VW Golf GTI MK6 Review

VW Golf GTI MK6 Review – Does It Stand The Test of Time?


The Golf was the first car that popularised the idea of a hatchback being the perfect middle-ground between a fun car and a practical car all at an affordable price point.

Over the years, the Golf has been refined and made more feature-rich while also becoming more expensive. We had bought a 10-year old Golf GTI and here is the detailed review of this car in the modern-day.

Gol VW GTI MK6 Rear Red

What is the 2009 Golf GTI MK6 about?

By 2009 the Golf GTI had seen plenty of refinement to be one of the top contenders in the hatchback segment as the car’s sixth iteration.

The MK6 2009 Golf GTI was supposed to be sportier both in its looks and the way it drove while also being more dependable in the long run. Driving this car ten years down the line is an excellent test of both these claims.


This is a ten-year-old car which meant that we should have eased up just a bit with the level of scrutiny but we didn’t. Even then, the MK6 Golf GTI has stood the test of time quite well when it comes to the exterior.

There are no obvious signs of this car’s age. The styling looks quite contemporary and the smooth-flowing curves are still in fashion. There are, however, clues to its age on closer examination and one of them is the taillamps.

There are no LEDs on this car. But pretty much the rest of the car belies its age. From the front, the car looks quite poised and the Golf R wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tyres look pretty great. Overall, the 2009 Golf GTI looks at home even in 2019.

VW Golf GTI MK6 on Golf R Wheels

The interior though is a slightly different story. One look and you will know that this car is from a different era. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Everything important still works and the seats and upholstery have held up great to the test of time. It is a lot simpler on the inside compared to modern cars and that allows you to focus on things that matter like the driving experience.

The 2009 Golf GTI is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged Straight 4 engine that produces 207.5 bhp at 5300 RPM and 280 Nm of torque. These are very respectable numbers and as the car weighs just 1,339 kg, it is quite an exciting car. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic DSG gearbox with a dual-clutch system.

The car was built to do 0-62 Mph in 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 148 mph in its day. The fuel economy figures listed for this car were 38.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of 173 g/km. All these figures, however, were for a brand new car, and after 10 years the 2009 Golf GTI might not give the same performance numbers but it hasn’t deteriorated in any noticeable manner from what we can tell.

How does it drive?

The GTI version of the Golf has always been the car tuned for performance and the 2009 Golf GTI is no different. However, it is a performance-oriented hatchback with a twist. Unlike most hot hatchbacks that place a premium on cornering stability, the 2009 Golf GTI is equally interested in straight-line performance.

This does not mean that it is a slouch around corners, infact the car feels good, and as well as having a lot of grip, it is enjoyable when the road gets twisty. This is a front-wheel driven car which means that there will always be plenty of grip to play with even though most of the time you might struggle to use all of it.

Take the 2009 Golf GTI  on the A-road though and it immediately comes to life. The stability at high speeds is quite mind-blowing for a little hatch and going on long drives on the A-roads is actually fun as opposed to harrowing. This highlights the practical aspect of the car as well.

The gearbox works quite well and makes life quite easy. The suspension is also quite good and finds the right balance between sporty and comfortable, considering it is a GTI.

It didn’t sacrifice too much of the feedback and handling while being still quite comfortable for a long drive.

The brakes in conjunction with the Bridgestone Potenza tyres (our review) have loads of stopping power available at all times provided the tyres are warm enough.

The car managed to stop quickly under harder braking which is quite cool for a 10-year-old car and the lack of tyre squeal under full-throttle use was also impressive in the dry.

Overall, the 2009 Golf GTI is a pretty solid hatchback even by today’s standards. It might seem a bit down on power when compared to modern hatchbacks but it is still quite fun to drive and exciting which is what separates a good hatchback from a great one.

To be able to do so after 10 years of use is quite a testament to its build quality and the engineering that went behind it. Just like every great hatchback, the 2009 Golf GTI is fun to drive, is practical, and comfortable both in ride quality as well as price.

What is it like inside?

The elephant in the room here is obviously the infotainment system. By modern standards, it is almost non-existent. There isn’t an option even for Bluetooth connectivity which shows how outdated the infotainment system is.

We chose to swap it out for the Kenwood DNX518VDABS, which brings Garmin satnav, Bluetooth connecting, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay to the car. This completely changes the experience in the car, to be bang up-to-date.

Apart from the infotainment system though, the interior of the 2009 Golf GTI is quite the charming place to be in. All the original upholstery and the seat materials are of very high quality. Another wise decision taken by VW back then was to avoid a glitzy approach to the design and that has aged very well. Seats on old cars can be an eyesore but the ones on this car are still quite easy on the eyes while also being satisfactorily comfy.

The view from the inside is quite good and visibility was never an issue. Legroom and headroom are adequate but getting into the rear seats wasn’t the easiest as we have the three-door model.

There were some signs of ageing on the inside as well but everything was intact and nothing seemed to be falling apart or about to do so any time soon. For a hatchback, the storage space is also pretty good.

