By on August 11, 2014

2015-VW-GTI-01

There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the Recaros, grey wheels and Performance Blue paint. And then I got a phone call from Volkswagen, offering me the chance to drive the brand-new, MK7 GTI.

For those of you still reading the buff books, the MK7 GTI has been out for the better part of a year – and every keen TTAC reader knows that this is the first GTI to be built off of VW’s MQB modular architecture. But what does it mean for the enthusiast who doesn’t live and breathe the ins-and-outs of modular architectures?

Well, quite a bit. The MK7 is longer, wider, more spacious inside, while packing more power and less weight. Length is up by 2.1 inches, while width is up by half an inch. Notably, the GTI loses 1.1 inches in overall height, while the front wheels have been moved forward by nearly two inches (thanks to the MQB chassis placement of the pedal box), which adds up to the much more pleasing “lower, longer, wider” look.

The overall effect is that of a substantial car. From the outside, the GTI still looks like it takes up the expected footprint of a C-segment car. Inside, the cabin looks nothing short of huge. The panoramic sunroof and generously bolstered seats give it an airy feel, while the uncomplicated center console feels like it belongs in something with four rings. The rear seats contain enough room for two full-size male adults, though three abreast might be a stretch. It’s better than a number of CUVs that I’ve recently come across, and would be more than adequate for the sort of “bro-trips” that many buyers of this car will undertake. Like most auto reviewers, I adore the tartan cloth and would skip the leather upholstery.

The added size appears to have no negative consequences for the GTI’s performance. Dynamically, the GTI has but one fault. The gas and brake pedals are spaced too far apart to properly execute a heel-toe downshift. Everything else you’ve read about the car is true: it is utterly brilliant, and possibly the best all-round performance car on the market.

The newest generation of Volkswagen two-point-oh-tee motor delivers peak twist at just 1,500 rpm, pulling all the way up to 4,500 rpm. That means all 258 lb-ft is easily accessible in the meat of the power band, right where you’d be most inclined to use it. Torque-steer manages to be mercifully contained, and describing the acceleration as “brisk” doesn’t quite do this car justice.

An optional Performance Pack adds another 10 horsepower, bigger brakes and a limited-slip differential. Does the GTI need it? I’m not sure. The example we tested did not have it, and I never wished for a second that it did. The brakes are strong and progressive, the handling beautifully composed with crisp, quick steering and the kind of sharp turn-in that you wouldn’t normally expect on a front-wheel drive car.

This performance is also fully accessible to the average driver on something as banal as a highway on-ramp, and you can tap into it while you’re averaging 26 mpg in spirited driving. Even with the low-profile tires and sharp handing, the ride is never punishing. If the light clutch and precise 6-speed manual gearbox are too arduous for your daily commute, there’s a dual-clutch gearbox available as well. What could possibly be wrong with a car that can truly lay claim to being the ultimate performance daily driver?

Well, as Jack said

 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.

When I was 17 years old, my father bought a MKV Jetta 2.0T, and I, entitled little brat that I was, scoffed at the notion that a powerful, front-wheel drive car could be any fun. After all, video games and endless forum flame wars had taught me, so it had to be true. As it turned out, I adored that car, and I adore the MKVII, which is faster, lighter sharper and more refined than the MKV, with its laggy motor and first-generation DSG, ever was. But even though I’m less entitled and (slightly) more mature, I still want the raucous, slightly unhinged brand of front-drive fun that the Fiesta ST offers, even at the expense of the GTI’s substantial rear seat and cargo area. For everyone else that’s gotten that puerile recklessness out of their system, the GTI is the one you want.

N.B. Our photography car has a DSG gearbox, but is otherwise identical to our tester. Thanks to AutoGuide.com for the photograpy.

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166 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI...”


  • avatar
    tonycd

    It really pisses me off that VW knows about the carbon problem with the 2.0T, knows how to fix it, but only bothers to apply the fix to Audis (if I correctly remember the very detailed summation of the problem that I read on BITOG or someplace). This was true as of two years ago. I hope it isn’t anymore, but you know, VW.

    You simply shouldn’t have to crack open a modern engine in midlife to scrape tar out of its innards with a spatula, or jerry-rig a “catch can” on the underside as if you were hoarding bacon fat. This sums up why you just can’t trust German iron for anything longer than a warranty or lease period, and it’s a damn shame because it’s so entirely unnecessary. They just don’t care.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I’ve read that some manufacturers install an “old-fashioned” port fuel injection system that cycles every so often just to keep the intake valves clean. Is that the fix you’re talking about?

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      You’re referring to the multiport injection system that VW implements on Eurospec models. My understanding is that this is primarily for emissions standards and while the side-effect is that it ‘washes’ the valves, the new Gen 3 2.0TFSI is less prone to coking than the previous models.

      Time, as always, will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      Toyota’s D-4S also only states that the port injectors are for emissions only at startup and low revs. Yet they didn’t apply the technology to the D-4 engine on the IS250, but they did have a campaign to clean the engine and replace the piston rings for these cars.

      In the meantime, it is good to see Toyota is slowly introducing direct + port injection onto more and more models. But they will need it to meet the upcoming emission requirements anyway.

      VW even acknowledged the carbon buildup problem in their patent, and now there is a whole decade of cars running around with this industry wide engine design flaw.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I would hesitate to call it a flaw. It is a byproduct of the design, and ultimately just another maintenance task, just like changing the oil. Cars used to actually require a LOT of maintenance, back in the day. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Direct Injection is a wonderful thing in many, many ways. More power, more torque, better economy all at once. If efficiency is the goal, then higher maintenance may be one of the prices you pay.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I have difficulty believing that anyone could actually defend the claim that having to walnut shell carbon blast the internals of a modern production motor – at a mere 40,000 miles – to remove enough carbon so as to get the motor to run in even a tolerable condition, should be deemed “routine maintenance,” rather than mitigating a design defect in a half-a$$ way, after the fact.

        • 0 avatar

          I think it’s flaw alright, exactly because of what you say. Cars used to require a lot of maintenance, now they don’t. Any car that brings back more maintenance than its predecessors is containing a flaw. Now, maybe that is the price to pay for progress. Newer cars seem do suffer less from this and you could say the technology has been integrated and understood. Maybe that’s just how technology works, but there are countless cars out there that will give their future owners grief.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It has nothing to do with the direct injection itself. The cause is that there is no stream of gasoline to wash deposits from the PCV system off the intake valves. At least on BMWs, it is the intake valves, not the pistons that are the issue. If you are getting deposits on the pistons, use better gas – they DO get washed. It’s a couple hour job every 40-60K, and not every car seems to have it happen – I assume driving style has something to do with it. I assume the fix is better filtering of the gases in the PCV system so there is nothing to deposit. Live and learn.

            I just can’t get too excited about it given the advantages of DI.

          • 0 avatar

            hey krhodes1, can’t disagree with you. If it is a once over, then, when you buy the car, you should be aware and prepare. Then, you get to enjoy all the benefits. From where I stand, though not directly related to DI it has to do with some of the peripherical equipment employed, whcih in the end is the same. I can’t get over excited about this either, but small flaw it is. As always, informed shoppers will get the most of their money.

  • avatar

    My nemesis…

    Here I am on the highway just driving along, minding my business and all the sudden GTI’s start trying to race me and show off their wicked shifting skills.

    • 0 avatar
      Charles T

      #NotAllGTIs

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I’m a MK6 GTI owner and a former muscle car owner but oh well, stereotype away. GTI is faster than my old L98 Formula and averages 26 MPG in city/highway. A Challenger R/T would probably be about 9 MPG less. Some of us who have to commute to work can’t afford to drive a muscle car every day.

