By on November 23, 2009

A worthy comparison?
During a recent visit to Houston’s Johnson Space Center, I stood at the business end of the mighty Saturn V lunar rocket and contemplated many things. On the surface, I found myself excited and awestruck at the spectacle of the raw power represented by this engineering landmark, but introspectively, I also felt a twinge of sadness, realizing that I was now an adult and quite obviously not the astronaut I one day hoped to be.

It’s funny how reality sometimes smacks you like that. My youthful (space) flights of fancy also included plans to own a daily driver capable of an 11-second quarter mile, but today I drive a car capable of pulling a trailer and carrying six adults. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s never accelerated to sixty in under nine seconds. Time, along with an inconvenient concept called “real life,” end up teaching us that raw power isn’t really everything. In the end, we often find ourselves settling for many things that would have sorely disappointed our younger expectations.

However, before I blast off into a fit of nostalgic anomie, I should mention a fabulous little coping mechanism called the 2010 Volkswagen GTI. Yes, the original hot hatch and its segment-founding “you-can-be-responsible-and-still-have-fun” formula remain thankfully intact—when you get behind the wheel, your life will almost assuredly suck less. Unless you are an astronaut. Who owns a Ferrari.

The new-for-2010 “Mark VI” version of the GTI continues the evolution of Volkswagen’s original concept by injecting a smidge more visual excitement into the rowdy runabout. Slightly more aggressive than its immediate predecessor, the Mark VI version doesn’t return to the sharp, boxy edges of the original, but instead hides those edges under a virtual sheet of cleverly contoured plastic and sheet metal. Visually, it’s a little more captivating than the Mark V, and the prominence of sculpted sides, the trademark red line framing the grille, and an altogether less Audi-like headlight treatment all help transfer more rhetorical weight back to the left side of the term “sport compact.”

One of the better...The aesthetic satisfaction continues inside, with an interior that belongs in an [insert Audi of your choice here]. Top-tier materials and buttery smooth switchgear complement an open, airy cabin that forgoes the popular claustrophobia-inducing, massive center consoles that make newer/taller/heavier cars look and feel less spacious than older/lower/lighter cars ever did. Retro-plaid seats look and feel great with bolsters that provide butt and torso-stabilizing lateral support without making ingress and egress too difficult. And the rear seat is pretty roomy, too. An excellent 600-watt stereo (a separate unit from the climate control system) sounds great when you’re blaring Queen’s greatest hits, though the GTI’s fabulous tiller will have you singing about a “Flat-Bottomed Steering Wheel” that makes your rockin’ world go ‘round. “Bottom” line: this GTI’s cockpit is so sporty that you’ll never again want to get on your bikes and ride.

But what about the “raw power” your youthful memories long for?

Uh, did I mention how great the interior is?

No, you won’t find F-1 rocket engine-levels of power (or even Mazdaspeed3-levels) emanating from the Mark VI’s holdover TSI four-banger, but as a consolation, you get what power there is in a fun, unique way. Who needs a big Hog and its loud V-Twin to remind them of their coolness when they can have the same flat torque curve in a practical, thrifty (and weatherproof!) little hatchback? At 30 MPH, I dropped the GTI’s excellent 6-speed manual into sixth gear at the bottom of a long incline and floored it. To my surprise, the little turbocharged VW gathered steam smartly and never once lugged. No, 207 pound-feet doesn’t sound like that much torque (and it’s not), but when you have it continuously from 1,800 to 5,000 RPM, it can be a real hoot. Turbo lag doesn’t exist here, and neither does any perceptible driveline shudder. Turns out, Finesse + Power X Refinement > Just Raw Power, after all.

Speaking of finesse and refinement, the driving dynamics of the Mark VI are what really make you forget about all that power and the 911 Turbo you’ll never own. All the ingredients are present in this recipe, and in just the right amounts. Although the electric power steering is a bit numb, it sidesteps the oft-related sin of being rubbery and still manages to do a terrific job of communicating with the H-rated (yes, H-rated) 225/40R18s. Credit the tires’ mild speed rating with a beautifully compliant ride that feels less like a hot hatch and more like a 5-Series Mr CleanBimmer. Although steering response could be faster with rock-ribbed, Z-rated rubber, the car still handles stupendously due to well-chosen springs and dampers that are perfectly suited to the GTI’s balanced persona. The brakes, like the tires, are much less aggressive than you might expect (especially given their substantial through-the-wheels appearance); even though they might not coax you to rush-hour hoonery, front-to-rear bias is so neatly worked out that front-end dive simply doesn’t exist (not even under “soil-your-underwear” braking).

When I was a kid and fantasized about limitless power beneath my feet and had career aspirations involving NASA—while piloting my darty go-kart around our property—I was generally frustrated with the constraints of being 10 years old; I figured that everything would be better, more exciting, and more fun when I was older. Now I realize that I should have lived in the moment more back then.

Trust me, downhill four-wheel drifts on dirt in a five-horsepower go-kart are a lot more fun than most cars you’ll ever own, especially if “real life” dictates that your daily driver possess even a modicum of utility. Volkswagen gets this. And instead of trying to recreate youthful speed lust in a compromised package where power overwhelms finesse and refinement, the company has done a great job of including all “the right stuff” in the 2010 GTI.

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91 Comments on “Review: 2010 Volkswagen GTI...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review – it really captures the “sensible fun” ethos of the GTI. I would have owned one of these years ago if it wasn’t for the VW reliability problems and the nightmare dealership experience.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      I remain convinced that the nightmare dealership experience is responsible for the perception of reliability problems.
       
      I wrench my own car for most things and am relatively thrilled with how bullet proof the VWs can be when you combine VAG-COM engine diagnostic software and the bottomless wealth of experience and BTDT available on internet forums.  If instead I had to run to the dealer every time an electrical gremlin ran amok, I’d have given up long ago and be driving a Honda by now (that presumes I would have any money left after the VW “service” department was through savaging my finances).

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      The nightmare dealer experience is something I can back up.  I’m taking my sweet dear time to find the right deal on the right car and that had me going into a VW dealer.  Awful…just awful.  Besides the fact that I knew far more about both the Jetta and GTI combined with the sales manager doing some tricks with the numbers (how a dealer can do that in this day and age still floors me because anyone who did their homework can see that from a mile away)…and then “misplaced” paperwork with the earlier best deal had me reaching for the door.
      And then on my way home, I was behind a new 2010 GTI with the temp plates.  A brake light was already dead. 
      I really try to like VW – their interiors are top notch in this price range, and they are a lot of fun to drive.  However until VW gets serious about improving their quality and working with dealers to make them better to deal with, I just can’t recommend one to someone who asks.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Don, great review of a terrific car. You captured my sentiments about life and the GTI perfectly. Thanks.
    I would have to change those wheels, though.

