By on May 7, 2015

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Yesterday, I traded the most hysterically fun car I have ever owned, a 2008 Honda S2000, for a new 2015 Volkswagen GTI 6-speed manual.

Allow me to explain.

I bought my S2000 two years ago while living in San Diego. It was the perfect car at the perfect place and time. I don’t think I ever drove it with the top up, whether cruising the coast highway or screaming up and down Mt. Palomar. I loved it. Then last fall I took early retirement, thus losing my company car, and moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Once the S2000 became my daily driver, it began to kick my ass. I am getting too old, and am way too tall, to be folding myself in and out of the car numerous times a day. Tucson has perhaps the worst roads in the west and it literally hurt to hit the potholes in the rough riding Honda. My wife and I also wanted something roomy and economical to use on road trips instead of our large SUV. The only car that came to mind that was also fun to drive was the GTI, recent winner of numerous buff book awards. Other “hot hatches” like the Fiesta ST do nothing for me – so GTI it was.

Choosing the GTI was easy; buying it was a challenge due to the infuriating, nonsensical combinations of options and models on the car. (My dealer would later confirm it is as frustrating to them as it is to the consumer). I wanted the $24,785 base model due in part to its cool Clark Plaid cloth seats. I also wanted the $1,495 Performance Package that bumps horsepower up by 10 to 220 and includes upgraded brakes and differential. The MSRP on that combo would be $26,280 but there were none to be found. Most GTIs available had additional options or were the SE model with leather, a sunroof and better sound system and were priced from $29,000 to over $31,000. If you want Navigation, your only choice is to buy the Autobahn model with a base MSRP of $30,045 and is only available as a 4-door. I ended up searching for the admittedly well-equipped base 2-door S model in white, the Official Car Color of the State of Arizona.

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You can order a VW to your exact specs and color but you will wait 6 months for delivery.

I posted the S2000 briefly on Craigslist and discovered when you’re selling a specialty car on this site, most folks that respond are dreamers, schemers, scammers and credit criminals. I could have spent a few hundred dollars and listed the Honda on cars.com or autotrader.com and profited a little more than trade-in value from an out-of-state buyer, but that would be after dealing with inspectors, shippers, etc. I was not in the mood.

In Tucson you have the choice of a friendly, local, family-owned Volkswagen store or one owned by a notorious megadealer group from up north. I chose the former but I did respond to an email from the latter that they send to all Craigslist sellers and told them I was in the game for a GTI. They characteristically did not respond.

The preferred retailer had the car I wanted on their lot. A test drive confirmed all the hype: the GTI is zippy, has a cockpit worthy of an Audi, and is a riot to drive. When the store offered a nice discount on the GTI and a trade-in value combined with tax savings that was within $1,900 of what I paid for the Honda in 2013, the deal was done. The transaction was quick and easy, maybe the best car buying experience I’ve ever enjoyed. To their credit, Volkswagen dealers did score above average in the 2014 J. D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index.

This GTI will now be a TTAC long-term test car. We will do some comparos with other vehicles in its category. We will try to obtain a GTI with the Performance Package to find out what I am missing. Most of all, we will find out what the VW is like to live with over the course of a year. The first report will be after a 2,500 mile round-trip run to Yellowstone National Park in a few weeks.

After one day of ownership (and thus I am still under the influence of the New Car Ether) my first impression can be summed up thusly: the Volkswagen GTI is a ton of fun and a terrific value for $25,000. Let’s see how it performs down the road…

Photos by Oscar Alvarado of Chapman Volkswagen.

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154 Comments on “Sayonara S2K, Guten Tag GTI...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A heretic is among us.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      So you were expecting him to go get the brown, manual, diesel wagon. Tsk tsk tsk.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        No, I expected him to keep the S2K because of how awesome they are! I haven’t read the article yet, I had to run to a meeting right away.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Lynch

        If VW made a wagon with the GTI motor and stuff, I would have bought it. Even in brown!

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I’ve long said that many sins would be forgiven if that configuration showed up. I really did enjoy the 2015 GTI that I test drove back in the summer. It took everything I loved about my 07 and made it better.

          I do hear you about crawling out of a low slung car, though. I am a 32 year old that is in pretty good shape and I’m not tall, but crawling in and out of my FR-S does get a little annoying at times. That said, the driving position is worth it once I get in there.

          • 0 avatar
            dgcamero

            Everything about the MK7 is better except to get a sunroof, you have to get *BLACK* leather (it’s a VW, not a Silverado, the A/C system is not powerful enough for black leather in NC)! And they took the Climatic out even though they still list it as standard, and they took the windshield mounted cell-phone cooling vent out (not a dealbreaker, but it was nice)…also not thrilled about the mandatory minimum 18’s with the performance pack…I’ll keep my MK5 for longer.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Damn near threw my back out just casually dropping into an FR-S at the auto show this year!

            A ‘Vette or ‘Stang would be easier on me!

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            What is a windshield mounted cell-phone cooling vent?

          • 0 avatar
            dgcamero

            The MK5 Jetta, Rabbit, and GTI had a vent on top of the dashboard for indirect ventilation. It basically blew air onto the roof between the front seats, but I would mount my phone in a windshield suction cup mount right above it, and open the vent slightly to keep the phone from overheating while being my GPS and Pandora player in sunny 100 degree weather.

        • 0 avatar
          cpthaddock

          … then there’s summer in AZ in a small convertible. That’s when the roof stays up and I know from my own experience how unsatisfying that becomes over time.

          Congratulations, Steve!