      Back to point, I can’t wait to get my hands on a MK7. I’m going to go two more years with mine and then take the plunge. Quality wise, mine’s been flawless saving for an intake manifold replaced under warranty.

      Fiesta RS is intriguing but the sophistication and quality of a GTI is hard to beat. I don’t think I could do it even if the Fiesta would arguably be more fun.

      • 0 avatar
        slow_poke

        i fail to see how “replace intake manifold” and “flawless” can be synonymous. i my mind, “only changed oil” is flawless…. i think your “2 more years” comment is spot-on.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I did say “saving for,” and that part of the ownership was hardly flawless. But to be fair, I don’t think I’ve had a new car that didn’t have at least one warranty repair.

        Beyond that one thing, which happened at 40k and was fixed in a few hours, the car’s been solid. No squeaks or rattles either despite the fact that I drive in the city and on its torn up roads all the time.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I don’t know why anyone WOULDN’T buy one of these over the 90% of small cars I see on the road that are uglier and less refined. Fast, practical and it will probably last 30 years if you wanted it to.

    Edit: Carbon problem? Never mind, I take back what I just said.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I don’t understand why anyone would cross shop this with a Fiesta ST.

    The VW is a refined, mature GT cruiser, solid in all ways the Fiesta can’t approach.

    Heck, I’d even call reliability a draw between this and the Fiesta ST, and I’m not exactly a true believer in VW reliability.

    The Fiesta ST is for the new VTEC kicked in bro! Civic R Type crowd, while this GTI is basically a much better Audi A3.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      DeadWeight -

      I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘much better’ A3, it’s just a very, very different implementation of the MQB kit. Drive both cars back to back and they feel completely different. The A3 is very nice, but painfully boring. Great interior, switchgear, very handsome design and decent enough performance and handling – just nothing exciting about it.

      The GTI, on the otherhand…that car just wants to be driven and will put a grin on your face.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        I’d have to test drive a ‘real’ A3 in some other country, since they wont sell the manual here. The old A3 was a little less athletic than the GTI, but they certainly deserved comparison…

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      Have you ever experienced the VTEC kicking in?

      I scoffed at it once, then I experienced it and its what I miss about not getting another Civic Si, that howl at 7000rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        Yeah, in one moment you are being pushed forward with the fury of 100hp, then in the next moment you are being pushed forward with 110hp.

        VTEC is behind the times anyway. Continuously variable valve lift is where it’s at.

        • 0 avatar
          lellololes

          Former 07 Si owner (Car is handed over tomorrow actually)- more like going from 120whp to 160whp almost instantly.

          Below 5.8K, the car drives like you would expect it to – not fast, but the gearing gives it a nippiness you won’t find in a normal Civic/Focus/Corolla/etc (though a 2.5L Mazda3 is a different story). Then once you pass the VTEC threshold, it perks up a lot. It may not have torque, and it isn’t a properly fast car, but it feels as if suddenly the car just shed about 800lbs of weight.

          On the downside, if you’re just keeping up with quickish accelerating traffic, you’re leaning on the throttle and shifting at 5k to keep up. And if you want to keep up with someone that is going fast, you need to have the engine at a boil the whole time.

          In short:

          + Good power in vtec range
          + The sound at 6k+ is incomprable for the money. The newer 2.4s not as good
          + It’s actually pretty quick if you keep it above 6k
          + Super linear power delivery (excepting vtec boost)
          + 8300RPM fuel cutoffs are fun

          / It’s Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

          - While the exhaust and intake sound is quieter at lower revs, it is annoyingly loud for daily driving given the power output
          - It is gutless at low RPM. The engine makes poor torque for a 2L. Gearing does make up for it a bit though.

          It won’t knock your socks off. But it’d be a damn fine engine in a 2400lb car. I don’t think it was quite enough engine for the 2900lb Si though.

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            Jekyll/Hyde comparison is accurate. My rsx feels like a completely different car at that point in the rev range.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The continuous valve timing built today only advances and retards the cams. This cam phasing is also used by Honda, but has nothing to do with changing the lift and duration of the cam like VTEC does. Now Koenigsegg will likely be the first company to produce a true continuous lift engine for their hypercars. We probably won’t see it in everyday engines for another 10 years after that.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Mbella

            Fiat’s Multi-Air and BMW’s Valvetronic both vary valve lift, to the point that in both systems that is the only means used to control engine speed.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        On the flip side, I miss the VTEC implementation (and 55mpg) from my old Civic VX. The thing had zero torque, but being able to drive from Sacramento to LA for 15 bucks in gas was fantastic.

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        I have, I do. You downshift into 3rd doing 50, it’s about 3500 rpms, you press gas and acceleration is kind of nice, then the whole thing bogs down for a 100 rpms or so till you are hitting 4000, you wonder if the car is dying on you, then it’s fun to 5000, engine smooth, and then you are screaming too loud to stay inconspicuous and it’s really stupid to be going 6000 rpms to pass a minivan. Time to downshift, below the switch point.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          This sounds precisely nothing like driving a Honda, and certainly not an Si. 6,000 rpm may shake apart some approximately assembled blunt instrument from Detroit, but it is as smooth as the second Sculpin of the day in a Honda. 50 mph at 3,500 rpm in 3rd seems unlikely in any manual Honda too. That’s closer to 5th’s ratio. Nice fictional account though.

          • 0 avatar
            DevilsRotary86

            ’06 Acura RSX-S driver here. If the VTEC and oiling systems are in good shape there is no “VTEC kicks in”. It is a smooth transition from the low cam to the “wild” cam at about 6,000 RPM. All that I notice is a small change in the engine timbre.

            However, as the oil approaches the 5,000 mile designated change I do notice a little kick at 6,000 RPM as the VTEC system hesitates just a little.

          • 0 avatar
            suspekt

            I must say, the VTEC changeover in my 6MT Acura CLS (J32A2 motor) was pronounced and absolutely addicting. There were in fact 2 change-over points (more noticeable once the “correct” modifications had been made)that were audibly very noticeable both in sound and feel. It is imprinted in my DNA after logging 100,000 miles of pure bliss.

            - approx 4,100rpm electronically actuated butterfly in the intake manifold would transition to the longer intake runners. You could hear the intake swell.
            - approx 4,500rpm the VTEC camshaft profile would kick in
            - approx. 6,600rpm one final uptick in power on the way to a 7,100rpm upshift

            The mods that made this whole symphony of mechanical wonder take centre stage included:
            - Comptech headers (played a big role in the final 500rpm of power increase)
            - Borla XR1 race type muffler used in place of catalytic converter
            - Comptech icebox
            - billet crankshaft pulley

            The combined effect of these mods made the J32A2 (and any J series V6 for that matter) absolute joys to rev out over and over and over and over…..

          • 0 avatar
            JuniperBug

            VTEC’s day is unfortunately over, but I loved the abrupt change in tone and response in both iterations I experienced. One was during a brief trip to redline in first gear in a fifth-gen Prelude, and the other on my ’09 VFR. The bike was particularly satisfying, especially as you crested the 11,000 RPM peak towards the 12k redline (as an aside, it was a different use of VTEC, even if the sensation was similar; on the bike, a second pair of valves came online at 6,800 RPM, instead of a different cam profile). If you’ve never heard that V-4 scream, it really is a delightful sound. What that engine lacked in torque (and at 0-60 in 3.4s and a first gear good to 55 MPH, it wasn’t that much) it made up for in character.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      It’s hard to find a 2015 GTI for under $30k. And just about every Ford dealer in my area has a Fiesta ST for $19.5k. I really can’t see a cross shop with the two cars. Except that the Fiesta ST does has a light zippy feel of older GTI’s. And truth be told the Ford will probably have less problems over 8 year span vs. the GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        alsorl -

        Launch models are generally higher spec, but the vast majority on the ground right now are SEs at around $28-$29k.

