By on June 3, 2014

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After the first one, the second one, the worst one, and the star-crossed one, we’ve finally arrived at the Mk7 GTI.

Good news: it’s worth the wait.
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After the mild update that turned the Mk5 into the lowered-expectations Mk6, this MQB Golf feels the entirely different car that it is. Longer, lower, wider, lighter, more spacious, better-equipped, but still recognizably a Golf both inside and out. A focus on Mexican production is at least partially responsible for Volkswagen’s ability to offer a $25.215 “S” model that offers slightly more equipment than the Mk6 it replaces. Those of us who remember the Rabbit S as the tape-and-stripe pre-GTI from 1981 will no doubt be slightly confused that there is now a Golf GTI S.

Let’s go over the equipment right quick, straight from the press release:

The Golf GTI S features the following standard equipment: 210-hp 2.0-liter TSI engine; 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; Bluetooth® connectivity; a touchscreen radio; Sirius XM® Satellite radio; a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® integration; a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, handbrake, and shifter knob; VW Car-Net® connected services; ambient and footwell lighting with LED reading lights; cloth sport seats with heritage GTI design; LED foglights; heatable front seats; and a new driving mode selection feature.

The SE starts at $27,395 for the two-door manual transmission model. It adds the following standard equipment: a power tilt and slide sunroof; Keyless access with push-button start; a rearview camera; automatic headlights; rain-sensing windshield wipers; the Fender® Premium Audio System; and leather seating surfaces.

The Autobahn is only available as a four-door model, priced from $29,595 with the manual transmission. This adds navigation, a 12-way power driver’s seat, and automatic air conditioning to the list of standard equipment on the SE.

The GTI S I drove had the Performance Pack, which adds big brakes, an electronically-controlled limited-slip (which I believe to have a mechanical component, not just brake programming) and 10 extra horsepower over the standard 210. It will be available later in the year. Car and Driver‘s Tony Swan could be reliably counted on to write “Know what? We’d wait for it” in regards to this sort of thing, so consider that written. You want a Performance Pack. Even if you don’t care about it, when you go to sell the car in five or ten years from now, each and every email and phone call you get about it will start with “Does it have PP?” As the song says, make it easy on yourself.

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All the first impressions are good: this is a car that follows the same dark-materials-and-shiny-trim playbook as everybody else from Mazda from BMW but the execution is exceptionally good. While the standard Golf perhaps offers a bit more Ikea-chic with its full brushed-metal dashboard and center console (and we’ll cover that car later in the week), the GTI interior does not disappoint and it looks and feels more than a bit above the $25k sticker.

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The control efforts are light but predictable and there’s more than a bit of Audi A4 to the GTI as I pull out for the “Long/Aggressive” drive loop. Time to boot the throttle. Directly prior to getting on the plane, I’d let the leash out on my 2014 Accord V-6 stick-shift for calibration purposes. I’m more than surprised at the way the new turbo engine out-torques the Accord from low revs; with 258 lb-ft across a very broad electronically-managed plateau, it has the twist of an ’83 Mustang five-point-oh delivered at pretty much the same place on the tach.

What a surprise to find that torque steer is mostly absent; the GTI simply runs hard until the small turbo runs out of puff in typical small-turbo style. Now, as the revs approach 6k, is when you’d really prefer to have a big Japanese six under the hood, but instead you get a lot of sound and fury, mostly artificial, signifying that it’s time to shift and ride the torque curve yet again. The net effect is bizarrely like the VR6 MkIII GTI, only played at fast-forward pace.

The Performance Pack suspension, brakes, and rubber all conspire to make the Volkswagen far too capable for our test loop. Letting the engine spin only results in running up more quickly against the next group of tourists or cyclists. What this needs is a track, but surely it would prove to be just as hapless as most Golf-pattern cars in that environment. Suffice it to say that you won’t easily reach the GTI’s limits anywhere that you wouldn’t reach the limits of something like a BMW 328i with the Sport package. This GTI probably runs semi-close to the Scirocco R for raw pace, assuming you select the DSG. As ever with these cars, no matter how many letters you use to describe the platform, the manual shift action is slow and steady at best, so you’ll have to take in satisfaction what you lose in over-the-road speed.

On the move, the GTI starts to feel distinctly mid-sized, particularly with regards to that nearly seventy-one-inch width. Still, visibility is decent enough given the considerable beltline draft. The same kind of dimensional gaps that made the Mk2 feel so much bigger than the Mk1 are at work here as well vis-a-vis the Mk6. Thank goodness the BMW 3er keeps getting bigger, or this Golf would catch it. As wide as an E90 and taller, slathered liberally with cold-to-the-touch metal trim, it’s light-years from the old GTIs. The proportions just keep drifting from the original, and at some point it starts to really matter that the perched-on-the-seat, elbows-on-the-doorsills feeling of the early cars is completely gone. VW did itself no favors bringing the “heritage” cars along, because they remind us of when the Golf was a compact car, not an Accord sans trunk. Why would you get an A3, other than for the rings on the grille and the guarantee that assembly took place without the involvement, direct or indirect, of a drug cartel?

It’s at this point that I want to suggest that you read Jason Cammisa’s review of the same GTI I drove. I want you to do this, not just because I want to prop up Jason’s career in the interest of receiving free drinks from him in the future, but because he’s such an unabashed fan of this car and I want you to hear all the good things about the car from a fan before I talk about it in a less than positive way.

Okay. You’re back? Let’s continue. This new GTI is, by any measure you can objectively apply, the best GTI in history. From the three-dimensional court and spark of the complex and gorgeous steering wheel to the video-game power delivery, from the considered retro chic of the upholstery to the absolutely vice-free way the nose turns even under braking, it is damned near flawless. If you envision the GTI customer base as people who cannot afford an M3 but demand a large subset of that car’s virtues at well under half the price, well… mission accomplished.

You can’t fluster it, not with idiotic midcorner braking, not with lazy shifting choices, not with pitch-and-catch attempts at adjusting its attitude around a turn. It’s effortlessly fast and frankly it would work just fine with a four-speed manual box, or possibly even a three-speed automatic, such is the flexibility and might of the engine.

The only problem with this car is that I’d rather have a Fiesta ST. Imagine that the GTI was slow-roasted until all the joy dripped out of it. Then imagine that all the joy that dripped out was caught in a drip pan. Then imagine that the drip pan was emptied into the Fiesta ST. The Fiesta is everything the Golf isn’t: deliberately unstable at speed, hugely involving, capable of returning vast differentials of pace depending on driver commitment and talent.

“But wait a minute,” you say, “the proper competition for the GTI is the Focus ST.” Well, I’m not totally sure I wouldn’t take the Focus. It’s not nearly as good of a car on the road but it has some racetrack desirability to it and I prefer the Rude Ford look to the A3 Lite one. This GTI feels awfully grownup. There have always been two groups of buyers for this car: literature professors slumming it with a campus-friendly rocket and kids looking to start trouble with Daddy’s money or the entire proceeds of their McJob. With the Mk7, Volkswagen has tilted the balance drastically towards the former.

What we really need here is the Renault Megane, which is everything you really want in a front-wheel-drive enthusiast car. The GTI could have been a Megane competitor. Instead, it’s an Audi competitor, which seems odd, because VW owns Audi.

