By on August 29, 2013


Two years ago, I caused VWVortex members to spit bits of Pocky all over their mothers’ basement walls when I declared the Jetta GLI the winner in a four-way comparison test of Volkswagens equipped with the enthusiast-oriented 2.0T engine. The idea of comparing Volkswagens to each other seemed a bit odd at the time, but take it from a guy who’s owned a 1990 Fox, a 1998 Passat, a 2000 Golf GLS 1.8T, two Phaetons, and an ’82 Quantum Coupe: if you’re a true believer, you don’t even bother to look at what the other guys have for sale. In the land of Volkswagen nutjobs, “cross-shopping” means “pretending you’re considering the lease of an Audi A4”.


Each day of next week, starting on Monday, we’ll be testing a different VW and ranking them from Worst To First. We’ll also have two surprise guests in the mix: a Ford Fusion SE 1.6 Ecoboost, provided by VW, and a Mercedes C250, provided by my Amex card. The competitors will be, in order of approximate cost:

  • 2014 Jetta 1.8T manual
  • Passat 1.8T
  • Golf Mk7 Euro-Spec
  • CC R-Line
  • Scirocco R

The GLI doesn’t return because it wasn’t changed significantly, and the Beetle doesn’t return because I’m not going to drive any more Beetles until somebody makes me do it. See you next week, VW fans and foes… FLAME ON!

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38 Comments on “Next Week Is VW Intramural Week, And This Time There’s A New GTI In Town...”

  • avatar

    In the land of Volkswagen nutjobs, “cross-shopping” means “pretending you’re considering the lease of an Audi A4″.

    hey, I resemble that remark!

  • avatar

    The Golf is the GTI? (This question probably disqualifies me from the fanboidom.)

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, the GTI is based on the Golf, but is the high performance variant with sport suspension, larger wheels, and the 2.0T engine. I assume the new Golf will have the 1.8T engine, which replaces the 2.5 liter inline five. I assume that Baruth will be driving the new base model Golf rather than the new GTI.

      • 0 avatar

        -I have some VW questions for a VW person to answer!-

        Where did the R32 fit into the mix?

        Did they just now decide to do the Scirocco here? Isn’t it just a fancy-dress 2-door Golf trim?

        What was the deal in the earlier 2000s with the Rabbit?

        Which one had the Scotch tape plaid seat option?

        • 0 avatar

          Also, are VW gauges still purple? I remember being in a Passat 10 years ago that had purple lighting in the gauge cluster.

          • 0 avatar

            The ones in my GLI have white backlighting. Not sure about the other models, but I assume they’re similar. I think they got rid of the blue/purple backlighting with the MKVI Jetta/Golf and with the 2006 Passat.

        • 0 avatar

          R32 is technically a hopped up Mk. IV and Mk. V Golf/Rabbit with AWD system and 3.2l VR6 engine, among other extras. As the 3.2 engine is no longer an option, the upgrade is now known as the “Golf R” using a beefed up 2.0t angine for the Mk. VI and Mk. VII generations.

          As far as I know, Vee-Dub has no plans to export the Scirocco to the US; they fear cannibalization of GTI sales.

          The Vee-Dub FWD hatchback design has switched identities in the North American market from Rabbit to Golf a couple of times. It’s embarrassing, becasue no one really can offer a good explanation as to why.

          GTI’s (or GTi’s, if you’re old skool) originally had the tartan seat covers on early generations of the car. It has since been restored starting with the Mk. V generation and continues with thh Mk. VI. I believe their corporate term for it is “Interlagos”.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, this is exactly the detail I wanted. So the R is still AWD, that’s the one I’d want. I never see them, nor the R32.

          • 0 avatar

            “Thanks, this is exactly the detail I wanted. So the R is still AWD, that’s the one I’d want. I never see them, nor the R32.”

            Correct, the Golf R uses a Haldex AWD system (I have an ’13 Golf R).

