2011 GTI model year updates and changes

For 2011 the GTi gets an trim level overhaul, instead of starting from the base model and adding options (nav, xenons, etc) VW is now going to make 4 distinctive versions with set standard equipment, so here they are:

– GTI Base – includes: new RCD310 single disc CD player with satellite radio, leather steering wheel (same design as last year, without multifunction buttons)

– GTI w/ Sunroof – includes all of the above plus: Premium 8 touchscreen radio, leather multifunction steering wheel, power sunroof

– GTI w/ Sunroof and Navigation – includes all of the above plus: new RNS315 navigation system and bi‐xenon headlights with AFS

– GTI Autobahn – includes all of the above plus: leather top sport seats with V‐Tex leatherette door inserts, Dynaudio “Lite” and Smart Key keyless entry with push‐start/stop ignition

Other updates include a much improved and welcomed bluetooth system called 9W7 that will erase all the confusion and pain associated with the 9W3/9W2 systems and well as the following:

– 18‐inch “Detroit” alloy wheels now standard on all trim levels

– Rear side thorax airbags  no longer available

– Voice‐controlled Bluetooth w/ audio streaming and phonebook download standard (9W7)

– GTI: new RCD310 single disc CD player with satellite radio

– GTI w/ Sunroof and Navigation and Autobahn Packages: New RNS315 navigation replaces RNS510 navigation

– GTI Autobahn: New Smart Key keyless entry with and push‐start/stop ignition

And as always, the disclaimer:
Volkswagen of America, Inc. believes the information and specifications to be correct to the time of publication. Specifications, standard features, options, fabrics and colors are subject to change without notice. Some features may be unavailable when the vehicle is built.


Posted on April 20, 2010, in 2011, bluetooth, GTI, Volkswagen and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. I guess this means that VW of A is dropping the Touchscreen Premium VIII Stereo for the base GTI. Is this stereo better in any aspect or is it a cost-cutting change to the base GTI?

    • Nevermind. Stupid me didn’t read the entire article. Thanks Jay for everything you do!

    • The RNS 315 is cost cutting compared to the RNS 510. The RNS 315 has less Features, a smaller screen and is less expensive in Europe, where the RNS 510 remains avaiable.

  2. I hope someone at VW reads this blog . . .

    I own a 98 GTI and it is one of seven VWs I’ve bought in 24 years. The last VW I bought was a TDI wagon for my wife.

    I would love to buy a brand new GTI except there’s really nothing exciting about them anymore. Color choices are several shades of grey, dark blue (nearly grey) and dark red. No orange, no yellow, no green. No golf ball shifter. No interior stitching detail. Fewer customizations (everything is wrapped up into packages to like cable TV you have to buy a bunch of crap to get the one thing you want).

    I would pay MSRP in a second for a new GTI if they put back a little pizazz in the line. It’s a GTI!

    In contrast, my 98 GTI is yellow, with yellow checkered pattern on the seats, yellow stitching on the steering wheel and around the shifter. Golf ball shifter. Power sunroof, awesome stereo and no other options. It’s a dream car. I would actually pay the 2010 GTI price to have a brand new version of that 98.

    I see a LOT of GTIs sitting on the lot and not moving. I told my dealer to look at the colors for the 2011 so I could order on . . . but the colors are the same boring ones and there are now fewer ways to customize.

    At least bring back some special editions like the R32 or Fahrenheits.

    Jay, please tell me some good news!

    • the 2010 GTI is a awesome car! I am sure in time we will see some special editions. As far as the interior? come on! we get the coolest seats ever! red stitching everywhere and the best radio this side of Audi. whats not to like?

      • I realize you’re trying to sell more GTIs and I respect/appreciate that . . . but come take a look at the interior of my 98 GTI.

        Maybe I’m just an old fart now at 41 yrs old, but all that touch screen functionality doesn’t a better radio make. When I’m doing 70-80 mph, I need a tactile knob I can grab or a button . . . I don’t need my attention on a touch screen. The best car stereo is one that is functional while driving and sounds incredible. VW got the second part right. But sit in any 90s era VW and you will find superb UI engineering in all the levers, knobs and dials.

    • Actually, there is interior stitching detail starting with 2010. The stitching is red and is on the seats and steering wheel.

      Don’t expect to see more options for the GTI, especially in 2013. VW wants to be the biggest global auto manufacturer and overtake Toyota. They have said this. That is why in 2013 there will be a new Golf GTI released early to use the new MBQ platform. They want to reduce operating and manufacturing costs. Having individual options and not packages increases cost for them. They already expect you to pay MSRP.