Unto the seventh generation, the sins of the original Golf have been long expiated. The problem is that the virtues, and the character, were dispensed with as well. What’s left is a fast, competent, useful car from which to sit back and watch the Bimmer drivers paying too much for the same experience — and the Fiesta drivers having unadulterated fun.

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162 Comments on “Review: 2015 Volkswagen GTI Performance Pack (Mk7)...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    When I bought my (CPO) TL back in early 2011, I told myself that I was buying a Honda product so that I could run it into the ground over the next six to eight years for cheap, and put the savings into the house, my wife’s car, the retirement account, etc. The new GTI is the biggest threat so far to my plan. It’s just so damn tempting: practical enough to fool the wife and the in-laws, roomy enough for a child seat if that ever becomes an issue, fast and manageable for squirting through commuting traffic, quiet and refined for highway trips, plenty fancy inside, more economical than any upmarket midsizer, for less money than a family sedan?!

    Help me out here, Jack. How do I get to the end of the summer without waking up drunk one Sunday morning realizing I have a new GTI in my driveway?

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      Look at the loss you will take on the TL and be happy with your choice.

      I am in a similar situation, but I know my TL can go 100K more miles with only normal maintenance and I’ve decided it’s not work trading in. Save a few $$ and buy the GTI outright and keep the TL too!

      • 0 avatar
        alsorl

        Yes . But your still driving a TL which is basically a family sedan that only takes super unleaded fuel. And to tell you the truth the acura will melt away in a hotter climate like Florida and the VW over all will look better after 8 years. Yes almost every acura that I see in Florida which is 4 years or older has major interior issues. The shiny silver painted bits on the dash gets soft in the heat and rubs off looking worn.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          @alsorl – I am not sure which planet you are on, but here on earth one thing both the VW haters and the fanbois agree on is that VW does not have durable interiors, especially not more durable than Honda products. And I say this from my 2008 GTI which has spent its entire life in Florida, and has the melted radio knobs, disintegrating rubberized plastic trim, failing headliner and door panels, and more rattles than any other car I have owned. And I have at least 3 decade+ old Honda products in the family that have none of those problems. OK, one has a pretty faded top of the rear seat cushion from no tint.

          All you have to do is compare the resale value of used Acuras to used VWs and its pretty clear which one lasts longer. And the GTI requires premium fuel as well.

          • 0 avatar
            DrGastro997

            Very well put. The VWs here in Hawaii don’t live very long here due to salt, humidity and strong sun. Hondas/Acuras both old and new look good and will outlast a VW. From experience, German cars don’t belong in this type of climate. Ask any islander and they’ll bitch and groan over VW quality.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @DrGastro997

            Which makes/models seem to hold up best in your climate?

          • 0 avatar
            DrGastro997

            I’ve never seen so many Toyota 4Runners, both very old and new. The most popular cars on the island are Lexus, Toyota, MB and Nissan. We see a pretty good share of GM and Ford but they’re mostly rentals. It’s great weather day-to-day but it beats on cars pretty bad.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I’ve always been under the impression Honda interiors were very durable. I can’t say the same for the exterior paint though. In the SF Bay Area, I see far more Honda products with faded paint and peeling clear coat that all other brands combined.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            do you guys use anything to protect your interior? Living in Florida, the first thing I did when I got my car was buy a sunshade for the front windshield and it always gets put in, even if I’m just going into the grocery store. That plus tinted windows, keeping the sunroof shade closed, and/or a car cover should do a lot to help your interior out.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            My car had window tint from day one, and I had a custom fit sunshade for it from the day I bought it, and I always use it. It is also garaged at home always, I never even open the sunroof or the sunshade, its parked in the shade or covered garage most times it isn’t home, and really I don’t even drive it that much, 2-3 times a week. I also babied it like it was something special, to the point of annoyance to my wife. It just isn’t very durable. Not quite as bad as the old ones, but not as good as the competition.

            My CRV is 12 yrs old, my mom owned it for the first 8 yrs and if she waxed it once a year I would be shocked. It was never cleaned, used as a daily driver work truck for their cabinet making business, used for road trips, just abused basically. I got it with 180k miles on it, detailed it and it looked great except for some dings and scratches. I have seen a lot of Hondas with faded paint but for some reason this car didn’t have a problem, its still very shiny and nice looking. We use it to haul dogs and Home Depot runs and groceries and stuff, and nothing inside is scratched up or disintegrating, OK, well the cargo area is a little scratched but we got it that way! It doesn’t even rattle. There is just no comparison with the durability between Honda and VW.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            There is too much road noise in the CRV to notice any rattles.

            I kid I kid…my Dad’s ’04 Accord is similar – he is not particularly careful with it, but it does not rattle and a detailer could restore it to near new condition.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            LOL yea that is true though, the CRV isn’t very quiet. But then again neither is the GTI, but I bet the new ones are quieter. But the road noise champ is still our MR2 Spyder, you can’t even hear the cowl shake at speed. But it has proven to be pretty durable too!

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I went the other way, had my fun in a A3 and now traded it in for a TSX wagon. I miss the little Audi, but I wanted to slow down and be more practical in my retirement years.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    Ya’ll know I love my Focus ST dearly for exactly the same reasons that Jack wrote above: “The Fiesta is everything the Golf isn’t: deliberately unstable at speed, hugely involving, capable of returning vast differentials of pace depending on driver commitment and talent.” and “It’s not nearly as good of a car on the road but it has some racetrack desirability to it and I prefer the Rude Ford look to the A3 Lite one.”

    (Fiesta or Focus, the sentiments work the same for either).

    The problem is, that racetrack desirability is fun for the first 19,000 miles of Boston stop and go. It’s starting to wane a bit. Unless you are going 90+mph on billiard table smooth roads (in the Northeast? hahaha) it never really settles down for a semi-relaxed cruise. I’d gladly trade just a little of the lift off oversteer hilarity for tad more everyday livability.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      That is the draw of the GTI. It always seems so much more civilized than its competitors. After having a Focus ST in the household and driving a Fiesta ST, I don’t know if I would purchase a GTI again. I’d actually prefer a Fusion ST with the 2.7T and AWD. I’d be one of the twelve people that would purchase one.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I’ve made almost all my car buying decisions on the same line of logic as Jack, but I feel like I’m slowly moving in the other direction. I’m growing up and sometimes I don’t appreciate the dartiness of the alignment or the road noise when the top is up of my S2000, but I drive a twisty road home from work half the time, so it makes it worth it. I couldn’t do it if it was my only car though.

      I drive in DC stop and go, and while a manual hasn’t bothered me, something more civilized as is becoming more and more desirable to me. That said, most modern c-segment cars available are civilized enough for me. This GTI looks like it would fit the bill perfectly, if only it had alternate tunes for 87 and 93.

      My only question, aside from the obvious Ford competition, is what argument aside from the interior does this make versus the new WRX, which is supposed to be bananas crazy fun as well?

