The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the definitive hot hatchback here in the U.S., so it’s a big deal when it gets an overhaul. VW introduced an all-new eighth-generation GTI for 2022, which brought a host of new performance goodies and a polarizing all-touch control system. The 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI brings further updates, including a new birthday trim to celebrate the car’s 40th here in the States.
Volkswagen introduced a new 40th Anniversary trim for 2023, which gets unique exterior graphics and other upgrades. It slots in between the S and SE trims, and only 1,500 will be built. Though it’s based on the S trim, it gets a few options previously exclusive to the Autobahn model, including 19-inch wheels, speed-sensitive steering, and adaptive dampers. Exclusive colors for the 40th car include Urano Gray and Tornado Red, and the car is available with standard white and Pomelo Yellow Metallic GTI colors.
Elsewhere in the GTI lineup, LED headlights and LED foglights with active cornering lights are now standard. Tech and interior features remain the same from 2022, including standard automatic climate controls, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, and 30-color ambient interior lighting. The SE trim gets keyless access with push-button start, a Harman Kardon sound system, a panoramic sunroof, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Autobahn trim brings tri-zone climate controls, leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and a head-up display.
Europeans got a more powerful anniversary model, but here we continue with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from the previous year. It makes 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and sends it to the front wheels through a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. A limited-slip differential is also standard.
VW gives every 2023 Golf a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, and either an eight- or 10-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with SiriusXM radio, USB inputs with more charging power, HD radio, and wireless charging. The SE and Autobahn trims get more SiriusXM features, including streaming content, on-demand content, and other features with a subscription.
The IQ.Drive safety system is available for all models, it includes semi-automated driving assistance, forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, and an emergency assist system for cars with an automatic transmission. The SE and Autobahn trims get road sign recognition, and the Autobahn comes with an adaptive headlight system that automatically switches on high beams above 37 mph and when the road is dark or poorly lit. They turn off below 18 mph and when the car detects oncoming traffic.
The base 2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI S starts at $31,625 after a $1,025 destination charge. Adding an automatic transmission pushes the base price to $32,425.