  • avatar
    william442

    I’m with Carguy. The VW dealer experience is still horrible. After two weeks, and a car that never appeared, I gave up. It is a nice driver. My 10 year old AMG will still out run it.

    • 0 avatar
      SupaMan

      They make VWs in such a way that you can’t possibly work on them yourself. My brother and I tried to change the air filter on his ’06 GTI and what was  supposed to have been a 5 minute job turned out to be a 2 hour period full of expletives, sliced fingers and manic shouting.
       
      After I found out where the oil filter was I just told him to take to an independent repair shop that specializes in VWs. The dealership experience is truly a cut below anything I’ve experienced.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “They make VWs in such a way that you can’t possibly work on them yourself”

      In my experience as a 90′s VW owner the problem is figuring out how to get at a particular part for the first time (even with a visual guide). Once you’ve cut yourself a few times on the first run every subsequent repair to that same exact part will go just fine. See?  Problem solved.

  • avatar

    Very happy to see the big grille gone. Not so happy to see that the torquier 2.0T used in the A4 isn’t offered here. I’m not sure we can insert A8 in those [ ]. A3, less of a stretch.

    I hope to have some initial reliability stats for the MkVI in February, though May is more likely. Own one, or know someone who does? Please send them here for details on the Car Reliability Survey, and to sign up to help:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    jmo

    and the nightmare dealership experience.
    I’ll grant you that a VW isn’t a Toyota when it comes to reliability.  That being said my dealership experience has always been exceptional.
    I could be wrong but I’m not sure you are treated any better or worse at the VW branch of Big Bob’s VW, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Buick, GMC, Kia than you are at the Toyota or Honda branch.  I think the issue is with a VW you will be bringing it in for a non-maintenance repair ever 10 months vs. every 16 months with a Toyota.  So, while the dealership experience is the same, you’ll be going more often thus it feels worse.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    As the first car I ever bought new was a 1984 Rabbit GTi, I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back to one, now that it’s getting to where I can downsize my conveyance needs.   Seems one could do worse than this.  Still have very fond memories of that old 90 hp hot bunny, not least of which for the impression it made on some women friends of mine–not when they rode in it, when they drove it.

    All it needs is a cheesy golf ball shifter knob!

    Michael–how about TrueDelta stats on the Mk V? Would that be relevant here?

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      I had an 8v ’86 and while it too was underpowered, it hardly detracted from the fun, fun nature of the GTI. I wouldn’t mind getting back into one someday, too. Even in my 40s!

    • 0 avatar
      Wolf

      Bill H. :
      I’m surprised to read “90hp”. In 1984, the current Golf (Rabbit in the US) was outputting 112HP from it’s 1.8liter 4banger. It was the new mk2, or the aging mk1.
      The engine that made 90HP at the time was the 1.8liter carburetted engine.
      Due to different camshaft and shorter gearbox, on a curvy road, the MK2 90S and the GTi are equal.
      the firt MK1 (1.6 liter / 4spd cogswapper) made 110HP.
      pb35, you’re right about the ‘it-misses-some-horses’ part.
      Here in europe, some people put the 1.8 16V engine from the mk2 in the mk1, with the mk1 1600 5spd/mk2 90S gearbox.
      with little modifications (exhaust cam on the intake) the engine puts out a lively 160hp all the way to 7000rpm.
      Well, THAT is far from legit, we’ll say that it’s for private use only ;)
      (my daily driver is a mk1 convertible rabbit, with the 1.8 liter carb. engine)

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Wolf:

      That was not a mistake on my part.  The 1984 Mk Is were 1.8 liters and detuned for the American market to 90 hp, which went up to about 100 hp for the next year Mk IIs. 

    • 0 avatar
      Wolf

      Yew … while 90hp is still nice on top of a mk1 frame, it is nowhere near the 112hp it should have produced … did you put it back to 112 hp ?

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      My first new car was a black 85, first year of the Golf GTI.  Fabulous to drive, less so to own.  Pretty sad when you can replace a 2 yr old VW with a 21 yr old Plymouth and the Plymouth is more reliable and less troublesome.

  • avatar
    TheMyth

    Drove one Saturday and was suitably impressed; however, those ugly Cuisinart cheese slicer wheels are awful. Their other wheel styles are 18 inch, which to me look a bit oversized on this car. Seriously considering this car since its competition does not appeal to me as a 42 y/o adult (MS3, SI, etc). 

    And hopefully VW reliability has improved. For God’s sake if I have to read another posting about poor reliability from someones 10 year old VW…
     

    • 0 avatar
      MontanaVista

      I own a 2007 VW Rabbit (Golf MKV) and I have had little to no issues with it.  I must admit that my commute is brutal.  I have 50000 mi on it already and I have only replaced the front brakes and all four tires.  Under warranty I have had the fuel tank sensor (the dash gauge was reading a full tank for about four days) and the speed sensor replaced (the car stalled at a stop, its an automatic).  Otherwise, this car has done very well for me.

    • 0 avatar
      dropshadow

      @frizzlefry:  Not at all, in my experience.  APR is a reputable company and it wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest to put out a product that damages their customer’s cars.  And no need to wait until your warranty is up, just get the dealer lockout and security code.  When you have to take it in for service, switch back to stock programming and lock it.  The dealer won’t be able to tell that there is any software.  Both my A4′s and my GTI were chipped while under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      As an anecdotal testimony to VW’s recent quality, my 2008 MkV GTI (manual) has been virtually problem-free. I’ve got over 23K miles on it, and I’ve had three minor issues in the 22 months I’ve had it. Rear license plate light bulb was loose, iPod adapter stopped working (was replaced), and a cylinder misfire on a cold start made the Check Engine light come on, only for the problem to disappear when I immediately turned the car off, then back on. Other than that, I’ve had no issues.

  • avatar
    dropshadow

    A quick stop at any APR dealer will turn your 200hp/207lb ft hatch into a little 250hp/294lb ft monster but will retain all of its driveability.  For $600, it’s a hell of a $/hp value.
    I did this on my MkV GTI and again on my B7 A4, both with the 2.0T, and it makes all the difference in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      TheMyth

      I too have a b7 A4 and had it APR flashed about 3 months ago. Big difference. The power delivery is a bit more “abrupt” but I would definitely do it again.
      I am curious if there is any downside with flashing with a DSG trannsmission. I doubt I would get the DSG, but it is possible.

