get a new version. However, after reading your thoughts and needing a city car again, I have to put it back on my list.

Cheers to more fast miles!
 

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Great write up! I’m in agreement with everything you said (though I have the manual instead of the DSG).

Do we need to start a PW GTI Sport club here? :laugh:
 
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