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          @Steve Lynch

          Ask and thou shall receive:

          http://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/2015-volkswagen-golf-r-line-wagon-review-30980#.VUyZfZOGfAg

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Ooooo always go with the mechanical diff. Always.

    No need to explain why you sold the S2K. Unless the bulk of your driving is on perfect roads, in perfect traffic free conditions, a sports car just doesn’t make sense. Hell, my previous commute was just that and I still sold my Z. Performance no longer has to come with a penalty of comfort and usability. Sports cars will come back when cars like the Ariel Atom can be federalized.

    Anyways congrats on the new purchase and definitely keep us posted.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Yes and yes. This one actually mitigates torque street as well. That said I have no idea how noticeable it would be on his local drive.

      To the author, if you are in Tucson show us some mt lemon action.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Lynch

        I did not even think about torque steer, probably due to it being 17 years since my last FWD car. I have noticed zero TS on the GTI so far!

        Wrote about the S2K on Mt Lemmon in the Acura piece a couple weeks ago and will do same with GTI and some competitors.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup. My 12 TDi has lots of torque but no steer…prior FWD cars, GTi included, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      All I want is a front driver with a mechanical LSD.

      But for snow, not for putting power down out of a corner. Combined with winter rubber, I believe a it would negate any need for AWD in a car, driven mostly on paved snow covered roads.

      (Fun fact, Quaiffe makes an LSD for the F40 transmission, only $1500!! Their website lists it as for Saab and Pontiac G6 though…)

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        For snow, you’d want a clutch-type rather than a Torsen. The can of gears does nothing if both wheels are slipping.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Can you explain why the gear type doesnt work in a low/no traction situation? I’m not well versed on the internals.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            The Torsen has a torque ratio typically 2.5 to 4 to 1. If a wheel spins, the other gets no torque just like an open diff. If there is a bit of traction at the slipping wheel, the amount of torque it can deliver to the wheel that has traction is about 3 times the slipping wheel torque. So, it’s meh for winter traction.

            The VW PP has an electromagnetic clutch that they have patented, and is pretty clever. It can lock the two front wheels together and yes, I think it would be all I need here in Halifax.

            The trouble is in Canada, VW will only sell you the PP diff on the Autobahn model. It is not available as a standalone option as in the US. So you’re well over $35 grand, a bit less for a two door if you can find one.

            If Honda sold that Accord V6 Coupe with a decent locking front diff, I’d have had one before Baruth bought his. That Honda V6 and manual is two classes up from a GTI in driving pleasure and the car actually has a bit of room.

          • 0 avatar
            Frownsworth

            Well I see what needed to be said about the Torsen has already been said. However, there are two important points missing for your purposes:

            1) All modern vehicles have some form of stability control which will complement the Torsen diff by braking the faster moving wheel during a slip, which in effect, adds traction to the slipping wheel. This torque applied by the brake is multiplied and allows the Torsen to put down whatever bias ratio times that braking torque to the other wheel, motivated by the engine input. SO, it means although in the old days before traction control, if you lift a wheel completely across a Torsen diff, it means it behaves much like an open diff and no force is laid down by the other wheel, it is no longer true. You can also do the brake trick where you apply the brakes while varying the throttle to accomplish essentially the same thing as the traction control.

            2) Many Torsen differentials feature pre-load, or even variable pre-load like the WaveTrac diffs. With a pre-load or rotational-difference-varying-pre-load (WaveTrac), there is always a minimum torque the differential (Torsen) will send to the wheel with the least traction, regardless of the situation at the other wheel. With these pre-loaded differentials, you can adjust the pre-load, and the behavior of the variable pre-load by changing a few internal plates to suit your needs. But because the load is carried most of the time by the gears and not the pre-load surfaces (depending on design, they are clutch-like), the diff doesn’t require any fluid or clutch maintenance for street use.

            I’ll conclude by saying that I have been using a Peloquin torsen differential on my FWD for two winters now in deep snow country. Previously I had just an open diff, on the same vehicle. I can tell you that without a doubt, the traction is significantly more than before and the traction control helps the Torsen when one wheel slips. I haven’t gotten stuck yet in the last two winters through 1 foot of snow and slush in some places with a daily driver FWD + Torsen + winter tires. Before the Torsen, I have gotten stuck a few times. I wasn’t the only one in my neighbourhood with a Torsen FWD. One of our previous neighbours had a CIvic Si which has this same setup, before I got my Torsen, I watched his Civic Si plow through thick snow winter after winter while other sedans got stuck. Guess where I got my idea of a Torsen ?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          If both wheels are slipping, then any LSD is going to cause them both to spin. That’s when traction control has to kick in to manage torque to close the speeds between the spinning wheels and the non-driven axle.

          I don’t think your understanding of the Torsen is correct. If one wheel spins, the other wheel will be turned at whatever relative speed is dictated by the ratios used in the worm and planet gears. One wheel cannot be still while the other spins.

          http://www.awdwiki.com/images/torsen-differential-operating-principle.jpg

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Another testimonial as to why sports car sales are in the tank.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    Listing on autotrader costs $25, no one would’ve cared if it was inspected and you would’ve sold it in 1-5 days.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    They don’t have beater Accords (or whatever) in AZ to use as daily drivers?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Not everyone has the space or inclination to keep an additional car.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This sounds great in theory, but very few people actually make good on the multi car promise. In practice you wind up in the car that’s most convenient/enjoyable for the bulk of driving you do.