    • 0 avatar
      dropshadow

      @TheMyth: My GTI was a DSG and I had a fully loaded APR ECU flash (stock, 91, 93 & 100), plus a Carbonio intake.  There was no downside to having a DSG over a 6MT.  There are plenty of DSG-equipped MkV GTIs running around right now with APR programming.  I miss my GTI, and although I love my B7 Avant, the new MkVI is tempting.  Living in Minneapolis, though, I want to wait and see how much the R20 is.

    • 0 avatar
      TheMyth

      Good to know. Thanks!  Yes, the R20 is quite tempting, and pricing will be interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      dropshadow

      The problem is that a well-equipped GTI is already pushing $30k.  The R20 needs to be as close to that price point as possible or VW is going to price it out of the market.  The GTI should top out at $25-27k, fully loaded, and let the R20 fill the gap up to $30k.

    • 0 avatar
      frizzlefry

      I plan on chipping my 04 A6 with APR so it cranks out 306hp and 366lb-ft of torque as soon as my warranty is up. But the A6 is AWD….294lbft of torque does not wreck havoc in a fwd drivetrain?

    • 0 avatar
      dropshadow

      @frizzlefry:  Not at all, in my experience.  APR is a reputable company and it wouldn’t be in anyone’s best interest to put out a product that damages their customer’s cars.  And no need to wait until your warranty is up, just get the dealer lockout and security code.  When you have to take it in for service, switch back to stock programming and lock it.  The dealer won’t be able to tell that there is any software.  Both my A4’s and my GTI were chipped while under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      frizzlefry

      @dropshadow
      I know APR is reliable and design their chips to work within OEM equiptment stress ranges, I was more refering to the torque steer I would imagine rears its ugly head with that much power going to the front wheels. :) I am soooo tempted to get my 2.7T A6 chipped sooner rather than later but I want to get an APR BiPipe kit and APR diverter valves too, can’t hide those with a security code :) I have read that the KO3 turbos can stand up to 16 psi (up from 9 stock) but the DVs and throttle body boot have a tendancy to blow with that additional boost so I’m replacing them at the same time as a preventative measure.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “I’m with Carguy. The VW dealer experience is still horrible.”

    It’s amazing how many negative rewiews I found on the web with 2 local VW dealerships. I really like the VW Passat wagon but the russian roulette reliabilty & questionable dealerships has me running towards Volvo. Too bad as they really build some nice looking vehicles inside and out.  

    • 0 avatar

      The dealer experience is the result of a cultural problem and the poor relationship between VWoA and Wolfsburg. Sample: a coupe of years ago, Wolfsburg decided VWoA’s warranty costs were too high. VWoA protested that there were reliability issues (e.g., the well-known ignition coil problems with the 1.8 T engine). Wolfsburg treated such complaints as being counterrevolutionary, and told VWoA service to lower their warranty costs or else. Result: dealers started arbitrarily denying a certain number of warranty claims to keep costs down. Rinse, repeat.
       
      It’s one of those situations were a lot of the people involved understand that it’s a problem, but none are in a position to do anything about it without risking their bonus or their job.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    I must be in a minority here, but I took my MK V GTI over to my dealer to look at the MK VI and came away preferring the look of the V.  It’s not beautiful by any stretch, but it is unique.  The VI, by contrast, struck me as anonymously handsome – more clinical/anodyne.  I left relieved that I felt no urgent pull to move to the new model.  I was glad to see VW eliminated the huge center vent in the dash, however.  That thing never made much sense to except as a way to frustrate users of dash mounts for their GPS devices.

  • avatar
    Spitfire

    screw dealerships…find your own trustworthy/good mechanic and buy the car you want.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Great advertising copy! 

  • avatar
    jmo

    The dealership experience is truly a cut below anything I’ve experienced.
    In what way?  What did they do worse than other dealerships you’ve dealt with?

    • 0 avatar
      SupaMan

      Customer service for one sucked. It’s as if you have to pray a Hail Mary for the service advisor to call back. Warranty issues were always a hassle with the dealership haggling about whether or not they would pickup the tab, even though the car was clearly maintained at the dealership.
      Comparing my brother’s experience with my own (at a Hyundai dealership no less)  I never had to go through that.
       
      He ‘s thinking of upgrading to an Audi A4 after the GTI but he’s not too sure of the dealership experience.  Says he might defect to Infiniti or BMW.

  • avatar
    Mjolnir

    My sisters (as in two) had a Helluva time with their VW  & dealership – to the point that VW purchased the Jetta GL  back and offered to do so on the turbodiesel Bug. Constant niggles and expensive troubleshooting – which never seemed to solve the issues.

    Real shame, too, as I’ve always liked VW and the cars ride and brake well. If they had the reputation for reliability that the higher end Japanese manufacturers I’d have one already.

  • avatar
    Wolf

    Well, it’s kinda fun to see all your troube with the veedubs … here in europe, VW reliability is quite good, up to Mercedes and BMW, at least. Japanese cars are less common, but their reputation is very good too.
    Some dealerships here (common to all brands) have problems with recent cars,
    For one part, they have difficulties with a keyboard and a screen, sooo, with a EBD2 scanner … let’s see … niet. nada.
    Well, when the car makes a strange noise, they still manage to fix it (EarBudDiagnostic system)
    The other part is partly linked to Mercedes love on fancy gadgets, which cost them a bit of their built-like-a-tank reputation.
    Electronics scare people. so, with electronics on board, they confuse people more, and people think nobody outside of the brand dealerships will be able to fix the car.
    As most of nowadays amateur mechanics, I use OBD2 when I need to see what’s up in the black boxes.
    Always remember electronics first rule :
    Everything is powered with magical smoke, never let the smoke out, otherwise it will stop working.

    • 0 avatar
      dropshadow

      For what it’s worth, I am on my 4th VAG product, and my wife is driving her third.  We have had no major issues with either car outside of normal wear & tear.  My 2 VWs were brand new (’03 Jetta 1.8T & ’06 GTI DSG), and my 2 Audis were used (’03 A4 1.8T and my current car, ’05.5 B7 A4 Avant 2.0T).  My wife has had a ’95 Jetta, an ’03 Golf 2.0 and now drives an ’07 Rabbit 2.5.

  • avatar
    Wizerud

    “Well, it’s kinda fun to see all your troube with the veedubs … here in europe, VW reliability is quite good, up to Mercedes and BMW, at least”

    Unfortunately in the US this is not a complement even though the comparison is the same.