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        For one, the WRX won’t come to the US as a hatch (for now). I think that’s a big GTI advantage. Also, if you’re looking for an automatic, Subaru went the CVT route. I’d choose the DSG every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

        Plus, the WRX still looks like… a WRX.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Compared to a WRX, I would expect the GTI to be considerably quieter during highway cruising, while having a more comfortable ride. It’s also more fuel efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      Timothy,
      I would also be happy with the ST set up in a Fusion. As far as ST vs. GTI? 10k of trouble free driving was never achieved with any of the 4 VW’s I have owned. I have found the ST to be a good vehicle for the Dallas traffic and am averaging 27.9 MPG.
      The best comparison I can make is the ST like turbo-Saabs during their pre-GM days.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        Jet, I can fully appreciate the mostly trouble free motoring that the ST has given me (sound tube was replaced at 8,000 miles as the car kept cutting out when coasting to a stop with the clutch depressed, apparently a valve was getting stuck)

        I’m averaging 25.9mpg in my stop and go commute in Boston traffic, so really nothing to complain about there.

        I have owned 2 previous VW products but apparently I was lucky in that I never really experienced any significant issues aside from oil leaking into the spark plug well on my 2.8V6 passat. Independent VW shop took care of it for 300 bucks.

        That being said I wouldn’t leave the showroom without an extended service agreement in hand.

        • 0 avatar
          jetcal1

          Timothy, failure of the “sound composer” caused the engine to cut? – Really? I would love to meet that engineer.
          Also, I did not really think about the road conditions in the NE. That might have influenced my buying decision.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Timothy, I know what you mean about the ST. I live in downtown Philly and drive a 2010 TSX, and I’ve tested the Focus ST a couple of times. It’s a fantastic car, and actually quieter on the highway than my Acura, but the suspension is probably just too firm for daily driving in the Northeast urban environment. This year’s brutal winter and resulting potholes have reinforced this, because my TSX has just been getting pounded, and the roads are still in bad shape around here.

      So yes, a little more refinement would be nice, but after my previous experience with VW’s “reliability” I would find it very difficult to buy another one, despite their improvements of late. The answer, for me at least, might lie with the new WRX. With the STi available for those who need the truly hard core suspension, perhaps the regular WRX will have enough compliance for my tastes. (The last one certainly did, but was lacking in other areas IMO.) I could go tighter than the TSX, but not by much.

      BTW, I like the comparison of the Focus ST to old Saabs. I loved my 9-5 Aero, and when I drove the Focus ST I thought it would have been absolutely perfect as a modern Saab.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        I swapped out the standard 18″ Goodyear Asymmetrical’s for 17″ Goodyear Ice & Snow’s for the winter and most of the spring for exactly this reason. Softened up the car dramatically and kept my alignment in tact through the worst of it.

        Don’t get me wrong… the difference between my friends GTI and my ST in terms of ride an comfort isn’t dramatic… but just enough to make you realize that the GTI (V-dub issues aside) is perhaps a marginally better every day ride.

        Throw in the value proposition and it becomes and even tougher decision. 27850 (last I checked) on the ST gives you navigation and automatic climate… you gotta step up to almost 30 grand to get the same features in the GTI.

        IMHO the GTI has a far superior interior to that of the ST… though it has been revised for 2015

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Are 17″ wheels the smallest that will clear the calipers on the ST? I used 15s on my regular Focus in the winter. They also fit my C-Max too.

          • 0 avatar
            Timothy

            According to TireRack you can drop to 16″ and have clearance, though I seem to recall some conversation (either here or on the ST forum) that it’s an extremely tight fight.

            17″ still offered decent handling and breaking for the decidedly non-performance tire that I chose, I feel that 16″ would be too much of compromise.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        APR Stage 2 would be all over your Japanese V6 and then some at highway speeds on up. And that is with stock tiurbo. With a KO4 swap it it more like Corvette or Mustang territory.

        http://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44991

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          But once you go KO4, you are looking at an extra $5000+. That is just for the turbo, intercooler, and software. You might as well just bought the V8 pony car after all that. Nevermind that you could purchase a V6 Mustang for cheaper than a GTI.

          Mustang GT with the Track Pack and Recaros can be had for well under $35K.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            KO4 could be $4000. APR 2+. APR 2 ecu with intake could easily run with Jack’s Accord V6.

            http://www.goapr.com/products/ecu_upgrade_20tsi_trans.html

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Norm-

            I am all for APR tunes. I have no experience with Trifecta like yourself, but I have nothing but good things to say about APR. Its the best few hundred bucks you can spend on a car.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            APR ecu tune is $600, Trifecta is $315. Unlike VW, GM Ecotec does not require HPFP. Nor do you need an intercooler for the stock turbo. The 2011 Regal GS has a 3″ exhaust and 3″ intake. GM did a pretty good job in over designing the LNF 2.0T since 2006.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            And for $600 APR can’t even double the horsepower AND the gas mileage simultaneously! The nerve of them charging almost double what Trifecta charges. :)

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The ecu tune won’t result in much of a fuel savings aside from the fact that less throttle input is needed for the same result. Of course new found torque can ne addictive. With my 2000 Saab 9-5 I could see around 2 mpg jncrease. Something not likely found ledt on the table today with the focus on fuel economy.

            Most savings today in fuel economy is the driver.

    • 0 avatar

      Timothy thanks for a very honest comment.

      It is always easy for the reviewers who drive a car for a few hours or days to recommend the more hard core choice. And if you track or just super value that then fine, the Fords are fantastic.

      However most people who have a sporting interest still have to drive to work each day, take family road trips and some of the refinement and luxury of the Golf really pays off.

      This is the magic of the Golf GTI. Need a comfy luxurious commute. Check. Want to swing hard through a few bends on the way home. Check. Need to go pick something up from the store. Check

      Roll up to a 5 star hotel for an event. You aren’t going to feel out of place in the valet line.

      It is probably the ideal all around single vehicle.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Jack, how’s the ride? I’m considering one, but don’t want to be beat up on rough roads. My 2012 Golf TDI is fine, so that’s my benchmark. Any advice?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      We didn’t get truly bad roads to try it on, so I didn’t feel qualified to say. It DOES feel remarkably short on big-paws inertia which usually translates to a decent secondary ride at least.

  • avatar

    Thank you for the pics!

    I so rarely ever see the back of one!

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    So from Japan comes Godzilla and from Germany comes a small Drachen.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Instead, it’s an Audi competitor, which seems odd, because VW owns Audi.”

    Volkswagen has been making the same mistakes as GM did—at least from the perspective of product planning—for some time now.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Couldn’t be further from the truth, psarhjinian. Go drive the new A3 and the new GTI back to back – apart from the whole hatchback/sedan thing I doubt you’d find anyone outside of the enthusiast community who would a) cross shop these two, or b) think they were built on the same architecture.

      The two cars have dramatically different character and feel. If anything, Volkswagen has solidly demonstrated that its new kit architecture will allow it to deliver great products aimed at very different market segments and tastes.

      • 0 avatar

        But how about the hard points hreardon, the seats vs. the steering wheels, pedal alignment, even placement of buttons, controls. In the end does that not sort of disappoint in the Audi or if not, just remind you of the Golf?

        Meant as an honest question, not some half witted internet challenge, am really curious about this.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Marcelo –

          The seating position in the two cars is very different. The A3 seating feels “taller” than in the GTI. Buttons and controls are very different – the A3 relying on the MMI touch system while Volkswagen goes for the steady eddy buttons and integrated system in the dash.

