2010 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term Road Test

2010 Volkswagen GTI: Perhaps the Last Back-Road Drive (with On-Board Video)

January 18, 2011


It was a glorious weekend, and late yesterday afternoon, the our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI made an impromptu trip to Glendora Mountain Road, a mottled ribbon of blacktop that climbs out of the San Gabriel Valley and into the mountains to the north. The drive was really last-minute, else I would have put out an invitation here on the blog.

I've driven the GTI on GMR before, but this time subytrojan, and his lightly modified 2004 WRX, was driving with me. We kept a respectable pace, allowing a comfortable margin of error for a road with 2-way traffic. I have to say, though, that this drive was more work than it was in the Mazdaspeed 3, and I came away from it liking the GTI a bit less.

Three on-board videos after the jump.

It certainly doesn't help the GTI out on a road like this that it's wearing all-season tires; the WRX was running on summer tires (Dunlop Direzza Star Spec). You already know about the nondefeatable stability control (and the continually blinking light once you kill the traction control). And I knew all this before we even started, but I figured sheer force of personality would help me keep up with the Subaru.

And, well, that only worked up to a point. The body roll as you enter a tight corner is a confidence killer, and the steering feel is only so-so. The suspension damping isn't well suited to GMR, either. The pavement is lumpy here, so a lot of the corners have at least one mid-corner bump, and too many of these bumps unsettled the chassis -- and the GTI would start to pop up out of its set.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the drive, because well, I always enjoy my drives, but this one was more labor-intensive than I'd like. I was happy when we were back on the freeway, which is really where the GTI comes into its own. I'm still sold on this car for everyday use, but haven't yet decided if the low fun factor is acceptable.

Parts 1 and 2 are excerpts from the northbound drive on GMR. Part 3 is an excerpt from the drive down the mountain just before sunset. That noise you hear is camera shake; it seems the Kodak Zx3 isn't well suited to in-car mounts and I'll likely switch to something else next time.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,680 miles

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