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2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn - Dials Up Driver Engagement

This week we check out the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn. See why it’s a good performance value.

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Urban dwellers looking for a sporty compact hatch have a number of options, but none are as agile and fun-to-drive, as the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn. It’s a compact commuter for those who want to get to their destination a bit quicker than others. It also fills a need for performance enthusiasts who don’t want to spend $40,000 to $50,000 on a high performance model. For around $37,000 you get a hot hatch that’s high on the fun-to-drive meter.

What’s new for 2020?

Some formerly optional advanced safety features are now standard on the 2020 Golf GTI. A new Wi-Fi hotspot along with the latest VW Car-Net communications system is also standard.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn

Features & Options

Our 2020 Golf GTI Autobahn ($36,495) came with leather heated seats, 12-way power-adjustable front driver’s seat, 18-inch two-tone machined alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a rearview camera. Our GTI Autobahn tester also had LED automatic headlights, an eight-inch infotainment screen, and Fender premium audio.

It also features heated windshield washer nozzles, power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof, red brake calipers, parking steering assistant (park assist), rain-sensing windshield wipers, sport suspension, front limited-slip differential lock, DCC adaptive chassis control, park distance control, and summer performance tires.

Safety features included adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, lane keep assist, and pedestrian monitoring. Total MSRP including destination: $37,415.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn

Interior Highlights

There’s plenty of soft touch materials throughout the cabin to make it comfortable, and we would describe it as distinctly European. The top-trim Autobahn is especially sporty with its Titan Black leather seats and red stitching. They provide ample support and bolstering for more spirited driving. There’s a handy bin ahead of the shifter, perfect for a cell phone.

The power-reclining front seats offer up the perfect driving position for a compact hatch. The rear seats offer enough room for average-sized adults and are also comfy for longer trips. There’s ample head and shoulder room too, thanks to the higher hatch roof.

There’s a convenient folding rear armrest/cupholder with a pass-through to the back. Behind the rear seats, it comes with 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space, easily accessible through the rear hatch. With the seats folded flat, it offers up a class-leading 52.7 cubic feet of space.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

All Volkswagen Golf GTI trims are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The GTI is front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Autobahn
EPA fuel economy estimates are 24/32 city/highway and 27 combined with the 6-speed manual gearbox.

Driving Dynamics

Our Tornado Red Golf GTI Autobahn attracted lots of attention this week as we zipped around town. The sporty hatch comes with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox designed for driving enthusiasts who like to shift themselves. VW also offers a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. We have driven both the automatic and the manual and prefer the short throw 6-speed in the GTI but if you are in heavy stop-and-go traffic, you will want the DSG.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T Autobahn

The summer performance tires were extra sticky on the pavement as temperatures reached the high 90s in Denver this week. The GTI trim is fun to drive in the city and slips in an out of traffic easily. It’s more fun to drive the Autobahn at altitude in the tight mountain corners west of the city.

We chucked the hot hatch around the tight corners on our commute to and from Denver where the turbocharged GTI feels right at home. The GTI’s steering is responsive and the upgraded brakes made it far more capable and enjoyable in the curves. 

We pushed the GTI hard and it accelerates quickly when the turbocharger spools up to utilize every bit of the available 228 horsepower. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine makes this hatch one of the quickest compacts in its class. 

The Golf GTI comes in front-drive configuration only and will handle snowy slick roads with the right tires. There are two things we would like to see on the Golf GTI; all-wheel-drive option and a head up display.


The 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is a fun hatch that’s also practical with plenty of utility. It dials up driver engagement, and we like the 6-speed manual on the open highway and mountain corners. It’s easy to live with and we would recommend it for those wanting a sporty urban commuter. Overall, the Volkswagen Golf GTI lives up to its hot hatch heritage and instills plenty of driver confidence.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Volkswagen USA

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