          The Audi MMI touch is slick and responsive, much more so than the VW unit. Not that the VW infotainment is bad, but the Audi unit is much more polished. The Audi, as expected, also has better weighted dials and knobs. The two cabins feel very different, even if the GTI does have a nice premium air about it.

          The biggest difference though is in the rear. The GTI definitely feels roomier overall, even if the specs between the two aren’t all that different. I’m not a big guy but the A3 really does feel claustrophobic in the back seat.

          At the end of the day it’s a character difference. The GTI just feels substantially more playful, fun, eager and…cool. The A3 is buttoned down, pleasant, comfortable, well put together and thorough. The GTI is definitely the more ‘cool’ of the two, even if I agree that the A3 is a handsome, if not a bit boring, cousin.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey, thanks for the reply! I guess VW nailed it then because many moons ago (10 or 15 yrs ago) I drove a Golf and an Audi back to back and thought how “cheated” I would feel if i got the Audi, because the interior (if not the drive) felt absolutely the same.

            Yeah, VW is doing it right. Visually, drive, even interior are different.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “The Fiesta is everything the Golf isn’t: deliberately unstable at speed, hugely involving, capable of returning vast differentials of pace depending on driver commitment and talent.”

    So, in terms of it being your only car, you’d prefer the GTI as it’s more comfortable and practical?

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Exactly. This is a question, the answer to which should be part of every “normal” car review. Timothy (above) makes the point that the wild and wooly hot hatch can eventually begin to wear on you. Jack seems to tacitly admit as much with his purchase of a Honda Accord for daily use. Surely no Fiesta ST, it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        In Jack’s defense, maybe it’s just the nature of the one day review? Given a day and some decent roads, one would tend to weigh the “fun” more heavily than the everyday livability.

        It’s sort of like going with the low profile tires/sports suspension option. It’s fun for a day. But, after two weeks of bang, cathunk, shudder, bang, you think…”Maybe I should have gone with the 18″ tires and stock suspension?”

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          The Accord has more pace than the Fiesta ST and is less complex.

          The question of “can you live with this as a single car?” is best answered per individual case.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            Jack,

            What did you mean when you said that you’d take the Fiesta ST over the GTI. Did you mean that for that one day you’d prefer the ST?

            Or, did you mean that given the choice of only the ST and the GTI, paying with your own money, and as your only car, you’d go with the ST?

            I get the impression that your reviews are based on what’s the most fun but your buying decisions inject more or less practicality depending on the situation.

            Which is totally a fine way to review a car. I’m just curious.

  • avatar
    JohnnyChops

    I will admit to being a bit of a GTI FanBoi as a MK6 owner, but would never buy this. Now, if we got the Polo GTI in this country, then all bets are off. What VW needs to get is get back to it’s roots and offer a small, fun car. The MK7 is not. Just give us the freakin Polo already.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      Definitely room in the VW line up with the Golf/GTI growing again and given that Europe has the Up! below the Polo. As a Mk6 owner I’m looking forward to driving a Mk7.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife has a Polo GTI. At the time we bought it we tried the Mk 6 Golf GTI and she preferred the smaller car (although it is still pretty roomy inside). After driving the Polo the Glf felt slower and very laggy.

      The 180hp twin charger engine is just awesome. Sounds throaty, the supercharger makes the 1.4 feel like a 2 liter at low revs and the it just lifts as the turbo comes in and roars off.

      Distilled Fun but still with the class of a VW interior etc..

  • avatar
    jmo

    “literature professors slumming it with a campus-friendly rocket and kids looking to start trouble with Daddy’s money or the entire proceeds of their McJob.”

    Just a note on editorial voice. We’ve had a lot of great reviews recently, all of them incredibly well written and informative, as this one is. However, the ignorant dig mentioned above reminds me of the dark days of the Bertel Schmitt era. Maybe you can tone that down a bit?

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Funny, but as someone with a graduate degree in literature who previously started trouble with Daddy’s money, I didn’t find this pejorative.

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew717

      Kinda hits the nail on the head for me, judging by who I see driving GTIs. I say this is as someone who nearly bought one, and who would be considered the “slumming professor” type though I’m an investments guy.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        +1 from another slummer, haha. I love my 6-speed MK6 4-door! 26 MPG average and great ride and performance at 9/10. Also very reliable despite VW’s rep. Mine never broke down once in 40,000 miles. My only gripe was that it was piss awful this past winter but that’s because I didn’t put my snows on.

        Looking forward to continuing the slumming in a brand new MK7 in 2016. I’m tempted to switch sooner but I have a 5 year rule on new cars, and it’ll probably be best to wait a year for the bugs get worked out of the new one.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      jmo, can you elaborate?

      I’ve known a few examples of both kinds of people who have owned and loved GTIs. Help me understand what’s offensive about the statement. Obviously, if there’s a way to do a review better, I want to know about it.

  • avatar
    sproc

    R&T and everything else I’ve read indicates that the Performance Pack gets you an electronically controlled mechanical LSD. The non-PP uses the brake trick to simulate one.

    As to why even consider the A3, it probably comes down to Quattro and whether you think the Audi service experience is actually better (and not just more expensive).

    Sounds like a great car, though, and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Besides a couple Ford products. VW has set the bar again for the fast hatch market. My neighbor bought a brand new 235M two weeks ago and he says its a very fast and fun car. But he also told me he could have waited for the Golf R. For what he has read it’s a better overall auto over the rear wheel drive 235M and save $15k. But this GTI with performance pack is definitely on my short list for my next auto.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’ll wait until the next one comes out, so reviewers can blast this one for the POS it is while showing their gratitude for VW’s hospitality by fluffing the next POS as the solution to this one’s faults. It’s only played out that way five times so far.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Decision flowchart:

    Toy/Fun/Track/Extra Car? Focus ST

    Only/Main/Daily Transpo Car? GTI

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Or have both by getting a Mk7 Golf R with an APR tune and sticky tires? That’s what my brother did. Seems like a good choice when guys running new Camaro’s can’t keep up with him on track days. I’d say the Golf’s biggest advantage is easy upgrades you can do. Simple bolt on parts swap turn this car into a serious machine.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    Is it me or that headunit screen looks a tad small?

  • avatar
    daviel

    Does it break as good as it looks? I haven’t bought a VW since the battery exploded in our ‘new beetle’, set off the air bag light and the dealer wanted about $900.00 to turn it off. The mechanic turned down my $200.00 bribe. They cost too much to fix. The seats remind me of my Scirocco.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Jack, did you test the DSG or stick? Which do you recommend?
    Thanks,

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I tested the stick. I don’t see myself recommending a dual-clutch gearbox any time in the near future, just strictly based on maintenance cost and problems.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    “VW did itself no favors bringing the “heritage” cars along, because they remind us of when the Golf was a compact car, not an Accord sans trunk.”

    Fair enough, as long as the reader doesn’t remember when there WAS an Accord sans trunk, and it was also a compact car…that has now also grown unforgivably large…or perhaps not unforgivably, since you bought one.

    We seem to be having a reading comprehension problem here with the comments..the review was meant as damn-with-faint-praise irony, but all anyone is getting out of it is that the Mk7 GTI is pretty tempting and they’re thinking about buying one.