      I just experienced this this year. I kept my Z for a while after I bought my Civic EX and I pretty much never drove the Z. It was just a pain to commute in and live with, even though in theory I did have kind of a perfect commute for it (~15 miles of surface roads/highways and then 20 miles of sweeping biways). The RWD and HP were fun but I don’t miss either too bad… I will be just as satisfied with suspension/brakes/tires and really mild sound making bolt ons on the Civic. Heck, out of the box the Civic is a lot of fun.

      The way I see it if you have a sports car you have to track it regularly or live on a mountain or something to really enjoy it. If the bulk of your driving is just tooling around in traffic, in my experience an all-around performance car with luxury features will be more enjoyable overall than a loud, hard riding, cramped, torqueless pure sports car.

      Not to mention not everyone has or wants to dedicate the space for a car they will hardly ever drive. I just bought my first house after living in apartments for nearly a decade… I like having an empty garage I can do woodwork or oil changes or whatever in. But not everyone has that luxury.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Here I am replying to you again. Going through the same thing myself right now. I just moved to a driver’s paradise in Westchester ny and I still take the wagon out 90% of the time. The e30 gets about two or three drives a week, but I expected it to be my everyday drive when I left the city.

        No regrets, I think it says more about how fun an improved family car is these days. Pretty much any c segment car that’s not a Nissan can be turned into a sporting proposition without too much work.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Even with perfect roads, there is still the issue of law enforcement and traffic in general.

          Track days also sound great in theory, but even that has its risks. Truthfully, and maybe sadly depending on your take, I get a decent speed fix from video games. I have a wheel w/a stick and clutch, and I will be getting a racing seat to build a rig around. My lizard brain is pretty pleased. The older I get the less I can push aside the guilt and fear associated with speed. Video games throw that all away and up the speed I get to far beyond what I could ever realistically get in real life. Some food for thought……

          And yea, at least on paper, something like an Accord Sport will wash any stock E30. Obviously it’s the intangibles where the E30 wins, but I think there has been a collective realization that intangibles only go so far.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            What game or simulator are you doing? I have an on and off thing with iRacing.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I am just on Forza 4 for now. Again with the wheel and big screen it’s pretty satisfying. The in car view without the dash actually creates a decent sensation of speed. Wheel gives some level of feedback but admittedly not much.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            I agree that the newer car will usually be more capable, in a way that’s the old school cars appeal. I can drive more aggressively without necessarily being in felony territory. The rest of it is in the intangibles like you said.

            I used to be a huge gt fan. Still have the wheel and pedal setup. Fwiw I find it to be far more satisfying than forza only if you have a good wheel setup. Without the steering wheel gt is awful. It’s a great way to play with suspension and tire geometry settings without spending ridiculous money on real cars.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            What wheel are you using sportyaccordy? I’ve been considering a wheel for a while, but everything I read leads me to the Fanatec, which is not cheap. Certainly cheaper than owning multiple cars, but still seems like a lot to spend on video games.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            @burgersandbeer I use a Fanatec CSR. Pricey but worth the money, and I play a lot. Every day when I have the time.

            It is a little expensive, but for the money it’s much cheaper than a track day and in my experience obviously worse but not by much.

        • 0 avatar

          There are a lot of great roads in Westchester. If bored, Harriman State Park, and route 210…

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Yes indeed there are. I’m right next to a nyc reservoir as well.Every trip down the driveway is followed by a joyous windy route. The fishing isn’t too shabby either, my e30 has access tags and fishing gear on board at all times. I positively look forward to bringing my oldest to day care. Taxes however, are devilish around here.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The Internets loves the GTI. But it loves the S2000 more.

    You may have made enemies this day.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    @S2Kchris. I’m with you. I am certain that I am in the vast minority, but I REALLY like variety in my driving. I have four with two drivers and if you ask my wife, she has one. She accuses me of being an automotive polygamist.

    Before I get roasted…I do get that it is not always viable to have more than one. I get the reasons for moving away from a two door sports car to a GTI. I have always enjoyed the drive of the 3 various VW that I have had.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      @87 Morgan
      ” I get the reasons for moving away from a two door sports car to a GTI.”
      Well, you can actually get 2 door GTI and this is the only way to do it (with 6MT that is). No idea why R is only sold as family hauler.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Great article. Looking forward to the updates.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I agree that DD and sports car is an oxymoron for most people. Despite my love hate relationship with Porsche, that company probably makes a better DD sports car than anyone else…..if you can afford the price of admission. Their stablemate, Audi, makes the DD super car that is no less expensive (R8).

    My sports car is a weekend/weekend getaway car. Living just outside of DC, not sure I would want a stick for daily use and getting out of the car requires a little work. My wife claims there is no graceful way to exit the car which I think is her way of saying we are getting a little old for a car this low! Lol

    Sports cars require compromises, which can work at one phase of your life, but not at others. Being an enthusiast, I ponder the alternatives to my car. As much as the new Lotus looks promising (think a roadster version of the 400 would be great), the reality is that I probably won’t want a more hardcore sports car in the future. My car will remain the the garage or get traded for something more practical, more comfortable , but still fun.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    GutEn Tag.

    I’m glad I’m not the only sissy to feel this way. I love my Miata, but driving it on the moon-man roads of Montreal on a regular basis makes me sad. The stiffer, slightly lower springs on my car might not help. When you’re in the mood, the potholes rattling the entire car are a fair tradeoff for being able to zip around like a fruit fly among a Wisconsin barbecue party, and it’s a hoot on a country road or track, but when you’re stuck in traffic, just trying to get to where you’re going, it gets old fast. Luckily, Montreal has good, cheap public transit around its downtown core, so I don’t need to drive if I don’t feel like it, but if I were a work commuter, I’d also be shopping for a big-boy car, most likely a base Golf, and use the money saved over a GTI to keep the convertible.