  • avatar
    Wolf

    Well, we may not have the same definition of “reliability”, for exemple, I have a friend that has a mk2 rabbit, with the 1.6 TD engine. the car has gone 350 000 miles with no major repair. For me, that’s reliable.
    Most of my friends use cars that are 20years old, or more, and are ready to go on vacation without a toolbox in the trunk (well, some of them are just optimistic).
    Most of the trouble I see with cars is due to the owner not taking care of the car.
    Maybe it has to do with the average annual mileage europeans do, we drive less I think.
    The average euro-mileage is something in the 7-8000 Miles per year.
    the only people putting loads of miles drive a high percentage on highways, which puts less stress on car (and is really boring, btw).
    If I’m not mistaken, resented reliability in us is something like :
    1 : Japanese cars
    2 : Euro-cars
    3 : American cars
    correct me if i’m wrong
    ( Where would you put and old Peugeot diesel on that scale ? )

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Our definition of reliability = Consumer Report reliability score

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      the car has gone 350 000 miles with no major repair. For me, that’s reliable.

      Well, it depends on your definition of “major”. If you are referring to engine blowing up, then basically not a single modern car would have any major problem.
       
      If you are referring to “spending repair time at a shop” as being “major” (that’s my definition, minor issues should be solved at home), then probably only Toyota/Honda cars are likely to go that far without major repairs.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Wolf

      wsn : engine never removed from the car, never saw a repair shop neither, engine only opened once (head gasket joint).
      A major repair is a repair that costs me more than 200 Euros.
      I do not deny the fact that Toyhondas are reliable, I just do not know anything about them, except when I drove a 2009 DI-D Yaris, which was a good car, apart from the vertical knob alignment …

  • avatar
    Ben Brown

    Interesting review. I test drove one of these a month ago. Maybe my compass is off but I had almost the opposite impressions overall… felt some turbo lag, brakes were annoyingly aggressive, the chassis was stiff but didn’t have the suspension to filter out road annoyances, and some of the cabin switchgear seemed cheap. The car seemed to be a good deal at the $299/month advertised lease offer but when the dealer sat me down with a $459/month final lease quote I knew I would much rather keep driving my 1998 BMW 328is.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I should have read all of the posts before posting mine at the top!

      I had a VW dealer DO THE EXACT SAME THING!    For a mid-range 2010 Jetta, the initial “good deal” numbers just happened to vanish and suddenly an extra $100/mo was written into the “final” deal.  I asked a million questions about those numbers and all I got was “dealer-speak” about how they can justify that sudden jump.

      At that point, I had reached my limit and now VW has lost a customer.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand all the hosannahs about the new Golf/GTI styling. It looks okay, given that it’s a box trying to pretend it’s not a box, but unless you’re a big VW fan, the distinction between it and the Mk V is pretty trivial. It looks somewhat different, but it’s still pretty bland. The Seat Leon looks much better on the same platform.
     
    The best thing I can say for the Golf is that it’s inoffensive. It’s far less hideous than the current Jetta, which is one of the most painfully ugly cars on the U.S. market (a great achievement, given some of the hideous eyesores that have appeared lately), but it’s hardly beautiful, and those plaid seat inserts — shudder. You say “look and feel great,” I say, “resurrect a hideous styling trend that I thought had died with Porsche’s old ‘Pasha’ interior trim.”
     
    I know the VW badge is the gold standard in Europe, but the Stateside version is hard to love. With the horrifying dealer experience and hit-and-miss reliability, it wouldn’t even be on my list.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I htink this new GTI is fantastic looking. The four door even more so.  I liked the old car as well, but I think VW will have  more success with this car than the previous.  A lot of service customers come into my office and like to talk car business and cars.  Most know I’m a huge VW/Audi freak (all my framed pictures are porsche+audi racing cars)  and always discuss  new VAG products with me.  Most folks I talk to love this car as much as I do.   Check the box for a sunroof and you’ve got the most appealing, fun 26k car on the ride in my opinion.
    I do think V dub dropped the ball a little not upping the power in this and the A3.  But as mentioned above the chipping these cars totally changes them.  I’ve chipped every VW and audi I’ve owned and never had a problem getting warranty work.  My s4′s first set of replacment turbos were replaced under factory warranty.  The car even has a boost gauge installed and they didn’t deny my claim.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Been waiting for a decent review on one of these.  I test drove one a couple of years back but ended up going for the civic si due to the fact it was cheaper and seemed to cope better with a concrete freeway.  I think due to the shorter wheelbase on the gti it managed to set up some resonance making the car bounce along like a rabbit.  Now that its based on the golf, I’m wondering if they’ve resolved that issue?  I took one out for a short spin, but could not take it on a similar road.  On tarmac freeways it did seem better damped than my si (after owning the si for a while I’ve come to the conclusion the springs are too stiff for the dampers, or the other way around).  It’s engine is also a lot quieter than the si.  This is both good and bad.  Good when cruising, not so good if your trying to impress someone (including yourself) about how quick it is.
    This car also comes with what I think is the world’s best gearbox, also known as DSG.  The equipment also seems very sensible, although I didn’t test any of that out.  Bluetooth for everyone and a mere $600 to get a very good stereo.  Referring back to the review, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a stereo also capable of controlling climate, maybe you meant to say these are separate options?
    On the rest of the review, I’d like to hear more comments on how it takes curves, particularly how it responds to bumps mid curve, how the electronic diff feels.  Also, does it have the same engine as the outgoing version?  The euro version has an updated engine which is a little more generous with its power output.  The 2010 US model does have a better EPA rating, is this the result of an improved powerplant, or differences in the gearing or gear change software?
    On the brake bias comment, I don’t want to be picky, but front-end dive has very little to do with brake bias, and everything to do with deceleration, center of gravity and suspension stiffness.
    I’m not sure what to make of the optional rear side airbags… it’s not something I want to add, but I might feel morally wrong leaving it off just to save a few hundred bucks.  They can definitely keep the $900 18” wheels.
    Overall, if you take the base car and just add the dynaudio stereo, it looks like a good buy.  Entertaining, comfortable, practical, and yet not too costly to own and run.
    Finally, why have I not seen a single review criticize that seat trim?  Whenever I read “Retro-plaid seats look and feel great” I immediately check to see if I’ve accidentally clicked a link through to vw.com!

  • avatar
    tedward

    I haven’t been in the GTI yet, but was given a ride in the diesel MKVI. I was blown away by the experience. The suspension tune (I know, different car sort of) was obviously exceptional and the engine felt much faster than when in the Jetta. I think that VW has really applied itself to justifying their price premium, and the interiors of the CC and now the MKVI are bizzarely good, almost as if their suppliers are playing by a completely different set of rules (but to advantage for once).