    Seriously, I think that the mission of the GTI changed long enough ago that we can accept the new car for what it is, and resist the urge to scold VW.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The Accord has always been bigger than the Golf.

      In 1977:

      length: 160 inches vs. 145
      width: 63.8 v 63.4
      weight: 1962 v 1750

      By 1982, when the American Accord debuted, still facing the Mk1 Rabbit, the difference was significant enough to put it in another class entirely.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I think my point was that the Accord has increased in size since its inception pretty much to the same degree as has the GTI, and that’s not such a new thing that it has to be hammered at with every test or review. We get it – the Accord is much larger now than it was. You got through an entire review of that Accord 4-cylinder with CVT the other day without mentioning that it used to be 1962 lbs. and is now 3400. I think we all know that model nameplates tend to move upmarket, if they’re around long enough.

        The thing I find amusing is the notion that the Golf/GTI used to be some kind of FWD Lotus Seven, with flapping side curtains and smelling of hot oil. The car was larger than a Ford Fiesta, a Honda Civic, a Mazda GLC, a Datsun F10, a Renault LeCar, etc., etc. etc. It had a larger engine, 5-speed rather than 4, disks out back, fuel injection – it was more car than a CVCC Civic then, and it’s more car than an Civic Si now. But in a general sense, it was the size it was in the late 70s because all FWD hatchbacks of that class then were that size – 1800-2000 lbs. All FWD hatchbacks of that class now are around 2900-3200, and they are all much more refined, full-featured, luxurious and safe than they were then.

        The modern GTI is not some kind of freak outlier relative to its earlier iterations.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I remember the (C/D?) compare between the Accord, the Scirocco and the Dodge/Mitsubishi Charger. Accord was definitely not a midsizer back then, even if it was bigger.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Is the interior more or less depressing than the interior of the brand-new-so-base-model-it-hurts Jetta 1.8T?

    Because damn, if that was the only car I ever test-drove that made me regret that decision.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I had a MkV GTI I got new in 2008. Rattles in the hatch aside, I Loved that car. Got the Autobahn with 17″ and DSG. It did almost everything well. Fun when I wanted, but didn’t beat me up, and would gobble up the highway no problem while getting about 30 mpg.

    I have an E90 BMW now. In basically every way it is hands down the better car. And yet I very frequently find myself wishing I still had that GTI in the driveway. The car had personality to it.

    I have to say the options packages, as usual, don’t work well for me. Autobahn 4 door only?? I can’t get leather in a 2 door?! Dumb dumb dumb. Plaid is cool but I’m not 24 any more. And please tell me you can get Xenon lamps. If not, we have a big problem. I also still wish 17s were standard.

    But yeah, this is a car I too am really confiding putting in the driveway in a year or so. Nervous about new platform and change to Mexico production. Will have to keep an eye on that.

    A3 is also great, but I believe no manual box and 4 door sedan only. So unfortunately no go there, which is a shame.

    For the price, the GTI might be the best all around car on the planet.

    • 0 avatar
      cdnsfan27

      I also have a problem with the packages, I would like a 4 door with the plaid interior, Bi-xenons and the Fender audio. Not available. I don’t want/need leather and a $30,000 price tag.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I’m a fan of the stand-alone sunroof option. The Focus ST still has it, the GTI dumped it years ago. I could do without the rest of the options (and the touchscreen), but the leather might be tempting.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Oh, and Xenons are included in one of the option packages.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I’m also disappointed in the packaging. I would like the sunroof and upgraded sound while keeping the plaid seats. The interior is too dark with black leather.

      I guess I shouldn’t be too upset – it saves me money since I’m not paying the $3500 premium for a sunroof and better sound, while losing my preferred seats. I can fix the sound through the aftermarket if necessary, and I’ll get over the sunroof. I can usually use the headroom anyway.

  • avatar
    spoonie

    My aging 2007 vw is still holding together well enough, but when the PP is finally available in Canada (probably March/April 2015) I think it’ll be time to jump in. Also, the bigger, better 8″ ‘discovery’ headunit is supposed to be in the 2016. Maybe that will be a wait until summer. I’m not impatient.

    While I’m sure it’s not the most entertaining driver, I’m the kind of guy that uses that hatch space and drop-seats much of the time, and I don’t want a wagon.

    Looking forward to it.

  • avatar
    carguy

    “The Fiesta is everything the Golf isn’t: deliberately unstable at speed, hugely involving, capable of returning vast differentials of pace depending on driver commitment and talent.”

    Nice review Jack. But I can only gather that VW did the sums on the amount of folks that want a practical, comfortable, speedy hatch which can also be hooned when called upon versus the amount of enthusiasts that want a no compromise visceral machine that demands total driver involvement. I am guessing that the new MK7 will sell very well.

    • 0 avatar
      njmx

      Having owned both cars (well, the 2011 gti anyway, with a tune to “unleash the hounds”, and now a 2014 Fiesta ST), I don’t think I’d agree. The FiST is plenty comfortable and sane when being driven in normal conditions.

      However, I think Jack’s review and comments were spot on. When pushed, the Fiesta is undoubtedly more fun. Which is presumably an important factor for people looking at a hot hatch. Put another way, the Fiesta has quirks that give it character, give it a soul, whereas the GTI sometimes felt soulless.

      I find that’s often the case with zee germans actually. My Porsche Cayman is a heck of a lot faster than my MX5. But it is too good, very little drama. It has engineering perfection, but lacks passion. Guess which one is more fun to drive hard? Miata it is.

      But you’re right in a way. The base GTI is very much a bargain priced Audi in a practical hatchback form. It would make a great car for anyone looking for something reasonably fast and civil. I’m sure they will sell well. But I’m afraid the FiST flat out trumps it in the hooning department, and can do the daily driver thing almost just as well.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    I must say, I’m slightly disappointed to be jumping straight from the Mk4 review to the new Mk7. Now that we’ve got a few years behind us with the Mk5 and Mk6, and numerous competitors have since joined the marketplace, a re-appraisal of these cars would be most interesting to me.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      I was thinking the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I just didn’t have enough time at the VW facility to drive all six heritage cars PLUS the GTI, TSI, and TDI, so I cut the Mk5 and Mk6 out, I apologize.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I think it’s fine. I’ve driven the MKV and MKVI, as I’m sure a lot of people have. And there are plenty of them on the used lots for anyone who wants to try. The other cars were all a bit before my time (or at least, before I learned to appreciate smaller cars), so I appreciate the focus on the older models.

  • avatar
    segfault

    “The Performance Pack suspension, brakes, and rubber…”

    I thought the Performance Pack only got you bigger brakes and the better diff and 10 hp, not a different suspension or rubber? I don’t think it’s worth the asking price. I’d rather have xenon headlights, which appear to be available on the lower trim levels once again.

  • avatar
    Grahambo

    Jack, Slightly oddball comparison I know, but, putting price aside, would you take this or a Lexus IS350 F Sport? Which is the more fun car to drive? Thanks.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Jack,
    For the love of god, please put an ATLP or RV6 J pipe on the Accord. That and a nice billet crank pulley will make you feel as if your car is turbine powered wanting to bust through its redline.

    What are your thoughts thus far on the Accords V6-6MT powertrain?