      • 0 avatar
        Andrew717

        This. When I was car shopping last year I could find a unicorn more easily than a GTI that wasn’t optioned up all the way.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Last year VW had two ‘runout’ models that were essentially poverty spec or fully loaded. Today it’s still launch models and getting dealers properly stocked. My understanding is that places like CA and NY are short while the midwest is heavy on inventory.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Several S models listed in my area on Autotrader, usually about $2,000 below MSRP. The lowest price is $24,355, with a manual. The cheapest with a DSG is $640 more.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Having driven the new A3, and now owning the new GTI, I think DeadWeight has it exactly right. It is a better A3 by any measure I can imagine. Actually, the A3 interior is kind of bleak and soulless. It definitely could use some plaid covered seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I don’t understand why this wouldn’t be shopped against the Focus, not the Fiesta. Now that Volkswagen has embiggened the Golf/GTI, they should look at bringing the current or next Polo in to compete with the (relatively) smaller hatches like the Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Agreed DW, most of the people I know that drive GTis are young physicians or residents. The Fiesta STs seem to appeal to a different crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      DeadWeight, you don’t unless the price is very similar. Then you could hypothetically get more from the VW. The VW competes with the Focus and maybe some of the lesser uber German-mobiles. The Fiesta, in ST form, competes with no one in the US. THe Fiesta is rawer and has some of the very good dynamics of a really compact car. The GOlf is pseudo-compact (internally probably has more space than most mid sizers of the 70s for example) that just behaves in a different way. Of course the Golf is the better family, practical car and has been used thusly in the ROW for decades. The Fiesta is more a personal thing.

      I think they only compete in the sense that they are sporty. In this way even the Toyobaru twins compete with them. Happily for you, there is a rather good choice for you in that vein the US.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think you are forgetting the 500 Abarth, which most definitely competes directly with the Fiesta ST. The Mini does too. But certainly the GTI and Focus ST are much bigger and much more expensive.

        To some small extent, even the Mustang competes with all of these cars in the “sporty car” field.

        • 0 avatar

          Agreed and good points. Forgot the 500 and mini cause for me they are in a category apart. When I said the Fiesta was alone what I meant is there is no direct competitor in terms of size and mainstream makers. And yes, when I thought of the varied sporty choices in the US, I had exactly the Mustang in mind.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          Besides price. I don’t see the Abarth in a Fiesta ST comparison. Other then The sounds which are pretty awesome. The fiat is more in the boutique Smart car league. Just for the fact I can clean the rear hatch window from the drivers seat with very little difficulty. Abarth/Fiat has its own little group.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @alsorl

            The Fiat has a more usable back seat than the Fiesta, if a bit less luggage room. It is also noticeably roomier in the front seat, the Fiesta is very cramped inside. And at this size car, 3drs are better than 5drs, as the back seat will rarely be used. They are basically the same size car. The Fiesta is longer and lower, the Fiat shorter and taller. I fail to see how a 500 is even remotely in the same class as a Smart. They are not really that small, just the cute and cuddly styling makes them look smaller than they actually are. It is actually kind of shocking how big the 500 actually is when I see it parked in the garage next to my BMW. It’s just short. But unless you are about 10′ tall, you will not be cleaning the back window from the driver’s seat.
            I test drove the Fiesta ST when it came out. It is a great car and would be a better daily driver in some ways, but the Abarth is more entertaining as a toy.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          My uncle in Rhode Island just replaced his Fiat 500 Abarth with a 2015 VW GTI Autobahn. The Fiat’s clutch failed and the dealer didn’t want to fix it. He convinced them to replace it and they ruined the car by cutting the frame to change the clutch. Last time he saw the Fiat it was fully disassembled on shelves in a body shop. The dealer agreed to buy it back.

          • 0 avatar
            alsorl

            You made another great point with the Fiat. My neighbor had a black Abarth right after they came out. She wrecked the front end and it was still drivable. It actually did not look that bad. But with fender, quarter panel, hood, dented and inner fender dented. The car was totaled. She was told if it was a civic it would have cost under $4k for the repair. This was a 10 month old car and the frond end pieces were so out of control in price it was totaled. It’s cute little car. But, it did sound bad ass.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            I am sorry but both of those stories just don’t pass the common sense test. I cannot imagine any certified mechanic cutting a brand new car’s frame to replace a clutch. It isn’t some mid engine exotic, its a pretty simple FWD car, and I am sure the factory service manual has a step by step guide to performing the process. It probably isn’t fun with such a tight engine bay but cutting the frame??? If that really happened then it was probably some rookie mechanics mistake, and the last one he made at that dealership. Going from a Fiat to a VW to save on service costs isn’t the most brilliant plan.

            As for insurance totaling a car with supposed light damage, the damage was probably more serious than it looked. This isn’t uncommon on small FWD cars. It isn’t hard to look up the parts prices on the 500 and see that they are not any more expensive on average than a Honda or Toyota. When my daughter wrecked our Celica it appeared to be light damage as well. The estimated repair was $10k, and they totaled the car. I was going to buy it back for a grand and fix it myself (buddy owns a body shop). Once I priced out the cheapest parts I could find… hood fender quarter panel just like your friend, it came to almost $7k. Frames get bent and need straightening, under the bumper there is a lot of other parts that get bent and broken, etc etc, it adds up fast. Trying to claim that the same accident in a Honda would cost significantly less is just speculation.

            But really in the end, who cares? I would much prefer to have my wrecked car totaled and replaced than drive around in a car with $10k in repairs done to it that will never be right. Who drives around without insurance? As long as collision insurance isn’t sky high for it (which it isn’t, even for my teenage daughter the 500 was relatively cheap to insure) then total away.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You’re right that cutting a frame doesn’t pass the common sense test. It’s like buying a car that needs to have its head removed for carbon removal before the spark plugs are due to be replaced. My uncle’s Fiat is gone though, and that’s the explanation I received via an email from my aunt. It is probable that doing the job right meant dropping the front subframe and doing other masses of disassembly. The frame was instead notched to access a screw. The damage was found by a body shop as the car received rear bumper damage and the body shop said they wouldn’t work on it unless the frame section was replaced. Not sure why they found front frame damage when working on the back, but I guess it was obvious once the car was on a lift.

            Personally, I wouldn’t buy another VW. I’m not my uncle though, and he had a GTI VR6 before he bought the Mini Cooper S that the Abarth replaced. He is quite content spending thousands on service and repairs, judging by the stories I heard of regular windshield replacements the Mini received due to its vertical windshield and him living on a gravel road. My aunt drives a GLI too, so they’re clearly accepting of mechanical problems. He also had a Toyota pickup last time I saw him, so there’s a good chance they have at least one dependable vehicle.

  • avatar

    I like the looks of this. Drop the belt line an inch and I would almost think it is 1999 again. Much better than the chromed Corolla Mk V.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    I’ve had the opportunity to drive several MK7 GTIs over the last two months. All biases aside, it’s an outstanding vehicle. Chris Harris’ comment that the GTI is the ultimate “all rounder, being all things to all people” (paraphrased) is spot on. The GTI does so many things so damned well.

    From speaking with people who have actually driven the cars equipped with the Performance Package they are almost universal in praise for the new front limited slip differential. If you spend a lot of time in the twisties, it really transforms the car. The HP boost won’t be noticed by 99% of the populace, but the differential is worth the price of admission.

    The fact that the biggest complaints in the forums revolve around the slightly disappointing 5.8″ touchscreen (rumored to be replaced next year with a 6.5″ upgrade) is testament to what VW has accomplished with this car.