    Is a GTI really that comfortable over rough roads? While I’m sure it has a much stiffer structure and more suspension travel than the Stook, the GTI’s low profile tires and sporty suspension wouldn’t have made me think of it as a cushy cruiser, but I haven’t driven one.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Yes, on a long test drive I made a point taking it on some rough surfaces, and it’s incredibly composed. Really excellent car and at the top of my list. As to the stock 18″ wheels, I especially like the fact that you can fit -1 or -2 wheels on it. A set of Golf takeoffs would be perfect for winter tires.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      And you have to honestly ask yourself… of the miles you drive… how many will be on surface roads or stuck in traffic… vs in its element? If it’s less than like a quarter, which will probably be the case for a daily driver that’s commuted in, what’s the point?

      I test drove a MKV GTI a while back. It feels a lot like my wife’s Rabbit, but just more buttoned down and responsive. It was very comfortable. I imagine 2 generations of improvement have only helped that, but I don’t know if they make one with 17s anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I was being tongue-in-cheek, but the thing for me is that my S2000 plays 2 roles, 1 it’s a sports car for going out and having fun, but also 2 it’s a convertible good for just top down cruising around. I’m perfectly happy cruising around in the car on suburban surface streets driving sedately, because I’ve got the top down and the music up and I’m enjoying the ride.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          I think it’s largely dependent on your road conditions. If the roads in my city were even reasonably decent, it would be a non-issue for me. As it stands, Montreal competes with Detroit for poor quality roads, and a 16 year-old, 2300 lbs convertible flexes and rattles a lot more than you might expect, especially when it’s been driven its whole life over said roads.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            It’s also about your tolerance levels. I used to drive a 1st gen Miata with the 1.6 140 miles round trip every day to work. Granted I really could not have asked for a better drive (central California, Sonora to Stockton via 108, O’Byrnes Ferry Rd to Rt 4 to 99) but it was fatiguing. Had I not been a brainless 20-something I may have considered a quieter car. By the time I got to work I felt like I spent an hour and a half in a heated ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, but when I was ready to leave, I was always excited to hit the road again.
            Being young and a bit dumb helps ease the bumps. Now I couldn’t imagine doing my 20 min commute in such a buzzbox, myahss pampered by something dark, cool, (temperature-wise) and quiet.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          My thing with the S2K specifically is the lack of low end torque. On the low cam my old H22 Accord had way more juice. Rode surprisingly rough on bad pavement too.

          I know this is the antithesis of everything S2000 but it really could have shined with a high revving version of the J series V6 and less aggressive suspension tuning. Maybe a fixed roof version too…….

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      What size rubber is it wearing? As in how much sidewall?

  • avatar
    Adam Lesna

    VW ownership does not entitle one to butcher German. Danke!

  • avatar
    Fordson

    “Yesterday, I traded the most hysterically fun car I have ever owned, a 2008 Honda S2000, for a new 2015 Volkswagen GTI 6-speed manual.

    Allow me to explain.”

    This site is too much. Like you have to run your decision to divest yourself of a Japanese car and get a German one past the star chamber here.

  • avatar
    heliotropic

    I understand the infuriating part (because you can no longer get cloth seats and sunroof), but are the option packages really that complicated? I thought if anything they have completely dumbed down the packages in the past six or so years, and now its just base, sunroof and leather, sunroof leather and nav, and the performance pack variant of each.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      One other thing to keep in mind – EVERY GTI, 3-door or 5-door, at EVERY trim level and with whatever standalone options, can be had with either the 6MT or the DSG.

      How many car models, even sport models, can claim that anymore?

  • avatar
    hammerlock

    You live in Tucson it makes prefect sense to me. in summer you need a car with AC. The GTI was a good choice!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I wouldn’t knock anyone for buying a GTI…or a Golf 1.8 TSI. VW did these right. Now, let’s hope the reliability is there.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This is the big thing. Worst comes to worse you can just do a lease though. Then buy out later….

      • 0 avatar
        FBS

        VW’s reputation as far as reliability and maintenance is why I bought a Mazda3 last summer instead of waiting for the new Golf or GTI. The GTI would certainly be faster and more engaging… but I had just started my first real job, living in an apartment with no room to do my own maintenance, and the job has me driving 24k miles a year.

        I imagine that VWs are more reliable now than their reputation and there is probably data to back that up, but I still picked the more boring car because I felt more confident about what to expect for the first four or five years.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    You know that Chapman is a large (although family owned) dealer group too, right? They have 24 dealerships in two states. While not close to the size of the group that owns the other Tucson area VW dealership, it’s still significant in size. They were also gouging the hell out of the VW buying Southern Arizona public until the other dealership moved in. The Jim Click dealerships are technically “family owned” and they try to throw a $1200+ “Desert Protection Package” on every new car they sell. Nothing like being screwed by family.

    Maybe I’m just having R32 vaporlock flashbacks because my R32 was parked outside that building numerous times. The photos bring back the pain.