  • avatar

    Someone please answer this question:

    Where does the manual rev at 60mph? They say ‘quiet and refined,’ but a reasonably low RPM level at highway speeds is a requirement of mine. If it nails that, this could quite possibly be my next car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Agree 100%. Can’t beat low revs for a relaxed highway ride. Reviewers rarely take such notice.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      While engine RPM is important, road and wind noise are equally important. It won’t matter how fast the engine is spinning if you have to deal with overwhelming NVH in other areas. A good example is the ’02 Protege I had. It was about 4000rpm @ 80mph, but I think that was the least of its noise problems.

      Also, a smooth engine that sounds good won’t bother you nearly as much at higher RPM. 3500rpm with a BMW I6 is not the same as 3500rpm with most any C-segment I4.

  • avatar
    lon888

    2012 GTI owner checking in here. Would I buy the new Mk7? Doubt it. At 49K miles I’ve already replaced the intake manifold (at least it was covered under warranty at 32K miles), coil packs, spark plugs, oil separator system (fancy word for their $200 big plastic PCV valve) plus new set of Conti DWS’s and rear sway bar end links. More rattles than my 12 previously owned Honda’s combined. I do, however, love the way it drives (when its acually doing it). Since Honda’s coming out with some turbo motor cars maybe it will be time to go back to the rising sun.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “(fancy word for their $200 big plastic PCV valve)”

      That’s covered as part of a recall.

    • 0 avatar

      Ow ! My 2012 TDi has had zero issues with 53k. Oh, I had to convince the Stealer to shut off the DRL’s….he refused very clearly, but when I picked up the car they were off….

      I drive it like I stole it….it’s the key to success for German car ownership…don’t baby it….

      I think the TDI’s “S Line” suspension is a better compromise than the harder GTI suspension, on what my local highway department laughably calls “roads”.

      The VW/Audi thing is interesting. The CJAA transaxle is also an A4 part at a much higher price point in Europe, so we are getting (at least in diesel format) the parts of a much “better” car.

  • avatar

    Also, another question:

    In Europe, the GTI is available with an adjustable suspension. I live in a climate and city (Montreal) where some roads are curvy and smooth and many are straight and absolutely loaded with potholes. In other words, I’d like come variability in my suspension if possible. Is that feature a yay or nay in North America?

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Everything I’ve read says the adaptive suspension is available if you have the performance package. That said, I don’t think any US publications of tested it, or even described how it works. I’m not clear if it is the usual normal, comfort, and sport settings, or if it dynamically adapts to conditions similar to something like Koni FSD dampers.

      Any info Jack?

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    First, the favorable review of the new 1.8 t in the jetta. Now this. Putting two and two together, i don’t even have to wait for the regular golf review. ladies and gentlemen, my new car has arrived!

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @Nick_515 – I’ve been very curious to see the new Golf review. I rented a 2014 1.8t Jetta and was very impressed with the new suspension and blown away by that motor’s power, smoothness, refinement, and fuel economy. My only complaint was the still miserable interior materials. A hatchback would’ve been nice too. Sounds familar? If you can live without the GTI’s extra/excess power, a standard 1.8t Golf might be just the ticket.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        tjh8402 – you nailed it. the Golf’s interior is now very Audi – the Jetta just isn’t. Trust me i’d much rather drive a jetta – and i am the proverbial college prof. a few members of the B&B are complaining that it’s too much black, but i think i can be ok with that provided the exterior color is not too dark. Silver on black works for me, for example. a standard, four door 1.8t Gold can work. A Thule on top, bike rack in the back… where do i sign up?

        I am now very curious about what your comment on the suspension. Can’t wait for the review.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          @nick_515 – for 2014, the Jetta went back to having an IRS and it seemed to help the ride and handling tremendously. I was not impressed with the way the pre 2014 ones drove, but this one felt much more german in the way it went down the road. I had no trouble driving 360 miles in less than a day in it.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Considering the prices I feel like VWs pricing both the GTi and GLi’s to get people into A3s. When they cross-shop prices people will think “Hey, for just a little more, I can have whats basically te same car but with an extra 20hp, a badge to brag with my neibors, and a better 4wd system!”.

    Even with the Focus ST’s odd styling from some angles, I’d take it over a GTi just because it feels less redundant in Fords line-up. Buying a new GTiGLi is like buying a V6 Mustang, you begin to wish that you’d brought an A3.

    With the Focus ST theres so slightly better version, you’re getting Ford at its best with no punches pulled, well save for better equipment held back for the next 3 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Considering the GTI is available in a hatchback body style, with a choice of manual or DSG tranny, and the A3 is not available in anything but a sedan body with an automated manual, I don’t agree that the pricing will put anybody into an A3. I doubt many people will cross-shop them.

      And since my 2011 Mk6 Autobahn 4dr. manual was $30,610 including destination charges, and the new 2015 one exactly like it will be $29,595, with more equipment and after 4 years of admittedly low inflation, the new car is cheaper than the old one. Every model, up and down the lineup, is either cheaper than the Mk6, has more equipment for the same money, or both.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Jack, you have driven the Euro version and the US version. The US version must have been decontented to some extent; can you comment on the differences?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      With eight months between the two, I wouldn’t trust myself to say. Whatever decontenting has taken place has been subtle.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        There are two obvious differences.

        One, the US/Canada 2.0T is direct injection only and loses 10hp to the Europe direct+port injection engine, which also has a better cooling system for the engine with three independently controlled cooling circuits. This has been known for 18 months. I have a VW press release on the matter . So the 210/220hp variants here are 220/230hp in Europe. Direct injection only on VW has been disastrous in the past all the way ip to the 4.2l V8 with severe sludging issues, supposedly cured. Sure, that’s why they get dual injection in Europe.

        Two, we get the cheap infotainment system with small screen compared to Europe.

        At least the new patented mechanical FWD LSD is available here. You don’t need AWD because you get guaranteed two-wheel drive as in every Subaru bar the STI which has realAWD (every wheel driven due to 3 LSDs)

        Here in Canada, the new A3 is on the face of it a giveaway pricewise compared to the GTI. The interior is even nicer and the car’s made in Hungary, with just exemplary finish. Tough choice, as both make the WRX seem like a Versa inside and are similar in real world power.The WRX has real character though, you know you’re in something special when you boot it and carve your first corner.

        Still think the Accord V6 manual is tempting; the brake warp problem is a downer though. Ford Focus and Fiesta STs? The Ford dealers don’t know what they are nor do their mechanics. If it doesn’t say F150 on it, they could care less.

        This new GTI is decontented so much from the Euro model to meet a price point here. Pity, would rather pay a bit more and get the real thing.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Rumor has it the ROW gets MPI for particulate emissions issues. It looks like VW could easily update the US engines with MPI if they had to (though I’m not holding my breath).

          Some good discussion on it over at vwvortex: http:// forums.vwvortex.com/ showthread.php?6889292-Safe-to-assume-USMK7-GTI-will-have-MPI/page2

          I haven’t poked around to try to verify, but the 1.8T in the Golf might get MPI, since the engine is produced in Germany for all markets (US spec GTI engines are produced in Silao, Mexico for only the US and maybe Canada).