    My biggest gripe is in packaging: I really don’t need the additional 10hp and brake upgrade, but would really benefit from the adaptive chassis control due to the crap nature of roads in my area. Unfortunately, you must spec the Performance Package ($1495) in order to get the adaptive suspension ($800).

    The GTI has a level of fun and character that the new A3 is missing. VW has succeeded in making the GTI less boyish, more mature and far more fun as well. I don’t think that comparisons to the Focus ST are necessarily warranted because I don’t think VW is interested in chasing that segment of the market here in the US. From the looks of it VW sees an opportunity to expand interest in the Golf range and the new GTI sure as heck should accomplish that.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I second pretty much all of this. I could care less about the extra 10hp, but for Boston-area roads (in summer and winter), I’d dearly appreciate the limited slip and the adaptive suspension.

      • 0 avatar

        Can someone confirm: does the adaptive suspension come with the performance pack? I know this to be the case in Europe, but I rarely if ever see mention of it in North American reviews.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          In order to check the box for the adaptive suspension you must order the Performance Package. $1495 Performance Package + $800 for DCC.

          In either case, these two items are not yet in production. Word has it that they just in the past few days showed up in the ordering system and should be available sometime in Q4 (probably late Q4).

          • 0 avatar

            Okay, then it is much like the larger display that is available on the Euro GTIs and Golfs. Coming, but not here yet.

            I think, especially for Montreal’s roads, I would want to wait until the 2nd year of product and get the DCC.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    Something I might lease but never buy. VW’s problem for me is that this and the Golf R are the only vehicles I have the slightest interest in from their entire lineup. And if I’m going to lease, part of the benefit is getting to turn something in early for another model. If I leased a Scat Pack Challenger, I’d have the Charger/Ram/Durango to chose from when I got bored or my needs changed.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Much as I love them, you could get yourself a BMW or Merc for what the GTI leases for.

      • 0 avatar

        You’ve got that right!

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        You probably just killed my little flirtation with putting a GTI in my garage. Unless you are going to tell me resale value is amazing…

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          GTIs tend to hold their value better than run of the mill VWs do.

          • 0 avatar
            johnny_5.0

            Just read the APR stage 1 thread for these at vwvortex. Now I kinda want one again. A 13.2 @ 110mph would be quick enough for me. Or maybe a stage 1 A3 quattro. I’m already worried about buying one for reliability reasons, and now the internets make me want to tune it too.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        VW leases the GTI cheap all the time… current offer on the 2014:

        “Lease a 2014 GTI 4Dr Wolfsburg Edition with manual transmission for $269*/month including $1,000 Turbocharged bonus. 36-month lease, $2,349 due at signing.”

        Lets see you get a BMW or Merc that cheap at any time ever. And if you wait around for the periodic 0/0/0 lease sales you can get them for around $325/mo IIRC. I was going to lease one when I first shopped for my GTI, and had checked into trading in a couple times on a new one to lease as well during some of the sales. The problem is that resale value sucks enough on them that its still cheaper to buy a used one than to lease new one, especially if you want a loaded up example.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          mnm -

          Well sure, VW is trying to blow out the previous generation GTIs to make way for the MK7.

          No doubt we’ll start seeing better lease deals this time next year, but new car + high demand = little manufacturer support.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            That isn’t a new deal or a new price, as I said I have shopped GTI leases several times over the past few years and recommended a few to friends as well. This is a typical lease price for a GTI. Now it’s true the new ones will be high for a while due to limited supply and increased demand. But once all the fanbois grab up the first wave the deals will roll out.

            And its a stellar car to lease, I may b!tch about VW over the long haul, but for short term ownership I can’t think of anything better for an all around vehicle choice. A sweet lease deal just makes it even better.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’ve heard people say, “I didn’t buy a Volkswagen, I bought a GTI.”

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        My brother has leased all his VWs for good reason. He has the stage 1 APR tune on his Golf R – that ride surprises Camaro’s while whipping around Homestead Motor Speedway (inside “road” course) and has no trouble blasting pass my stock ’03 350Z too (by nearly 5 secs a lap). He says the stock brakes are amazing and the AWD allows you to push as hard as you can all the time. Plus that four door carries his kids to gymnastics during the week. Hard to fault the car: it looks good and is the interior is very nice. With the seats folded down he can even carry an additional set (yep all 4) track wheels.

  • avatar
    mike978

    So Derek – are you still buying the Fiesta? Or did the Golf GTi give you too much pause?

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    So, Fiesta ST as a second car, but if you needed the back seat and had to face a one-car life, the GTI would be it? Or would you like to try a Focus ST and a GTI back-to-back Derek?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If it’s going to be a second car, save some money and buy an Abarth. MUCH more fun, but maybe a bit too raucous for day in and day out commuting. Fiesta ST if you want refined small but you don’t need a back seat, Focus ST or GTI if you do. And the GTI is leagues better in the back. I think the Focus is a tad more fun than the GTI. Not a one of them is a bad choice though, they are all pretty terrific cars. I don’t personally like Subarus very much as I have no use for AWD, but the WRX is a pretty terrific car too. Not much else Japanese in this class, Civic SI seems like an also-ran in this company.

      • 0 avatar

        You and I are of the same mind, except the value issue comes up for me with the Abarth. The most appealing of the Abarth’s is the silly Cabrio (I mean, it is such a ridiculous car you *obviously* need to get the least sensible one) which hits $30k pretty easily (in Canada).

        That scares me away, especially as depreciation on these suckers is going to be baaaaad.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          The price to replace parts is out of control with the abarth. Neighbor had which looked like a minor fender bender. Hood, bumper, quarter panel. Totally drivable. Yet, The car was totaled. She also said the body shop told her it would take months to get parts. The car did sound bad ass. But the tires wore down before 10k miles and for that type of car wreck and it being totalled is an absolutely no deal for me. Stick with a gti or Ford ST auto.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @krhodes – agreed. Recently I saw the Abarth advertised for $18k and change. Probably for the base Abarth, but pretty hard to beat the value there for a second fun car.

        The B&B have debated the Civic Si to death, but I will say that is the only car in this category you can plan to buy and drive for 10-20 yrs without any major or even minor problems. And it will still have some decent resale value at that point.

        The WRX is probably the best performance car at that price though. If you like looks and can deal with the lower gas mileage, not too many downsides with it.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I drove a base MK7 GTI w/ DSG about a month ago back to back with a new WRX. The GTI is a brilliant machine. As a previous MKV GTI owner, it kept all the good stuff (great DD, premium feel) and fixed the bad (no top end, not agile enough). As an adult with a kid, I would see no issues with the GTI being my primary car. It is as happy driving slow as it is being wrung out. It looks classy but still a little aggressive (not idiot boy racer like the STs), interior space is excellent (again, the STs did not impress here… especially the may-as-well-be-a-2-seater FiST), and the car really feels up for anything. It is a jack of all trades car that is darn close to being a master of many. My poor reliability experience with my MKV GTI is the only thing that would give me pause. It sounds like neither the WRX or the FoST/FiST are really showing up for stellar reliability, so may as well roll the dice on the GTI, IMO.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I’ve had my 2015 GTI now for two months, and I can say without hesitation that it’s truly outstanding. Having owned several Audis, I’d also say that this car is an Audi in every respect except for the performance, which is really markedly superior. Of course, it’s a refined car, so Jack might like something a bit hairier, but for me, it’s perfect. I’ve got the stick and no performance pack, so the sticker was around $27,000 for my “S” model. If you can live without the sunroof, it’s the one to buy. The interior and exterior are very good looking, fit and finish is excellent, and the handling and acceleration are more than most people will ever really need. It’s a grownup car, but not short on excitement. I’d say it’s the best car I’ve ever owned.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I’d go with the GTI hands down. The ST may have all the drippings, but it’s too ugly for my garage. Besides I really like VWs.