          • 0 avatar

            The new R is a 2.0l, same as the GTI but tuned for more power.

      • 0 avatar

        My question is more basic. JB mentions a GTI, and shows a picture of a GTI badge, but not one of the listed cars is expressly named a GTI. Hence, my quesion as to which of the listed vehicle is the GTI? My guess was the Golf.

  • avatar


    Next time on VW Intramural Week see who’s fastest from 0-undiagnosable electrical problem! We’ll also be evaluating the VW dealership experience. Will Jack put the lotion in the basket, or will he get the hose again? Stay tuned!

  • avatar

    As a former owner (for 10 years) of a 2003 Jetta 1.8T, I’m looking forward to this.

  • avatar

    As the owner of a couple of B5 Passats (the original 98 V6 and the much better 01.5 refreshed version), it’s like being institutionalized. Initially, you sit back and brag about how your car is tops in initial quality, on par with low-end Mercedes offerings, loaded for features and small details that blow the competition away. And in those days, they were quite literally Audis underneath. Never mind that, on paper and in terms of reliability reputation, you car is way behind the competition. Hey, it’s a fun and engaging drive!

    A decade later, you’re still holding onto them because you’ve spent some much cash (or in the case of DIY, you have so much sunk cost in blood, sweat, tears, cursing, and more tears) that it becomes a point of pride that you still have a working modern VW after 10+ years.

    Part of me is sandbagging myself so our next, newer, non-VW vehicle will seem completely trouble-free in comparison. And much easier to work on. Without true pain in life, pleasures are so much shallower.

    • 0 avatar

      Aw you no like how those plastic bits age under the hood? :\'(

    • 0 avatar

      Hey! You get back to where you serial masochists belong!

      I can’t decide if the fact that the 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe that followed my B5 was more reliable is a testament to VW unreliability or the improvement in Hyundai’s reliability…

    • 0 avatar

      I feel your pain and am amazed that you have managed to keep not one but two of them running for as long as you have. I gave up on mine when I found out that a replacement rear differential was going to set me back $5K. But darned if that wasn’t a sweet, sweet ride when it was running well…

  • avatar

    OK … I must have missed something … isn’t the Scirocco something of a unicorn in North America?

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Any chance you could squeeze a GTD in there?

  • avatar

    Why would this post be entitled “Next Week Is VW Intramural Week, And This Time There’s A New GTI In Town” if you don’t plan on driving a GTI?

    Interested in the new 1.8T in the Jetta and Passat, though.

  • avatar

    I would like to see a category in this competition where a rear facing baby seat is put behind the front passenger seat and a 6′ person has to sit in it. (the front passenger seat, not the baby seat).
    Flatbilling scumbag VW lovers may praise other aspects of the car, but post-hipster new parents are a more real target audience.

  • avatar

    Having a 2011 Tiguan SEL, 2011 GTI Autobahn and a 2006 Rabbit/Golf (albeit with the 2.5 lump), I LOVE comparos like this…Thanks – in advance – for the entertainment!

    My son, the owner of the GTI, is already getting all jittery in anticipation of the GTD coming to North America…If VW changes it’s mind, he’ll be on suicide watch…

  • avatar

    Looking forward to the Jetta review! My wife and I have cross-shopped the Jetta with the Cruze, but we’re planning on getting a Jetta. Just waiting until the end of the year to see if we can score a really good deal around Christmas. The Cruze was nice enough, but it wasn’t a VW. We didn’t think it would look right in the driveway beside my Sportwagen… Plus the 1.4T was underpowered compared to the 1.8TSI we drove recently. The diesel Cruze was pretty good, but we don’t want to spend $27000 for one and the wife doesn’t have a commute to justify it.

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    82 Quantum Coupe? You and one of your ex journo superfriends have something in common!

  • avatar

    Well while I understand the hate on Jack has for the Beetle in all actuality its a GTI. I went cross shopping a GTI, GLI, and Beetle Turbo. I liked all three but in the end I got my Beetle for 6k under MSRP because its Texas and nobody wants a bug yet you see GTIs everywhere.