          Oh…another example of decontenting is the US version is missing the roller cover over the cupholders :-)

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Sounds like this is going to a great car, but I doubt it will improve on the long term durability of the VW brand. There are about 4 guys at work who just bought GTIs, 2013 and 2014 models. They are going to regret it when they see this one. I am still selling my Mk5, and I still don’t regret it. I loved the car and loved how it drove but I don’t like the rattles and the way the interior has started to fall apart.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      My wife loves her 2004 GTI and loves how it drives but she’s not happy with the oxygen sensor that has failed and a wheel bearing that needs to be replaced.

      I guess this the legendary VW unreliability at work, a sensor already failed with mere ten years of driving. If only she had bought a Corolla …

      P.S. Seriously, her GTI’s interior still looks great, even the soft-touch plastics. Only the leather is showing its age.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @th009 – Looks like you got one of the dozen or so MkIV VWs that hasn’t self-destructed. Of course the fact that your soft-touch plastics still look good after a decade confirms that fact, as practically every other one I have ever seen looks like the door handles and dash trim was attacked with a knife.

        But also seriously, I haven’t had an serious mechanical issues with my 2008, a couple annoyances like a bad window regulator that was under warranty. I am more concerned with the expensive risk, low future resale value, and cosmetic things like the interior falling apart, brittle exterior trim, etc.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    Owner of a 2015 GTI SE manual here. Even though I’m not a professor, I am working on a writing project. So, you nailed that for me Jack. Also, I do agree that the GTI has basically become an Audi. That’s what I love about it. It’s a great daily driver that doubles as a wagon and if you squint while driving, seems like a car twice the price (as your friend at R&T said). I crossed shopped it with the new WRX which is far more driver-involved and intense -in a good way. But after a few test drives of the WRX, I couldn’t wait to get out of it. It kind of beat me up. The GTI IS fun in the twisties. It’s serene at 100 mph and perfect around town. And it looks better than ever, in my opinion.

  • avatar
    karlbonde

    I thought I was the only one in the US that remembered the 1981 Rabbit ‘S.’ The car had that really cool looking three-spoke steering wheel as standard equipment. My neighbor’s 1980 Rabbit ‘C’ (pre-Westmoreland, but square headlights nonetheless) had a nicely optioned car with the same steering wheel.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My only complaint is that I wish they’d use aluminum instead of the glossy black stuff. I hate the fingerprints and dust that the glossy material always shows.

  • avatar
    odeen

    Sajeev wouldn’t be happy about those wheels..

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I’ve always has a soft spot for the salad shooters, personally. You see those wheels, you know it’s a GTI, ’nuff said. Part of the car’s character.

      • 0 avatar
        odeen

        Oh, the “Detroit” wheels on Mk6 GTI’s look fantastic.

        Sajeev wouldn’t be happy about THESE particular wheels because they are directional (i.e. each spoke is not symmetrical, so the wheels appear to have a “forward” and a “reverse” direction), but left and right wheels are the same.

        So, while on one side of the car, the wheels appear to go “forward”, on the other side of the car, which is a mirror image of the first side, the same wheels would appear to go backwards.

        Moral of the story — If you offer spinny rims, you have to make left and right rims mirror images of one other, same way left and right fenders, left and right doors, left and right windows, left and right interior trim pieces, etc. are all mirror images of one another.

        Or just bring back the fantastic Detroit wheels.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    That interior is so black that traffic cops pulled the car over because it “looked suspicious”

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I haven’t driven the new GTI yet, but I sat in one for the first time today. The first word that came to mind was “crisp”. Everything looked and felt crisper in the interior, particularly the steering wheel and the door pulls. Based on some of the earlier reviews I wasn’t expecting much, but I was surprised.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    On my curvy drive home from work today, I kept thinking of Jack’s words about all the joy being rendered from the MK 7 GTI. I couldn’t disagree more. This car is a blast. It’s not the most involving driver’s car in its price range. But it is still an awful lot of fun. On the whole, it’s definitely one of, if not the, most complete packages out there.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I know someone put up the fun comparison of this and a Lexus IS350. Jack, since you have previous experience with this type (albeit a while ago), how does this compare to an e46 330i 4 door, specifically a performance package? In Car and Drivers, preview of the new 435i, they said:

    “With apologies to George Santayana and high school history teachers everywhere, those who can remember the past are the ones who have been condemned to repeat it, at least among a certain segment of BMW 3-series cognoscenti. You know them by the tarnish on their Roundels, the newest of which are now eight model years old and at least two generations obsolete.

    BMW knows them for their unwillingness to replace these beloved E36 and E46 Bimmers with the larger, and in management’s view, much-improved successors. This uniquely American cohort perplexes the Germans because such refusal to march in lockstep with product planning comes despite—or perhaps because of—their self-avowed passion for the brand. The 2014 2-series coupe is Munich’s latest and best attempt to bring this crowd back into the fold.”

    That’s as accurate description of me as you’ll find, and I am not accepting Munich’s latest overture. Your description of the GTI makes it sound something like the ghost of an e46 wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 My Tarnished (actually slightly dented) Roundel approves.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The GTI has all the composure and milled-steel solidity of an E46. But dynamically it’s not even close. My 2001 E46 330i Sport was twice the car, even if it couldn’t match this GTI for power.

        • 0 avatar
          tjh8402

          Thanks for the info Jack. Good thing the e46s are known to last so long. Not to hijack this, but the aforementioned Lexus as well as Cadillac ATS would’ve been appealing if only you could get a six cylinder with a stick.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I either need a new suspension or lack an appreciation for what makes great dynamics (or both), because I find the E46 overrated.

          Body roll is ridiculous (yes, my sway bars are still in place) and the suspension movement is prone to making passengers sick on the twisties, no matter how carefully I try to avoid that.

        • 0 avatar
          hurls

          Well damn, guess I have gotta keep the e46 wagon… ;-)

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    What is wrong with you people – haven’t you heard? All VAG products suck. Don’t buy one. You will die a fiery death when the car explodes without warning as your life flashes before your eyes. Run away.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “VW did itself no favors bringing the “heritage” cars along, because they remind us of when the Golf was a compact car, not an Accord sans trunk”

    The GTI is still a compact car. The GTI’s width vs some competitors:
    GTI: 70.5″
    Focus: 71.8″
    Civic: 69.0″
    Corolla: 69.9″
    Mazda3: 70.7″

    In addition, the GTI is shorter than both the Focus and Mazda3 hatches.

    As pointed out earlier in the comments, all cars grow in size if they stick around long enough. That the GTI made you think of an Accord sans trunk makes me think VW did an awesome job with the packaging.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    This is definitely on the test drive list for when I am shopping for a commuter car next year, along with the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, and possibly the WRX. However, I am very disappointed to hear that once again VW is cutting many features from their US offerings, specifically MPI and the larger infotainment screen. Carbon build-up is one of the biggest gotchas with the current 2.0T engines and MPI looked to be a good potential fix for that issue.

  • avatar
    itanibro

    Dude – you need to remove this comment immediately:

    “Why would you get an A3, other than for the rings on the grille and the guarantee that assembly took place without the involvement, direct or indirect, of a drug cartel?”

    Specifically, the comment about the drug cartel. Implying that hard working Mexican folks are somehow involved in organized crime is really, really ignorant. This looks bad on you, and gives TTAC a bad rep as well for allowing this type of shortsightedness .