    On the repair frequency front…My used VW is a stereotypical nightmare on the electronics side (the door caught fire at speed for f__k’s sake), but I don’t know anyone with a newish VW that has reliability problems*.  I would buy a new GTI or Jetta, despite my experience, simply on the strength of their interiors and drivetrains compared to the competition.

    *I also don’t know any new Passat owners. 

  • avatar
    Forty2

    Somewhat interesting that my VW dealer experiences were both positive: Schmelz (yes, Schmelz) VW near St Paul MN where I leased a ’03 Passat 1.8T, and the oft-reviled Potamkin VW in NYC where I took it for some minor warranty work after I moved nearby. The left rear window kept falling into the door. That was the only issue I had with the car in the 3.5 years I had it. I loved that car. But I turned it back in when the lease ended because the warranty only had six months left, and making payments on a VW that’s out of warranty is a bad idea.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The dealer experience is the result of a cultural problem and the poor relationship between VWoA and Wolfsburg
     
    +1.
     
    I’ve been making a point about how the dealer service in North America really is the root cause of VW’s reliability issues.  Toyota, notably, gives its dealer body relatively wide discretion when it comes to warranty and customer service and they’ve benefitted from it; VWoA or VWAG** have gone out of their way to screw their dealer bodies and, well, you know.
     
    Where VW has gotten lucky, you could call it that, is that their fan base has let them off the hook*** and piled the bulk of the blame on the dealerships.  You have to ask, though: why are the dealers so bad, and whose responsibility is it, anyway, given that Toyota, Honda and now Ford don’t have such a uniformly poor dealer service record.
     
    If you want to hear some interesting tales, talk to the service manager of a mega-dealer that sells VWs and, well, just about anything else.  You’ll note that despite the same management, the Toyota/Honda/Ford wing gets consistently better ratings.  Ask the service manager and they’ll tell you that getting warranty claims from VWoA is the differentiator.
     
    ** Daimler, BMW and the since-chased-away Renault, PSA and Fiat share this attribute.
    *** The larger buying public hasn’t though.

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    Hey guys, thanks for the positive comments on the review.  In response to several questions/comments:
    @ Matthew Danda & bludragon:  Uh, if TTAC had already (as many predicted) turned into the type of site that publishes the “advertising copy” reviews you guys reference, your comments wouldn’t still be here.  The seats – IMHO – looked great and felt great.  If I’d thought they sucked, I would have said so without thinking twice and Ed would have published it.
    @ Ben Brown:  Either your compass is off or we drove different cars.  I felt almost no turbo lag, the brake feel was, if anything, soft, the chassis, while stiff enough for the class, kept the ride satisfyingly soft (did I mention that my daily driver’s a Panther?), and I’m pretty sure that 98 out of 100 people would agree that the interior’s switchgear bests any class-competitor (and several more expensive ones).
    @ bludragon:
    Regarding the stereo/climate control, what I meant was that these units occupy separate, adjacent spaces in the dash, much like older, more simple lay-outs.  I find this preferable to the numerous vehicles today that incorporate both sets of controls in a single space that doesn’t respect the deliniation of the two (which I think is a bad idea).
    Regarding how the vehicle takes curves, it does so as well as its H-rated rubber allows it to; honestly, the tires are the seriously weak link here (though they are, I’m sure, partially responsible for the rather soft ride).  I didn’t have the opportunity to put it into a decreasing-radius high-speed curve that would have crossed the electronic “braking-diff” threshold, but when I did slam it into second at 58 MPH mid-corner whilst flooring the throttle, I was surprised by the lack of perceptible torque steer.
    From everything I have been able to find out, the Mark VI has the same engine as the outgoing version.  The Euro-car’s engine is different (or at least, differently-tuned); read any car magazine’s 2010 GTI review from early summer of this year as the press event was done over there using Euro-spec cars (slightly more powerful and faster).  Honestly, I’m not sure about the gearing, but the 6-speed manual I drove showed the cogs to be nicely spaced.
    Regarding brake bias, drive a vehicle with completely inoperable rear brakes and completely functional front ones (I drove one last week) and then tell me about how its front end doesn’t dive.

  • avatar
    backspacer

    Pretty excited to see this review, because I’ve been lurking for a while, and finally have something worth saying.  So I registered and will add my two cents here.  It does drive me a little crazy that the comment thread has devolved into another VW reliability debate.
    More about the car!

    I want to like this car so much.  When I was doing test drives two years ago, looking for my first manual transmission car, this and the Golf were so great to try out.  I ended up with an Impreza Outback Sport, though.

    Today, already tired of the lack of performance in my Subie, and ready to look for something more, I wondered how the new GTI measured up.  A recent test drive answered a lot of questions.

    I like the VW’s exterior quite a bit.  I’m shying away from the WRX because it just doesn’t look grown-up enough for me.  I find the GTI such a nice, buttoned-down looking car.  It’s mature.

    The interior is like sitting in a jewelry store–accents everywhere.  Really upscale.  However, I take issue with the pedal locations.  The deadpedal is just too far away from the clutch for my taste.  I like the heel-toe setup in my Subaru quite a bit better.  Similarly, the seats are a bit wrong for me.  At 5’10″, 165 pounds, I consider myself pretty average, but the side supports are a bit tight.  With a cell phone or anything else in my pockets, it’s uncomfortable.  The shifter looks great and works well, but I don’t like the shape of the shift knob.  It’s cut away, and doesn’t fall into the hand the way I’d like, especially moving 2-3 and 4-5.

    The ride was remarkably good–with optional 18-inch wheels, the car managed a really patchy road with utter serenity.  (The Golf I drove next was just noisy over the same road, and the Sportwagen which followed had lots of vertical motion over patches.  Yuck.) The car really is as quiet as people say–only a constant whisp of wind noise at the side pillar at highway speeds.   2850 rpm at 70mph in 6th gear.
    The quiet is the problem, though.  It just wasn’t that much fun for me to drive.  I’d like to hear the engine a bit more.  Even the Golf sounds better to me, and getting back in my OBS, I was happy to hear my familiar friend under the hood again.

    I wanted this car to engage me more.  Looks like I really need to take a look at the new WRX after all.  I love the way my car fits my body, so 95 more hp in the same shape sounds like a good way to go…

  • avatar
    william442

    For the record, my Audi A4 experience was much better than my VW (two GTIs) problems. Reeves in Tampa is  Superior,  still at the top of my dealer list. BMWs also.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    I’m surprised at how few people commented on the tone of the article. The comments do reveal the searing weaknesses of VW: reliability and dealer experience!

