Deciding on a GTI


New member
Los Angeles
2016 Jetta SE
Hello all,
I'm the current owner of a 2016 Jetta SE, and after owning it I've become obsessed with Volkswagen and am hoping to upgrade to a GTI. The problem is, with so many different generations and years I'm having trouble narrowing down which version is best for me. Any help from you knowledgeable folk is greatly appreciated. These are the models I'm considering:

2009 MKV
2013 MKVI Drivers Edition
2016 MKVII S/SE (Haven't decided if it's worth going SE from S.
2017 MKVII S/Sport

Here is a ranking of the things that matter to me most:
  1. Drive-ability (Spend most of my time in traffic/on highways but drive quickly and love to let loose on back roads. Biggest issue with Jetta is the looseness of the suspension/handling, even though the Sport mode helps a bit.
  2. Interior Refinement (Obviously the newer models will have nicer interiors, big fan of android auto and a more luxurious dash.
  3. Looks (Prefer the styling of the MKVII, but the MKV and MKVI are both ok. Would probably change the circular rims if possible)
  4. Price (Cheaper is always better of course, hoping to stay in the $10-20k range)
  5. Reliability (From what I can tell most of those models are reliable except some issues with the 2009)
I'm also considering a GLI, but I don't want to splurge for the 2019 model which seems to be best.
I know this is a lot of information, and I don't expect anybody to make a decision for me. There's just so much to learn about these cars and any input from more seasoned GTI enthusiasts would be great. I'm considering learning manual as well, if that helps. I really apologize if this posted too often, I tried to look before submitting.

Thank you all.


Go Kart Champion
Chicago, IL
My first new car purchase was an Mk7 Gti back in 2014, and I loved that car to death. I just traded it in this past weekend for a Mk7.5 and it is even better (IMHO) than the Mk7. Gti's are great cars, so if you can afford it, go for it! I said I owned the Mk7 for just about 6 years, and I NEVER had one single issue with the sunroof. I actually had more issues with my driver window not automatically going up/down with the single push on the door button. That window would constantly lose that function, while all 3 other windows worked flawlessly.


Autocross Champion
de plains! de plains!
2015 GTI; 2003 Saab I said I owned the Mk7 for just about 6 years, and I NEVER had one single issue with the sunroof. I actually had more issues with my driver window not automatically going up/down with the single push on the door button. That window would constantly lose that function, while all 3 other windows worked flawlessly.


Autocross Champion
West Chicagoland
MK6 and MK7
the 2013 or 16 SE i would say. Both have the best options out of the bunch. The sport is great but honestly featureless, either way if you go MK7 get the performance pack. The MK5 is as great as the 6 but if you go that route due to cost or something get an older one with the FSI, not the early gen TSI (those have lots of issues, leak like seethes).

I have a 6 and 7 and love them both dearly. Main reason i got a 7 was because i wanted a manual and the wife could drive the 6 cheaper than buying a new car. The 6 has held up great, 80k hard miles, 40k of them on a k04.

depending on your plans, i know that the 6 is going for like 8k max private sale (drivers edition probably not so much) but thats a good factor.

To more directly answer your bulletlist:
  1. drive-ability - both are amazing. The 6 in my opinion is a little snappier with the steering, feels just a little more alive. It also has a bit of a higher powerband (on a k04, anyway). The 7, if only because its newer, but more likely due to the MQB chassis, has slightly better ride quality, less noises over bumps. Both start right up and do whatever you want them to do flawlessly though.
  2. Interior Refinement - again, both amazing. the leather seats in the 6 are better looking and tighter than the 7's IMO, but the 7's are more comfortable. I prefer the 6's steering wheel but the 7's dashboard. Either can come with a great sound system but the 7's better. 7 has more red stitching and the cool infotainment stuff, drive modes, etc. Either can come with or without KESSY.
  3. Looks - totally up to you. They both look great in their own regards.
  4. Price - go private sale; i got both of mine by financing online via lightstream with low interest. you can get a nice 6 for 10k range, a nice SE/PP 7 for ~17k
  5. Reliability - like i said above, avoid late model 5's/early model 6's. I think all 7's are fine unless there are some early model issues i havent been made aware of. i have had zero issues with a 6 or 7 in ~5 years that i didn't directly cause due to modding/jerry rigging something lol. But i do alot of preventative maintenance.
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Go Kart Champion
Chicago, IL
How long does it work properly after you reset it?
It was sporadic. Some days it worked just fine and others it would just stop going up. It was pretty frustrating to say the least, especially since I had the auto up/down function that I coded via OBDeleven and that was the only window that wouldn't react.


Drag Racing Champion
The Detroit
2019 GTI Rabbit
Having owned two MK7s, i would recommend this generation. MK7s have been one of the most reliable Golf platforms with few known issues. It might be towards the higher end of your budget but will be well worth the money if you are planning to hold on to it for a while.

Personally, i would recommend any 2016 with Lighting and Performance packages or a 2017 Sport.


Drag Race Newbie
19 Alltrack 6MT
Having owned a 2008 MK5 Jetta, a 2011 MK6 Jetta, a 2012 MK6 GTI, (two) 2015 MK7 GTIs, and now a 2019 Alltrack...

I would say get a lightly used 2018 S Model Alltrack. I've driven 5 FWD cars and now that I own an AWD car I would never go back. It provides a similar level of performance to a GLI or GTI when you add a JB1/4, only you've got AWD to put the power down and power you through turns (FWD cars don't do so hot on-throttle in the turns).

You can get a 2018 Alltrack S with less than 20K miles for $18-20K, and that car will come with at least 50K miles of bumper to bumper warranty. RSB + Tune/tires turns the Alltrack into a budget GTI/R wagon for less money than both a GTI/Golf R brand new.

If you're super set on a GLI/GTI, they're also fantastic cars. But FWD is FWD, and until you make the decision on an AWD car you just won't know what you're missing lol.