  • avatar

    I love the way the Mk7 Golf/GTI looks. It’s perfect. However, for some reason I just don’t like the way those looks translated into the Mk7 Golf Variant/SportWagen…which is why I pulled the trigger on my Mk6 SportWagen (which is really a Mk5 under the skin, with a Mk6 Golf front-end).

    And as far as the Fiesta ST vs GTI (because I’ve driven both), I’d have to go with the latter. For me, it’s just a more mature, usable car that still has plenty of fun-factor. But you’re really not a loser in either one.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    My only hesitation is the amount of road noise I’m subjected to at 70-75mph in my Golf V, my hope is that VW has sealed the doors and windows of the VII so that I can hear the whole tune, not just the beat. Based on seeing an SE a couple of days ago, all my other complaints about the V have been addressed. I too prefer the tartan cloth interior to leather or vinyl. A year from now, I’m due for a change, and I’ll look a little closer at the GTI VII.

  • avatar
    tjominy

    GTI is a fantastic reason to marry later in life. It is often referred to as the grown-up entrant in its competitive set, yet my wife has twice stymied its acquisition because I am too old and it was “too punk” for her tastes (we were in our 20s when she first said that). Thankfully I have a couple of boys and in ten years from now a 2015 GTI will be one of the first cars we test drive. Thanks for making me jealous DK.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      Really? My wife and I got married in our 40′s, and my wife and I are now in the vicinity of 60. We test drove a GTI last week, and found it to be too mature and refined for my wife’s tastes, and a bit larger than she wanted too. She really wanted a Fiat 500 Abarth, but I lobbied against it, and she settled on a couple year old low mileage Mini Cooper S with a 6 speed. We never got around to test driving the Fiesta ST, though it was next on our list if she hadn’t liked the Mini.

      • 0 avatar
        tjominy

        I would have thought 15 years of marriage to a car guy would make her think differently, but not so. Cheers to you guys, sounds like you ended up with a great alternative to GTI and one that is on my short list for when my 7YO daughter reaches 16. Yes, I am already that far ahead on her first car shopping list, too.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I think before you commit to shopping for a 10yo VW for your future teenage kids you should take a look at 10yo VWs today and see what crap they are. And yes, I know, I know, THIS generation of VW products is the one they finally fixed all the problems from before. Doesn’t matter that every generation the VW guys say that same thing, this time its for real. VAG has finally turned a corner and now truly cares more about building a quality product that will last 20 yrs instead of just making money on the brand equity.

      Not to mention, a 10yo GTI is going to likely have been beaten within inches of its life by previous young owners, tuned and modded to be stanced and interior painted to death, and will probably have more electrical gremlins than a 70s Jag. Oh, and wait until you see the insurance rates for a 16yo in a GTI.

      Hey but the car will at least be very cheap!

      #FinallySoldMyGTI

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        Backstory please. There’s no end to personal accounts of VW horrors, but since I’m somewhat interested in the ’15 I’d like to hear about whatever went wrong with yours.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          I have no horror stories, my GTI was/is an amazing car. I loved driving it, after almost 5 yrs I never got bored with the performance, it always “felt” fast to me. Handling was excellent, I tracked it a couple times and surprised a lot of supposedly faster cars. I still stand by the statement that the GTI is really the best do-everything car. It is my 4th VW, and 3rd GTI.

          My problem with VW is the long term reliability, or more accurately, durability. The first 3 yrs of owning it were fine, couple of annoyance issues but nothing major. The 4th year is when the wear and tear sets in. And everything on this car is delicate and expensive. Then you go to check the resale value and see how much it drops once the car is 4-5 yrs old, and then another huge drop once it hits 7-8 yrs. Over 100k miles and wow, its hard to even give them away no matter how nice it is.

          I simply didn’t want to hang onto it forever and take the risk of some big repair bills as it aged. The rattles were driving me crazy too. I also didn’t want to spend money on cosmetics and annoyances like the door panels separating, the dash lights flickering, the sunroof motor that didn’t always want to close, random warning lights, etc. Right now it was still worth some decent money (well not if I traded it in but if I found the right buyer which I did finally) so I sold it.

          So if you want a 2015, go for it but I recommend leasing it. If you insist on buying I would say either get rid of it at the 3-4 yr point, or just be OK with the fact that you are keeping it forever and paying for the upkeep. Most everyone I know who loves their VW trades in often enough that they don’t really care so much about the longevity, but most of my cars are older and I hang onto them.

          • 0 avatar
            johnny_5.0

            Thanks a bunch for the feedback. I might need something more practical in the not so distant future, and there is obviously a depressing lack of depth to the options for 4 door fun/performance oriented vehicles unless you want to drop $45k+. I’d prefer to lease, and have no interest in keeping it beyond 3 years either way. I’d probably just do a stage 1 APR and call it a day (and upgrade the clutch if needed if I got a manual).

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            My wife’s GTI will be 10 years old next month. Relatively low mileage, but still 10 years old. Never been at the dealer (or another garage) overnight for repairs. Total spending on repairs (not maintenance) over that time is less than $5000. Only one minor rattle.

            And that’s for a much-maligned Mk4.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @johnny_5.0 – Sounds like you are the perfect candidate for the GTI, especially if you lease. Do you have a Mustang now? That is what I think I am going to replace my GTI with.

            And I had the Revo Stage 2+ on my car, really impressive, I highly recommend doing at least the Stage 1 tune on it. I also highly recommend the LSD, that was always a weak spot with my car, especially in the wet. I can’t say I loved the DSG, it was cool to show off to my techie friends, but in reality I never used it, the Sport mode was brilliant anyway and I just left it in drive all the time. I hated the slow off the line reaction time, and I don’t mean for racing, just simply crossing traffic was annoying because of the varying hesitation. They may have improved that in the newer models, I haven’t tried it. But if had to do it over again I would get a manual. I doubt you will ever have to replace the clutch even with a stage 1 or 2 tune, at least not in 3 yrs.

            @th009 – We have previously commented back and forth on your wife’s magical GTI, and I am glad to hear it is still going strong without issue. As I have said, they are not ALL bad, and it really is an enjoyable car. My Mk4 only had 1 problem in 4 yrs, but it did leave me stranded, and it was a lease so I didn’t keep it after the lease was up. I think you can even admit that your experience is the exception rather than the norm though, and $5k in repairs isn’t chump change. For comparison, my 12yo Honda with over 200k has less than $4000 in repairs AND maintenance in its lifetime. And $1k of that was around the 200k mark when the shocks/struts/ball joints were replaced and some oil leaks repaired.

          • 0 avatar
            johnny_5.0

            @mnm4ever

            Yep, I’ve got a ’13 GT premium with Brembo package and 3.73 gears. The wife likes the ’15 Mustang and had previously approved the swap to the new model. I bought the Mustang vs. leasing because they are easy to get for dealer invoice so I’m not upside down if I want/need to switch. It isn’t remotely refined and road noise is pretty bad, but I wouldn’t expect any mechanical/electrical issues…just preventative maintenance and lots of tires. They are a blast to drive, and I only have a few quibbles. Sync mostly works well, but in the build for the current Mustangs it won’t remember you were connected via Bluetooth last so you have to re-select it every damn time. The stock shifter bracket has a ton of slop. Other than small changes like those, the big fixes have already been made in the ’15 (e.g. interior). A ’15 GT premium performance pack car should be a pretty phenomenal value for dealer invoice. I may end up in a GTI, or a ’15 Mustang, or a ’15 Scat Pack Challenger, or who knows maybe a boring full size truck. But I’m definitely going to go drive the GTI and WRX in the next few months so I can start narrowing down my choices. And thanks for the feedback on the DSG. I haven’t really researched if the clutch on the manual can take the torque of the tuned EA888 (APR is claiming a crazy 367 lb-ft on 93 octane), but I like manuals and your attitude toward the DSG seems fairly common.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            @mnm4ever, not sure if it’s the norm or the exception (my in-laws also have a 2001 Jetta …), both the good and bad experiences are all just anecdotal evidence.