      However, VW just formed another company, Volkswagen R GmbH. They are going to be bringing a Golf R to the States with LED DRL, AWD and 270-hp. You can be sure that what you are looking for will come from them, as the mainstream VW will try to be more cost efficient going forward.

    • Will I share your sentiment and echo it and I hope more will. I’ve been following the VW train for a while now and I was looking forward to getting my first VW – a GLI or GTI as my next vehicle but this is no longer the case. The decontenting and cost cutting is painfully obvious and it is spreading like a disease throughout their line up. The greatest insult is the latest Jetta but it started even before then with the passat. The VeeDubs have lost their premium feel.

      I should have got a GTI back in 2008/2009. The thought of owning one no longer excites me. If I get a black 2011 GTI now, it will look like and be configured like just about any other black 2011 GTI out there; further exacerbated by the fact that dealers will only carry volume configs. I can’t even pick a different wheel design and you are spot on about the colors – is it really necessary to have 3 shades of grey?

      This is the exact reason I left the Honda family. Honda used to be a company run by engineers, now it’s a company run by accountants. Every decision comes down to cost, cost, cost. I too would have gladly paid MSRP if that meant I could get the VW I wanted, not the one VW thinks I want or the one some focus group says i should have. I bet those focus groups are made up of honda/toyota owners. Engineering by committee.

      Perhaps VW should change their slogan from “Drivers wanted” to “Buyers wanted” while they’re at it.

      Unfortunately for you and I, we are the minority. VW would never survive selling cars to ppl like us because of volume. They can’t charge obscene prices to make up for volume because they aren’t a luxury brand. So i guess we are faced with the inevitable. At least you were lucky enough to have owned a VW you loved.

      No offense to you Jay, I love following your blog and wish I could’ve bought my VM from you or someone like you.

  3. Hey Jay,

    Love the site, I’ve been researching GTIs and your site has the best info by far.

    Couple of questions about the 2010 – 2011 model switch over. Is it still possible to order a 2010? I really want the Shadow Blue color but they seem very rare at this point and it’s likely I would have to order one. I don’t like the bundled packages for the 2011… I want Dynaudio and bi-xenon headlights but don’t want leather seats, navigation or a sunroof. What are the chances of me getting the car I want at this point?

    • 2010 ordering ended last month, dealer will get some 2010s over th enext two months then thats it. Your dealer can do a search for the car or you can email me the specs you want and where you are and i can try to track one down for you

  4. Will those of us with 9w2 be able to upgrade to the 9w7 with minimal pain?

  5. Any idea about price changes?

  6. I read that you would try to track down the GTI we wanted. Well I’m in Pensacola FL and looking for a car with no sunroof, Xenon, cloth, and dynaudio, either blue, white or CSG preferably. Thanks

  7. Thx for the info.

    Any changes in the engine, HP/Torque? I thought I had read that there might be a change in the 2011 GTI?

  8. Any clue what packages are going to make it for Canada? I’ve just put $1000 down for a 2011, but it was based on everything staying the same as 2010, I’m extremely pleased to see an upgraded Bluetooth module and keyless entry, but have no idea where they’ll fit into Canadian trim levels. We really only have 1, with a few package options available.

    -I realize you’re in the US, can’t find any info for Canada online, so asking can’t hurt.

  9. Any idea on the cost of the packages. Wondering if I should try and track down a 2010 that I want or just wait it out for the 2011.

  10. I’m so disappointed about the RNS-315 replacing the RNS-510. If you were buying a GTI, would you opt for a 2010 or 2011 GTI, fully loaded? If you don’t mind, please email me (crayola012@live.com) your honest opinion– I highly respect you as an informed salesman. Thanks for your time!

  11. Ok, please pay attention to what i am about to post as I am the FIRST North American resident to have ordered the new 2011 VW GTi. I placed my order in march for the 2011 version and VW of Germany recently began construction on my automobile on MAY 5th. I was confirmed as the first GTi in North America by VW.
    Now listen, very carefully, THERE ARE NO CHANGES, ABSOLUTELY NONE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN GTi !!!! The only place that will see any type of change is in Europe. there residents will get to choose from 3 trim levels, as well as the much wanted R series.
    NORTH AMERICA WILL NOT SEE ANY CHANGES!!! ok people. Look at it this way it just won car of the year, so does it really make sense to revamp a model that is already considered great?
    Now, Blu-tooth has been upgraded with voice controls but as far as all this nonsense about a bigger engine or different lights or any of that crap, STOP, use your heads people and stop starting rumours that will detere others from buying such an amazing car!
    According to official VW internal reports, the GTi wont see an overhall till 2012, and even then it will only be minor touches like LED taillights and (possibly) a new 7 speed DSG transmision.

