Review: If you're shopping for a compact car, there are a few
things you can always expect to find, like a low price and good gas
mileage. But what about refinement?
small cars aren't on the leading edge of technology, smoothness and
sophistication, and buyers generally don't mind. They're looking for
something affordable and efficient. If the engine has emphysema and the
suspension has polio, so be it.
The Volkswagen GTI,
though, is different.
This compact car aims,
above all else, to be refined. It's a little more expensive than most
commuter cars, but it feels a lot more expensive, with the kind of
performance, comfort and tech gear that you'd normally expect from a
Take the GTI's
transmission. Normal cars in this class would have either a manual or
automatic transmission, nothing fancy. But the GTI comes with one of the
most impressive pieces of technology in any car at any price: a Direct
Shift Gearbox (DSG).
The DSG is something
you'll often find in exotic sports cars. Essentially, it's a robotic
manual transmission that offers the perfect combination between a
stick-shift and an automatic.
Like a stick-shift, it
offers ultra-fast shifts that make the driver feel connected to the car.
But like an automatic, there's no clutch pedal to get in the way. You
can change gears with the paddles on the steering wheel, or you can
leave it in fully automatic mode for normal cruising around town.
Another big difference
is under the hood. Where most small cars would have a regular
four-cylinder engine that may or may not sound like a lawnmower, the GTI
adds a turbocharger and intercooler to create a powerplant that's as
powerful and smooth as anything in its class.
Step on the gas pedal
and the GTI responds with a torrent of torque that can easily spin the
front tires. It makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque,
absolutely ridiculous high numbers for a car this small, so it
definitely lives up to the GTI's legendary performance.
And really, that's the
story of the GTI. As much as it's a great car, one with the mechanical
precision that feels so wonderfully German, it's ultimately a vehicle
that lives within the broad shadow of its hot-hatch predecessors. It's a
Volkswagen brought the
original GTI to America in 1983, spawning a whole new type of car, the
sport-compact, with its powerful engine in a small package. It was a hit
right from the start.
It was also noted for
its distinctive style. The classic GTI has black paint with little bits
of red trim, big wheels and a sporty body completing the package.
Today's GTI continues the trend with a strip of red trim around the
grille and some huge, old-school phone dial wheels that evoke the 1983
original. It's stylish, but not in a flashy way, more like the kind of
style hardcore VW enthusiasts would notice more than ordinary drivers.
Again, it's all about
The suspension is also
surprisingly advanced. It's fully independent, with an unusual rear
layout that improves handling and provides more space in the cabin. The
details are boring, but the results are outstanding, with incredible
grip, poise and control in the corners that you notice at speed.
What was tested?
The 2010 Volkswagen GTI four-door with the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG)
transmission with a base MSRP price of $24,990. Options on the test car:
A power sunroof for $1,000 and the navigation package for $1,750. The
total MSRP price as tested including the $700 destination charge is
Why avoid it?
The base cost is just under $25,000 with the awesome DSG gearbox.
Why buy it? It's
fast, refined and smart looking. It's nostalgic, too, with throwback
styling that evokes the original hot hatch of the 1980s.
Best of all, it's about
more than gas mileage and the window sticker.
By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San
The Bottom Line:
Volkswagen's new GTI has distinctive red trim around the grille opening,
carrying on a longtime tradition in this sport-compact trendsetter. The
excellent materials and construction make the new GTI feel like it's a
cut above most compact cars. It's a sporty and refined hatchback with a
powerful engine. Overall, it's hard to find a reason to dislike this
little car, assuming you can swallow the price. It's quick. It's
sophisticated. It's cute. It's practical. And it stands apart from the
Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy”
is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay
Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to
TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at
And remember: “ You Are
what you Drive ”
VW Home Page
Column Name: Sporty
Volkswagen lives up to its reputation
Topic: The 2010
Word Count: 846
Photo Caption: The
2010 Volkswagen GTI
Volkswagen GTI Internet Media
Series #: 2010 - 01
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2010 VW GTI
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2010 VW GTI