Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5 door volkswagen car test drives reviews
2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5-door. Click image to enlarge

Test Drive: 2010 Volkswagen GTI DSG
Test Drive: 2010 Volkswagen GTI
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen GLI

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Volkswagen GTI

In all honesty, there is probably no need to review this car. There’s nothing significantly updated on it for the 2012 model year (LED daytime running lights, ooohhh, and standard media device connectivity). We have a handful of exhaustive and glowing reviews in the archives. Even its update from Mk V to Mk VI Golf platform represented little progress for this iconic hot hatch, which to tell you the truth, is just fine by me. I considered the Mk V GTI (2003–2009) pretty close to perfect already. But editorial rank has its privileges, and so we booked the GTI and assigned it to, well, me.

The GTI is available in 3-door or 5-door trim. While I have loved the look of the 3-door for the past 3 generations, I found the Mk V 5-door awkward, and that is the one significant thing that VW upgraded for the Mk VI — the car looks like it was designed to be the 5-door model first, and the 3-door is just extra good looking.

Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5 door volkswagen car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5 door volkswagen car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5 door volkswagen car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5 door volkswagen car test drives reviews
2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG 5-door. Click image to enlarge

I’m particularly grateful for this configuration because the first few months of parenthood with a 3-door GTI taught me that it is not fun to repeatedly put a baby seat in a “coupe”, even if that coupe has a high, straight roof and awesome seats that flip up and forward out of the way of rear seat entry. Getting my toddler daughter into the rear seats was a breeze with this 5-door. Getting into the backseat for adults is also easy with the rear doors, and there is plenty of headroom, while legroom is typical of a compact.

But getting into the driver’s seat is downright life affirming. The firm, highly bolstered eight-way adjustable seats suck you into a driving mindset and the steering wheel falls easily to hand once tilted and telescoped into a perfect driving position. It’s a steering wheel that earns extra caresses and gropes, its flat bottom and curvy, contoured grips finished in leather with red stitching and brushed metallic trim. It’s a joy to grip just for its artful shape and materials, but it also serves a secondary function — steering the car.

And what a car it steers. The GTI is powered by VW/Audi’s quintessential 2.0T, a 2.0L turbocharged, direct-injected masterpiece that makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque and noises that sing to my soul. There are plenty of cars that make more power, even in this segment, but there truly is no need for more in a car this size and weight (1,397 kg) unless it is for competitive, track-only purposes. There aren’t many good reasons you’d need to get up to speed quicker than its 0–100 km/h time of 6.9 seconds (though Car & Driver clocked it at 6.1 for 0 to 96 km/h), and the split-second downshifts using the six-speed DSG’s paddle shifters bring you right into its max torque range between 1,700 and 5,000 rpm whenever you want to make a quick passing move on the highway.

While I adore manual transmissions, I have yet to master the art of heel-toe downshifting, and any experiments to that effect make my wife nauseous and irritated, so I have to admit that the DSG is the perfect transmission for me (and my wife). It relieves the chore of daily driving and bumper-to-bumper commuting in standard drive mode, operating as smoothly as almost any automatic in this segment. When driving in a rush, Sport mode holds gears and keeps the engine revs up to sit in the power pocket of the 2.0T so that every dip of the right pedal results in a leap of acceleration at almost any speed. Flick one of the paddle shifters and it goes into manual mode and you’re in complete control of every shift. Plus, rather than butcher the engine revs when heading into a corner (as I would in a manual), a downshift uses the DSG’s second clutch to engage the lower gear while blipping the throttle to perfectly match engine revs, ready for when you get back on the power coming out of a turn.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.