  12. Hi Jay.

    I inquired about the GTI-R a couple of days back and you informed me that it will not be here as a 2011 model. So, I am now placing my order for my 2011 GTI Autobahn instead. I am extremely disappointed that the RNS-510 will not be offered in the next year. If I purchase an RNS-510 from the dealer when I buy my car, would the swap from the 315 nav unit be pretty straight forward or will I need to do some major fine tuning?

    • Should be plug and play

      • I understand that going from the RNS-310 to the RNS-510 is a direct swap but in the 2011 model they went back to the Blaupaunkt manufacturer for the RNS-315. Will it be the same connector behind the 315 as the 510? I only ask because of the manufacturer change. Perhaps VW just kept things simple and required all radios to use the same connector behind them regardless of the model/manufacturer?

  13. Is the Premium 8 touchscreen radio still the RNS 510 but without navi?

  14. Also what do you think the price range would be with the Sunroof option? Less than or greater than 25k?

  15. Jay,

    I am currently the happy owner of a 2008 GTI. The lease expires next March. According to Edmund’s TMV, the car is already worth more than its dealer trade-in value, so I could in theory end the lease early without taking a hit. (1) How realistic are those Edmund’s numbers? (2) What are the big changes between the Gen. 5 and Gen. 6 GTI? (3) Is there any difference between the 2010 and 2011 models other than the move to standard option packages?

    I can understand why VW is moving to standard option packages, but I do find it annoying. I do not like sunroofs, but it seems like you’re going to be stuck with one if you want any other upgrades.

    • what i would recommend is going and sitting in the new GTI, driving it and find out for your self how much better the MKVI is. talk to your dealer and work out a deal with them, incentives on the MKVI are good right now, dont miss out.

  16. Jay…Go into Webview and look at the released spec sheet on the 2011 GTI. It states that the car comes with “sport suspension w/ vehicle lowering”. What does this mean? They surely couldn’t mean DCC could they?

  17. So if I was to not want a navigation system but REALLY want xenon headlights is there ANYTHING that can be done either at the factory or the dealer that would allow me to purchase the w/sunroof package without paying the extra cash for a nav system that I don’t need?

  18. Hey Jay,

    With the introduction of the new Jetta, they are saying the GLI will be back with the 2.0TSI engine. Any chance this will make it to the GTI?

  19. Jay,

    Does the 9W7 Bluetooth have the same overhead buttons as lower level 9W3/9W2?

  20. I’m really sorry for the totally newbie question but – my understanding is that the 2010 gti comes standard with a steering wheel that has buttons for things like volume, etc, as well as a radio with a touch screen interface for doing things such as controlling an ipod, etc. Is the 2011 base gti going to lack both of these features? Am I interpreting that correctly? Sorry if I’m way off base, I don’t know much about car option terminology.

  21. Zoran Milosavljevic

    I don’t know why VW is doing this again, the last time I was in the market for a car I considered I
    the Mk5 GTI and did not buy it because in order to get the car with the options I wanted I would have had to get a bunch of packaged options I did not want. I absolutely do not want leather seats, I like the interlagos plaid seats and could care less about leather and don’t want to pay for them. I also don’t want a sunroof or 18″ wheels. I don’t want to pay for the high cost of replacing 18″ tires or the degraded ride and the durability problems associated with 18’s. The handling improvements with 18’s is dubious at best. And if RNS510 is not at least an optional upgrade I don’t have any interest in the nav either. The RNS510 should be an upgrade option on all golfs.
    The car I want is a 2 door GTI with HID’s, plaid seats, 17″ wheels, bluetooth, steering wheel controls, smart key, dyna audio, and the RNS510. No leather seats no sunroof, are you listening VW. The car I really want is that same GTI as mentioned above only a GTD.

    • Zoran,

      I agree. Having 18″ wheels as standard equipment on the 2011 GTI with no option for 17″ tires is a poor choice by VW. GTIs are known for being an all around drivers car and a great commuter car- with the 18s you get a harsh ride, poor winter performance, more apt to blow out if you hit a road hazard, and marginal handling improvement.

      Now I will have to buy the 2011 and sell all four Rims and Tires and buy a set of 17s with better tires. Kind of a pain, if you just wanted to Buy and Drive.

      Also not having the option to get Dynaudio or smartkey unless you go with the Autobahn package is weak. Makes me take a second look at the Mazdaspeed 3.