    • 0 avatar
      Wolf

      You’re right,
      About the car :
      I drove a Golf VI 2.0 TDI 140 / 6 spd manual some time ago,
      Very, very nice car. everything is where you want it to be, the car is dead silent at 80 mph.
      Dashboard & interior are nice, a bit “sad”, but well thought and executed.
      At 80mph, the car averages a real nice 60mpg.
      I did push the pace up a bit, when you do so, the cars feels lighter than most of it’s Euro-concurrency (Clio III I’m looking at you !)
      As a mk1 owner, most cars seems heavy behemoths to me, even golf-sized ones.
      Steering is precise, the cars feels at home when you drive it fast. Braking is strong too if you push it, and smooth as silk if you’re gentle.
      That’s my view on the MKVI Golf.
      About the GTI ? well … Light is right. sooo, thing is too heavy to be real fun, like a mk1. Lupo/Polo GTI are the new Ones ;)
      The Golf is more in the VR6 spirit, kinda “compact luxobarge” with something under the pedal.

  • avatar
    wsn

    It’s not a good car, if, as a owner, you have to know more automotive knowledge than to change oil twice a year. I mean, you are free to love a crappy car, but you can claim it’s good.

  • avatar
    CV

    Hi Don, have you also driven the 2010 Golf TDI? If so, what were your impressions?
    I have a question about the new Golf’s driver’s seat position. I have an old Honda that who have to haul yourself up and out of the seat when getting out of the car. The hip point of the seat is really low.
    How does the seat height of the Golf compare in that regard?

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    exceptional review.  it seems like i’ve been looking for this car my entire adult life. 

    in the end the vast majority of people don’t track their cars and will never, ever, hit 150 mph.  therefore, vipers, 911 turbos, lambos, and ferrari’s somewhat miss the point.  sure there are other reasons for owning one, but they are billed, reviewed, and sold on their speed prowess.  no, “the people want the original hot hatch.”  I guess VW really does know what the people want.

    But . . . I have not owned or experienced the VW dealership. It sounds like they stop caring once you buy it. It’s great on the test drive. Maybe great for the first year. Then, when (not if) something breaks, VW no longer cares what the “people” want.

    sad.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    It’s a shame that in the North American market the only real choices for hot hatches are this GTI, the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V, and…. thats about it. At least in Europe there are a variety of hot Vauxhalls/Opels, Fiats, Citroens, Peugeots and Fords to choose from, so if you don’t want the crappy VW dealership experience, you can get a crappy dealership experience at another manufacturer!

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      The SE-R is a hatch? I agree about the dearth of hot hatches. I’m hanging on to my Focus SVT for a while longer while I wait for more options in this market. I’d like something with better fuel economy than the GTI.
      The US VW buyers are fortunate because your new Golf TDIs come with a sport package. I’m afraid that the un-sporty Canadian TDI will be too soft – guess I’ll have to drive one.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Maybe not a hatch, but a small and sporty little car with 200bhp at the front wheels. You could argue that the Dodge Caliber SRT4 is a ‘Hot Hatch’ but with 285bhp at the front wheels and no proper way of controlling it it’s more of an idiot-mobile.
      It’s a shame Ford have not introduced the European focus over here as the Focus ST and RS are rip-snorting rides. Especially the RS which is quite possibly one of the most silly/brilliant cars Ford have made in quite some time.
      http://www.autotrader.co.uk/EDITORIAL/CARS/news/FORD/2009_ford_focus_rs_technical_spec.html

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      So you’re just going to ignore the Mazda3, the Mazdaspeed3, the Subaru WRX and WRX STi, the MINI Cooper S, the Audi A3, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Volvo C30 and Toyota Matrix XRS?
       
      Hey, I own an MkV GTI and love it, but you’re looking at NA with tunnel vision.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Erm…
      Toyota Matrix XRS – It’s a 5 door family wagon with a wheezing 158bhp – not exactly ‘Hot’ – The Kia Forte produces more power.
      Mazdaspeed – a sporty little hatch true, but almost as expensive as a Mustang GT or Camaro SS…
      Audi A3 and Volvo C30? Hot Hatches? Are you kidding me? You can just imagine ‘the kids’ wanting one of these…. not.
      Subaru Impreza WRX STi – a tad expensive plus all wheel drive… and the hatch is new to this model – so not a true hot hatch.
      Mini Cooper S – ok you got me, I should have included that one.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      The regular WRX and even the Impreza GT could be considered “hot hatches”

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      Hey sinistermisterman, you’re the one calling a Sentra (seriously?) a hot-hatch. By that yardstick, the Matrix XRS, C3o and A3 are definitely hot hatches. XRS is Toyota’s answer to the Mazda3, which, yes, is a hot hatch, unless you set some arbitrary lower power limit, which it seems you’re doing. A3 is a 4-door GTI, just add sport package and voila. When making my purchase decision, I waffled back and forth between GTI and A3. Decided to save some money and get the GTI. C30? Arguable, as the handling isn’t as good as the GTI, but it’s unique, looks sporty enough in 2.0 guise, and the power is certainly there, which makes it a hot hatch in the “Volvo” way.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    We have a VW store in our group.  I’ve loved the new look since the photos came out and after reading this I decided to go down the street and take a New GTI home for the night.  The little car is a hoot and fantastic.  The interior is nicer than the last generation of audi!  It seems to ride a little smoother than the previous GTI and the I am in love wiht the way it looks.  I’m replacing my s4 with a new s4 in january because I have to wait or pay property tax on the purchase for this year.  If it were up to me I’d buy a 4 door GTI tomorrow.  This little car is that good.  But the misses won’t let me do a hatch and the AWD really is important to me.  I’m a long time VW and audi owner and anyone who dismisses this car when shopping based on VW reputation is doing themselves a disservice.

  • avatar

    This review reads well, and at the same time it sounds too good to be true, too sweet.  However, last night I saw an episode of Top Gear talking about VW GTI, and they were pouring honey all over it (and that was the older version of GTI), naming it their favourite car of the year.  Somebody at VW should be kicked in the butt to get their customer relations up to speed;  great looking, comfortable, nice-driving cars, but… but…

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      Topgear loved the last gen GTI, but they’re not quite as in love with the new one.  Competition in euro-land is much higher with the focus and megane gaining top places.  The mazda3 barely gets a mention.  The suspension and engine of the US GTI are also set up differently to the UK version, plus the roads are different, so it’s a little hard to compare.

  • avatar
    backspacer

    “Trust me, downhill four-wheel drifts on dirt in a five-horsepower go-kart are a lot more fun than most cars you’ll ever own, especially if “real life” dictates that your daily driver possess even a modicum of utility. Volkswagen gets this.”

