2015 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term Final Update (And Fun With Car Buying Scammers)
The automotive media slobbered over the redesigned 2015 Volkswagen GTI sporty hatchback ever since its introduction two years ago. I put 13,500 miles on mine over the past year and I agree that it is one of the great all-around fun cars available today.
I just went through the process of selling it, and that is when the real fun began.
I am also concerned about the future of the company in America, so I figured selling now would be a hedge against future lost value. Replacing the GTI is a white 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 with the optional Sport Package (my first personal car without a stick shift in years — sigh, I must be getting old.)
Aside from an occasional annoying glitch from the entertainment system while playing my iPod (it shows the wrong song name), the VW performed flawlessly. At 13,500 miles, there are no squeaks or rattles and the engine seems to grow stronger as the miles add up. I have had bad experiences in the past with turbocharged motors, but the 210 horsepower mill is very smooth and I have gotten used to its slight turbo lag.
In a previous update, I noted the GTI’s thin paint was susceptible to paint chips here in rocky Arizon. This still holds true, as evidenced by the 10 or so chips on the hood and front fascia.
The Audi-like cockpit was extremely comfortable and the funky Tartan plaid seats always made me smile. The ride was firm but not annoying, a small trade-off for what must be one of the best cornering front-wheel-drive cars available today.
The manual transmission GTI is EPA rated at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. I averaged 30.6 mpg over the course of the year on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving, the latter typically at five to 10 mph over the speed limit. The lowest mileage I saw was 24 mpg during a blast up the twisty turns on Tucson’s Mt. Lemmon. Where else can you find this type of economy combined with a 0–60 mph time of 5.75 seconds?
The GTI is a great combination of performance and practicality and I will miss it.
My experience selling the car was interesting. I posted the GTI at a firm price of just under $20,000 on craigslist and Autotrader, undercutting all the dealers pricing them at $21,000 to $22,000. I figured that after their negotiating games the realistic retail price was right at $20,000. For a car with an original MSRP of $25,605, the GTI is proving to have great resale value.
(As an aside, I know there is one Autotrader semi-executive who frequents TTAC, and to that person I say: please train your phone reps about time zones; I did not appreciate the 6:35 AM wake-up call to verify my ad.)
A number of GTI devotees called, desperately hoping that my car had the optional Performance Package with its 10 additional horses, bigger brakes and performance differential. One reported there were zero new white GTIs with the upgrade in stock at any Volkswagen dealer between Denver and Los Angeles. I would have loved that package, but as I noted in my original story of buying my GTI, getting the exact option package and color you want from VW is nearly impossible unless you custom order your vehicle. Come on, Volkswagen, is it really that difficult to give the volks what they want?
Most of the other prospects who called or texted me were the usual gang of suspects. Some sample questions:
“Can you hold the car until I fly in from Chicago this weekend to look at it?” Nope.
“Can you deliver the car to Utah at that price?” Nope.
“Will you take $15,000 cash?” Nope. “But it is cash on the hood!” I only take cash, I am not a dealer, dimbulb.
“Is your car an automatic?” Nope, read the ad.
“Is your car a 4-door?” Nope, read the ad.
I was also bombed with inquiries representing a new angle in the automotive world: companies that will “help you'” sell your vehicle.
With millions of private transactions occurring annually, these parasites want to get their hands on some of that cash. They call or text and pretend to be legitimate buyers, asking all the right questions for a few minutes before they reveal their true identity. The most deceptive and annoying of these inquiries were from a firm named beepi.com. I was too busy haranguing or hanging up on these firms to listen to any of their spiels, but I learned that beepi charges a commission of up to nine percent of the profit on the sale price of the car.
One scam new to me is the “fake VIN report” ruse. I received several texts from a location 800 miles away with variations of this message: “This is Susan. I want to buy your car today, I have cash.”
After responding, the “customer” then says she needs me to run a VIN history report and referred me to this site — a probable scam website designed to steal people’s credit card numbers.
A gentleman in his mid-20s came to look at the GTI. He was a dream buyer — newly arrived from Europe to work here for three years, great job, very intelligent, only drove stick shifts, loved GTIs, currently in a rental car, paying cash and did not abuse the car during the test drive. Add the fact that there were only four white, two-door, six-speed “S” model GTIs listed nationwide on Autotrader and this one was ten minutes from his house, meant that when he called later to say he was going to buy it, I did not feel the need to ask for a non-refundable deposit to lock him down.
I had momentarily forgotten the First Commandment of Car Selling: if a deal happens quickly and easily, you have no deal.
He texted me the next day to say he changed his mind, as he claimed my price was too high. He said that automotive site Edmunds.com calculated that the retail value on my GTI was $18,000, a figure which was lower that the wholesale price offered by my local CarMax store to buy my car. In other words, Edmunds was at least $2,000 light. Perhaps they throw out lowball figures so customers switch off private party sales and use their car buying service instead.
I told him to have Edmunds locate and sell him a GTI at that price, which of course they cannot. I guess I learned that European Millennials are like their counterparts in America: whatever information they find by surfing the internet on their phones is the absolute truth.
He probably changed his mind for another reason he did not want to reveal, which means I also forgot The Second Commandment of Car Selling: buyers are liars.
I sold and delivered the car the next day to another party. It was a lot more fun to own the GTI than to sell it!
[Images: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars]
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