  22. Jay, 3 questions: Will the 2011 GTI have Climatronic? Will it have auto headlamps? When can we place orders?

  23. I disagree John. Wheels can make/break a car. IMO, the ‘chinese star’ wheels are amongst the best wheels ever offered on an (affordable) production car. Assuming I’m reading this correctly, the fact that they’re now standard is actually a wise decision on VWs part. The 2010 model had 17’s with a similar look. Comparing them side by side (as I did earlier today) makes the car with the 17s look average and even frumpy in comparison. The GTI with the 18s, on the other hand, looked aggressive and downright awesome. The ONLY difference were the wheels. There’s a reason all of the press photos VW has ever released for this and the previous gen GTI have the 18s

    VW will benefit by ensuring their car looks as good as possible. As far as ride quality and handling goes… the difference will be negligible. But if you’re so concerned about having a cushy ride, you should probably be looking at a different class of car.

    I also found it strangely ironic that you criticize VW for giving the GTI 18s as standard equipment then praise Mazda for offering a better technology package or whatever. You do realize the MS3 comes stock with 18s as well. This very well could have also been a factor in VWs decision since that’s undoubtedly the closest rival.

  24. I own a 08 GTI. Great car for the money. I just drove the 2010. Fit and finish is top notch compared to the Asian cars. I drove a four door United Grey with the 18′ black Karthoum rims. The car looked great. Great daily driver. I will trade in for a 2010 or wait for the 2011.

  25. JP, Thanks for your comments. First I agree that the 18″ wheels look really nice.
    But you should have Form AND function. Just for looks or press photos does not cut it. The performance over a 17″ rim (which is next to nothing) is not worth, damaging your rim and/or tire due to such a low profile.
    I do not want a car with a “cushy ride”, I have owned many GTIs back to 1983. Here are some quotes to back up what I am trying to say:

    “I switched from the stock 17″s to 18″ aftermarket wheels, there was a very noticeable difference in ride quality regarding a rough ride. So in my opinion, I would stay away from 18″s”

    “I know of a few people who have already trashed their Detroits, or at least blown out tires on them. They’re not weak rims, but they’re pretty low profile tires (~91mm I think?), so there’s no much cush to take the edge off a deep, square-edged pothole.”

    “Dont’ use 18s for winter – smaller wheels, bigger tires – at most 17″. Sell the Detroits if you don’t want them, but they’re NOT good winter wheels.”

    “Yes, it has happened. Not a pothole, but ruined rim nonetheless.”

    ALL that being said. The only 2 reasons to have 18’s are resale value and looks.
    I will get a 2011 GTI with the only choice (18s) and use the All-season tires that come on them and get a Winter set of 16″ rims and winter tires, and eventually swap out the All-seasons for Summer Performance Tires.


    18″ Rims with Summer Performance Tires
    16″ Rims with Winter Tires and extra set of TPM sensors

    If I had the choice to get 17″ rims I would just have to switch the all-seasons over to winter tires and avoid the cost of extra rims.

    I suppose if you live in a location where you get no snow this would not even be an issue. In the Northeast however, it is an issue being this would be my only car.

    My main point is that I which VW would at least offer a CHOICE.

    Thanks @Jay Pichardo for the suggestion of having the dealer swap them out.

  26. Ben Messerschmidt

    Jay, will the RCD310 on the 2011 model still have direct ipod control like the 2010 model stereo? Thanks

  27. Jay, I test drove a 2011 GTI yesterday and was really impressed. I have a question about the wheels. I know that 18 inch wheels are now standard, I want to get an extra set of rims and put snow tires on them. Can I go with a 16 inch rim or should I go with a 17 inch rim? By the way great blog, lots of great information.

  28. I just bought me 11′ Sun/Nav trim GTI yesterday! I cannot wait for it to arrive. I’m pissed that I couldn’t get the Dynadio on that level, but I wasn’t gonna pay 2k+ for a mess of features I don’t even really want on the autobahn…

  29. Jay, thanks for the info.

  30. Jamie Campbell

    Jay – Can you plz remove my contact info off the last post. Thought I was sending an e-mail, as opposed to posting a msg. Thks.

  31. Jay, Thanks for your blog. I just put a deposit on a 2011 GTI/Autobahn 2dr. I appreciate the comments here, but I love sunroofs and I (with a dog that sheds) like leather seats. I’m a GTI newbie, but I liked what I heard about the bluetooth upgrade & iPhone/iPod connectivity, as well as the nav system (my first). The car really performs! So I’m psyched, and can barely wait until next week when I’ll pick up the car.