            Not sure whether the actual repairs are $4900 or $2900. I guess I should dig up the repair invoices and add them up. The car has had an engine sensor (or two?) fail, a front wheel bearing, some exhaust repairs, a new antenna cable and replacement hatchback struts. Those don’t add up to $5000 though, so either I’m forgetting a lot, or my $5000 is overestimated. Either way, I’ll blame it on my age!

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Funny how you and I seem to have the exact same taste in cars! My wife has also approved the 2015 Mustang purchase, so I am now just waiting to see them in person to make a final decision. But the blowout deals on the 2014s are really tempting, I found 2 Track Pack and Recaro equipped GTs for about $32k and that was before negotiating. But I really like the idea of an upgraded interior of the 2015. Coming from my GTI I do prefer a little nicer interior than the current Mustang. But I am also very tempted by the Skat Pack Challenger, and even the upcoming 2016 Camaro is tempting me since it is supposed to be much lighter, and then I read about the 2016 GT 350 and I thought maybe I need to wait for that… and if I do then in the meantime I should get a truck because we could use one with the hobbies and home improvement projects we are tackling lately. Except for the truck my wife really likes Toyotas and they are discounting the Tacomas right now so I might go with one of those, then it will be HER car and not count against my previously approved car budget! LOL

            Regardling leasing the Mustang, Ford never offers any good lease deals on the GT, so it isn’t a good car to lease. Between the huge discounts and special interest financing, you can buy them smart and they hold a ton of resale value so you rarely end up upside down. Even the older 2005-2010 GTs are selling in the mid-high teens, jumping to the Coyote models puts the price in the 20s. Plus they are usually pretty solidly reliable, and when they do break its usually cheap to fix or upgrade, unlike a VW.

            Good luck in your shopping. I am not sure if you are going to see much of a difference in road noise or ride with the GTI or WRX. My GTI is kind of loud, my buddy’s WRX is too, firm ride on both as well. A non track pack Mustang is pretty smooth riding from what I remember. And being used to having over 400hp might skew your opinion on the performance of either car. My car feels fast, but I got spanked by a V6 Mustang… twice.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @th – I track all my car expenses, I use this great app on Android for it, I love being able to search and filter and see how much everything is costing me. Over nearly 5 yrs my GTI cost me about $3500 in maintenance, would have been a little higher had I not done a lot of the work myself. But in at-cost repairs I am out for only like $500 or so. I had some repairs done under warranty that would have been expensive but nothing bad since it ended. But I also did that work myself which saved a ton over the dealer cost. At the dealer my repairs would have been about $1500. There were also a few upcoming repairs I avoided by selling, but as I said before I have no horror stories. I have stated many times, the extra expense of owning a VW tends to come later in its life, if you don’t keep it long or stay under the 100k mark you are probably fine with one, annoyances like rattles aside.

            $3500 in maintenance is once again not chump change though. My Civic will cost me perhaps $150/yr in maintenance over the lease period. My ancient CRV is about the same with normal maintenance items, its had a lot of little things break the last year… lock actuators, leaks, bushings, etc. Over 5 yrs for either of those cars I will have to do brakes and tires, which will be cheaper than the GTI but that’s expected. The big difference comes if something big breaks. Parts are usually pretty expensive for the VW. The other problem with European cars in general is electrical gremlins. Every VW I have owned has had random warning lights come and go, weird things happen with the electrical components that can’t be duplicated at the dealer but happen often enough to cause concern. That’s why I didn’t take the long term risk, I didn’t want to be that guy with the 10yo German car with 3 lights on the dash, an ABS module needing replacement, and window motors that worked occasionally, but the car was “flawless”. How many times have you seen used cars like that for sale? How many of them are Japanese?

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Let me give my version of mnm4ever’s response.

        I’d never give my kids a 10 year old anycar; Honda, Toyota, BMW, name it. I think the urban myth of current VW and unreliability is getting old. In Europe, Golf is almost always the largest-selling model, and in many police departments it’s the cruiser of choice there. Are they getting better quality cars or do they put aside more money to fix their cars. I have a good friend here with an eight-year-old Rabbit who’s trading in for a MK VII very soon, having had no problems with current car.

        The insurance issue for kids is nuts. Companies will tack on additional premium cost for GTI, if it’s a two-door instead of four-door, still more premium( even for two-door Hondas).

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          All of my kids started out in older used cars, I don’t have a problem with that at all. What I am saying is to go shop for actual 10yo VW products and see how most everything is in terrible condition. They simply do not age very well in most cases. I am sure your good friend loves her 8yo Rabbit, though I call BS on having NO problems. No chance it hasn’t had a problem in 8 yrs, but the problems were probably minor or not expensive and therefore they didn’t mind very much. And the whole “Europeans drive them and love them so therefore they are truly reliable” argument is getting old too. The Golf has always been one of the best selling cars is Europe, that doesn’t mean anything when the American VWs from the 90s were disintegrating. Clearly they have different priorities over there than we do. Its no urban myth, its simple math… check the resale value of a 2007 Rabbit compared to a 2007 Civic, both with over 100k miles. Try to advertise one for the book value and then see which one sells in minutes rather than weeks.

          Insurance is nuts for teens, but its worse with performance cars that are popular with teenagers, like older GTIs. In my experience the 2dr-4dr thing isn’t really much of a factor, its the claims history for a certain car. Insurance companies have the internet too, the days of fooling them by buying a 4dr performance car are long gone. They know the difference between a Civic EX and Si just like they know that a 4dr GTI is no slower than a 2dr. And all our Civics have been cheaper to insure than the GTI, so was our Celica. I think part of it is that the GTI is an expensive car to repair.

  • avatar
    hazmat

    Looks pretty brilliant with VW reliability being the only question mark. As noted above, reliability isn’t the recent calling card of Ford either, so there you go for the segment.

    I think it telling that the cited “rival” for this sophisticated and mature GTI is the Fiesta ST, which is MUCH less expensive and a no-holds barred boy racer. It’s a comparison that speaks well of BOTH cars.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    30K for a Golf vs 20K for a Fiesta ST, and 10K to buy another vehicle hmmm. I.e. you could have a Fiesta ST and like an old E class or something when you want something mature. Or a Fiesta ST for the daily grind and an old Miata or something for the canyons or track. Thats a really good deal. I’d go with the Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      But if you need the rear seat space to carry people the Fiesta might not be the greatest call.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I have similar sentiments regarding a base Golf vs. the GTI. Great as the GTI surely is, having the base version of the same car plus a dedicated fun car for similar money is a tough alternative to ignore. A pretty good no-holds-barred Miata can be bought/built for that $10k difference, and will be a better driver’s car than the GTI. The base Golf will be just as practical, and possibly more comfortable on its softer suspension, than the GTI. And you get the bonus of having two cars, which means you cry a lot less if you ball one up at the track, and less worry about what the wife thinks about the car you drive to work in (assuming you’re the type who lets his wife decide what he drives).