    Forgot one impression when leaving my comment above:  it does really bother me that the rear seats don’t fold down completely flat.  For that reason, seems like “a modicum of utility” would be about the right description.   Does anyone else see this as an essential feature for a hatchback? 

    • 0 avatar
      Irvingklaws

      Are you sure they can’t be folded flat?  On my Mk4 Golf GLS it took me 8 years to discover  that the rear seat bottoms are designed to flip-up and forward.  This allows the seat backs to fold flat (once the head rests are also removed).  The bottoms can even be removed entirely.   I only recently discovered this feature and it was a revelation to me.  I could never understand why they’d make a car with seats that folded down, but not flat.  I only discovered it while contemplating what equipment I would be able to take to a weekend jam session several states away, and lamenting my recently sold F-150.  With the seats folded flat (bottoms and headrests removed) I was able to pack a 77-key Yamaha ES7 (in a soft-case), complete PA (4 cabinets and an 8 space rack), a Roland V-Club drum kit (neatly packed in a tote-box),  guitar, small combo amp, pedal board, mic stands, an over nightbag, and more!  The car has 100k and it ran easily on the highway at 75mph fully loaded.  I really hope VW has retained the rear seat arrangement.  It’s one of the main reason’s I decided to keep this car (and drop $1500 on a new timing belt and rear springs).  I’m not missing the F-150 much at all these days…
      I have been seriously considering a new Mk6, though I’m still also put off by the unavailability of a non-black interior (I much prefer the light grey of my GLS) and a 4-door with a 6-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      greenmonkey

      @Irvingklaws — HOLY CRAP! I found $0.54!!! And my back seats pop forward so the backs can fold flat! I have only had my Mk 4 Jetta for 3 1/2 years… thank you for saving me from taking 8 years to find that out! I feel like I have been preached some amazing bit of knowledge that I should spread to others… :-)

  • avatar
    Don Gammill

    @ CV:  I have not driven the 2010 Golf, but if I get a chance to, I’ll report back here.  I’d imagine the seat height would be about the same, though, and I certainly had no problem getting into and out of the GTI (and I’m no small guy).  I mean, it didn’t have the “slip-right-in-without-bending-over”  ease of entry that many of today’s “tall cars” and CUVs posess, but I was always comfortable with the seat height and driving position (and there are certain vehicles – such as the Ford Flex – that the driving position completely ruin for me).
     
    @ backspacer:  While I can’t include every little detail of my (digitally voice-recorded) notes in the written review, I did mention to myself that the rear seats didn’t fold completely flat and that it kind of bothered me.  But then again, most GTI owners didn’t buy the car for plywood hauling.  As a musician who hauls around a full-sized 88-key digital piano (in a large hardshell roller case), I’d be more upset that the shortish overall length of the cargo area wouldn’t accommodate the entire unit with the hatch closed.

    • 0 avatar
      backspacer

      Yep.  Understood.  Unfortunately, the much less sporty Golf suffers the same weakness in terms of the usefulness of cargo space.  I prefer the look of a hatch to a sedan, but when the usability of the space goes down, I figure the sedan quickly begins to offer advantages in terms of quietness, a possible center-mounted speaker, hiding dead bodies…

  • avatar
    davey49

    About the car;  it looks good and is probably beautiful to sit in and drive
    About VW reliability, reports for recent Golfs and Jettas have been pretty good
    plus I’ve always wondered if check engine lights were completely fake and just came up to make customers visit the dealer so they would spend money on service.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Great review, Don.   You nailed the lost-youth thing well.  I still think about my ’89 Civic Si while pulling the family camper with my ’08 Santa Fe.   But it’s not all bad.   When the camper’s unhitched, I get to go bounding down unserviced forest trails, and churn through foot-deep mud holes to the terror and delight of my kids.    May I suggest a soft-road CUV test in your future?  You know, for the guys who can’t have a GTI.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Count me in with the “VW dealer problems” people. I owned two Phaetons at the same time and my dealer treated me like a known child molester.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    Funny. I was on a VW lot today and had horrible service. I was ignored the whole time, even though two salespersons saw me on the lot and could not come over to help. I finally left. I want to like VW, I really do, but their crappy customer service is… well… crappy.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      I really want to like VW too, but what kills it for me is not the dealers.   I just keep meeting people who have owned one and SWORE they’d never own another.    The only loyal VW owners I have ever known are backyard mechanics.

  • avatar
    plugot

    I own a 2008 MKV GTI with DSG and it has been fantastically reliable. The only issue to date has been the very poorly designed iPod adapter which failed after 1 year and was replaced under warranty. Now perhaps I’m just statistically lucky, but this car (so far, OK) has been as reliable as my previous Honda S2000 and better than my ’04 MiniCooper S which liked visiting the dealer a few times a year. (Could be that the Mini missed the old country and had to pal around with the British service manager. Maybe I just should’a tossed a couple of Samuel Smith ales down it’s gas tank to keep it happy).
    I have heard that VW’s, like their big Germanic cousins the mighty Mercedes, have had their share of electrical glitches. But honestly, I’ve heard many, many more complaints about M-Bs than about VWs. Fact is, I once owned a ’69 VW Camper (in ’70 so we’re not talking crapped out rust bucket) and it saw more garage time. OK, they build ‘em better now, but that old VW was a pretty simple beast.
    As far as dealer issues are concerned, my original buying experience was actually pretty painless. I had two very competitive offers from two Los Angeles’ dealers and ended up at VW Pasadena. I have zero complaints about them. Excellent and professional all the way.
    I now live in Savannah, GA with only 1 dealer and I have been to them for regular service and to take care of the defective iPod head, and again they have been professional and knowledgeable. So I guess I’m sorta at a loss for all the VW reliability and dealer gripes. Maybe I’m just statistically lucky, but I’ve owned like 30 cars over the years and my GTI experience has been as good as any.
    Oh, and I love this car. A fantastic car for the real world – very good mileage, comfortable, hauls a sh*t load of stuff, terrific tranny, zero turbo lag, and well just plain fun.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    30k for nicely equipped GTI?
    I just paid 32 for 2010 A4, nicely equipped (quattro, heated seats) with the newer engine. It comes with power roof and on and on. Dealer agreed I could not save money by stepping down to A3. VAG pricing is hurting.
    I was interested in CC but didnt want old 2.0 engine and want quattro and the better suspension in A4 and am afraid of VW dealers anywhere near Boston.
    If they were selling fresh A1 GTIs with fully galvanized high strength sheet metal, well that would be a great mini-fighter.
     