    Also, my two favorite Mexican restaurants in Tucson are about 5 minutes from there.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      When I bought my MK6 in AZ a few years ago, I bought through a broker just to avoid dealing directly with either “family”.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I bought my MkV GTI and R32 from the Larry Miller dealership in Avondale (there wasn’t one in Tucson at the time). The GTI was purchased the second day we moved to Tucson. A internet sales rep and I hammered out a deal before we even moved. Chapman didn’t want to go under MSRP at the time. Up to the valley I drove…

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “I posted the S2000 briefly on Craigslist and discovered when you’re selling a specialty car on this site, most folks that respond are dreamers, schemers, scammers and credit criminals.”

    Yeah, CL’s really not the place for anything uncommon or worth more than $5,000 or so. I posted mine on S2KI and had it sold in a few days.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    Just FYI, but there’s a factual error in the article:
    one cannot special order any Volkswagen in the US. (it’s a common misconception)
    Many dealers will lie or about this, but VW does not do special orders. All the manager can do is track cars in the production pipeline and try to capture one that meets the desired specs. in that way, the dealer has ‘ordered’ that car for themselves via the reservation. It might six months (or longer) to get the exact combo you want.

    the VW fanbois always come out of the woodwork when I bring this up, but by all means, confirm with VWoA corporate.

    • 0 avatar
      Shazam13

      Really? I’m looking at a order confirmation. The order was placed on 4/27/15 @ Chapman VW in Scottsdale AZ. It was placed through the
      dealer “VW Hub” website with an order number and “Order Type” designated as “SOLD – Customer Sold Order” with my specs.
      I will say I was told the factory will build a car to the spec submitted at their convenience but it will be built. Estimate 5 to 6 months. Having worked my whole career at Daimler (corp), I can attest that automobile manufacturers are just that “manufacturers” NOT sales organizations. Sales happens “after the fact” VW will build my car when they need the production slot filled and the component set is readily available in the supply chain. Remember, VWoA doesn’t build the cars, they sell them. They are at the mercy of the MANUFACTURER!

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    I’ll also add that the GTI is a MUCH BETTER CAR than the sister Audi A3 in just about every conceivable way.

    Please keep in mind that this is coming from someone who very happily has gone through multiple Audis over the years and still has 3 in the driveway.

    It’s also coming from someone who would rather burn in the deepest pits of hell and tear-out and eat his own pancreas rather than give another nickel to a Volkswagen dealership. I despise the brand and the people who operate it with the fire of a thousand suns going supernova.

    • 0 avatar

      damn. you sound like me and acura.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Hmm. Well just to add my 2 cents worth, I much prefer the new A3 to the GTI, and its generic Vdub interior. The AWD included with the 2.0t makes the difference I feel for me. Wasn’t overly impressed with the GTI, despite all the hoopla here and everywhere.

      The only reason I looked at these German cars is the dearth of anything interesting from the Japanese at the moment for a reasonable price. Having owned 5 new Audis in a row before a small tap on the head woke me up, I approach the idea of buying any VWAG product with great trepidation.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    What’s up with the wheels on the S2000? They look like they belong on a Nissan. Good luck with the VW. Most people I know go from German cars to Japanese cars rather than the other way around.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    So many (SO MANY) people fail to comprehend how otherwise great vehicles like the S2000 don’t sanely work in places with less than ideal road surfaces.

    The U.S. has horrific road surface quality in general, and within the U.S., there are many areas with road surfaces far worse than those in developing (or even barely developing) countries.

    I doubt that many citizens of France, Sweden, Germany, Spain, etc., who have never visited Michigan would believe there are roads this bad in “America.”

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Exactly this, but it applies to Canada as well, probably even more so. For the most part, I find the roads in NY state and Vermont decadently comfortable when I visit there.

      I’ve seen a road, that in North America would’ve been considered “new,” get torn up and rebuilt in the outskirts of Zurich. I’ve also seen hundreds of miles of road in Peru, from Lima to Cuzco, as well as into the jungle, where the road quality made me envious. And that is a country where hot water and plumbed toilets are seen as luxuries.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m curious where the good San Diego roads are. The roads in my neighborhood eat low profile tires like popcorn.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      True. News Flash: Tucson officially has the worst roads in the West:

      http://tucson.com/news/local/we-re-no-in-potholes/article_d738e514-31e6-5779-9714-145850ccf5c4.html

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        That’s like being the least attractive Playboy Playmate of the Year. I was in Phoenix and Tucson most of March. The roads in both places make Detroit’s roads look like the roads in Afghanistan.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Phoenix, on the other end of the scale, has by far the best score. I live in the Phoenix suburbs and would agree 100%. Roads are incredible up here. I can live with my Z4 M Coupe because they’re so well-maintained. But there aren’t many interesting places to drive it, I too am getting too old to crawl in and out of it, and my ZHP winds up getting driven 90% of the time. Many of the comments above are really making me consider finally abandoning the Z4 for something like an E39 M5.

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      Toronto is arguably one of the richest cities on the continent, economy is booming here, has been for a long time. Yet the roads are atrocious, anything less than 100mm of sidewall is cause for serious headaches.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I live near Buffalo, visit Toronto on a regular basis, and I will give it a pass. But for Tucson, Phoenix, Southern California…what kind of total neglect do you have to visit upon a road infrastructure that never sees salt, plows or subfreezing temperatures, to get them into the shape they’re in? I know they see lots of traffic…so do Toronto, Detroit and NYC.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          The sun will turn a smooth concrete road into rough, potholed aggregate in about 10 years if left completely unchecked. Yes, the roads in southeastern Michigan are far harder to keep pristine, but believe it or not, summer is pretty friggin brutal here.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Frost heaves *shrug*

      We just had 2 back to back unseasonably cold winters here in NC and the roads here are a little rougher than when I got here 2 years ago. The heat cycles, plows and salt just chew roads up.