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Derek

    a question. I might have missed it in your review, but what about the turbo lag. I test drove the cat last year and was really put off by the sudden aggressive jerking every time I was leaving a stop sign. Did you get any feeling of improvement here?
    Plus…doesn’t it seem a tad wrong to compare the Fiesta to this car? The Fiesta is really a category lower.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    No brown or light grey interior is the only reason I wouldn’t buy it. Unfortunately a pleasant interior is near the top of my must haves.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      “pleasant” is in the eye of the beholder… personally I cant stand beige or light grey interiors, they age terribly and don’t look sporty to me. I greatly prefer black or charcoal and a lot of cars simply don’t offer black or only offer it with some colors.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If only Audi had made the new A3 as a hatch and put a manual in it, I’d still be singing Audi’s praise. Oh well, saved some money with the Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      They do, they just don’t sell it in the US. Thank you fellow Americans and their undying love for the 3-box sedan…

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      On the other hand, why waste money on the A3 hatch, when GTI is basically the same thing? Most people seem to agree. For every A3 I see about 10-15 GTIs of the same generation on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Or even a Golf R. With how good the GTI is, I don’t see a compelling reason to buy a Golf based Audi. The Audi gives you the same boring styling they’ve had for 10 years, an interior lacking fun, and you get to pay more for it. GTI or Golf R (if you need AWD) every day of the week over the Audi equivalent, IMO.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    I’m obviously biased, but why not compare apples to apples… the GTI and the FOCUS ST? Same size(ish) similar HP / Torque, etc etc. Everyone is going nuts over the Fiesta, I simply don’t see the appeal. It’s ugly (not that the Focus comes close to touch the GTI in the looks department), and that interior is dreadful. That IP makes me want to punch kittens (again, not that life is substantially better in the Focus).

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I see the appeal, but I agree the comparison is a little off and the two will rarely be cross shopped. A big part of the appeal of the GTI is that it is a fun daily driver that also happens to swallow car seats and is generally practical. I’d love to hoon a Fiesta ST on a track, but it’s just too small to be a ‘does everything well’ option. Ford needs to work on the usable interior space in several of their models. And agreed on the interiors. The GTI looks upscale enough that you might wonder why you’d bother with an A3. The Fiesta/Focus interiors don’t do the same.

    • 0 avatar

      Because the Focus ST is, IMO, less fun to drive than either of the two.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        I’ve read that the Fiesta is more fun to drive by a small margin on smooth roads but that due to the compact nature of the car it is more prone to jounce on anything other than a marble smooth surface. The Focus ST, IMO, is very livable as a daily driver

        Derek, I’ve not driven the Fiesta but I’m keen to know your thoughts on every day drivability compared to the Focus / GTI.

        @Johnny5.0 the guys at Ford need to speak to the guys (using the term euphemistically) at Mazda in terms of maximizing interior space and general IP aesthetics.

        • 0 avatar

          Timothy,

          I find the Fiesta is a lot more fun to drive. It feels lighter on its feet, more responsive and nimble. I don’t see the case for buying a Focus ST over the Fiesta or the GTI, but I if you have to carry kids in child seats/need more cargo room, I understand the appeal.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Interesting – I liked it better as a driver than the new GTI. It just seemed more fun, and I can’t really describe the difference better than that.

        I have a good friend who is car shopping and has NO real idea what he wants, other than something “nice”. He’s a 45yo DBA, typical single urbanite apartment dweller. Not a keen driver, but wants something fun, this will be possibly his first new car though he is looking at CPO BMWs as he loves mine. $35K budget. So I have been making the rounds with him – an excuse to drive a whole bunch of new stuff. It’s pretty much down to a new Golf, or a CPO BMW wagon. Problem is, there are only GTIs out there right now, and while he loved it, his practical side is telling him the standard Golf would be a better fit for him. I don’t disagree, but the dealers can’t even tell him when they are coming.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Ford’s instrument panels, like its exteriors, stayed too long in the styling department. The Focus and Escape have so many sharp angles that I’d be afraid to wax them by hand. You might cut off a finger! Meanwhile, the dash styling dept. met its downfall when they discovered Photoshop’s “Skew” control, and just couldn’t help themselves.

      In a stressful, noisy world, I just don’t need my own car shouting. “Look at me!” at me, every day.

    • 0 avatar
      njmx

      I cross-shopped all of the above (GTI, FoST, FiST) because I adore hot hatches and I always need at least one in my garage. It bugs me when people say these are all in different classes. They are all hot hatches within a few thousand bucks of each other. That’s pretty much the same damn class as far as I am concerned. Some have a little more space I guess… whatever.

      I chose the FiST because it was simply the most fun. I get it that some people see the GTI as more “classy” but to me that’s a bit like saying a Five Guys burger is classier than a Big Mac. While that may be true I’m not going to try to impress a lady friend by taking her out for either one. Ditto with the GTI. It’s still a hot hatch and won’t really impress anyone. But hey, that’s why I love em ;) Get the plaid seats and drive it like you mean it!

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    I haven’t been following the EA888 engine, but it looks like it has some serious potential .

    http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?7007337-2015-GTI-APR-Tune-Released-Umm&p=85943446&viewfull=1#post85943446

    80hp and 100lb-ft from just a tune is pretty impressive out of 2 liters.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m not sure what it is, but I really don’t like the looks of today’s hatchbacks (my Leaf included), with a few exceptions such as the Kia Rio, Mazda 2, and Fiat 500.

    And being a VW, well, I just can’t do that again.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Curious,
    How does a BMW 320i with the M performance pack stand up as a rationale alternative to these cars (GTI, ST, etc).

    Also, anyone know if the 320i motor is simply detuned via software or is it actually running different hardware (smaller turbo, different internals).

    I just think the 320i in many ways might be the ticket here.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Most of the internals are the same as the 328. The pistons are slightly different, but overall tuning potential looked to be similar from my brief look around last year. So you’d get RWD, but you’d lose the hatch. The 320 also costs another 6 grand which is a large gap at this price range, though BMW usually has very good lease rates. If what I read today is accurate for the ’15 GTI tunes though, the VW has a lot more potential than the N20 in the BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      There was a long discussion thread about BMW 320i motor. Yes supposedly, it’s basically 328i motor with a different ECU. Most parts are the same. The 320i does seem like a far more expensive proposition. A GTI with a manual transmission and basic options will probably cost $25-26 grand. A 320i with sport package, manual shifter and nothing more will cost 10 grand more, and you still need to buy the tune (which also voids the warranty). Overall BMW 3 is a heavier car, and in a different class. A better comparison would be with the 228i.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    My wife and myself both own VW GTI MKVI. I am 78 & my wife is 74 years old. My wife’s is a 4 door with DSG & mine is a 2 door DSG. Both are great cars. My wife has about 40,000 and i have a little over 30,00. My wife has more mileage because i use my Miata on the weekend. Both cars have been bullet proof. My mileage is about 26-27 MPG. Have owned many VW’s over the years but the GTI has always been my first pick. My buddy has a Subaru WRX a few years ago but my god was that car cheap on the interior. After about 7 years with that car the repairs started to eat him alive and he pulled the plug. He has a Mazda 3 now but he is getting the Itch again and might look at the GTI next.

  • avatar
    HungryHill

    I’m in the market to replace my current car and this GTI checked all the boxes- great handling, decent MPG, some balls, rear seat room for adults and a decent level of refinement. I read all the reviews and visited my local VW dealership a few weeks ago for a test drive. My overall impression- not good, boarding on garbage. This car is relatively slow and lacks power. Turbo lag is evident too. I’m not sure what most people are coming from, but this car is a dog. The hatch space is very small but the back seats are fairly spacious. The interior is decent for a 30k car but certainly not what I’m looking for. I was very disappointed because on paper the GTI was everything I thought I wanted. Maybe I’m getting too old and my expectations are advancing with my age. Having said all of this, I’m breathlessly awaiting the arrival of the new Golf R.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Was your test drive of a manual or DSG? I tested the outgoing GTI back to back with the two transmissions and found the manual delightful and the DSG hateful. The manual had plenty of power all over the tach, but the DSG stepped off the line slower than a 1.5-liter Yaris and was really hesitant to downshift. Driven aggressively and the DSG snapped off nice quick shifts and kept the car hurtling forward, but in everyday situations it was balky and slow.

