Jan 14, 2014

2013 Volkswagen GTI Review - A fun driver, for an awesome price


After living in the amazing city of Los Angeles for quite some time,  I finally decided to take a big wad of cash and throw all of it towards a new car; that car ended up being the 2013 Volkswagen GTI (MKVI model). As I usually do my reviews a bit differently, let me just start off by saying what features I was looking for in a car and how the 2013 Volkswagen GTI was best suited for me.

What I needed in a car

  • I needed a reliable car that I could drive to the ground and love for many years to come. After driving and riding in a good chunk of German-engineered cars, I knew I could not go wrong with a GTI.
  • I was looking for a fun, daily driver that doesn't mind a steel foot at times, because no one will look at buying a GTI without having a little bit of fun.
  • The best bang for the buck. MPG, hands-free calling, auxiliary in/iPod connector, and I could go on, but you get the point.
  • I wanted a manual transmission. Sadly, not all cars nowadays are made for purists.
  • And lastly, a car that just looked good. I was seriously considering the Ford Focus ST, but after seeing and driving one, I was not impressed.

That's the run-down on what I was looking for. Let's get into how the 2013 MKVI GTI met my criteria.


What the 2013 GTI delivered me

A Fun Daily Driver

We all know it, but the GTI is without a doubt an enthusiast's car. What I love about the GTI is it's practicality; the model I bought, the base 4-door, has tons of trunk space and even the back seats are habitable, unlike many other  hot hatches that are uncomfortable in the back. But as it is indeed a GTI, giving it a steel foot is such a rewarding sound after hearing the turbo boost kick in (with little turbo lag). I'm a believer of naturally aspirated cars, but the turbo in the GTI is  something you have to hear in person; it's incredible... and you get better gas milage with turbo. Win win.

With the 6-speed manual transmission, it makes the entire experience utterly awesome. Sure, a DSG GTI is super fun to drive as the shifting is unbelievably fast with its twin clutch gearbox, but I personally believe it ruins the fun out of shifting between gears the old-school way. And the 6-speed in the GTI is so fun to drive, I always smile while accelerating; besides, the manuals are more affordable!

I also took my GTI through some windy access roads through many mountains and was surprised how little torque steer it actually had, if any. Throughout the entire drive up the mountains, I not once thought I was able to loose control of the car, even after taking a few turns a little more faster than your Average Joe.

Fuel Economy

The GTI doesn't hurt the bank with its 21MPG city/33MPG highway. 33MPG  isn't the best in the book, but it's definitely better than other sporty cars. Also, just to back these numbers up, I was able to hit 20MPG average while driving in the city and even 32.5MPG on the highway (proof: Granted, the 32.5MPG was achieved by having it in 6th gear/overdrive for quite some time. If you dropped it down any lower of a gear, you wouldn't be able to get that... and trust me, if you drive and shift at high RPMs, your MPG rating won't be pretty. :P

You do have to keep in mind though, VW does recommend to put in premium fuel; however, the good thing about premium fuel is that it will not only make the car just a wee bit faster, it'll also give you better gas milage (I would never think about putting low-grade fuel in my GTI, as the last thing I want is my engine knocking).


Aesthetically, the 2013 GTI is amazing. The brake calipers are painted red straight from the factory, the alloy wheels look unique (I'll admit it, I was not a fan of them at first, but now I love 'em), and everything is just perfectly laid out. The car even features dual exhaust (sadly not true dual exhaust) with two shiny chrome tips on both sides of the car. And don't forget the honeycomb front bumper with red accents and a silver GTI logo.

On the inside, the red/grey plaid seats reminds you of the older GTIs and the bright red stitching throughout the car accompanies the interior so nicely, that it just adds a warm welcome every time stepping into the car. And if you pick up the Monster Mats, it adds a red GTI logo on both the driver and passenger side mats (which is a nice touch as the GTI logo is not used much when you're inside the car; the only other place is on the steering wheel).

The Gadgets

Being a tech guy, the gadgets and other features built into the car were quite important to me. Immediately after I got in the GTI after buying, the sales guy helped me connect my iPhone to the car's system via Bluetooth; in just a few taps, I was streaming Pandora to my car (I'm a huge Pandora & Spotify user). I was already in awe, as my music is an important thing to me. A few days after, I received a call while driving and was able to seamlessly answer it with crystal clean audio. The Bluetooth audio has had no hiccups once so ever, that I'm rather surprised as I initially thought I'd hear at least some skipping... I was proven wrong.

Sure, there's also Sirius XM in the car, built-in auxiliary input, MDI cable to plug your iPhone/iPod into (I use it in conjunction with Bluetooth to charge my phone), and lots of other goodies available on the dash to keep track of your driving.

Ohh, and if you're wondering, the stock sound system actually sounds quite good! But if you are looking for more bass, you may want to upgrade them, as they don't pack that much of a punch; it's plenty enough for a car though in my opinion.


It's not perfect though

Luckily, there are only a few annoyances I have with the 2013 GTI:

  • The hill holder feature (only for the manuals obviously) can be a bit annoying at times. For example, if you're in reverse and on a uphill, you'd expect to roll backwards with only the clutch in. It would just be nice to have the hill holder feature completely disabled in reverse, as it's thrown me off multiple times.
  • The MDI cable is not long enough! I had to buy an extension cord to have my phone reach out further so I can actually charge my phone and get directions at the same time via Google Maps (I use a ProClip). I know VW does it for a safety precaution, but seriously, it's not helping much....


Need more info?

If there's something you're wondering, just drop me a tweet and I'll be glad to answer it for you. :)


Some images for you:

Stalk me on social media! Any other way would just be creepy…