  32. Wow it seems im going to be looking for a 2010 model in 2011 because that new radio rns315 looks like a piece of crap. Ive seen better options on the korean ebay knockoffs. Anyway I will be purchasing a new gti in the next few months can I get the second option and add zenon??

    • I just researched this same q–you can only get xenon lights with the sunroof and nav package (#3) or in the Autobahn package (#4), no other options for 2011–the ala carte ordering is gone this year. Aftermarket xenon lights will void the factory warranty and also the xenons pull more amps so you would also have to upgrade the relay switches and wiring also.

  33. Is it true that the 2011 GTI Autobahns are on backorder due to a possible shortage of parts related to the Smart Key system? Any info would be appreciated.

  34. What is KESSY?

  35. Also, any word on when they might be back in production?

  36. Two questions for Jay – or others re: my 2011 2dr Autobahn, which I’m loving:

    Is there a common problem with iPod play on 2011 GTIs? There is a skip about a second into every song that is played from my iPod. I read somewhere that there was a similar problem with 2010s and that dealers had a firmware upgrade fix. Any news on this?

    What wash/wax products and/or processes should I use to keep my GTI’s beautiful (carbon gray) finish looking great, especially here in New England? Any advice out there?

    • I have a 2010 GTI. Have the same problem with ipod skipping in the first second of every song. Took it to dealer who said they traded out an entire unit and wiring on another GTI and it was no different, so that there is no dealer fix. Not sure the dealer is up to date from my past experience with them and my prior VW.

  37. hi jay… i was trying to get 2011 GTI ..but i heard that Golf R is Coming to america early next year… is that true ? do you have any info about Golf R ? i want to see if i want to wait or just get GTI Autobahn …

  38. jay, i’m about to order a 2011 autobahn. should i be concerned that there is a problem or issues with KESSY systems already manufactured or is the only problem a shortage of parts?


  39. Hi Jay, can you provide info on when the ’11 Autobahns are back in production once the parts shortage is resolved. From what I’ve heard it could be late December before factory orders start arriving stateside. Thanx!

  40. Hi Jay,
    If I just order the base model 2011 GTI 4dr with std transmission, what bluetooth option is included? It won’t pull my cell’s phonebook, right? Any other functionality that I lose besides the steering wheels controls? Thanks!

  41. I really wish they’d bring back the front grill of the 09 GTI. Pair that with the 11 butt and that’s a sexy car. Do you see any body changes coming down the line?

  42. jay,

    following up on bill’s question…any update on the autobahns? are they back in production, if not any word when they will be?

  43. I picked up my 2011 GTI with sunroof and nav last week, what an awesome car. It is so much fun to drive. I can’t think of a bad thing to say about it.

  44. Can i fit 8 x 18″ wheels/rims on my 2011 Golf TDI?

  45. I am ready to lease a 2011 GTI. However, I have read a couple of reviews from consumers that state the car just stalls out for no apparent reason. Have you experienced this? Has this issue been fixed on the factory level? Dealer level? Other than this, I’m totally in love with this car! Thanks, -C

  46. Jay, I just purchased a 2011 GTI 6spd manual with everything, and absolutely love it. My first GTI was a 86 model and I have been driving VW’s since. I was holding off for the R20 but was assured by my salesman that we will never see it in the states. What is the word on this? I would trade my GTI in a heartbeat for the R version. The front wheel drive makes me giggle like a girl, I can only imagine the all-wheel drive. Thanks, Ryan

  47. Jay, can the RNS315 or RNS510 navigation be installed by the dealer on a 2011 GTI w/ Sunroof? The 2011 GTIs with Sunroof & Navigation seem to be in short supply in my area with options/colors that I want. Thx, Tom.

  48. I wish VW would offer a Xenon/Dynaudio package for the GTI. It seems like many customers (myself included) want these as the only two options and I feel that a package like this might be one of the highest-selling configurations in the lineup.

  49. Does the 2011 Golf gti come standar with front and back LED lights? i only added a sunroof an bi xenon headlights.

  50. Why is it so hard to find the GTI in the autobahn trim level here in Southern California? Have the Germans figured out that the exchange rate sucks and are no longer exporting these beautiful cars?

  51. I bought the 2011 GTI (replaced my 2008 cuz I needed a 4 door now) and I’m having problems with the keyless entry. I cannot lock it when I exit, nor close the windows. It worked just ONCE. Did I mess with the settings and screw it up? Also, is there a way to open the windows from outside??? Help!

  1. Pingback: 2011 GTI pricing « Ask a VW salesguy's Blog

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