Search Cars for Sale

The Volkswagen GTI Is Absolutely a Trackable Daily Driver

I’ve long said the Volkswagen GTI is one of the best all-around cars you can buy. For less than $30,000, you get a car with an interior that rivals entry-level luxury cars, you get a ton of space with the rear seats down to carry your stuff, and you get enough power to make it exciting — but not so much that you’ll find yourself in trouble before you know it. What you also get is a car that finds itself completely at home during a track day.

Yes, you can absolutely take your GTI to a track day. And you absolutely should.

I’ve been able to take my GTI to Dominion Raceway in Virginia twice now, and it handled both days phenomenally. Nothing broke, and it felt as strong at the end of the day as it did at the beginning. Despite the fact that it was pretty hot both days, engine temperatures remained normal. Nothing at all made me feel the car was out of its element.

Sure, there are better cars out there for driving on a track. The GTI does understeer at the limit, owing to the fact that it’s front-wheel-drive. Honestly, though, this isn’t a bad thing. Understeer is much more predictable and easier for track day novices (like me) to deal with than oversteer — and that lets you explore the limits of your car more freely and learn the basics of driving fast while minimizing the risk of an off-track event.

Even though the GTI does understeer at the limit, that limit is much higher than you’d expect. Yes, you can go fast in a GTI. At my first event, I was able to easily keep up with Golf Rs and a brand-new Audi TTS in the corners — although they would leave me in the dust on the straights. The car inspires confidence, and you’ll have a great day.

So if you want a great daily driver that you can occasionally take to the track, the Volkswagen GTI should be on your list. It’s not the fastest sport compact, but I think it’s probably the best all-around affordable daily driver — and yet it’s still capable of tearing it up on a track. If you have a GTI, you owe it to yourself to find a track day and sign up. You won’t be disappointed. Find a Volkswagen GTI for sale

Here’s Why the Ferrari 430 Scuderia Is Worth $250,000
What Makes a Porsche an Outlaw?
The Porsche 911R Isn’t Worth $500,000 (But It’s Amazing)


Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...
  1. The key here is DAILY DRIVER. My APR Stage 1+ Mk6 GTI (268 HP/300 LB torque) can get 30+ mpg, pulls like a train on the interstate and is very comfortable on long trips. The Mk7 is even better – especially with a an ECU flash (300+ HP/335+ LB torque). DSG adds the the performance – the quick shifts give it an edge over manuals in daily stop light races, around town, etc.

  2. Multiple gen former GTI owner can attest to this. My last MkVII had the Performance Package with the trick LSD front end and it did well in the corners and didn’t understeer as much. Also the bigger brakes helped too over my MkV I had back in college. All gens were great cars though, handled more than people would guess!

    Still waiting on more on the ’18 R, had my heart set on one but starting to realize $40k gets a lot of car if you look slightly used. 
    • The R is a great value, especially with a tune. The new <4 second Mustang GT takes things to a new level though the R has more accessible power.

  3. You mentioned you kept up with two cars with the exact platform of the GTI, I would expect that – like me saying my Silverado is a great track truck because it kept up with a Sierra.

    How is it against WRX, Focus ST etc?
    • It does fine.  The GTI club sport’s Nurburgring time is similar to the Porsche 911 Turbo and M3.   Not a regular GTI but shows what this fwd platform can do. 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

Best New Cars for 2022

Here is our list of the best new cars for 2022 (presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer).

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Car Deals: December 2022

This month's best new car deals include several attractive offers for qualified shoppers.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This