    • 0 avatar

      Drove from one side of Germany to the other. North to South. Peenemunde to the Bodesee.

      NOT ONE POTHOLE.

      No, NOT ONE…

      It can be done.

      Just replaced a wheel and tires on the TDi…Thanks nyc…..

    • 0 avatar
      sprkplg

      “The U.S. has horrific road surface quality in general, and within the U.S., there are many areas with road surfaces far worse than those in developing (or even barely developing) countries.”

      While my experience with roads in developing countries is admittedly limited—I’ve only been to Mexico and Paraguay— I’d say that DeadWeight’s comment holds true for highways, but not for surface streets and back roads. You’d be hard pressed to find a road this side of a forest trail in the US as bad as the average country road I saw in Paraguay. I was in a fairly prosperous rural part of the country, with soybean farms and dairies to rival anything in the Midwest. Besides the main highway, which was excellent, roads tended to be either very poorly maintained dirt, or paved with a sort of jagged cobblestone that’s probably durable, but very rough.

    • 0 avatar
      davesrave

      “The U.S. has horrific road surface quality in general, and within the U.S., there are many areas with road surfaces far worse than those in developing (or even barely developing) countries.”

      ??? Not. even. wrong. (look it up).

  • avatar

    Looks like Chapman VW. We ordered a GTI through them. If you remember seeing a white 4-door S with lighting package and DSG in their inventory a couple months ago that was it. Unfortunately they tacked on several options we did not ask for and had some additional marketing fee that was not mentioned when they agreed to pricing over e-mail. The total price ended up being $1k+ more than had been agreed over e-mail. We walked.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Twins! I sold my TL and picked up a GTI Autobahn on Tuesday – coming from the opposite direction but ending up at the same place. I wanted something sportier for the few minutes of freedom I get every day on the way to and from work, but I commute over roads that seem to have been lifted intact from Kandahar, so the GTI fit the bill. But I’m also terrified of VW reliability, and so decided to lease to protect the downside.

    Three years of fun, and then I get to pick another. I should have done this a long time ago.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Nice choice of a new car, but why in the world would you move from San Diego to Tucson? Go from the ocean to the desert? Go to a state that thinks Arpaio is a good sheriff? Yea I know he presides over Phoenix, but some of the things that AZ politicians come up with are beyond bizarre.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      The locals ask us the same thing! Primarily a cost of living issue plus we love Arizona. I do miss the SOCAL car culture though.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Every state has its issues, and I’ve taken residence in my fair share of really ‘effed up states (including California… and I wouldn’t move back for a whole host of reasons for any amount of money). If that’s all that you can come up with in the “AZ is bad” column, then you’re totally right to have made the decision to live elsewhere. You’re happy, I’m happy.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Another California native living in Arizona – love it here, wouldn’t move back under any circumstances. Nice place to visit though (other than the roads).

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          I feel you. I’ve lived in San Diego area for about 3 years now. If it weren’t for my good job I wouldn’t stay. It’s just too expensive to live a normal life here and there’s just too many darn people.

  • avatar
    John R

    Mmmm. Coulda had a WRX.

    • 0 avatar
      love2drive

      I’ve always liked the GTI. Was talking with a friend just this past weekend on whether I was “too old” to drive one now though – late 40’s. It competes with STI’s, which I’m certainly too old for, and after seeing the M235i in person, I also felt too old for that. Does the GTI hit a balance? Don’t know.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        By what measure are you “too old” for any car? If you want it and it fits your practical considerations, buy it.
        Who, exactly, are you worried about judging you for what car you’re driving? By late 40s, that’s the type of nonsense you’re too old for.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Lynch

        I think the GTI is for all ages…of course I say that because I am older than you!

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        Hell, I’m in my late 50s, and I’d be very happy in a GTI–I especially want to try one again 30 years after getting the Original Rabbit GTI as my first new car, and having a dozen years of fun in it.
        Nostalgia kick? Guilty as charged.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        Not to worry. I’ve got several decades on you, and my 2015 GTI suits me fine. Great car.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        58. 2011 GTI.

        You’re too old to be worrying about how you look to people who have zero effect on your life and whom you will probably never see again.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Seems like the only people I see driving cars like 4 door GTIs and Fiesta STs (not Focuses) are what I call “hipster dads”. I think it’s a good image. Old but still enjoys a fun drive. Nothing wrong with that.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Coulda had a car with a less comfortable ride, much less pleasant interior, less practical layout, worse gas mileage, worse styling, and for those who care, a different image, too.

      I’m not hating on the WRX, because I think it’s a cool car, but the comparison between it and a GTI is much more apples:oranges than apples:better apples.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Agree that the WRX interior is ghastly. But whenever I bring that up, someone tells me I’m not allowed to mention it, and the fact that the GTI has a much better interior is negated by horrible VW reliability.

        The GTI also rides better, is more mature, and has a better image, and is not hideous looking.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      GTI is a better car if you don’t need AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No hatch = no sale, so the current WRX would not even be on my radar. Never mind that it is a tin box compared to a Golf, and I have zero use for AWD in a car. WRX is a fun car but definitely not a car for me.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Didn’t you recently buy a subcompact sedan with a trunk?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Nope – I bought a proper coupe. Which as my 4th car (and pretty much a toy) has no need at all to be practical. If I could only have one or two cars, the daily driver would have a hatch.