GTI MK6 Interior

The experience

Buying used VW cars can be a hit or a miss. You can end up with an awesome car or something that just keeps demanding attention in the form of repairs. The 2009 Golf GTI falls under the former category. Even after 10 years, this peppy little car packs in enough thrills to make any drive enjoyable while being practical enough to serve as your everyday car.

With a few upgrades and this car will be indistinguishable from a modern hatchback which is a great deal to have. Apart from a few chips and scratches, this car has held up quite well. It also has plenty of room for improvement which means that the excitement can only increase from here.

2009 Golf GTI MK 6 Cost

Buying a second-hand Golf GTI, I found it to be a difficult task to find a nice one. At the moment looking for a MK6 DSG Golf GTI, you can pay between £7,000 and £13,000 depending on the condition and mileage that you are looking for as an estimate.

Just be careful what you are buying VW cars if you are looking to save money. Take a look at our buying guide.

Facts about Volkswagen Golf / GTI Mk6 (2010-2014) Buyer’s Guide:

  1. The Volkswagen Golf Mk6 hatchback was produced from 2010 to 2014, and it was the final Golf model built in Germany before VW shifted to a more global product strategy.
  2. The Mk6 Golf is a versatile car that can easily fit in compact spaces, accelerate and handle well, accommodate four adults and their luggage, and deliver over 30 mpg fuel economy.
  3. Buyers should look for the newest Mk6 Golf they can afford, as Volkswagen made key improvements to the model over time, especially for the GTI version, which had a recall due to a tendency to wear out water pumps.
  4. Buyers must choose between the efficiency of the diesel (TDI) variant, the fun and sportiness of the GTI, or the remarkable level of quality and refinement for an entry-level car of the base five-cylinder Golf.
  5. The Mk6 Golf engines include the base Golf’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder, TDI’s 2.0-liter diesel, and the GTI’s direct-injected 2.0-liter turbo four.
  6. Both the TDI and the GTI come with VW’s excellent “DSG” dual-clutch automated manual transmission, while the base Golf has a refined six-speed automatic, which pairs nicely with the torque-rich five-cylinder.
  7. The GTI comes standard with the iconic “Tartan” plaid upholstery, and two higher-priced trim levels offer leather seats, a sunroof, and a Dynaudio stereo system.
  8. The GTI and Golf R engines can suffer from internal carbon buildup due to their use of direct fuel injection, while a small percentage of GTI owners have reported failures of the 2.0T engine’s timing chain tensioner.
  9. Used Golf Mk6 prices range from $9,000 or less for a well-kept five-cylinder Golf with high mileage to over $20,000 for a Golf R with very low mileage.
  10. The Mk6 Golf offers an exemplary ride-and-handling balance, capable performance, and a solid reliability reputation on owner forums, making it an excellent value now in the used car market.

Golf GTI Reliability

The Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk6, manufactured between 2010-2014, is indeed an appealing hatchback. However, like any other vehicle, it comes with its share of problems. Below is a comprehensive list of issues that have been encountered with this vehicle. Remember, while these are common problems, proper maintenance can lead to a solid performance in your car.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #1: Turbocharger Failure

The turbocharger can fail, leading to a lack of power and acceleration. This is due to the wastegate rod having excessive play, causing a rattling noise. Although there is a clip from VW to eliminate the rattle, it’s usually not very successful, and turbo replacement is ultimately required.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #2: High-Pressure Fuel Pump Failure

Although not as common as in the FSI engines, the high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP) can still fail on the TSI engines found in the MK6 GTI. Typically, fuel pressure faults indicate a potential failure.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #3: PCV Valve Failure

The diaphragm in the PCV valve can fail, causing a squealing noise and/or a check engine light from an idle air control too high or a lean code. This valve sits on top of the valve cover and is a relatively easy fix. If left too long, it can also cause premature failure of the rear main seal.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #4: Rear Main Seal Leak

The rear main seal can start to leak oil, leading to misfire or lean codes causing a check engine light. This primarily occurs due to excessive crankcase pressure caused by failed PCV valves. To replace it, removal of the transmission is required.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #5: Diverter Valve Failure

The diverter valve or air recirculation valve fails when the early model version utilizes a diaphragm that tears, causing under-boost codes. An updated piston-style diverter valve that does not tear is available. Aftermarket options are also available if you prefer.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #6: Water Pump Failure

The water pump has a higher-than-normal rate of failure, resulting in leaking coolant and overheating. Regularly checking for coolant leaks can help in early detection.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #7: Evap Purge Valve Malfunction

The evap purge valve, also known as the N80 valve, is a solenoid valve that controls the amount of fuel vapor directed back to the engine to be burned. The valve can stick open, causing a free flow of air. This triggers a code during the tank pressurization test because it suspects a leak in the system due to the open valve.

GTI MK6, Common Problems #8: Fuel Pump Control Module Overheating

The fuel pump control module, located underneath the rear seat above the fuel pump, can overheat, causing the car to cut out. It can get hot enough to melt the plastic casing, creating a fire hazard. A revised part from VW is available to address this problem.