  • avatar
    saponetta

    johnny ro
    The pricing difference depends a lot on what you want; space or features.  the older a4 wasn’t much bigger than an a3 as far as passenger space.  the new a4 is a lot larger and more comfortable than the b7 platform.  There is about 5.5% markup in a new audi. So lets say both cars meet your space requirments.  and the 32k figure is invoice which is pretty realistic pricing on a standard retail purchase on either car.  For 32k, you get a stripper a4 2.0t quattro. The premium with no options has no more equipment than a chevy malibu.  For 32k invoice, you can get a loaded up premium plus a3 with sport pack, gps, convenice and cold weather package.  To get comparable equipment on the a4 you are going to have to jump to a premium plus and check a lot of options which will get you to an invoice around 39k.  So you’re paying 7 grand for more space.  I think the a3 slots in perfect.  i also think the a4 is the best small sport sedan in its price range.  In my opinion though audi old method of pricing and packaging all the equipment from the basic driveline combos was much better than the new premium, premium plus, prestige method.  You used to have oyur base car.  Then just add premium package, convenience package, sport, cold weather, and tech pack.
    The a3 to me is a great value when you look at modestly equipped a3 to loaded GTI.  The price car is very slim and the audi gives better service perks and more bumper to bumper warranty coverage.  It basically comes down to wether you think the audi or the VW look better.
     
     

  • avatar
    kzone86

    What’s my only problem with the GTI? It’s really not as cheap as everyone makes it out to be. It’s starting at $25,000 now. Sure, you’re getting more than the average compact, but you’re paying for it too. Then start adding the things that make this feel like such an upscale little gem, like DSG, 18-inch wheels, premium sound, HIDs, leather and NAV, and you’re easily nearing the $30,000 mark. For that price you could be sliding around in a fully loaded 300hp RWD Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Or a 265 hp AWD Subaru WRX. Or a (soon to be) 400hp Mustang GT. Or a sexy, canyon carving Nissan 370z. Don’t believe me? Check the prices.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Actually I’d sort of disagree with that criticism of the GTI. It’s true that the car can be speced to $30k, but at the base price of around $24k it has an interior far better than that in any competitor loaded. Far, far better.

      I just spent the last 2 weeks test driving everything (that I consider good, and that can hold 2 large dogs and 2 people) under 25 grand with my girlfriend, and the GTI ended up being available (all said and done) for only a thousand more than a Civic Si. There really wasn’t tremendous savings in going for a 1-2 year old CPO either, as it was the new cars that had the better finance deals. The major plus point for the VW were interior, refined power and styling, the downsides were all maintenance cost related.

      We compared it against the Civic Si, MazdaSpeed3, Mazda3S, Forte, Corolla S/Matrix, Fitsport (!), Impreza hatch and Jetta TDI. The Kia was shocking value at Fit prices, and is the new Scion tc as far as equipment and potential (add good tires and suspension) goes. The CorollaS was the least appealing to drive AND sit in of the whole bunch, and is no cheaper than the Si or GTI if you have standards (rear drums, worst in class steering and solid rear axle at 22.5k, really? Against this lot?). The Civic Si had that “crack-cocaine” engine thing going and by far the best manual but absolutely nothing in it’s favor on the interior front and the Mazda was the best all arounder and clearly the fastest but was too ugly for my gf (I would’ve gotten a Mazda3S). She picked the Fitsport in the end. It was shockingly more fun on real roads than all of those much faster cars (think Honda Cooper), and is basically a subcompact minivan in regards to usable interior room. Add to that a 20% lower sticker, very good financing, and nearly $100 per tire difference against the Civic in future maintenance. 

      The GTI and the two Hondas were the last men standing once we’d driven everything, which really wasn’t what I had expected.

    • 0 avatar
      depichu

      I just bought mine 3 months ago for 24,800 … get this, out the door. White, plaid interior, bluetooth, 17″ rims/wheels and a 400$ credit the dealer sneaked in which I spent on a subpar sub+install. Yes, you guessed it, it’s as base as you can get, but it also proves that no, this car starts out at around 23000, at least in california. I shopped my options, MS3, Civic Si Coupe, and Mini Cooper S. Hated the MS3, but it was definitely the cheapest and the most powerful (I can fix that if I want with 500$-1000$ and a visit to an APR dealership), but I would of just wanted the base trim, every dealer could not quote me and cheaper than 23500 before taxes and registration. Civic SI coupe, it’s damn true what they say about Honda’s shifters, it’s too bad I was quoted 2k more than the GTI for a sunroof. On top of that, I actually got bored of it during the test drive. Why would I wanna blow money on that? Ahh, the Mini Cooper S. If my boss had given me a 2$ a month raise right after I test drove it, I definitely could of loaded this thing up to my specs and taken the 1.9 interest rate for 5 years with a huge smile on my face, but alas, let’s be realistic, I’m already pushing my spending boundaries at 24k.

      I won’t justify style in sacrifice of power with the MS3, fun with the sacrifice of reliability in a Honda, and price with the sacrifice of knowing that the Mini would have been an incredibly daily driver. Every car has pros and cons, with a few rare ones that are universally terrible or awesome. At the end of the day, this car felt perfect for me.

  • avatar
    eliminator2099

    I ve been with my 2008 MKV GTI Manual for 2 years, and let me say my impressions, here in Mexico the VW dealerships are really expensive, if the replacement part is not available in the dealer they must check if the puebla plant has it (they often don´t have the parts because the GTI is assembled in germany not mexico or brazil) they have to ask for the part from germany and that is really awful because it can take months I´ve never been in the situation but some friends do… thats one of the reliability problems he have here… In other side my GTI is a truly fantastic car its turbo lag free i can asure you, its fun, its economical and fast no so fast for a quarter mile or for a ferrari or even a mustang in straight line but in the daily drive it is fast every… This MK6 is gorgeous its not the same to see it in photo than to see it in person, its really a good looking car, gives you the sense of power, speed, good quality, I´m really thinking to upgrade it to the MK6 but here in mexico this car is really expensive in a nonsense way, the base price is about $32,000 USD and the top model is about $37,000 USD with that money i can buy a Mustang GT or a Camaro or Focus RS or a Leon Cupra, or a Impreza or and Audi S3 or a A4 or even a Altima V6 to name a few and every single car i mentioned has double or even more power than de GTI seriously here in mexico VW has elevate the prices like never before… and thats sad because my GTI 2008 just cost me $17,000 USD half the price of the 2010!! and its nearly the same car!!… just to mention this is my second VW the first was a beetle 1.8T which gave me a very good time when i owned it!


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