  • avatar
    dr funface

    This bs about the Ford Focus ST being too unruly or too much of a hooligan car is utter nonsense. I nearly bought one last summer. It’s virtually dead silent cruising at 65 – 70 mph in sixth gear. It’s no more tiring or racecar-y than an E36 M3 was. Y’all splitting hairs there.

    Also what’s up with the VW crowd fantasies of ‘my GTI would even be respectable were I to valet it somewhere”??? What kind of adult cares what someone who parks cars for a living thinks about anything?????

    I’ll take the Fiesta ST.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      It isn’t the valet that matters, it’s clients, potential clients, and coworkers (for some professions).

      • 0 avatar
        njmx

        If one worked in a profession where one’s car was used to impress potential clients, I seriously doubt that a hot hatch of any kind would be considered. GTI included. These cars project entirely the wrong image for that. This is part of why I adore them. There are plenty of other boring German sedans for that job.

  • avatar
    fttp

    Test drove one, sans salesman. This car will turn you into an old man fast, which is odd because it’s aimed at 20-somethings. Too refined and quiet, and rode like a Cadillac. Well at least the old ones. All the controls were alarmingly light too. This is most definitely not a “hot hatch”. Get a Focus or Fiesta ST.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Sounds perfect for me then. Some of us just want a practical, comfortable daily driver with a dash of performance and this car is the answer. Not every hot hatch has to be harsh riding, balls-out, and rough around the edges. Yeah, the Fiesta ST might be “more fun”, but it is far less practical as it is much smaller and less of a swiss army knife kind of car.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Agreed, Ubermensch. I don’t want to look or feel like a noon in my car. The MK7 GTI is in many ways the perfect everyday enthusiasts’ car: it has enough room, is quiet and comfortable enough for everyday and yet when you open it up on the back roads will bring a smile to your face.

        It would be wrong to say that it is “Porschesque”, but for those of us who cannot afford multiple cars in our garage, the GTI gets you 80% of the way there.

        • 0 avatar
          njmx

          I tend to agree, for those looking for an excellent all-around car the GTI is a fine choice. Those looking to maximize the hot in their hatch may want to look elsewhere, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this car to friends of mine on a moderate budget.

          That said, if you are after a comfortable, practical car with a dash of fun in this price range, there are quite a few other cars worth considering. I’ve always felt that if you are going to make a hot hatch, it should be a) cheap and b) bonkers. The latest GTI falls a bit short. Expect to smile; but don’t expect to grin wildly.

  • avatar
    NattyBumpo

    T
    A very ignorant comment about Mexico manufacturing with no facts to support that there are drug gangs involved with the manufacture of VW products. As one who set up Mexican manufacturing in high tech assembly I can testify the yields were better than in home Silicon Valley. These people work very very hard with long hours and they take pride in their work. What a jerk comment.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The quest continues.

    To replace my 08 Legacy GT. Tested so far: Accords, Mazda6, BMW X1, ATS, CLA, WRX, Chrysler 200 AWD, Acura TLX, both 4 and 6 FWD, plus assorted Korean crap in vain hope.

    Today the VW GTI.

    Quite disappointing, ridiculous price in Canada.

    What did I expect? Great interior, but frankly it’s only just OK when you really look. And the damn driver’s sunvisor buzzed the entire test drive no matter how I hit it. Seems to be made of a lump of polystyrene encased in leatherette, uh vinyl. Weight 20 grams and buzzy.

    Tight shoulder room, weird seat adjustments, everything feels lightweight, kind of like the car itself. Small trunk, no rear seat room. $35K for this one in Canada with nav, leather EXTRA, DSG extra. Try over $38 grand. A joke, surely? And the upcoming Performance Pack with limited slip puts it over $40K. For a damn warmed-over Golf.

    On the move, peppy but not outrageous, loud engine (why, because boyracer I guess). Six speed manual must have same lightweight rods to the transmission my 1980 Jetta had, even pedals seem flimsy. 5th and 6th gear plane difficult to find – this is no Accord Sport gearshift.

    So it howls around corners just fine, and goes pretty good on the highway, but it’s noisy all the time, and the general feeling of flimsiness is ever present. Turbo lag, yes, when everyone says it has none. Wrong.

    Humpty dumpty ride when everyone said it was the best compromise out there. My head must need recalibrating. My mind kept saying, “Good second car”. Hell, an Abarth is way more fun for that job.

    Underwhelmed. It might lack power, but a Mazda3 drives as well and has a little better steering. Neither as good as my old beast (hydraulic), which is also quiet, effortless and just as quick as this GTI, plus it whirs right out to 6600 rpm with no letup – no modern tiny turbo feeding the hamsters.

    There just ain’t much juice to this GTI. Now I understand Baruth’s comment about his old BMW being a real car compared to this GTI.

    And yes, I’d have an Accord Coupe over this GTI in an instant. Super engine, better shifter, quieter and actually LESS money in Canada, because leather is included for $35.5K. But it NEEDS an LSD in the worst way.

    Drove a new TLX Saturday. The 4 sucks big time for numerous reasons (like trying to kill me crossing two lanes of traffic from a stop with wheels preturned – zero response, none, while gerbils hunted for a gear, completely unacceptable). Over-eager loud engine, tranny allows revs to drop so low in gear in trickling traffic uphill, that engine actually shudders. Like a novice manual driver forgetting to push in the clutch. Useless.

    The V6 felt great but had no traction. Howling tires on takeoff with half-throttle. SH-AWD available in late fall. $39,999 for the cheap interior version of that in Canada, quiet, and the DI version of Honda V6 but with that awful ZF 9 speed. But guess what? It’s a real car to drive even in FWD form. No flimsy whimsy and not a rattle to be heard. $40K for AWD and vinyl seats (Canada cheap-out version not available in US), and some real engineering under you. Now that’s a deal. It’s what the Chrysler 200 AWD could have been but ain’t. Anonymous styling, which is fine by me. That Honda V6 speaks to me. A decent spec 328xi is nearly ten grand more here and you get a clickety, clackety turbo four – the brain hurts.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “The V6 felt great but had no traction. Howling tires on takeoff with half-throttle.”

      Of course it didn’t, like every other car not in press trim (and quite a few which are) it now comes 20mm undertired with rock hard compound to game up a better score on the mileage treadmill.

    • 0 avatar
      Grahambo

      wmba, Just curious as to what is leading you on the quest to replace your LGT? I have an ’05 and while I definitely keep my eyes open to see what’s new out there, I’ve accepted the conclusion that there’s almost nothing that I would be happy with as a replacement (which seems to be the conclusion you are arriving at as well). The facts that it is paid off and has been reliable also loom large. So I’m happy to keep driving it for quite a while longer. (Still need to test drive the 2015 GTI and WRX but, based on your assessment, doesn’t sound like that will change my view). The new Lexus IS350 F Sport is the lone exception to the above. Have you tried one of those? Assuming you are willing to forgo a manual and are not offended by the exterior, I think it would be to your liking. Really fun to drive as others have attested to, fast enough, smooth, refined and comfortable. The pricing in the US is higher than most of the other options you are referencing (although in the same range as the 328xi) but the price differential may not be as significant in Canada.


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