    Now I took my Beetle Turbo and with the difference in price plus the fact that all the engine and suspension bits are exactly the same as the Mk6 GTI and bolted on a few of them. Nothing really wild yet but brakes and shocks/springs are upgraded along with stickier tires and the aftermarket traction control button Volkswagen decided to leave off. VW softened up the Beetle Turbo for whatever reason but mine is the equal now of most bone stock GTIs with plenty of extra money in my pocket to spend.

    The best part at an HPDE or a track day event is the fear you can almost see in the drivers eyes as you run them down in the “Slug Bug” and then the dejection as you pass them and they can’t keep up. I like sleepers, I like turbos and I like cheap cars and the BT fits all three. Out of the gate the GTI is the better car for sure but the difference in price I paid means I have lots of extra money for mods. Beware the Slug Bug when you see it in your rear view mirror.

    • 0 avatar

      To think that instead of my 2000 Honda Accord, my short list that year included a 5-speed New Beetle GLX Turbo! (Yup, MkIV platform!)

      Then later that year, my brother grabbed a Passat GLX V6 5-speed. Damn nice car, but he had a couple problems with it, not a big deal! My Mom loved the car so much that over my Dad’s protestations, she traded her 1990 Civic EX Sedan (basically a CRX Si with a 4-door body–what a roller-skate!!!) for a 2000 Jetta GL. (My brother started getting company cars from work, so sold the Passat a year or so later.)

      What. A. POS!

      Ignition problems, driver’s window regulator that failed when she attempted to roll up the driver’s window as she was about to enter a car wash on a February Sunday morning with a line out to the curb, and a front suspension that always creaked, and the useless dealer service department could never find a cause! Not to mention the tinted coating which wore off the heated mirrors! (There’s probably more!) Maybe not as bad as the “typical” MkIV “experience,” but enough that she went back to Honda for her next car!

  • avatar

    I’m trying to figure out why anybody would cross-shop any of these.

    And how do you decide on the criteria to with which to judge the “winner”. This just seems… odd.

    • 0 avatar

      Like Jack said, it’s because they are enthusiasts. I cross-shopped a bunch of these last year: Jetta, Passat, CC. Went with the latter.

      Excited to see how the CC does; it’s seemingly the outlier of the group. I’ve never driven a car so firmly glued into the ground. Wide wheelbase, low stance, and wide rubber. Great steering. Only shortcoming is the rear visibility – so so easy to miss something in the blind spots.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, wasn’t aware I was browsing ‘Vortex or Fourtitude where the only engine more awesome than an 1.8T would be two 1.8T’s welded together.

        Why would anyone (not specifically you) cross-shop a Golf versus a CC? I mean, small hatch versus near-luxury flagship sedan (4-door coupe, whatever)? That is what is implied by a comparative review that includes both those models.

        I understand why a fanboi would only consider stuff from their anointed brand of the Gods. But why throw the rest of the good sense out with respect to model selection?

        That seems like somebody comparing a pistol, shotgun and hunting rifle when looking to buy home defense artillery?

  • avatar

    Looking forward to this…I can be described as a VW fanatic…
    My Veedubs included
    1980 Scirocco
    1986 GTI
    1988 GTI 16V
    1990 Corrado
    1993 Fox
    1981 Scirocco S….Bought 3 years ago and restored now…I’d forgotten how basic theses cars were…No power steering, locks, windows, no sunroof and only 74 hp from the 1.7 liter engine. But at only 2000 lbs. surprisingly peppy

  • avatar

    These reviews sound great! Bring it!

  • avatar

    I guess it’s safer to borrow a Ford from VW than the other way around.

  • avatar

    Nice. FoC won’t share Lincolns? That’s OK, VW will spring for a Ford to be tested.
    She can’t cut me off! She has no idea where I’m getting it!

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