The VW Golf GTI MK6 is a solid car but it’s important to be aware of these common issues. Regular maintenance and timely repairs can prevent most of these problems from becoming major headaches. If you are considering purchasing a used MK6 GTI, it’s advisable to have a pre-purchase inspection performed to identify any potential issues.

MK6 GTI Modified

The Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk6 is a popular car among enthusiasts, known for its reliability and performance. However, there is always room for improvement. In this guide, we will discuss the best modification options for your Golf GTI Mk6 and what to look out for.

Before diving into the modifications, it’s crucial to address the ignition components. Upgraded ignition coils and spark plugs are essential for handling the increased power and engine temperatures that come with tuning.

We recommend running 1-step colder spark plugs if you plan on tuning your MK6 GTI and increasing boost levels. This helps keep engine temperatures lower and prevents pre-detonation, engine misfires, or knocks.

1. Upgrade Your Intake

An upgraded intake allows your engine to breathe properly and brings in cooler (denser) air, which means more power. While there are many brands that make cold air intakes, two of our favorites are the APR Stage 1 Cold Air Intake and the K&N MK6 GTI Cold Air Intake. Both offer great performance, but the APR intake has a more aesthetically pleasing design, while the K&N intake pulls harder in lower gears, especially with a tune.

2. Upgrade Your Exhaust System

Upgrading your exhaust system not only improves the sound of your car but also helps the engine breathe easier, producing a slight boost in performance gains. Two excellent options are the APR MK6 GTI Catback Exhaust System and the NEUSPEED MK6 GTI Cat-back Exhaust System. Both offer great performance, but the APR system has a sleeker design, while the NEUSPEED system stands out for its manufactured quality.

3. Add an ECU Tune

An ECU tune can drastically change the way your car runs, allowing the engine to produce more power, run more efficiently, and get better gas mileage. Two popular options are the APR 2.0 TSI / TFSI Gen 1 ECU Upgrade (Stage 1) and the COBB Accessport V3 Stage 1 Power Package VW GTI MK6. The APR tune offers the most power, while the COBB AccessPort allows for customization and offers free firmware updates.

4. Add a Downpipe

An upgraded downpipe will improve exhaust flow from the turbo, producing more horsepower and torque. Two good options are the ARM Motorsports MK6 GTI Downpipe and the RACELAND MK6 GTI Downpipe. Both offer great performance, but the ARM downpipe gives you the option to include a catalytic converter, while the Raceland downpipe is catless.

5. Upgrade Your Intercooler

An upgraded intercooler brings in cooler air to your engine, meaning more power. Two options are the APR 1.8T/2.0T Front Mount Intercooler System (FMIC) and the European S3 Intercooler. The APR intercooler is the most efficient, while the OEM S3 intercooler is a more affordable alternative.

6. Additional Modification Options

  • Flowing and Porting the Engine Head: This will get better flow and make a more efficient engine, supporting your other mods.
  • Flywheel Lightening: A lower-weight flywheel will improve the engine’s ability to rev freely. However, this is not always suitable for all Golf Mk6 engines.
  • Brake Mods: Upgrading your brakes is crucial for handling the increased power.
  • Turbo Upgrades: Forced induction is the most dramatic method to increase your intake’s air supply, allowing you to combust more fuel and make higher power. However, it is typically one of the most expensive upgrades.
  • Handling Modifications: Upgrading your suspension improves your Golf Mk6 handling. Coilovers and bushings are the usual go-to mods.
  • Engine Tunes: Engine tuning/remapping offers the biggest gains for the money. Aftermarket ECU upgrades and tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  • Fast Road Cams: These are significant power adders but must be set up by someone competent.

Modifying your Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk6 can greatly improve its performance and handling. However, it’s crucial to choose the right modifications and have them installed by a professional. This guide provides a starting point for selecting the best mods for your Golf GTI Mk6. Remember to always consider your budget and the local laws and regulations before making any modifications to your vehicle.

GTI MK6 Verdict

If you are strapped for cash but still want to own one of the better hot hatchbacks then the MK6 Golf GTI is a great option. It is also one of those cars that do not depreciate rapidly which means that once you are done with it, you can sell it off without losing a ton of money (hopefully).

In my experience, giving the car a good detail and replacing a few worn components can get the car back in good shape and should be good fun to own.


MK6 Golf GTI Specs

  • Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre Straight 4
  • Power: 207 bhp
  • Torque: 280 Nm
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Atuomatic DSG
  • 0-62mph:  6.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 148 mph
  • Weight: 1,339 kg
  • Economy combined:  38.2 mpg
  • CO2: 173 g/km


  • Will Will Says

    The Golf was a horrible purchase and the dealership have already taken 25% of the original price after 2 years of ownership!!! The car is slow, turns like a forklift, and the only people who drive them are sad and regretful.

  • Sean Says

    Thank you Paul, this is a great review. I just bought a Golf GTI 2012. It has had 1 owner and well looked after. No modifications. The only going is ots done 170,000km. Hoping it’s got plenty of life left.

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