          Though even that said, if BMW sold the M135i here, I would have bought that over the M235i, in 3dr form.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            So a sedan is no go, but an even less practical “proper coupe” is?

            I too hate AWD, but the rear doors on a sedan are soooo useful.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It’s my *fourth* car. Two of which have *five* doors. So I think the new one being impractical is perfectly fine.

            I have already said here in the past that if I am going to be so impractical as to have no hatch, then might as well go full-on and get a coupe or convertible. I now will have one of each of those.

            Though in one way the coupe is MORE practical than a sedan. I’m a big guy, small sedans have really small doors, a coupe is easier to get in and out of. I rarely have anyone in the back seat, so the access to it is not particularly important to me. If I did need to haul people, I would have a minivan not a sedan. Sedans are useless.

  • avatar
    Schizoid

    Blessed are the peacemakers:

    I have an ’08 S2K, which I will never sell. I understand the author’s points entirely, however, and thus also have a daily driver VW; a ’13 Golf TDI, 6-speed, etc. The latter is the best commuter car I’ve ever had, as a daily driver into NYC, and is also a terrific highway car and the “family” car for the 5 of us (me, my wife, and 3 kids, the oldest of whom is in college). The Golf is user-friendly, comfortable, and has been completely reliable to date. I considered the GTI, but, in all the circumstances in which I’d prefer it over the TDI, I’d rather use the S2K. Trying to check all of these boxes with one car never really worked, though my ’91 Saab 900 Convertible came close.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I’m always talking about getting out of my TSX/S2k combo and into a 335i or something, but I think the only way I’d be truly happy with a 1-car combo that still can haul a kid in the back seat is with a 911. There’s still a part of me with a 997 floating around in the back of my mind.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’d stick with what you have personally, 997 can come later.

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        The back seat of a 997 (or really any generation of 911) is best suited to grocery bags.

        But by all means, get a 997. They are otherwise amazing machines with one of the most unique soundtracks in the automotive world.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          My kid is almost three, so al I really need is something I can push the passenger seat all the way forward and get her home from school for 20 min here and there. My wife has the CUV for family use.

          When it’s time to replace the TSX in 3-4 years I’ll consider my budget and options.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I’m a believer in having the right tool for the job at hand – a scalpel will cut more finely than a Swiss Army knife. If you have the space, having a separate fun car and a practical car can make a lot of sense. As I alluded to elsewhere, the price difference between a base Golf and a GTI could pay for an old, fun little sports car.

      But I realize that everyone’s situation and preferences are different. A GTI looks like a fine Swiss Army knife, too.

      • 0 avatar
        hazmat

        Indeed.

        It also sustains the n+1 car rule, where n=”number of drivers” in the household. n+I, where I>1 is better still, of course.

        If you skimp out on n+1, then you generally find yourself A) significantly inconvenienced if something needs service/repair and B) reliant on more generic and new vehicles b/c (A).

        This said, I also agree that for price/performance/practicality, GTI is about the best compromise vehicle one could imagine (see also hatch versions of Focus ST, 2.5L Mazda3).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I guess its wrong of me to downplay the multi vehicle setup. A big part of why I dumped my Z is because I still have my motorcycle. I just need something better suited for highway use and I will be set.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I too will have one car for each purpose for as long as my economic situation allows.

      When I’m out in my toy, I don’t want it to ride like a comfortable cruiser. I have a DD for that.

      I want to be reminded every moment that I am in a wildly impractical piece of engineering and art, and that the entire purpose of this moment is to operate said amazing machine, bask in its sights and sounds and share it with the world of dull kidschleppercommuteboxes.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Got a 2012 Beetle Turbo 6MT for a very good price recently. This was my first non air cooled VW so I was a bit hesitant but the price was too good to resist.

    After a month I must say I love this car. The motor is great, handling is great, and somehow I can get 35mpg on the highway. And I know that the GTI has shorter gearing and thicker sway bars, so I bet its even more fun to drive.

    Good luck with it!

  • avatar
    Fred

    The only thing I would do with a GTI is remove as much as the logos (and those wheels) so it looks like a regular Golf. I don’t want every kid in his rice burner challenging me to a stop light race. Of course if you do enjoy that sort of thing, there are plenty of options to bump the power up.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      That’s just what I did after getting a Mk V GTI a couple years ago. The red calipers remain a giveaway, but the three provocative letters reside inside the glove box, for the next owner’s use. Before I removed them, I infuriated a certain class of driver whenever I wouldn’t race them, and the car got keyed by somebody who held a grudge. I wan’y buying the GTI for image, but it seems to have one anyhow.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Lynch

        Interesting. Hope it doesn’t come to having to do the “Persian Conversion” on the GTI to ward off the purple fart can Civics wanting to race.

        On a related note the first mod I did on the S2K was adding seat locks to prevent the $5,000 seats from ending up in one of those clown’s cars!

    • 0 avatar
      thekevinmonster

      I own a MK6 (2013my) GTI, and I’ve never ever ever ever ever ever ever had anyone remotely indicate that they wanted to race me. In fact, most banal cars usually beat me off the line because I hate trying to start off smooth and fast in a manual transmission. I try and try and I just can’t do it, so I just tend to start off slow and then stand on it.

      There are plenty of tuner cars around where I live, although far more muscle cars. Even then, no one ever wants to race me.

      Or maybe they do and I’m just oblivious…

      Regardless, it is a fantastic car. Even though I traded a 1.5 year old car for it, I have no regrets.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The GTI has never been a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a surprisingly athletic sheep in sheep’s clothing.