      The salesman said the computer learns your driving habits and programs shift behavior accordingly. Haven’t looked to verify this, but I would certainly hope so.

      Is that a Lexus IS instrument panel in your avatar?

      • 0 avatar
        HungryHill

        Yup- DSG
        You’re right about the manual. I test drove a GLI last year and did find it much more engaging. I drive 35k a year in Massachusetts traffic, so unfortunately a stick isn’t an option.
        Yup- IS350

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          Thanks for the test drive feedback. There’s similar complaints about the DSG dawdling in normal traffic all over the internet. They should actually put up numbers very similar to an IS350 and both trap right around 100mph. The IS350 is quick, but part of the reason it feels so fast is that 4.08 rear (former owner).

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Coming from a big V6 hooked to a proper automatic transmission, I can see why the DSG GTI felt so slow.

          The DSG seems like a track day transmission only, where your foot is always in it and the engine is always running high in the boost. Let it slip below 2000rpm and you have to expend way to much effort to get it to shift back into the power band. Around town I just couldn’t live with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        You guys know that you can switch gears manually with the DSG, right? Just downshift yourself, sheesh…

        • 0 avatar
          moorewr

          Down with this sort of thing.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I shouldn’t have to manually toggle an electronic shift paddle because the transmission programming on a sports hatch is too stupid to understand that moderate throttle input = downshift. When a Camry 4cylinder has a far more responsive and predictable automatic transmission than a German hot hatch, that’s a problem for me.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Maybe the upcoming MINI 5-door is for you? The F56 MINI Hardtop is awesome. Great engine, amazing fuel-economy and can be ordered to-spec, with nothing stripped out (unlike VW’s extremely restrictive packaging). The only disadvantage is rear seat room, but the 5-door addresses that limitation for you.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I will definitely agree that the DSG “off the line” at slow speeds is annoying, no doubt. It took me a while to get used to it and even after 4 yrs I still had times I didn’t use the throttle exactly right when leaving a stoplight and I’d get the hesitation and jumpiness. But that was it, once the transmission engages first gear its engaged, and it shifts brilliantly at low speeds or high speeds. If I want to go fast, just floor it and the DSG will hold the gears right up to redline, slightly less throttle and its is fuel sipper mode. Slip it over into Sport mode and everything changes, the gears are held to redline at lower RPMs as well, the DSG downshifts aggressively, even rev matching perfectly. You will sound like a douchebag driving around in Sport mode with all the revving, but on a fast curvy road its tremendous fun. Sure you can shift it yourself but there really is no need. Even when I went to a track day, my instructor drove my car in Sport and Manual mode and agreed, Sport mode is smarter than most drivers and faster too. The DSG equipped cars are faster than manuals too, by a half second or so across the board. As far as calling it a dog I think you are crazy, this car feels real quick everywhere.

      The DSG won’t creep like a traditional auto, and since you are used to a Lexus auto its never going to feel the same. Its a manual inside the case, just with a computer engaging the clutch for you. After you get used to it you can avoid the jerkiness at starts and it feels fine, actually way better because there is no torque converter. I drive in traffic sometimes too, I don’t have a problem with it. And shifting it yourself doesn’t change the take off behavior, its always there. But if I were to do it over again I would get a manual, its just more engaging and enjoyable in this car.

  • avatar
    Chris from Cali

    Why is no one discussing the fact that the GTI and Golf R are now Mexican-built? I was very excited about the Mk7 until I read that ALL Golfs (including the GTI and R) will be built in Mexico. Considering most of the horror stories you hear about with VW involve Mexican cars, this is a bad thing.

    I ended up buying another Mk6 Golf R.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I like the GTi, think it is a pretty great car, however my neighbor’s daughter has an Audi A3 hatchback which I assume is the Audi version of the GTi. Why doesn’t Audi sell this car here, that would be a nice car to have, a little more upscale version of the GTi.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My only disappointment is that it appears for now, the 5-door in Canada comes standard with the Autobahn package, meaning it’s effectively a 5-grand difference between that at the 3-door model.

    I mean, the MkVII GTI is nice and all, but especially now that the base Golf is also running a boosted engine, I’m not sure it’s $12,000 nicer than your cheapest Golf.

    • 0 avatar

      And a Focus ST is $34k. I understand the product planning rationale for this, but sheesh, these things are pricey for a guy like me.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Believe me, I know – I’m only a couple years older than you. At least with the Focus, there’s the Fiesta to slot in under it, but I can’t see VW of North America being that interested in making a case to bring the Polo over as long as they keep selling a healthy amount of 2.0 Jettas.

        Of course, my budget realistically has me in a left-over Mazda2 with my foot to the floor at all times.

  • avatar
    beanbear

    With the actual inventory out there and how the options tend to be packaged, the Fiesta ST isn’t “much” cheaper than the GTI (assuming the Recaro’s and the plaid cloth are the respective “must haves”). In the New York area, it’s basically a ~$1k-1.5k difference since the Recaro’d FiST’s usually have moonroof and/or nav, and the GTI “S” will be mostly un-optioned.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    This article inspired me to check out the GTIs in stock at my local VW dealer as I drove past tonight. Two tidbits I noticed:

    1) Of the 6 GTIs on the lot, the one manual car had a Mexican engine. The DSG cars had German engines. This was the first manual MKVII I’ve seen.

    2) Although the 2-door GTI won’t be available until later this year, the dealer had a MKVII 2-door 1.8T already. I checked the VIN – it’s a Mexico car. I wonder why the 2-door version of the base Golf was given priority over the GTI down at the factory.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Sadly, for something that’s described as a pocket “rocket” and a “hot” hatch, the GTI always looked very very pedestrian, to a fault, and this generation is not exception. Just compare it to say a Focus ST. Not just front, but also sides and rear. The GTI basically looks like an automotive toaster, even though the word toaster is normally reserved for a certain Japanese auto brand. The GTI is basically a geek car. The geek could respond: “Yes it looks like a toaster and a certain Golf that competes with a Corolla brand toasters, but this one not only washes your dishes, picks up kids, and delivers groceries, but it can also compete in autocross..”

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That’s OK, not everyone wants juvenile styling gimmicks on their car. For those of us who like to arrive with some dignity, a bright blue WRX with a big wing on the back doesn’t appeal. As for me, I wouldn’t mind going even more pedestrian. I like the reserved looks and linear proportions of the GLI even more than the GTI.

      Still trying to figure out what you mean by ‘geek car’…

  • avatar
    ijbrekke

    Drove one of these in the past week…for my preference it’s a gem. Fun when you want it to be, completely composed just cruising quietly. Obviously they could have made it more wild and fun, but it would have sacrificed the composed side of the car. As it is it strikes a beautiful balance.

    A couple of annoyances that would make me hesitate:

    -The artificial engine noise in “sport” mode is comical at best. I would need to immediately disable this “feature” to drive it daily.

    -The hatch space is a little smaller than I was hoping for. There’s more window on this car than a lot of modern hatches (especially the back), but I think it may sacrifice some of the clever ways manufacturers are getting more trunk space out of their small designs. The Mazda3, for example, has a very small and slanted rear hatch that is bad for visibility but great for the floor length of the rear compartment. It’s almost exactly the same size as my current car, a Protege5.

    -I’ve never owned a german car. The reliability horror stories are seemingly endless.

    I’ll probably wait a year on these at least to see how the initial models shake out, but it they get even average reliability I’ll be sorely tempted to buy one.


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