      Bro-STIs, Bro-Evos and Bro-Stangs get all of the street racing taunts.

  • avatar
    GaryM

    Congratulations on the new GTI. I look forward to future reports on it.

    I just downsized the wheels on my ’13 GLI from 18″ to 17″ because the roads in Colorado Springs are so bad. The 17s improved the ride significantly and the infamous Jetta rattles have mostly subsided.

    After 2 years, other than the rattles, the car has been flawless.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      At the risk of sounding crotchety, it’s amazing that 45-series tires are now the comfort option. I would love to drive a GTI off the lot with factory 17s.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Not only does the increase in sidewall help, but the GTI’s 18s weigh as much as the moon. My god. I had a Focus ST and GTI at the same time an was surprised about how much heavier the GTI “Detroit/Huff” wheels were than the ST’s wheels.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I fully understand the aggravation of getting in and out of a low-slung car on a frequent basis. You hate to let an S2000 go, but you replaced it wisely. I just would have gotten a sunroof…

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      That’s the only option I would want on a GTI. But it’s part of a $3,000 package. Unfortunate.

      Otherwise, eggshell white, 2-door, S manual/PP.

  • avatar

    Congrats on the purchase. I’ll look forward to hearing updates.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Sadly, your trade-in became more valuable than your new purchase the very instant the GTI touched the pavement. Your S2000 was probably already claimed/sold before you even walked out of their “showroom.”

    Terrible transaction Mr. Lynch! (I’m exaggerating, a little.)

    I was working on an FSI yesterday, 65k well cared for miles, tons of money spent, yet it has aged terribly. The suspension is shot, rattles and clunks are abundant. I did not think any shifter could feel more notchy than my DSM, this Golf easily surpasses. Inherently, direct injection is noticeably more audible than port injection but this thing is louder than some Mack trucks I’ve worked on. Lol I’m sure the valvetrain could use some cleaning as it suffers from an erratic idle and lacks power.

    It is on its second PCV system, second HPFP, second diverter valve, second maf sensor. The owner doesn’t seem to mind it and loves it to death. I don’t understand VW love affairs. The driving dynamics are not good enough to look over their cost of ownership.

    You will regret getting rid of your gorgeous, reliable, fun S2000 very shortly!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      Believe me I thought long and hard about those very issues.

      The S2K is still on the dealer’s lot, maybe because they are asking $29K and it is worth $25.5K!

      The S2K forum is full of folks who sold an S2K and bought another later because they missed it so much…

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    And thats why I like Scions. Pick a color, pick a transmission. They all have the same features that most people want. Theyre kind of like the “Lee’s Sandwiches” to Toyota’s “Subway”

  • avatar
    JMII

    Add the APR flash/tune to the GTI and you will be missing your Honda even less. Those turbo VeeDubs can really move with a mild bit of ECU tweaking. My brother’s Golf R runs circles around my Z.

    I get away with a Z as a DD because I live in FL which has very good roads. My commute is mostly highway with light traffic. I like the stiff ride, heavy clutch and exhaust note. My wife hates it and would never DD it so I understand why some people can’t have a sports car as their daily. Personally in my travels the worst roads are in Texas. They have ice in the winter and too much heat the summer, thus the road are always a mess of broken pavement.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      I’ve seen you recommend “ecu tweaking,” on several VW threads, and I don’t believe it is a particularly good idea. While a tune from Revo, Uni or APR will transform the car, they will undoubtedly void your warranty as well. As a VW owner your main objective in life is to preserve your factory warranty.

      I’ve already seen a large number of low mileage EA failures, some catastrophic, you want the car to be in stock form and up to date in service.

      P.S. EA888 < VQ35DE < VQ35HR ;)

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        It depends on the tune. A conservative stage one file doesn’t create new problems in my experience, but it will highlight pending issues. I do have a problem with the direction the industry leader is taking recently (Apr) however. Now that they are calling a 100hp gain a stage one tune I would consider their mkvii products to fall into the project car only category. This is a damn shame as they are the brand that has the best dealer network saturation, including many vw dealerships. They earned their reputation on the back of of a far more conservative tuning philosophy, so what people say and think about them no longer holds true. Go unitronic, giac or revo, after drive train warranty expires, is my angle.

        I also wouldn’t be stoked about buying vw’s fsi (first gen di) products for tuning purposes, reliability wasn’t there.

        • 0 avatar
          EAF

          I would find it impossible to believe that an increase of 115 lbs of torque, on a otherwise stock VW engine, would have no adverse affect on reliability. Afterall, this is a 4 banger GTI we’re talking about here, not a GTR or a Vette.

          As I last understood it, any ecu tampering can be discovered. I’m not a software engineer so this is only based on what I have read. It is not a risk I’d be willing to take.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I had a GIAC chip in my 2.0T Audi that never caused me any trouble with the car or dealer.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    Price and consider VW’s road hazard coverage through Fidelity warranty. I’m not sure of the terms/price/mileage coverage, but I can tell you that those wheels are costly to replace if damaged. I’ve already had customers need the coverage.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Perhaps the VW Curse has been lifted? According to CR, all Golfs since ’07 have had average or above average reliability! As a VW dropout, I would be happy to return to the fold *if* all the badness of the previous models could be erased.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hah another positive review for Craigslist!

  • avatar
    alex159569

    So. Anyone in WA state interested in a brand new 4dr 6sp white GTI with PP and the lighting package? Ordered one in November and took too long to get here, had to get a car sooner and now don’t want to follow through with the order… Just arrived at the dealer lot!


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